FHD and UHD are acronyms referring to the screen format, resolution, and subsequent quality of any display. You might see them used in contexts from computer monitors to laptop screens to televisions, but they always keep the same definitions.
Full high definition (FHD) is just a fancier way of saying 1080p resolution. Simply put, resolution defines how many pixels are on a screen. The ‘p’ in 1080p stands for pixels, which are small squares that make up a computer screen.
So, since FHD screens all have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the display will be 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall. The same goes for UHD, which stands for ultra-high definition. This screen format/resolution has significantly more pixels than FHD, at 3840 x 2160p. You might see UHD referred to as 4k, which is the common label for it.
FHD can also be called 2k, and other screen formats might be called 6k or 8k depending on the pixels. This type of labeling comes from a rounded-up version of the pixel width. UHD is 4k because the pixel width is 3840, which, when rounded up to the nearest thousandth, is 4000. Similarly, FHD is 2k because its pixel width is 1920.
The other side to FHD and UHD is the aspect ratio–-full HD and ultra HD get called screen formats only because they are a combination of resolution and aspect ratio. An aspect ratio is the exact ratio of width and height that a display will be.
FHD and UHD actually use the same aspect ratio of 16:9, but other display formats like UWQHD (ultra wide quad-HD) use 21:9. Generally speaking, 16:9 is the default for computer monitors and televisions.
FHD vs. UHD Monitors: A Side-by-Side Comparison
|FHD (Full HD)
|UHD (Ultra HD)
|1920 x 1080p (2k)
|3840 x 2160p (4k)
|Total Pixels on Screen
|$100 – $400
|$200 – $800
FHD vs. UHD Monitors: What’s the Difference?
There are more differences between FHD and UHD monitors that go beyond the surface.
FHD (Full High Definition)
Full HD is currently the most popular and the most common form of resolution for monitors. This comes as no surprise since 1080p is really the necessary minimum to feel like your visuals are quality. Even at 1080p, things can be a little lacking–-imagine how bad it is at normal HD (720p)!
To make up for the fact that FHD offers a lower resolution than other HD screen formats, FHD is a cheaper alternative. Monitors that use FHD will, in most cases, be meaningfully cheaper than monitors using UHD or higher.
Several years ago, 1080p was actually about as high as you could expect from most tv shows/channels or video games. Sure, some games could support over 2k resolution, but most of them couldn’t. There weren’t many reasons to upgrade because of that.
With the rapid pace of game development and technology improvements, that didn’t stay the case for long. Most visual-centric games released in 2022 (and future releases in 2023) support 4k resolution. Even slightly older games released by Triple A studios or other big-budget teams, like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim V support 4k.
For watching videos, 1080p was ushered out more quickly because videos don’t usually have to worry about as many complex graphical calculations–-and other processes–-like video games do. Youtube added support for 4k videos back in 2010.
Despite growing support for higher resolutions, FHD remains a very popular choice. Many people stand by the opinion that you won’t get much usage out of resolutions higher than 2k. Some even say that the average person can’t regularly tell the difference between 2k and 4k screen resolutions.
Regardless, Full HD will remain for a long time yet as an easy, low-cost format.
UHD (Ultra High Definition)
Ultra HD has been all the rage in recent years. Think about it: a resolution of 3840 x 2160p (what UHD offers) is four times that of FHD. If full HD is already decent, ultra HD must be out-of-this-world amazing.
That idea isn’t unfounded. The huge number of pixels that UHD can pack into a screen makes it very worthwhile for the graphically inclined. If you care about visuals, you will notice a difference!
Arguments about diminishing returns apply more to extreme resolutions like 6k or 8k more than they do to 4k. There is a clear improvement between 1080p and UHD so long as you are actually playing videos and games and using software that supports 4k. With support for UHD quickly becoming the norm, that isn’t a high bar.
Another great thing about UHD is that more pixels mean you can have a larger screen. If you tried to use a 1080p resolution with a 32” screen, you would see a lot of pixelation because those pixels are spread out over a huge surface. That’s a dealbreaker for anyone doing graphics work or even trying to do long-distance spotting in video games like Apex Legends.
Of course, UHD isn’t without faults. The first problem is expense; you can get “budget” UHD monitors for as low as $200, but you’ll be sacrificing other features. Extremely high-quality UHD monitors often hover closer to $300 to $700.
UHD also is more power-hungry than FHD purely by the nature of having that many pixels. It’s going to be difficult to use 4k regularly if you are planning on purchasing a laptop or you are trying to save electricity.
Whether or not the benefits outweigh the drawbacks is up to you, but UHD is already becoming more and more common as a monitor screen format.
FHD vs. UHD Monitors: 5 Must-Know Facts
- FHD and UHD are types of screen formats with different resolutions, but both of them use a 16:9 aspect ratio.
- UHD has four times the resolution of FHD, putting a lot of distance between the two formats.
- Ultra HD is significantly more power-hungry than 1080p (FHD). You should switch to 1080p resolution if you want to save electricity or have your laptop unplugged.
- Resolution isn’t always the deciding factor for monitor prices, so you can get both FHD and UHD monitors for $200.
- Generally speaking, UHD is significantly pricier than FHD if you want to have it alongside other high-quality monitor features.
FHD vs. UHD Monitors: Which is Better?
FHD and UHD monitors are both popular for a reason. Ultimately, neither of them is strictly better than the other because we all have to deal with limitations like money and energy. On visuals alone, UHD is significantly better. But is it worth it for you?
There are a lot of reasons to stick with full HD. If you don’t have a ton of money to drop on a monitor, then you’ll probably want to go for monitor features other than resolution. For example, you could put your monitor budget toward getting a display with a nicer LCD screen panel.
Plus, if you’re not too worried about having perfect graphics, then you don’t need a 4k resolution. The times when it will come into play the most are if you do visual design for your job, you play games as your main hobby (or even profession), or if you want a really big screen.
Certainly, wanting a 32” screen will pretty much preclude you from using FHD. 1080p isn’t going to do the job very well even if you don’t need professional-level graphics because of how pixelated the screen will be.
No matter what monitor you choose, make sure the resolution isn’t over-optimized or under-optimized, given your particular situation. Everyone has different needs for their computer setup; a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.
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