If you ask me to define what a monitor is, I rarely would give you a very tech-centric description.
You see, I like to keep things simple. Monitors are windows that open up to a world in itself.
Am I wrong when I say this? With the realism that we see from computer systems today and virtual reality kicking in like it is, Narnia isn’t fiction anymore.
And something in us is never fulfilled with any experience you give it. It always wants more and it always wants better.
And I guess that is the reason why we have this hyper-realistic tech among us now.
Keeping the tech talk limited to monitors in this article let me address a very common question that I see in discussion forums.
Why are 4K monitors so expensive?
Well, among other things the answer is pixel density and distribution. For instance, say if a 65” TV and a 27” monitor share the same resolution, the extra pixel density on the monitor will require advanced manufacturing techniques owing to smaller pixel size. This makes 4K monitors more expensive.
This is just scratching the surface when discussing why 4K monitors are so expensive but that is the gist of it.
There are so many sub-topics around the topic that I feel are best addressed with this core topic.
So, I want you to read the article till the very end so that you have deeper ideas of what to expect when hunting for 4K monitors or TVs for that matter.
To make matters even easier for you, I will list out some of my handpicked 4K monitors and 4K TVs under budget.
Also, here are some more articles around the general topic under discussion that I feel will appeal to you.
- Top 7 Monitors for Vertical Use.
- Are curved monitors good for video editing?
- Best web browser apps for smart TV?
- How to convert a monitor into a smart TV?
- How to choose the right monitor for the right use case?
Why Are 4K Monitors So Expensive?
So, let’s go in-depth into understanding why are 4K monitors so expensive.
While I can talk about it in abject terms but because I know people ask about this topic with reference to 4K TVs I feel using them in comparison will be the apt way to go.
So, when putting monitors and TVs into collective perspective you will observe that for the same pixel capacity, monitors usually cost way too much than TVs.
This is because of two primary reasons.
Pixel Density (Pixels per Inch)
When you say 4K, it means that the screen is 3840 pixels wide and 2160 pixels tall.
The format is called 4K because resolution number 3840 is very close to 4000. 4K is already referred to as ultra HD because it is double the full HD resolution, i.e., 1920 X 1080.
That being said I want you to understand that the picture quality isn’t entirely dependent on the resolution but also on the number of pixels per inch.
So, just for the sake of understanding consider a screen that is 3840 inches wide. This screen will have one pixel per inch. This will also mean that in order for you to perceive the image correctly you will have to stand a significant distance away from the screen.
Taking the comprehension from this, for you to be able to comprehend picture quality correctly you will have to stand a fair amount of distance away from large screens.
On similar lines, the screens that you will consistently sit close to must essentially have a lot of pixels pushed in small spaces to give the same picture quality.
Because monitors are going to be used at close ranges manufacturers need to use advanced (and thus expensive) methods to create 4K monitor panels.
For TVs, manufacturers have more freedom as they don’t have to cram a lot of pixels per inch as a TV is usually viewed from a larger distance.
Difference in Input Lags
This is another big difference why 4K monitors are relatively more expensive than TVs.
So, what exactly is input lag? Input lag is the time delay between provided input and the resultant action on the screen.
For monitors, input lag is a very important parameter especially if you wish to use it for gaming.
Monitors receive consistent inputs in short bursts from programs, browsers, and games.
For games especially, you can imagine how responsive the screen must be because it only takes a fraction of a second to end your game in competitive gaming.
And for this reason, the monitors must be manufactured such that they pose reduced input lags. Monitors with less input lag also have a premium price point associated with them.
The input lag parameter can go lower but in general averages around 15 to 22 ms in monitors. On TV screens the input lag can go as high as 40 ms.
Needless to say, in order to produce panels that offer less input lag materials ranging from electronics to panel material need to be of high quality, and consequently, they are pricier.
Difference in Demand
You see anything that can be produced on a production line using repetitive processes will cost less.
This is proven by the fact that the original iPhone project produced less than 10 iPhones for $175000000.
As of today, using automated, repeatable processes creating an iPhone costs around $1500.
The difference in prices can be attributed to what is referred to as economies of scale.
When you can produce something in large quantities you can streamline the production and thus bring the price down.
This is the case with large automobile manufacturers, with McDonald’s, Apple, and similar major manufacturers.
By extension, you can now understand why 4K monitors demand a high price point. The demand for 4K monitors is much less than that of 4K TVs, as TVs are something that every home more or less demands.
4K monitors on the other hand attract a relatively smaller domain of users involving gamers and graphic editors.
The smaller market results in high prices as manufacturers have to pay a higher per-unit cost to create these monitors.
4K Monitor Or 4K TV? What to Buy?
The difference in price raises a very important question, is it better to buy a 4K TV given that they cost less and you can even use it as a monitor with the right cables and/or adapters.
4K TVs in strict terms do offer the same pixel quantity albeit for larger real estate as 4K monitors for less price, so I hope you see the logic in the question.
- Buy a 4K Monitor if you have a strict use case in mind. For instance, if you want a unit that you can use for gaming and graphic intensive task, get a 4K monitor. If you game competitively, you need high refresh rate monitor with low response and lag times. In cases like this a 4K TV won’t be fruitful.
- Similarly, buy a 4K TV if you want an entertainment unit. If you want something on which you can enjoy 4K ultra HD quality content via online or local sources from the comfort of your couch. Of course, you can use the 4K TV as a monitor as well, but it fulfils intense tasks like gaming and graphic editing the same way as a 4K monitor would do. Also, if you have ever used a monitor with low input lag and high refresh rate, you will perceive the change when using 4K TV as a monitor.
Is 4K Monitor Worth It for Gaming?
