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Ultrawide vs. 4K: Full Monitor Comparison for Work and Gaming Use

Ultrawide vs. 4K: Full Monitor Comparison for Work and Gaming Use

Key Points

  • Ultrawide monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9, which widens the field of view and is ideal for certain creative projects and gaming.
  • 4K monitors have a higher resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, making them better for tasks that require higher image quality like image or video processing.
  • Ultrawide monitors generally have a higher refresh rate between 100Hz and 200Hz, providing smoother motion for videos and games.
  • Ultrawide monitors are best for applications that require more screen real estate, while 4K monitors are suitable for all kinds of tasks and offer better screen sharing capabilities.
  • Standard 4K monitors are slightly cheaper than ultrawide monitors, with prices starting around $200.

Whether you’re an avid gamer or work at a desk all day, investing in a good monitor is essential. Today, most options come down to ultrawide and 4K models.

The former is ideal for gaming, even though the aspect ratio might make it unsuitable for competitive gaming. Meanwhile, 4K monitors have a standard aspect ratio and could be the better choice for competitive gaming and productivity.

This in-depth comparison highlights the strengths and downsides of each monitor type, helping you choose the right one.

Let’s dive right in!

Ultrawide vs. 4K: Side-by-Side Comparison

Ultrawide Monitor4K Monitor
Aspect Ratio21:916:9
ResolutionFHD to QHD4K (UHD)
Refresh Rate100Hz to 200Hz60Hz to 160Hz
Best for Work?NoYes
Best for Gaming?YesYes
Price RangeAround $350 to $1,800Around $200 to $1,500
Great Ultrawide Pick
LG UltraWide FHD 29-Inch Computer Monitor 29WQ600-W
$229.99
  • 29-inch IPS screen
  • HDR 10 compatibility
  • AMD FreeSync
  • USB Type-C
  • White
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 05:42 pm GMT
Top 4K Option
ViewSonic VP3268a-4K 32-Inch Premium IPS 4K Monitor
$787.95
  • 32-inch IPS 4K display
  • Advanced ergonomics
  • ColorPro 100% sRGB
  • 14-bit 3D LUT
  • Eye care
  • HDR 10 support
  • HDMI, USB-C, DisplayPort
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 05:42 pm GMT

Ultrawide vs. 4K: What’s the Difference?

For a long time, the only way to increase your screen real estate was through the use of a multiple-monitor setup. Ultrawide monitors have been invented to address this need, but can they replace dual-monitor systems?

Let’s see how the ultrawide and standard 4K monitors compare to find the right option for your gaming room or home office.

Aspect Ratio

The main difference between ultrawide and 4K monitors is the aspect ratio, which is the ratio of the image’s width to its height, expressed in units. For instance, a 1:1 aspect ratio means that the image is square (the width and the height are the same).

Currently, standard width monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9. This aspect ratio fits a great amount of detail on both width and height, and because it is the most commonly used aspect ratio, it is ideal for projects where you have to share your screen with collaborators. However, the screen real estate could be too limited for certain applications.

Ultrawide monitors aim to fix this issue, although the extra screen space might not make a dramatic difference. Typically, ultrawide monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9, which is about one-third larger than 16:9.

Such an aspect ratio widens the field of view, which can be essential for certain creative projects. Gamers may also appreciate the larger aspect ratio, as they can see more of the battlefield at once. However, because seeing more of the field gives you an advantage over the opponents, most multi-player competitive games are limited to a 16:9 aspect ratio.

In this case, using an ultrawide monitor means that you’ll end up with dark spaces around the image, which could be distracting. This is why a 4K monitor is your best choice for competitive gaming.

Resolution

Another difference between ultrawide and 4K monitors is the resolution. Despite their large size, ultrawide monitors rarely exceed a QHD resolution, which roughly corresponds to 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. More often than not, they have a full HD resolution, which is 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

As their name suggests, 4K monitors have a 4K (UHD) resolution, which corresponds to 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. That’s a lot more compared to ultrawide monitors, ultimately meaning that you can enjoy higher image quality.

For some tasks, this difference doesn’t matter all that much. For instance, if you mainly use the PC for writing, editing, programming, or bookkeeping, you might not care about seeing the text and numbers in ultra-high definition.

However, a 4K monitor can make the difference for creative tasks, such as image or video processing. Most games also display a greater amount of detail on a 4K monitor, which is another reason to choose this monitor type if you’re an avid gamer.

LG UltraWide Monitors vs Samsung Ultrawides
An ultrawide monitor has an aspect ratio of 21:9 and is ideal for multitasking.

