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4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p: How to Choose

Jenny Hu4/16/2024
4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p

In the sphere of digital technology, you may frequently encounter terms like 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p. They represent different screen resolutions and are critical in determining the quality of display on various devices, including security cameras, televisions, gaming consoles, and so on.

Despite being commonly used, these terms are often a source of confusion for many, especially when trying to understand what they imply about a camera's performance. If you've ever struggled to choose the right resolution, you come to the right place here.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the differences between 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p to help you make an informed decision and choose the best resolution for your specific requirements.

4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p: Resolutions Explained

Before we dive into the comparisons, let's clarify what resolution actually means. Resolution refers to the number of pixels contained in a video image, typically expressed as the width and height dimensions. The higher the resolution, the more detailed and sharp the footage will be.

Below are the definitions for the most common resolutions.

Also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), 4K resolution offers an astounding 3840 x 2160 pixels, quadrupling the pixel count found in 1080p.

With 8 million pixels working to produce lifelike images, 4K delivers the most immersive and detailed visual experience currently available. And it is also called 8MP or 2160p.

From vivid colors to intricate detailing, the 4K resolution delivers unparalleled clarity and depth. Especially valuable for larger screens, where pixel density is vital to a quality viewing experience, 4K excels. Gaming, professional graphic design, and high-definition video streaming are the arenas where 4K truly shines.

What is 1440p

Dwelling between Full HD and 4K, 1440p resolution offers a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. Also known as Quad HD (QHD), 4MP, and 2K, 1440p resolution provides a significant visual upgrade with nearly 1.78 times the pixel count of 1080p.

Ideal for gamers seeking higher resolution without the demanding hardware requirements of 4K, 1440p offers a balance between image quality and performance. For multimedia consumption and everyday use, 1440p resolution presents an excellent middle ground, providing sharp images without straining the hardware.

What is 1080p

Also referred to as Full HD, 1080p boasts a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. While it offers fewer pixels than 4K and 1440p, it is still the standard resolution for many forms of media consumption and computer use.

High-definition movies, general computing tasks, and gaming all work well at this resolution. It's the standard choice for most consumers, balancing cost, performance, and visual quality. However, the comparison between 4K and 1080p is not limited to the pixel count.

What is 720p

Finally, 720p, known as HD Ready, displays 1280 x 720 pixels. It may offer fewer pixels than its higher-resolution counterparts, for example, FHD vs HD, but it still finds its place in the world of media consumption. It's particularly prevalent in the realm of live streaming and broadcasting where stable data transfer outweighs the need for ultra-high definition.

4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p: A Full Comparison

Check the chart below to compare 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p from multiple aspects.

Resolution 4K 1440p 1080p 720p
Also known as Ultra HD, 8MP, 2160P Quad HD, 2K, 4MP Full HD HD
Image size in pixels 3840 x 2160 2560 x 1440 1920 x 1080 1280 x 720
Pixel Density 8,294,400 pixels 3,686,400 pixels 2,073,600 pixels 921,600 pixels
Aspect Ratio 16:9 16:9 16:9 16:9
Ideal Monitor Size 27" and above 27" 21"-24" 19"-20"
Gaming Performance Requires high-end hardware, best visual experience Great balance of visual quality and performance, high-end hardware recommended Good performance on mid-range hardware, acceptable quality Good performance on low-end hardware, least quality
Video Streaming Quality Superior, used for Blu-ray, digital cinema, and premium streaming services High, used for high-quality streaming and gaming Standard for most streaming services, DVDs, and HDTV Basic, used for streaming on lower-bandwidth and older devices
Common Usage Professional graphic design, 4K content creation, high-end gaming High-performance gaming, professional visual work General computing, standard video streaming, gaming Basic computing, older games, lower-quality video streaming
Hardware Requirements High-end graphics card and CPU, larger storage and higher bandwidth High-performance graphics card, more storage and higher bandwidth Mid-range graphics card and CPU, standard storage and bandwidth Lower-end graphics card and CPU, minimal storage and bandwidth

Exploring 4K Resolution Comparisons

When it comes to choosing the right resolution for your display or camera, it's essential to understand the differences between various 4K options. These links provide valuable insights into different 4K resolution comparisons:

  • 4K vs. 8K: A detailed breakdown of the distinctions between 4K and 8K resolutions.
  • 4K vs. 2K: Explore the pros and cons of 2K and 4K resolutions for your specific needs.
  • 4K vs. 5K: Learn about the nuances between 4K and 5K resolutions and when each might be ideal.
  • 4K vs. 5MP: Discover the differences between 5MP and 4K resolutions in security camera systems.
  • 4K vs. 2160p: Delve into the relationship between 2160p and 4K resolutions for video content.
  • 4K vs. Blu-ray: Understand how 4K compares to Blu-ray in terms of video quality.
  • 4K Resolution Explained: Get a clear explanation of the pixel count in 4K resolution.
  • 4K vs. QHD: Discover the main distinctions between 4K and QHD resolution.

