Pixel Density vs Resolution: What’s The Difference?

If you’re looking for a 144Hz monitor two of the most fundamental things you should be familiar with is resolution and pixel density. Put simply the resolution of a monitor is the number of pixels present in it. Pixel density, which is measured in PPI (pixels per inch), determines how crisp and sharp an image will appear on your monitor. The more pixels there are in a given resolution the smaller they are thus allowing for more detail in a confined space. With the introduction of high-definition resolutions, most monitors nowadays have a 1920 x 1080 (1080p, FHD) resolution.

Using the formula \displaystyle{PPI = \sqrt{w^2 + h^2}/d} we can calculate precisely how dense a monitor’s pixel amount is in correlation to its monitor size. A list of the common resolutions and sizes for 144Hz monitors have been compiled below. If you need to calculate a screen size and resolution not listed above then this convenient website can easily do the job for you.

Screen sizeMonitor resolutionPixels per inch
23.5 inches1920 x 1080 (16:9)94
24 inches1920 x 1080 (16:9)92
27 inches1920 x 1080 (16:9)82
27 inches2560 x 1440 (16:9)109
35 inches2560 x 1080 (21:9)79

It’s obvious that the more pixels there are the more detailed an image can be. That’s why nowadays you have technology pushing into 4K territory for the best and sharpest image. Sometimes you’ll find a monitor that is for example 27 inches but carries a 1920 x 1080 resolution. This is a bad pixel density for that size. With an increase in monitor size, you should likewise see an increase in resolution otherwise your image quality will suffer.

As you can see, a monitor that measures 27 inches and has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 (1440p) hits the sweet spot and offers the best pixel density for the price. Remember bigger is not always better… that is unless everything’s bigger. The new trend of ultra wide monitors can be exciting until you realize that at their size and resolution they carry a low pixel density for their hefty price and quickly become very unappealing.

You should know that a higher resolution also means there is more work for your graphics card to render. The larger the resolution, the more pixel density, the better graphics card you’ll need to run your game. Keep this in mind when shopping for a new monitor or new graphics card. Technology is always pushing boundaries and, lately, we have seen releases of monitors with a 4K or a 3840 × 2160 (UHD) resolution. We have yet to see a 144Hz monitor equipped with this resolution largely because present day graphics cards are unable to output 144 FPS of modern games at such a high resolution.