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Why a 32" 4K monitor is your best choice for console gaming

BenQ
2019/07/04
why-32-inch-4k-monitor-is-your-best-choice-for-console

4K has been around for enough years to be mainstream technology by now. You can easily find 4K content on streaming platforms, UHD Blu-ray discs, and even on YouTube. So, what about 4K gaming?

If you have been catching up with the news, then you know that newer console version now support 4K. However, displays of this resolution often come at a premium compared to 1080p. Is it worth buying a 4K monitor for console gaming? And if yes, then how big should it be?

Let us look at three crucial specs of 4K that perfectly illustrate why a 32″ 4K monitor is an ideal platform for proper console gaming.

Screen Size

Simply going with the biggest screen is not always the best choice. That is because the bigger the screen size the longer the distance you need to sit away from it. Also, the bigger the screen the slower the response time. 

If you are gaming on a monitor using a controller, instead of keyboard and mouse, the distance to the display is somewhat larger than traditional PC gaming. About one meter gives you enough space to sit back in your chair while you embark on a cinematic gaming experience. 

To calculate the optimal viewing distance, we have to consider the field of view of the human eye. SMPTE guidelines recommend sitting at a range where the screen fills up a minimum of 30° of your field of vision, while THX recommends 40° for a more cinematic experience. An easy way to calculate this distance is multiplying the screen size by 1.2 for a cinematic viewing distance or 1.6 for standard usage. 

At this distance and using the guidelines mentioned above, a 32″ screen size offers the most immersive viewing while still providing some flexibility to jump back and enjoy gaming and movies from further away.

Monitor Size

Standard Distance - 30°

Cinematic Distance - 40°

Monitor Size

24″

Standard Distance - 30°

98 cm

Cinematic Distance - 40°

73 cm

Monitor Size

28″

Standard Distance - 30°

114 cm

Cinematic Distance - 40°

85 cm

Monitor Size

32″

Standard Distance - 30°

130 cm

Cinematic Distance - 40°

98 cm

Table 1. Recommended viewing distances for different monitor sizes.

Resolution

Besides screen size, resolution is another relevant spec to consider. 4K, also called UHD or 2160p, is the highest of the most common resolutions for monitors and televisions. It is precisely 3840 pixels wide and 2160 pixels tall and gives you four times the pixel count of 1080p. 

In terms of resolution, usually more is better. The more pixels a screen has, the sharper the displayed image is. As a tradeoff, higher resolutions require more power from the source to drive all those pixels. Due to this tradeoff, 2K monitors became very popular with PC gamers.

Video game consoles work a little different. They are highly optimized systems designed for a specific target resolution. Current generation PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X offer support for 4K games and video, and upcoming next gen consoles scheduled to release late 2020 are specifically designed to run at 4K or above. If you also consider the vast amount of 4K video content available, it seems like buying a UHD display is a safe bet and a future-proof investment.

Pixels Per Inch

A spec that helps tie resolution and screen size together is PPI, or pixels per inch. Pixels have no specific physical size. Their dimensions depend on the number of pixels you line up within a particular space. If you have 1000 pixels in a 10" area, then this is equal to 100 PPI (1000 pixels ÷ 10″ = 100 PPI).

The smaller the screen size is at a specific resolution, the higher the PPI. The higher the PPI, the smaller the physical size of the pixels. For example, a 32″ monitor with a 1080p resolution has 69 PPI. At 4K, the same monitor's PPI is 138, meaning more and smaller pixels within the same area.

Monitor Size 1080p 1440p 4K
Monitor Size
24″
1080p
92 PPI
1440p
123 PPI
4K
184 PPI
Monitor Size
28″
1080p
79 PPI
1440p
105 PPI
4K
157 PPI
Monitor Size
32″
1080p
69 PPI
1440p
92 PPI
4K
138 PPI

Table 2. Pixels per inch (PPI) of monitors in different resolution and size combination.

A higher PPI results in sharper images, but there are also a few limitations. Designers define the size of graphics elements in games and computers using pixels, not inches. A 100-pixel line looks longer in a low PPI monitor, but it is shorter in a high PPI one. Elements and text on the screen can become unreadable if PPI is too high.

Another limitation is how PPI compares to the human eye's ability to resolve resolution. Under ideal circumstances, our eyes can distinguish 60 lines per degree of view. At a viewing distance of about 91 centimeters, that translates to a maximum of 191 lines per inch, which means that watching a display with a PPI higher than 191 from this distance does not provide any visible benefit.

With resolutions like 1080p, you don't want things to be blurry and too big on a large screen. At higher resolutions like 4K, you don't want elements to be unreadable on a screen that is too small. Considering these limitations and the human eye's resolving power, a good range for monitors is 100 to 150 PPI. 

Distance Human Eye Max PPI
Distance
61 cm
Human Eye Max PPI
286 PPI
Distance
91 cm
Human Eye Max PPI
191 PPI
Distance
152 cm
Human Eye Max PPI
115 PPI
Distance
305 cm
Human Eye Max PPI
57 PPI

Table 3. Human eye resolving power related to viewing distance.

Conclusion

If you want to take full advantage of current and next gen 4K consoles, as well as available 4K video content, buying a 32″ 4K monitor is your best choice. 

Considering the viewing distance and PPI limitations explained above, it becomes clear that a 32" screen is a perfect fit for 4K cinematic gaming. A 32″ 4K monitor like the BenQ EW3270U gives you everything you need to enjoy the future of gaming and content in HDR 4K, all in one product.

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