So you’ve looked at many laptop models out there and chosen the brand and model you prefer. But the model you like has two display variants: 4K (UHD) and 1080p (Full HD). Now, it has become difficult to make the final decision.

What’s the difference between these two displays? Which display option will serve your needs and budget without any regrets in the future?

This article will compare 4K and 1080p laptop displays and help you make the right decision.

What are 4K (UHD) and 1080p (Full HD) Displays?

4K or ultra high definition (UHD) or Ultra HD laptops have 3840 x 2160 video resolution (i.e., 3840 pixels running from left to right of a display for every horizontal line and 2160 pixels running from top to bottom of a screen for very vertical line).

On the other hand, 1080p (Full HD) laptops have a video resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This means that for every horizontal line on a display, there are 1920 pixels running from left to right, and 1080 pixels running from top to bottom for every vertical line on a laptop’s display.

Many laptops come with 1080p (Full HD) displays. While Others like Dell XPS 15, Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, have 1080p (Full HD) or 4K display resolutions versions. 4K displays have more pixels than 1080p displays. In fact, they have four times as much pixels as 1080p (Full HD) displays.

Things to Consider Before Buying a 4K or 1080p Laptop

Before we delve into the pros and cons of a 4K or 1080p laptop, there are key features you should consider before making a decision. Let’s look at these features:

1. Size

If you are looking at getting a 14-inch laptop, then a 1080p version is usually perfect. For larger screen sizes, a 17-inch, for instance, 4K display resolutions may be ideal.

2. Purpose

If your aim of getting a laptop is for performing light tasks like surfing the web, editing Office documents, reading books, and watching Full HD videos, then a 1080p (full HD) laptop will serve you very well.

Video and photo editing tasks are better handled by laptops with 4K resolutions because of the enhanced graphics they offer.

3. CPU

We’ve said that laptops with 4K (UHD) displays are good at handling photo and video editing tasks. Fine. But if you buy a laptop with a central processing unit (CPU) that does not quite match the demands of a 4K res, then you won’t enjoy it.

Make sure the 4K laptop you are buying has a fast CPU, and a fitting SSD to go with it. HP Spectre x360 and Dell XPS 13 are excellent models to look at.

4. Budget

For a given model with 4K (UHD) and 1080p (Full HD) versions, the selling price is always different. A 4K model will cost more than its 1080 variant. If you are on a budget, a 1080p display resolution may be a preferred option.

With laptops, the more pixels, the more money you have to pay.

Pros and Cons of 4K (UHD) Laptops

Let’s look at the positives and downsides of 4K displays.

4K (UHD) Display – Pros

Here are the positives associated with 4K laptops:

1. Excellent for Video and Photo Editing

A 4K display is ideal for digital content creators. If you plan to do lots of video and photo editing jobs, we recommend a 4K (UHD) display. With a 4K display res, you won’t have problems running Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premier and the like.

2. Produces Cutting-Edge Images

This is one of the major selling points of most 4K resolution laptops. When it comes to image quality, 4K (UHD) laptops produce outstanding images that are very crisp, colorful, and sharp. Images on 4K displays tend to look natural. Of course, you get good text quality as well.

You would enjoy streaming videos and watching your favorite Netflix movies on a 4K laptop.

4K (UHD) Display – Cons

1. Quite Pricey

4K laptops are expensive. That’s the truth. The Dell XPS 13 is a top-notch laptop with a very good performance and excellent 4K display. 4K displays are pricey because of the number of pixels packed into the display. They contain higher pixels than 1080p displays.

If you do not have so much to spend on a laptop, you may want to settle for one with a 1080p display, all other specifications being the same.

2. Takes a Toll on Your Battery

If you’ve decided to get a 4K ultra HD res laptop, well, you have to live with the not-so-long battery performance associated with most 4K laptops. The battery life of a 1080p res laptop will always last longer than a UHD laptop.

Why do 4K displays affect battery life so much? The answer is simple: 4K displays have almost four times the number of pixels a traditional 1080p display has, this makes image rendering almost 4 times harder.

Rendering 8,294,400 million pixels (i.e., 3,840 pixels multiplied by 2,160 pixels) on a laptop display will surely take a toll on any laptop battery. Steer clear of 4K laptops if are concerned about consumption of energy.

3. Limited Availability

Some laptop manufacturers do not produce 4K and 1080p display resolution versions of the same laptop model. Most brands make a 1080p version of a model, and that is it.

Why is this? Some manufacturers are yet to embrace the 4K (UHD) technology. So if you intend to play games, and stream movies in ultra high definition, you may not have an assortment of models to choose from.

Pros and Cons of 1080p Laptops

We’ve seen why 4K displays are good and a few things you may not like. Now it’s the turn of 1080p display resolutions on laptops.

1080p Laptops – Pros

1. Better Battery Life

Unlike 4K displays that consume a lot of battery power because of the number of pixels (8,294,400 million pixels) to be rendered on a display, 1080p (Full HD) laptops have better battery life because less energy is required to render 2, 073, 600 million pixels (1,920 pixels multiplied by 1,080 pixels).

Your laptop will need less energy to keep fewer pixels on your screen.

2. Cheaper than 4K Laptops

1080p laptops are a lot cheaper than 4K laptops. Full HD displays are a good alternative for people struggling to fork out the cash required to get a 4K laptop.

You save some cash when you go for a 1080p version of a laptop model with two display options.

3. Perfect for Gaming

1080p laptops can run modern games with ease because they have a higher refresh rate than most 4K displays. Most 4K laptops have a max refresh rate of 60Hz, whereas 1080p laptops are known to have twice that refresh rate.

For instance, Dell XPS 13 which has a 4K display has a refresh rate of 60Hz, while a Full HD display laptop such as ASUS ROG Strix Scar II has a refresh rate of 240Hz.

A high refresh rate will give you a better gaming experience. So with a 1080p laptop, you get better FPS.

4. Can Handle Some Photo and Video Editing Tasks, Too

4K laptops are not the only laptops that can run photo and video editing programs. Some Full HD laptops can get the same job done, as well.

The difference is that 4K display resolutions do a better job than 1080p displays.

1080p Laptops – Cons

1. 1080p Colours Are Not Quite As Good As 4K Colours

When it comes to colour gamut, colour accuracy, contrast and saturation, 1080p displays are second best. A 1080p display won’t give you the same cutting-edge colours that a 4K laptop offers.

That said, some 1080p laptops have good colour accuracy. But if you care about excellent colour accuracy and colour gamut, your best bet is a laptop with a 4K display resolution.

2. Can’t Handle 4K Editing 

A 1080p (Full HD) laptop is a no-no for 4K tasks. It is simply a bad option for doing 4K-related things like streaming a 4K videos, and editing 4K photos and videos.

So Which One Should You Opt For?

The comparison chart below summarizes the best option you should opt for depending on your needs.

4k vs. 1080p laptops

Final Thoughts

Making a choice between 4K (UHD) and 1080p (Full HD) laptop pretty much depends on your preferences and needs. For everyday computing tasks, go for a 1080p laptop.  For advanced 4K-related jobs, an ultra high definition laptop will be ideal, however, be ready to shell out more money.