4K 144Hz monitors have finally released (kind of). In this post, we’ll discuss why they probably aren’t worth it for most gamers (yet).
If you’re someone who plays story-driven games with beautiful graphics and you aren’t much of a competitive gamer, then for you a 4K monitor was a better option than a 1440P 144Hz monitor.
On the flip side, if you’re a competitive gamer who needs to maintain the highest framerate possible, then a 1440P 144Hz monitor would bring you both a UHD panel that has a refresh rate that will help your games feel much more smooth and, thus, was a better option than a 4K monitor.
Well, now the best of both worlds have finally been put together in a single panel. Both ASUS and Acer have recently released the world’s first consumer 4K 144Hz monitors. (The ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ and the Acer Predator X27.)
But, are they worth it? In this short guide, we’ll go over some of the downfalls that currently prevent 4K 144Hz monitors from being legitimate display options for 99% of gamers.
The Price of 4K 144Hz Monitors Isn’t Doable for Most Gamers
Right now, on Amazon, both the Acer Predator X27 and the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ come in at ~$2,500. For most gamers, that price cannot be justified. (And, as you’ll see further down in this post, probably not even justified for most early-adopters.)
As a comparison, the cheapest 4K 60Hz monitors are going for as low as $200 and the cheapest 1440P 144Hz monitors are going for as low as ~$250. So, a 4K 144Hz monitor would have to deliver 10x (or more) the experience that a 4K 60Hz monitor or a 1440P 144Hz monitor offers to justify the much higher price tag—and, for most users, that probably isn’t possible.
The insanely high prices are pretty common for the first displays to capture a specific market. For instances, when 4K monitors first released, they, too, were going for thousands of dollars. And, when 1440P 144Hz monitors started hitting the market, they were also up around the $1,000 price point as well.
Unfortunately, if you want to be an early adopter of a specific kind of technology, there is usually a premium that comes along with it.
The Hardware Necessary to Game on a 4K 144Hz Monitor Will Cost As Much (and More) Than the Monitors Themselves
Right now, NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 Ti (which ranges in price from ~$700-$800) is the most powerful consumer GPU on the market. The minimum cost to build a balanced gaming computer with a GTX 1080 Ti in it is about ~$1,500 or so.
The problem is that, while a single GTX 1080 Ti can handle most games on a 4K monitor and get close to an average of ~60 FPS in most games on ultra settings, it has an even harder time pushing games at 1440P 144Hz and maintaining a framerate that is high enough to justify the higher refresh rate.
In order to take full advantage of a 1440P 144Hz monitor, multiple high-end graphics cards are necessary. A 4K 144Hz monitor would be even more demanding and require even more power out of a system. So, while a system with a single GTX 1080 Ti could be built for around $1,500, when you consider that a 1440P 144Hz monitor requires multiple GTX 1080 Tis, the two available 4K 144Hz monitors would likely require a system that costs as much as the $2,500 price tag they come in at in order to run properly.
NVIDIA’s Next-Gen RTX 2000-Series GPUs Might Help Level the Playing Field
The good news, though, is that NVIDIA recently teased their upcoming RTX 2000-series GPUs. The new series of GPUs could be available by the end of August and they could also deliver a single GPU solution for 4K 144Hz gaming.
So, if you are thinking about being an early adopter for one of the first 4K 144Hz monitors, you might want to hold out a little bit longer and see what NVIDIA’s RTX series has to offer, as it may save you the money and hassle of running multiple graphics cards.
4K 144Hz Monitors Don’t Really Deliver A 144Hz Refresh Rate at 4K Resolution?
While the release of ASUS’ and Acer’s 4K 144Hz monitors was much anticipated, early reports and reviews on the capabilities of the two displays shed some light for concern. A lot of reviewers were pointing out that when running the monitors at 144Hz, the image quality worsened.
Reddit user u/Glennwing pointed out that the problem is that, since the display interface used with these monitors (DisplayPort 1.4) can only support a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz at 4K, the only way for ASUS and ACER to get their 4K panels to hit 144Hz was to use Chroma sub-sampling.
Unfortunately, Chroma sub-sampling reduces the image’s quality. And, as a result, while these monitors are able to hit 144Hz when they are set to a 4K resolution and since the display is sub-sampling the frames, the reality is that the image quality is less than what a true 4K display would deliver.
For more information on how Chroma sub-sampling works and how it affects these 4K 144Hz displays, I highly recommend reading Reddit user u/Glennwing’s explanation on this topic by clicking on the link above.
But, ultimately, if you are an early adopter who has been waiting for a true 4K 144Hz experience, unfortunately, the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ and the Acer Predator X27 are not it. However, since DisplayPort 1.4 can handle 4K at 120Hz, you can still run these monitors at full 4K quality and still get a pretty darn high refresh rate to go along with it.
And, really, had these monitors been marketed as 120Hz monitors, there would be no reason to mention this. But, this line from u/Glennwing probably highlights the main reason for marketing them as 144Hz monitors instead of 120Hz monitors:
…they could have simply released it as a 4K 120 Hz monitor with no tricks, but that sweet 144 Hz number was calling to them I guess. They probably feel marketing a “120 Hz” monitor would seem outdated, and don’t want to be outdone by competition.
This is likely true. With 144hz monitors being all the rage among competitive gamers, both ASUS and Acer probably felt like they would have lost some sales from those who would frown upon the lesser 120Hz refresh rate—especially since 4K 144Hz monitors have been in the works for so long.
In the end, though, we still don’t have a true 4K 144Hz monitor option available. And, we may not see one until HDMI 2.1-ready hardware starts hitting the shelves. (HDMI 2.1 is the latest generation of the HDMI display interface. It will have support for 144Hz at 4K resolutions. And, it’s speculated that NVIDIA’s new RTX graphics cards will support HDMI 2.1.)