Pixel Density vs Resolution: What’s The Difference?

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

PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch and 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.

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)

Why is PPI important when buying a screen?

Ppi Example
The lower the PPI the more noticeable individual pixels will be on the screen.

The more pixels there are on a screen 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.

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.

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Dan Alder
About Dan Alder
Dan is an avid gamer, seriously, he's obsessed. As an engineer he's also very experienced in electronics and computers, especially gaming setups.

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