Pixel Density vs Resolution: What’s The Difference?

Pixel density determines how crisp and sharp an image will appear on your display.

PPI, which stands for Pixels Per Inch, is the measurement of pixel density. It is the number of pixels relative to the square inch surface.

Put simply, the more pixels and the smaller the screen size the higher the PPI amount will be.

Pixel Density Example
Example of low, medium, and high pixel densities. Higher density = more pixels = better image quality.

Using the following formula, we can calculate how dense a monitor’s pixel amount is in correlation to its monitor size.

PPI Formula

Where:

  • w = width of resolution (pixels)
  • h = height of resolution (pixels)
  • d = diagonal length of screen (inches)
Ppi Example
The lower the pixel density the more noticeable individual pixels will be on the screen.

The higher the pixel density, the more pixels there are on a screen, and the more detailed an image can be. It will be sharper and more clear looking.

That’s why nowadays you have technology pushing into 16K territory (move over 4K and 8K) for the best and sharpest image possible.

That’s 16 times more pixels than 4K and 64 times more than 1080p!

These days you’ll also find monitors that are, for example, 27 inches big but only have a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Do math and you get PPI of 82.

That’s a very bad pixel density.

What is the relationship between pixel and resolution?

With an increase in monitor size, you should likewise see an increase in resolution, otherwise your image quality will suffer.

Below you can see common resolution and size combinations for monitors:

Screen size (inches)Monitor resolutionAspect RatioPPI
23.5″1920×108016:994
24″1920×108016:992
2560×144016:9122
27″1920×108016:982
2560×144016:9109
3840×2160 (4K)16:9163
31.5″1920×108016:970
2560×144016:993
34″2560×144016:986
3440×144043:18110
35″2560×108021:979
49″3840×2160 (4K)16:990

A monitor that measures 24 inches and has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 (1440p) hits the sweet spot and offers the best pixel density for the price.

If you need to calculate PPI for a different screen size and resolution, then this convenient calculator can easily do the job for you.

What about ultrawide monitors?

Remember bigger is not always better… that is unless everything’s bigger.

The new trend of ultra wide monitors can be exciting.

That’s until you realize that at their size and resolution they have a very low pixel density.

Couple that with their hefty price and they become very unappealing.

Think about your graphics card

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.

Dan Alder

Dan Alder

Dan is an avid gamer. He's logged far too many hours in CS 1.6. As an engineering major he's also very experienced in electronics.
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One Response

  1. Hi, Great article. I currently have a ps4 slim. It outputs in 1080p @ 60hz. I have been using a 10 year old 24” 1080p tv which is shot. I want to buy a monitor. I want to buy a new monitor. My eye sight isn’t the greatest so I’ve been having a lot of trouble seeing the enemy on Cod, the only game that l play. My question is this. Ig I buy a monitor that has a higher resolution so l could get a 27” monitor wouldn’t it be pointless bc the ps4 only displays 1080p? Or do they upscale it enough to make up the difference?
    I also realize that anything over 60hz would be pointless bc of the capabilities of my console. My only concern is that I’ve read that the ps5 will support a higher frame rate, possible 130hz or faster). O would think that is a strong possibility being that the current Xbox just upped theres. So I’m debating on just biting the bullet and going with something 4K, 144hz, 1ms. Even though for now I’m thinking that all I need to max out the ps4s potential is 1080p, 60hz, 1 ms on a 24” monitor.
    Sorry to be so long winded. I’m ready to buy one but I’m rattled when it comes to the size. Is it possible to buy a higher resolution monitor and go with a 27” to make up the difference, even though my PS4 only outputs 1080p?
    Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for all of the great articles and advice. I hope to hear from you.

    Paul

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