When you’re building a desktop PC or finding a monitor for your laptop, you should never underestimate the part that screen resolution plays in determining how much you can do with your device. The right screen can help with your eye strain, elevate your gaming or photo editing, or even make for sharper streaming or movie watching.
If you’re finding that your laptop screen needs more pixels, then purchasing a monitor for higher resolutions may be in the cards. Screen resolution is a complicated thing to understand, so determining whether you need to buy a 1440p resolution monitor or not can be a tough decision without some research.
Lucky for you, we’ll be covering all you need to know about the screen resolution, how to check your resolution, and what you should be aiming for. Stick with us as we inform you with our ultimate guide to the screen resolution.
Your Guide to Screen Resolution
Here’s the run-down of what screen resolution it is: Whether it’s your laptop screen or external monitor, the screen display resolution is made up of thousands of pixels. These tiny pixels show to depict a single color, which may not seem very impressive at first but combined they form the screen you’re reading this guide on now!
So when you’re watching a video and see 1080, or full HD, that describes the number of pixels on the screen – 1920 x 1080 (1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels down). The more amount of pixels or higher pixel density, the clear and sharp the image quality is on your screen. Certain laptops, like the Alienware Aurora, are made for gaming and boost the vividness of their pixels to increase your experience.
And when it comes to monitors for your desktop or laptop, pixel density is also a major factor. If you have a 32-inch and 24-inch with the same resolution (1920 x 1080 for example), you’ll find the 24-inch looks a lot better thanks to pixel density. This is commonly known as Pixels Per Inch (PPI).
So bigger isn’t always better when it comes to monitors, which usually goes against the first instinct that people have when purchasing one. It’s always best to make sure to test your laptop or monitor for its native resolution before you find a monitor for it.
What is Native Screen Resolution?
A neat little trick to know is that the resolution that your monitor or screen has isn’t the only resolution that it can display. The native screen resolution is the resolution that you see when you buy it, which is the one that your monitor performs best in.
You can change the resolution of your screen, but you can only support resolutions that are lower than what you currently have. If you have a screen with a native resolution such as a 4K laptop, then you can always reduce the screen resolution down to 1920 x 1080.
How to Check your Screen Resolution
Now that you have a better idea about what screen resolution is and what your native resolution could be, it’s pretty easy to check and see. We’ve listed how to check the screen resolution of your Windows or Mac computer in a few easy steps.
If you have a desktop PC that resides in a case, this should be the same for you as well.
If you’re on a Windows device and you want to check and change what your display resolutions are, it’s super simple! All you need to do is to go to display settings on your device, which you can easily do by searching “Display Settings“.
From there, you should be presented with your display resolution, aspect ratio, screen size, etc. The Display Resolution is the one you’re looking for and should contain the current resolution that your device is using.
You can change the resolution by clicking the drop-down menu and choosing another one. The resolution will be presented to you once you click it and your Windows screen resolution will change to the one you chose. This may cause screen tearing or distortion since the resolution you chose may not be suited for your device.
You can thankfully simply just choose not to apply the chosen resolution and you’ll quickly be back to what it was before. Computer monitors perform best with their native resolution.
Next, we’ll be tackling your Mac computer screen, which follows a similar logic to the Windows one. Find and click the Apple icon on the top leftmost part of the screen, whether you have a Mac or Macbook, and it should open up a window.
From there, find “Displays” and your native screen resolution, which is your highest resolution, should be displayed there. If you want to change it to a lower resolution, click on “Display Preferences” and select “Scaled“. From there you should be able to alter the physical size of fonts and different resolutions.
What Should your Screen Resolution Be?
The ideal display resolution truly depends on what you’ll mainly be using your device for and what the capabilities of your device are. We’ve listed some of the most common fields where screen resolution may matter and the best image quality for those fields. Stick with us because your occupation may be listed below!
For working on digital art and graphic design, you’d want a high resolution to be able to any higher image quality for your final product. Aim for about 1920 x 1080, although you can comprise up to about 1360 x 768 before the lower resolutions begin to hinder your work.
Certain applications and software like JDK can put a strain on your computer, doubly so if you play to go for high refresh rates and high resolutions. Anything beyond 1920 x 1080 will likely put your graphics card to the test as the applications you use will put a strain on it.
Photography is where the more individual pixels you have on your screen, the better! When you take a picture with your camera, the resolution can reach a staggering 5K, which even 4K resolution screens will be unable to show without a bit of compression. Aim for ultra HD anyway as you want to ensure that you keep the most of your camera’s excellent resolution.
This truly depends on the standard that people watch videos these days. The resolution is constantly improving, and most tablets, mobile phones, and touchscreen laptops are currently set at a standard of about 1080p.
You’ll want a screen that can handle 1920 x 1080 – anything lower and you may find trouble with editing a video that will be published at a higher resolution.
If you’re planning to write or program and are looking for the right screen resolution, then we’d again recommend anything between 1360 x 768 and 1902 x 1080. The only factor that you shouldn’t comprise on is a larger monitor.
Writing and programming need intense focus and your new monitor should be large to reduce eye strain over the long run!
Frequently Asked Questions
We often receive some frequently asked questions from people asking about specific elements of screen resolutions that we just aren’t able to fit into our articles. Below are the three most common questions that we’ve received, with the corresponding answer below. Who knows? Yours may be among them!
What is P in screen resolution?
You may be tempted to think that the “P” in 1080p stands for pixels, but instead, it stands for progressive. Progressive is short for progressive scan, which is how the pixels are rendered on your device’s screen.
That being said, 1080 in 1080p stands for the number of pixels vertically, and 1920 is the number of pixels that span your grid horizontally. This doesn’t account for pixel density.
Why is 1920×1080 recommended?
1920 x 1080 is the most popular resolution because it is the beginning of full HD resolution. If you have a 2-in-1 laptop or are planning to use your laptop as a monitor, then you’d benefit from using a 1920 x 1080p display as this will give you the most vivid HD experience for the least amount of pixels on your display device.
What is HD quality p?
The HD quality starts at 1920 x 1080p, which keeps its HD status the higher up you go from there. HD quality is a prized resolution that you can use when you’re gaming with your Macbook.
Although keep in mind your GPU may suffer from a high resolution when you run a very intensive program or application.
And that’s it! Hopefully, that answers all the pixels and screen resolution questions that you may have had coming into this and now understand what resolution of the screen works best for your device.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.