How to Run Games at 4K on a 1080p Monitor?

1080p is the current video resolution standard, meaning the next resolution that most of us will be playing at is 1080p. In other words, the next time you’re getting ready for a big game night, don’t prepare a playlist of 1080p videos; just go with it. 4K gaming is still in its infancy, but the technology is here. Already, game developers have begun to support the new resolution, and with a little bit of work, even mid-range gaming monitors can support it.

In this article, we’ll explain how to run 4K games on a 1080p display. The 4K gaming standard is actually fairly simple. All it requires is a new resolution, which monitors are beginning to support. We’ll also show you how to set up your monitor to support the new resolution and take advantage of the performance benefits that come with it.

What is 4K gaming?

4K gaming is the use of a higher resolution display than is normally found on a computer monitor. It can sometimes be used to display more data, such as when displaying video or images that are highly detailed, images that were captured in 4K, or images that represent a high-res version of a video. The extra resolution allows for smoother movement, more realistic lighting, and higher resolution textures.

Since 4K gaming requires an external display to provide the display resolution, not all laptops, smartphones, or tablets are suitable. Some devices, such as the Apple TV and certain gaming consoles, only support a select 4K resolution. It’s worth noting that 4K TVs are still a niche market, with only a few major TV manufacturers releasing 4K models in 2015.

Monitor support

If possible, we recommend picking a monitor that supports at least HDMI 2.0a, which is the standard for modern video monitors. Many modern gaming monitors also supportCrystalColor technology, which gives the display a second color sub-pixel for accurate and lifelike color reproduction. If you’re playing games that don’t use a resolution above 1080p (and most games don’t), then you don’t need to worry about this.

Beyond that, most modern gaming monitors also feature 1 x DisplayPort and 1 x HDMI 2.0b inputs, as well as an extra USB 3.0 port for connecting an external monitor or keyboard and mouse, and an SD card reader. You can check out our buying guide for the best gaming monitors to get a better idea of what’s out there.

The game itself

Some games, such as PUBG, have been optimized for the resolution, meaning that the game runs exactly at the resolution you set it to. Some games, like Mario Kart, run at two different resolutions to maintain performance. Just make sure the resolution is listed as an option in the game’s options menu.

If you want to take advantage of the extra resolution, simply lower the game’s scale to match your monitor’s resolution, or increase the Detail setting to improve the image quality.

Picture-in-picture

Some games, like Grand Theft Auto, support a feature called Picture-in-picture, which allows you to simultaneously see two different videos on the monitor, while playing a third video on the laptop or desktop.

To turn Picture-in-picture on or off in a game, look for the PIP button or option in the game’s options menu, and adjust the setting as needed. For example, in Grand Theft Auto, go to the game’s options menu, and under the “display” section, select “picture-in-picture” to toggle the feature on or off.

Black and white

If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the screen’s brightness for a more realistic image, you can enable a black-and-white mode in many games. To enable black-and-white in Grand Theft Auto, go to the game’s options menu, and under “display,” select “black-and-white” or “b&w.”

What Is Super sampling?

Super sampling is the process of increasing the resolution of an image to make it appear higher onscreen. When you increase the resolution of an image, you increase its size so that more of the image’s details can be seen. Many video game monitors support the super sampling mode called “Dynamic Super Resolution,” or DSR. This mode resamples video to better display the image at its native resolution while keeping the image’s original resolution and quality. It’s a smoother way to view videos, and it gives you better image quality than standard resolution mode.

Enable Dynamic Super Resolution

The basic concept of dynamic super resolution is that when the computer senses motion, it “recompresses” the video signal to show more detail at a higher framerate. Most video games support the option to toggle DSR on and off—usually by pressing “F” on the keyboard or clicking on the small “speed” icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

You can check which games support DSR in the game’s properties menu. Some games also let you toggle DSR on and off through the game’s settings.

The Final Word

As 4K technology evolves, more and more games are supporting the resolution, meaning that it’s not a stretch to say that most games will run at 4K. If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the screen’s brightness for a more realistic image, you can enable a black-and-white mode in many games.

Beyond that, most modern gaming monitors also feature 1 x DisplayPort and 1 x HDMI 2.0b inputs, as well as an extra USB 3.0 port for connecting an external monitor or keyboard and mouse, and an SD card reader. You can check out our buying guide for the best gaming monitors to get a better idea of what’s out there.

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