The hardware requirements for 4K Resolution
4K resolution is the next big thing in home cinema and the gaming industry. It is expected that in the next 10-15 years, almost half of the western population will have 4K-capable TVs and monitors in their household. But getting a 4K monitor is just a first step. To run stuff on Ultra HD you will need to build a powerful rig. It is completely different from setting an ordinary computer and will require some research and knowledge on this subject. That is why we have put together this guide on what hardware you need to have in order to run videos and games in 4K resolution.
Buying the Right Graphic Card
While buying a 4K monitor is easy, buying the right graphic card to run Ultra HD might be hard for some people. There are a number of factors you need to keep in mind when picking your graphic card, but one thing is certain, this will not be an economical shopping trip.
First of all, you need a graphic card with a lot of video RAM. Besides the raw computing power of your PC, you will need a lot of video RAM in order to run games in high resolution and with high enough FPS. We tested both NVidia 780 GTX Ti and Radeon 295X2 and both of these graphic cards fared pretty well. NVidia’s card ran most of the games with no problems, but it has stumbled when running Crysis 3 on highest settings. The average 3 FPS was unacceptable. The only reason this happened was because the card ran out of video RAM.
On the other hand, Radeon 295X2 performed better on Crysis 3 because of its 4GB of RAM, compared to GTX`s 3GB. We should say one more thing, you should get at least two GPU’s. All the tests we did were run on rigs with two GPU’s in them.
Now that you have a monitor and the graphics card the only thing left to do is to connect everything. But this isn’t as easy as plugging an HDMI cable in your monitor and PC, it requires a little bit of research. The problem is that most HDMI cables can’t handle the 4K resolution and DVI ports are not powerful enough. There are some HDMI cables that can run the 4K resolution, but only at 30 FPS. In order to drive a 60Hz 4K monitor, you will need a different solution.
A buddy from Universal Home Theater told me that the only way to run Ultra HD is to use DisplayPort. It is the only one that is capable of running 4K resolution at 60Hz and has all the necessary graphics card support. Also, you will need to get the newest DisplayPort cable, because the older versions are incapable of running high enough resolutions.
4K monitors don’t come without their own problems and issues. They are relatively new on the market and developers often don’t count in the resolutions and scaling for them. The first problem that you can encounter is the resolution relative to the screen size. Windows desktop and interface doesn’t cope well with high pixel density in 4K monitors and because of this, icons and web pages might seem like they are out of focus. This problem might occur with games too. User Interface in games usually doesn’t scale, but even if you can scale it up you lose sharpness.
Other problems are with the refresh rate. 60Hz has been a standard for a long period. To achieve this refresh rate on the 4K monitor you will need to have a beast of the computer. That is why a lot of manufacturers decided to cap these monitors on 30Hz. This means you will not be getting more than 30 FPS in your games, regardless of your hardware. But with constant improvements in the electronics, we think that this issue won’t be bothering us for too long.
This brings our article to an end. We hope that you got a better insight on how 4K monitors work and what hardware is required to run them properly. As you can see there are some hurdles that manufacturers still need to overcome, but we are certain that in the next couple of years all of these issues will be solved and you will be able to enjoy gaming in Ultra HD.
A guest post by Raul Harman.