Help Me, Tom's Guide: 4K or 1440p for My 32-Inch Monitor?

When you're buying a new monitor, resolution matters. But just how high should you go? It's a question both hard-core gamers and everyday users,including our own readers, face daily.

Tom's Guide user "schlange" writes:

Hi Guys,

Right off the bat, you should know that higher resolutions tend to make text even smaller, as Windows scales what you see on-screen based on the maximum pixel count of your display. So although a 4K or 1440p monitor can certainly make your text look sharper, you'll still have to do some manual adjusting to make things look bigger.

As such, you might be better off sticking with what you have or looking for a bigger 1080p monitor. However, 32-inch 1080p monitors are hard to come by — you'll find more TVs at that size and resolution. In the case of your specific question, you'd be just fine with a 1440p 32-inch display, such as Samsung's $379 S32D850T.

Your Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card is more than powerful enough for a 4K monitor, but if you don't plan on gaming heavily, you'll still enjoy great overall picture quality and smooth frame rates for graphics-intensive activities on a cheaper 1440p display. You still might have to do some fiddling if you're having trouble seeing text, but the bump in quality will be noticeable.

As we pointed out in our 4K vs. 1080p gaming showdown, 1440p is a happy middle ground between smoothness and fidelity for most folks with a good gaming PC.

I'll finish answering this question with a question of my own: Are you sure you need a $549 GTX 1080 graphics card? It's certainly the best overall GPU out there right now, but if you're not a huge gamer, you can save a good chunk of money by picking up a $249 Nvidia GTX 1060 or $169 AMD Radeon RX 480, both of which are still strong enough for mainstream gaming and VR.

Hopefully, this advice helps you out. And if you're still on the fence about which display to buy, check out our top picks for gaming monitors.

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Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.