Why Competitive Players Still Prefer 1080p For Gaming

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Competitive players continue to use 1080p for gaming - should you too?

Story Highlight
  • Competitive gamers have continued to use 1080p as their primary resolution.
  • 1080p has proved to be the most efficient resolution for competitive titles thanks to its performance advantages
  • Several Pro players have switched to 540 Hz monitors, a refresh rate that no other higher resolution display provides.

There’s no denying that higher resolutions have become a lot more prevalent over the course of the last couple of years. Between cheaper prices and wider availability, now seems to be the right time to upgrade. Yet, despite all of the advancements, most competitive gamers have stuck to 1080p as the ideal resolution for gaming. Why is that the case?

The Performance Advantages

Achieving extremely high frame rates at a higher resolution can be challenging, even for current hardware, which is why most pros prefer to play at 1080p since it is less taxing on the GPU. 

Even in a case where higher FPS is achievable on 1440p, pro players are still likely to opt for 1080p, thanks to the substantially lower latency. In Optimum’s video comparing the two resolutions, there was a noticeable reduction in latency at 1080p, which can be a huge benefit in pro play.

High Refresh Rate Options

From my experience, quality, high-refresh-rate options seem to be a lot more common at a resolution like 1080p. I mean, even 540 Hz, a refresh rate that’s fairly new, has already gotten good enough for pros to make the switch. Just recently, Tenz switched to Zowie’s 540 Hz monitor, and I’m sure a lot more pros will follow eventually. 

To put that into perspective, currently, the highest-end 1440p displays can only go up to a refresh rate of 360Hz, whereas 1080p monitors have already reached the 540 Hz mark. Is the gap between those two refresh rates monumental? Not necessarily; however, it can certainly make a difference at the highest level.

On the other hand, the highest refresh rate you can get on a 4K display is 240 Hz, and even then, achieving frames that high at 4K is quite challenging with current hardware.

1080p Still Looks Decent

Steam Hardware Survey Showing 1080p As The Most Common Resolution

Despite what PC enthusiasts might say, 1080p still looks decent. I mean, just a couple of years ago, it was considered the ideal resolution for gaming, even for story-based titles. Granted, a couple of years are a lot for the industry; however, it seems as though most people have yet to switch to a high-resolution display.

This is corroborated through the Steam hardware survey, which shows that over 58 percent of gamers still use 1080p monitors. The point is that a resolution like 1080p isn’t low enough for pros to notice any visibility issues during games. The advantages they get with a 1080p display have simply outweighed the visual drawbacks, which is why the resolution continues to thrive in pro play.

Bottom Line

Monitors have been advancing at a rapid rate for the last couple of years, and so has computer hardware, which means we can see pros shift to higher resolution displays if the performance disadvantages aren’t as drastic. For now, 1080p is going to continue to remain the top choice for esports professionals, and I think that is mostly justified considering the advantages. 

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