2160p vs. 1080p: Is 2160p Better Than 1080p?


1080p is the resolution for Full High Definition (FHD or Full HD) video. It specifically measures 1920 x 1080 pixels and is superior to 720p (which is also technically HD but not Full HD). This is in contrast with 2160p, which is more popularly known as 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD or Ultra HD).

4K or 2160p measures 3840 × 2160 pixels, so the 4K part is rounded off. However, you can avail of true DCI 4K at 4096 × 2160 pixels instead.  In regards to 2160p vs 1080p: is 2160p better than 1080p? Well, 4K has higher resolution than 1080p for sure. However, let’s dissect what makes both 2160p and 1080p tick.

Comparison Chart

Let’s compare 4K and 1080p chart-wise.

Categories1080p2160p
Also Known AsFull High Definition or FHD4K or Ultra High Definition or UHD
Pixel Count1920 x 1080 pixels3840 x 2160 pixels (4K UHD) or 4096 x 2160 pixels (DCI 4K UHD)

 

Types1080p (FHD progressive scan) distinguishes itself from 1080i (FHD interlaced) and 720p (HD) resolutions.4K UHD distinguishes itself from 8K UHD (which measures 7680 x 4320 pixels) by being more available among projectors and HDTVs.

In fact, projectors presently can only go up to 3840 x 2160 4K resolution.

Features1080p uses progressive scanning compared to 1080i and its interlaced format.

This allows for better motion when rendering fast-moving uncompressed content with loads of frames per second.

4K has twice the resolution of FHD.

4K and 8K resolutions both use progressive scan since interlaced scanning is a relic of the past for analog video.

Technically, 4K UHD in projectors is rounded off and is actually 3840 x 2160 pixels. DCI 4K offers the full 4096 x 2160 pixels.

Display TypeA common HD video type for small televisions and mid 2000s to mid 2010s projectors.Becoming more and more common for huge HDTVs and the latest projectors from the late 2010s to the early 2020s.

 

What is 1080p? What is 2160p?

In projector terms, 1080p is the standard Full HD resolution of projectors, whether it’s upscaled 720p to 1080p or native 1080p. 2160p or 4K is the level beyond Full HD, otherwise known as Ultra HD. At present 4K is the highest resolution possible for projectors.

8K to 10K resolution is possible with HDTVs and PCs, but ironically the increased extra pixels would probably fit better on a 100-inch (or higher) projector screen than a 55-inch or less HDTV screen or HD computer monitor.

You may also like: The Ultimate Cord Cutting Guide: How to Watch TV Without Cable or Satellite

1080p FHD Projectors and HDTVs

Full High Definition, FHD, or Full HD projectors use 1080p or progressive scan. The interlaced standard is more common back in the analog days of media. Progressive scan is the preferred standard for fast motion uncompressed video.

Progressive scan means the pixels of every row is scanned in sequential order instead of interlaced, where pixel rows are scanned alternately (this causes motion blurs). It has 1,920 pixels vertically and 1,080 pixels horizontally.

Together, this produces a total of 2 million pixels (2,073,600 pixels specifically) or 2 megapixels/2MP.

2160p vs 1080p v2
Image credit by Yannis Zaugg on unsplash.com

2160p 4K UHD Projectors and HDTVs

Ultra High Definition, Ultra HD, or UHD is the 4K or 2160p resolution. This ranges from 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K UHD) or 4096 x 2160 pixels (DCI 4K UHD). DCI 4K is true 4K while the 4K you get from a projector isn’t. It’s more like approximately 4K when you round it off.

Nevertheless, 3840 x 2160 pixels is a lot. This is about 8 megapixels/8MP of pixels overall, which translates to 8,294,400 pixels. That’s multiple times the pixels of 1080p and works best when fitted on huge cinematic screens measuring 100 inches or more.

UHD can also reach 8K or 33MP, which is relevant to PCs and HDTVs but not so much with projectors. Projectors can only reach about 3840 x 2160 pixels at the time of this writing.

Is a 2160p Projector worth the Upgrade from 1080p?

Is 2160p resolution a huge improvement from 1080p? Kind of. It works best with those modern games like Breath of the Wild or Doom Eternal. You know, those 60FPS or higher games that move so smoothly it feels like you’re looking at real-life things instead of polygons.

With HD video, most of them are still at 1080p and their 4K equivalents are mostly upscales. This is why many claim 4K isn’t huge improvement despite mathematically, it’s four times the resolution possible with 1080p Full HD (2MP vs. 8MP).

Law of Diminishing Returns is in Effect

The human eye can’t resolve the amount of detail change between 1080p and 2160p when compared to the difference between 480p to 720p or 1080p. This suggests you should probably go for 8K instead. Then again, as mentioned, 8K doesn’t exist in the projector world.

On the other hand, the real difference between 2160p and 1080p is more significant and obvious with projectors because of the sheer size of their screens. Those 8 million pixels fit better on a 100-inch screen compared to 2 million pixels, thus more detail and movement realism is achieved.

However, 4K does open you up to other features such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) display technology. The color gradations of HDR is less obvious and smoother, resulting in literally more colorful imagery when push comes to shove.

4K is the wave of the future of HD entertainment, but it should be contained within the larges of UHD projector screens since an HDTV might only have a screen so small 1080p and 2160p are practically indistinguishable from each other.

Videos

Here are videos regarding the subject.

Final Thoughts

Our personal two cents is this. To make a 2160p upgrade worthwhile, you should get a projector screen size beyond 55 inches. This is good because most projectors have 100-inch screens anyway by default. In fact, 4K is more apparent when used with a projector than with an HDTV.

To be more specific, when viewing video from a 4K Blu-Ray Player or HD video from a Triple-A game on the PS5, you get more out of your investment from a projector because the naturally large screens can better fit those millions of pixels without blowing up or shrinking the image too much.

References:

  1. Is a 2160p TV worth the upgrade from 1080p? Is it really a noticeable difference in quality for movies and gaming?“, Quora.com, April 8, 2017
  2. What does 2160 p mean and is it better than 1080p?”, BestBuy.com Questions, September 7, 2017
  3. Robert Silva, “Screen Resolution: FHD vs UHD“, Lifewire.com, February 6, 2020
  4. Liza Brown, “4K VS 1080P: Why 4K is Better than 1080P“, Fimora.Wondershare.com, March 24,

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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