Refresh Rate

While ultrawide monitors can’t compete with the 4K monitors in terms of resolution, they have an advantage regarding the refresh rate. Most ultrawide monitors have a refresh rate between 100Hz and 200Hz, whereas the vast majority of 4K monitors have a refresh rate of only 60Hz or 70Hz.

A higher refresh rate is desirable when processing videos or playing video games as it provides smoother motion. However, even if ultrawide monitors generally have a higher refresh rate, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find a suitable option in the 4K category.

In fact, some high-end 4K models offer refresh rates up to 160Hz. That’s enough for most purposes, including playing action games. On the flip side, 4K monitors with a higher refresh rate are generally more expensive than similar ultrawide monitors.

Applications

Choosing between an ultrawide and a 4K monitor ultimately comes down to your needs. Ultrawide models are the best choice for applications that require more screen real estate — for instance, they are ideal for gaming, especially if you want to see more of the battlefield at once.

Ultrawide monitors are also a good choice for writers and editors who want to read and write simultaneously. For instance, you can keep sources open on one half of the screen and your writing software or app on the other half of the screen. Multitaskers who don’t want to use a dual-monitor setup might also find more value in an ultrawide model.

However, standard 4K monitors are typically suitable for all kinds of tasks. Gamers are able to enjoy more details, even if they might not see as much of the battlefield. A 4K monitor is better for competitive gaming, especially if the game you play has a native 16:9 aspect ratio.

A standard 4K monitor is also more suitable for screen sharing, allowing all collaborators to see the full image (users of a standard monitor are often unable to see the full screen when shared from an ultrawide monitor). Moreover, if you need lots of screen real estate, a dual-monitor setup using 4K monitors brings higher resolution and image quality than an ultrawide or super-ultrawide monitor.

Price Range

Whether you want an ultrawide or a 4K monitor, there are plenty of options for all budgets. However, standard 4K monitors are slightly cheaper. Average prices start around $200 for a basic model and can go as high as $1,500 for a smart monitor.

Ultrawide monitors have a starting price of around $350. Smart and curved ultrawide monitors are a lot more expensive, sometimes exceeding $1,800. In both cases, the prices are influenced by the brand, features, refresh rate, and monitor type (LCD or OLED).

Ultrawide vs. 4K: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Ultrawide and 4K monitors are designed for gaming and professional use, especially for content creation.
  • Most ultrawide monitors have FHD or QHD resolution. Boasting ultra-high definition (UHD), 4K monitors deliver higher-quality images.
  • An aspect ratio of 21:9 makes ultrawide monitors a better choice for casual gamers and multitasking if you don’t want a dual-monitor setup.
  • Standard-width 4K monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is the native aspect ratio of most apps and games and the standard aspect ratio used in competitive gaming.
  • Ultrawide monitors are generally more expensive than 4K monitors.
Great Ultrawide Pick
LG UltraWide FHD 29-Inch Computer Monitor 29WQ600-W
$229.99
  • 29-inch IPS screen
  • HDR 10 compatibility
  • AMD FreeSync
  • USB Type-C
  • White
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 05:42 pm GMT
Top 4K Option
ViewSonic VP3268a-4K 32-Inch Premium IPS 4K Monitor
$787.95
  • 32-inch IPS 4K display
  • Advanced ergonomics
  • ColorPro 100% sRGB
  • 14-bit 3D LUT
  • Eye care
  • HDR 10 support
  • HDMI, USB-C, DisplayPort
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 05:42 pm GMT

Ultrawide vs. 4K: Which One Should You Buy?

Choosing between an ultrawide and a 4K monitor comes down to your needs. If you want to split the screen between various apps, an ultrawide model might be the best choice for you.

However, a 4K monitor with an aspect ratio of 16:9 is generally big enough for most purposes. Scaling the content at this aspect ratio is typically easier, and you can get maximum screen real estate by using a dual-monitor setup. This is the better choice for most purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of an ultrawide monitor?

Ultrawide monitors provide more usable space in productivity apps and games, but they can take up a lot of space on your desk. Sharing the screen can also be troublesome, especially if your collaborators use standard width monitors. However, if you mostly work on individual projects, an ultrawide monitor could replace a dual-monitor setup.

Is 21:9 better than 16:9?

Both aspect ratios have their advantages, but the 16:9 is more common and has better compatibility with most games and apps.

Is it better to have two monitors or a big one?

It depends on your purpose, but a dual-monitor setup typically offers higher resolution and more screen real estate than any ultrawide monitor.

Is QHD better than 4K for gaming?

No, QHD is not better than 4K for gaming. The latter offers two times better details than QHD, improving your gaming experience.

Why aren't ultrawide monitors 4K?

Ultrawide monitors have more pixels horizontally than vertically, and this distribution makes it difficult to achieve a 4K resolution. The vast majority of ultrawide monitors are FHD or QHD.

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