It would be wrong to declare that 4K has become the new norm in gaming. But the shift to 4K UHD gaming, with the advent of advanced graphic card units and consoles like PS5, is quickly gathering pace.
So, if you have a machine that can support it or are willing to create one, I really think getting a 4K monitor is worth it.
Another reason for picking up a 4k monitor is the fact that most game developers are aware of the shift to 4K UHD gaming and are creating games that can take advantage of that.
If you game primarily on a console getting a 4K monitor should be a no-brainer as consoles like Xbox Series X and PS5 are designed to take the gaming experience to UHD level.
With the PS5 for example, the gaming choices are between 1080p 120Hz, 4K 60Hz, and 4K 120Hz.
This clearly indicates that the industry is slowly but very surely taking a shift towards UHD gaming.
Console manufacturers in general are in tune with the latest gaming demands and trends.
Their perception can be trusted as they are in tune with the consumer demands, need to create a unit that serves console exclusives rightly and serve the buyer for years to come.
Another reason for seriously considering a 4K monitor is professional use. You see a gaming monitor is just good for gaming.
If you use your PC for tasks other than gaming like productivity, photo, and video editing, getting a 4K monitor will enable you to create content with impeccable image/video quality.
Not only will the audience enjoy it but you will find graphic designing, photo and video editing highly enriching on a 4K display.
Once again for your PC to be able to drive a 4K display you need to have hardware that can serve it properly.
Rendering of 4K clips, for example, will require a lot of RAM, a potent CPU/GPU combination, and a lot of storage.
So, the answer remains more or less the same for professional use as well, if you have the hardware that appends it, getting a 4K monitor is absolutely worth it.
Since its inception, the one thing that has suppressed the desire of getting a 4K monitor for most users is the price point.
Thankfully, with the increase in demand 4K monitors are now becoming increasingly affordable.
The price is significantly lower than what they were in the earlier years of the introduction of the resolution.
In the upcoming segment, I am going to enlist some of the best 4K monitors on budget that are receiving raving reviews from users.
So, in addition to the experience that they offer, the reduction in price points is again a big reason for getting a 4K monitor if you feel the need for one.
Best Budget 4K Monitors for Gaming
With increasing demands and advanced technology-based development getting much more streamlined, we are definitely seeing the prices stabilizing at a reasonable value.
I agree they are still not at a point where they will appeal to a wide majority of users but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any excellent 4K monitors at reasonable and affordable price points.
I have handpicked the 4K monitors above using factors like budget, user reviews, build quality, panel type, number of ports available, brand, warranty, etc.
So, if you looking to get a 4K monitor under budget I recommend getting one that appeals to you among the relayed choices.
I can go to lengths describing how you can go about choosing the right 4K monitor. But if I do it here the post will get really long.
Here is the short run down though.
- Establish first what size you want your monitor to be.
- Have a clear idea what you want to use the 4K monitor for like gaming, video editing, professional work or graphic design.
- Ask yourselves whether you need HDR. A 4K monitor with HDR makes the 4K/HDR content look much more enriching than an SDR monitor. But that sure does kick the price point up a notch.
- Research what ports you want and ensure that the monitor you are eyeing has them.
Best Budget 4K TVs to Buy
So those were the best budget monitor picks. If you are perhaps looking to get a 4K TV that can on occasion serve as a monitor too, here are the best 4K TVs on a budget that you can look into picking.
Once again, the article will get way too long, if I get into describing the exact method of how to go about picking 4K TVs.
But here are quick buying tips when you are considering getting a 4K TV.
- No need to consider 8K TVs as of yet (I know that’s a lingering doubt)
- Get a 120 Hz TV if you can, 60 Hz is an absolute must.
- See if you can get one with HDR compatibility.
- OLEDs are better than LCDs but QLEDs from reputed manufacturers like Samsung, Vizio, TCL etc. are also good if budget is tight.
- Ensure that the TV has at least 4 HDMI ports.
- Plan to buy a soundbar in the future as rarely do I find people getting satisfied with the in-built sound in TVs.
I hope I was able to comprehensively put into perspective 4K monitors and 4K TVs and reason out why 4K monitors are so expensive.
As I said, 4K by itself is a huge topic to talk about let alone 4K monitors and TVs. But unfortunately, there is only so much that can be discussed in one article.
With that said, I can definitely try and put forth information in small chunks that I feel will help you in small yet significant ways.
In the next few paragraphs, I am going to answer a few questions that I see a lot of people inquiring about before I wrap up.
Is a 4K Monitor Worth It for PS5?
Yes, if you have decided to go the console way and are planning to get a PS5 a 4K monitor is absolutely worth it. These next-gen consoles are pushing to make 4K the new norm. Just remember if you wish to game at 4K choose a monitor that is at least 32 inches to take advantage of the full 4K gaming experience. For monitors, less than 32 inches 1440p is still the sweet point.
Should I Get 2k or 4k Monitor?
Totally depends on what your needs are. Next-gen consoles are in a way taking the lead in making UHD gaming a norm. Thus, if you are looking to get a PS5 or similar 4K monitor makes absolute sense. However, if you do pick one which is 32 inches or more for true 4K experience. Monitors with a lesser size than that still work best with 1440p resolution.
Can You Use 4K Monitor as TV?
If your needs are limited to light entertainment, streaming TV shows and movies while you are not using the monitor for work, all you need is a streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV stick and you are good to go.
I have created an entire article that teaches you what is the correct way of using a monitor as a smart TV here.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article on why are 4K monitors so expensive as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If you feel like you have any other suggestions, comments, queries, or feedback regarding what you just read, let me know in the comments section.
If your question is potent enough that it will appeal to the masses I will even include it in the FAQ section.
Subscribe to the blog so that I can make this relationship personal share knowledge nuggets like these right into your inbox.
Take care of yourselves and I will see you in the next one!