4K Ultra HD – the future of gaming, today….
Kevin Firth recently wrote to us to ask us the question: “Lots of people are starting to look at using 4K TVs for PC gaming to get very large hi-res immersive environments… which sets/specifications are best? Cheers.”
Thank you Kevin! Well, I’m pleased you asked…
In 2014 we saw a massive drop in the prices of 4K Ultra HD TVs. This new breed of screen gives four times the resolution of Full HD. This means both sharper pictures and more immersive gaming, as you can now get the same kind of sharpness on a bigger screen without having to sit further back.
Both Netflix and Amazon are committed to producing and streaming Ultra HD content, in both feature length movie and TV series formats. The recent announcement of 4K Blu-ray as CES 2015 in Las Vegas gave more hope of readily available content soon coming to a home near you. Even given all of this, there are still those who say “there’s no point getting a 4K TV… there’s no content available for it yet.” One fraternity who could not agree with that statement are gamers. Gaming on the big screen is becoming increasingly popular, as gamers strive for greater immersion.
4K gaming: monitor or TV?
There are two schools of thought here. There are those who say a TV does not offer the kind of performance needed for truly competitive gaming. The input lag, or time it takes for a signal to be processed by the screen and displayed, varies from screen to screen. A typical value for the input lag on a 4K TV is between 40 and 60 milliseconds (40 to 60 thousandths of a second). Even though this figure seems ridiculously low, gaming monitors clock even more impressive stats. For those looking to get the competitive edge should look at a dedicated gaming monitor, such as the BenQ XL2430T. This gives a startlingly low 10 m/s of input lag.
TVs with TN panels (as opposed to IPS panels) generally have lower input lag. Manufacturers, such as LG, who prefer to use IPS panels – have great viewing angles and are particularly bright, however suffer from input lag so are not the best for gaming. Some manufacturers, such as Sony and Samsung, who use TN panels (amongst other types) have narrower viewing angles, but low input lag and particularly stunning black levels – great for Ultra HD gaming.
What equipment will I need?
The standard peak signal an HDMI 2.0 socket can output in 4K is 60FPS (frames per second). 60FPS in gaming is enough to give a smooth image with no noticeable judder. To achieve this frame rate you need to ensure the TV features an HDMI 2.0 socket.
Even though 4K displays are becoming commonplace, the machines needed to create a 4K gaming image are still very much a luxury. The gaming PC specialist Alienware provide some rather interesting stats on their PCs. For example, to play Tomb Raider in its Ultimate Settings mode in 4K and get 60FPS, you would need to run a triple AMD Radeon R9 290X configuration. Luckily the Alienware Area-51 Gaming PC features just that. At close to £3,500 however, it’s still premium tech.
If it’s a traditional desktop environment you’re used to, we’d recommend you upgrade to the latest version of Windows. The almost insanely high resolution of 4K can cause some major scaling issues on Windows 7 and below, however Windows 8 appeared to cope well with the added desktop space.
Getting the sharpest picture possible?
There is a lot of debate around how close you should sit to your TV to get the best experience possible. The advent of 4K technology has enabled gamers to get a larger screen without losing any of the definition and detail. Screen size and viewing distances will essentially always be up to you, the end user. Bearing this in mind however, we take a closer look at the science behind getting the best possible gaming experience.
The average human eye can only make out certain resolutions from a set distance away. If you had a definite resolution, say Full HD 1080p, there is a cut off distance you can sit before you start to notice the individual pixels. Sit any closer than this, and you will start to notice a drop in the picture quality. This will vary from person to person, as eyesight differs from person to person. For this example we will take what is commonly accepted as “average human vision”.
From the point of view of the eye, we can see 1.6 pixels per arcminute. An arcminute is one sixtieth of a degree. Therefore for every one degree of vision, we can see 96 pixels. Anything more than this and we wouldn’t be able to make out the change in resolution. Anything less than this and we would start to see a drop in image quality.
How far back should I sit?
One of our most popular sizes of screen is 46”. For this screen size, how close should we sit to get the optimal picture, whilst still being fully immersed?
The resolution of a 4K Ultra HD screen is 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels. Using some complex and rather boring maths, we calculated for a 46” 4K TV, the distance the screen looks best to the average human eye is 4’ 7” away from the screen. Any closer and you will start to notice a drop in sharpness. Any further back would give no benefit either.
How do I get the most immersive experience?
THX is an organisation set up in 1983 by Lucasfilm Ltd to ensure the quality of cinema playback of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It strives to ensure accuracy of playback of picture and sound in professional and home cinemas. Basically, when it comes to setting up anything TV or home cinema related, their advice should never be overlooked. Their advice for viewing movies or gaming is to sit close enough that the screen fills 40 degrees of your vision.
Using some equally boring maths and the THX 40 degree of vision recommendation, we have calculated the optimal distance to sit back from a 46” TV is exactly 4’ 7”.
So, the optimal distance to be sat back form a 46″ 4K Ultra HD TV to make the most out of the 96 pixels per degree and 4K resolution is 4’ 7”, and the ideal distance to be sat back from a 46″ TV for it to fill 40 degrees of vision is 4′ 7″. It’s a happy coincidence that these two bits of science and maths give the same results, meaning for a 46” TV, we recommend you shuffle your chair forwards (or back), sit four feet seven inches from your 46” 4K TV and get the best gaming experience ever.
We have a massive selection of 4K TVs to choose between, so for more information on 4K gaming, why not call down to your local Richer Sounds now and speak to one of our many experts?