Panel manufacturers are occasionally selling 4K panels under the guise of 1440p gaming monitors. While prices can vary wildly between Ultra-HD (UHD) and quad-HD (QHD) monitors, it’s supposedly only a nominal price difference to manufacturers who would rather get monitors out the door than wait on supply shortages.
While popular for gamers as a sweet spot between resolution and high framerates, 1440p (or QHD) panels never quite took off in the TV space. That left 4K as the emerging standard for modern TVs - entirely skipping over quad-HD. The knock-on effect this popularity is that 27-inch UHD panels are now as cheap, if not cheaper, than their 1440p equivalents.
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So rather than hold up the entire production line, some panel manufacturers find it cheaper, or at least worthwhile, to instead swap the panel out for one of a higher resolution and write off the usual premium for 4K. Now if only the parity in 1440p and 4K panel pricing was represented in consumer pricing, too...
The news comes from Prad (via TechPowerUp), a German tech site that specialise in displays, who spoke with the unnamed panel manufacturers. They confirmed the occasional panel swap was often carried out when 1440p sales outstrip supply.
It’s unclear how many monitors are affected by the purposeful mix-up, as we don’t yet know which panel manufacturer actually employs 4K panels in lieu of 1440p. Anyone with one of these undercover 4K monitors can’t simply ‘unlock’ higher resolutions either. Any monitors with UHD panels masquerading as 1440p are locked behind (supposedly) impassable firmware. They would say that though...
Non-native resolutions don’t appear quite as crisp or sharp as those running at the intended 1:1 pixel resolution. The pixels displayed on-screen may appear blurrier than a native counterpart under certain conditions. Since it’s also impossible to unlock a full 4K resolution, these ‘free’ high-res panels really aren’t all they're cracked up to be.