Uh oh – some people with new 1440p monitors may actually be running monitors with 4K panels instead, a kind of bait-and-switch for gamers, for example, who buy a monitor with a 1440p panel for the high refresh rates not realizing they’re really getting a downscaled 4K display.
The German website Prad.de citing sources close to unnamed panel manufacturers claims some people who own Quad HD monitors — 1440p products being highly recommended for and by gamers — might be unwittingly using a 4k panel. Why that’s bad is the fact that 4k panels of course have higher resolutions that QHD panels, but since they have to be downscaled the image on a 1440p monitor with a 4k panel will end up looking worse than one with a 1440p panel.
The German site didn’t name specific manufacturers or list any 1440p models with the downscaled panels. In explaining what’s going on, the site also walks through how the economics involved can lead to the practice. As Digital Trends notes, “the costs of producing a 27-inch 4K 3840 x 2160 panel (are) often lower, or at least the same price as, creating a 27-inch 2560 x 1440 QHD panel.” Companies tend to produce such monitors — with 4K panels while advertised as 1440p — “when panel supplies are low or monitor demand is high.”
If you have one of these downscaled monitors, you don’t get the better refresh rates or other benefits people typically seek out when buying a lower-resolution monitor. You also unfortunately don’t get the benefit of the 4K monitor if you happen to own one of these mischaracterized products. The panel’s firmware limits the resolution to 1440p.
1440p panels, DT notes, “tend to have better feature sets like higher refresh rates, and even if it’s not always the case that they are more affordable by themselves, graphics card requirements are far lower with a 1440p display. That doesn’t mean 4K displays don’t have their uses, but when people buy a 1440p monitor, that’s what they want, not a downscaled 4K one.”
Techspot gives you a way to check if you’re using one of these affected monitors. Screen text can appear fuzzier or blurry on 1440p monitors that use 4K panels. “If you want to be certain, try to find where it specifies the model’s pixel size. On a 27-inch 1440p monitor, it should be around 0.23mm, whereas with 4K panels it’s 0.16mm.”