These resources will help you make an informed decision when selecting the 4K resolution that suits your specific requirements.

4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras: Top Things to Consider

Now, let’s drill down deeper to check out the differences between 4K security cameras, 2K security cameras, 1080p security cameras, and 720p security cameras, from the following aspects:

1. Image Quality

The higher the security camera resolution, the better image quality and the more vivid details you will obtain.

Higher resolutions like 4K and 1440p provide superior image quality with finer details and enhanced clarity, compared to the lower 1080p and 720p resolutions.

Let’s say you intend to capture the license plate numbers, both 4K security cameras and 1440p IP cameras will have a good shot for you to recognize the numbers from a distance.

But for 1080p CCTV security cameras, it is uncertain depending on the camera quality and distance. While the chances are slim for 720p video surveillance cameras to shoot the plate numbers.

2. Field of View

Generally speaking, megapixel security cameras are often packed with wide-angle lenses.

And that’s why the 4K megapixel security cameras often have a wider field of view than the 1440p surveillance cameras, 1080p surveillance cameras and 720p surveillance cameras.

This means that while you need to monitor a large area with several 720p HD security cameras, only ONE single 4K CCTV security camera will get the job done, leaving no blind spots and no opportunity for potential thieves.

3. Bandwidth & Storage Consumption

In the same H.264 video standard, there is no doubt that 4K ultra HD security cameras would require more bandwidth usage and storage consumption, compared with 1440p IP cameras, 1080p IP cameras, and 720p IP cameras.

But thanks to H.265 high-efficiency coding adopted by 4K security cameras, the bandwidth utilization and storage consumption can be reduced by about 50% without sacrificing the image quality.

So don’t fall into this common myth again, that 4K surveillance cameras eat up more bandwidth and take up more storage space than 1440p, 1080p, or 720p CCTV security cameras.

4. Compatibility

If you already have a 4MP monitor or TV, the 1440p IP security cameras, 1080p IP security cameras, and 720p IP security cameras should have no problem displaying images on it.

But with a 4K security IP camera, you may either choose to buy a 4K monitor/TV (depending on your budget) or lower the image resolution (which would defeat your original purpose to buy 4K security systems).

Having that said, as the 4K technology has already stepped into the monitor and TV market, how long do you think you have to wait before you replace your existing monitor or TV with the 4K resolution?

The truth is, most proactive consumers would rather spend a few extra hundred dollars for a 4K monitor that has more recent technology and avoid having to upgrade again in a few years.

So it eventually comes down to striking a balance between your budget and your future needs.

5. Cost

Higher-resolution cameras, such as 4K models, are generally more expensive than their lower-resolution counterparts. However, they can often cover larger areas with fewer cameras, which could reduce the total system cost.

Meanwhile, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p cameras tend to be more affordable, but they may require more units to cover the same area as a 4K camera. Therefore, consider your specific coverage requirements and budget when deciding on the most suitable resolution.

6. Future-Proofing

Investing in a high-resolution security camera like a 4K model might be a little more costly initially, but it could prove to be a savvy choice in the long run.

As technology continues to evolve, lower-resolution cameras might soon become obsolete, necessitating a further investment to upgrade your system. Purchasing a high-resolution camera now could save you from future costs and ensure your system stays relevant for a longer period.

4K vs 4MP vs 2MP vs 720p Security Cameras: Which One Should You Choose

Even though high resolution like 4K can bring a marvelous visual experience, you don’t necessarily have to go all the way up to 4K or 8MP security cameras.

Those IP cameras with resolutions in between, like the 4MP and 5MP security cameras, can also present high quality images and meet your surveillance needs.

So look through the usages of 4K security cameras, 1440p security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras below to decide which your best bet is.

When to Choose 4K Surveillance Cameras:

  • You have a significant budget.
  • You require the highest resolution video surveillance and the cost will be justified by your usage.
  • You need to monitor a large area with one single security camera.
  • You have recently upgraded or plan to upgrade your monitor/TV to 4K resolution.
  • You need a future-proofing video surveillance camera.

Typical Scenarios:

  • Your small businesses, like shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.
  • Warehouses
  • Parking lots
  • Driveways
  • Multi-tenant buildings and more

Watch the high-resolution video of a horrible rollover accident captured by the 4K security camera Reolink RLC-810A.

Reolink RLC-810A

4K PoE IP Camera with Person/Vehicle Detection

Smart Person/Vehicle Alerts; 4K UHD Day & Night; 100ft Night Vision; Time Lapse; IP66 Certified Weatherproof; Audio Recording.

When to Choose 2K Security Cameras:

  • You want to gain high quality images with vivid details from a distance (such as for plate recognition).
  • 2K resolution is enough for your applications.
  • You have an abundant budget.

Typical Scenarios:

  • Entrances to your home, like front doors, back doors, etc.
  • Garage
  • Driveways
  • Construction sites
  • Small businesses

For example, Reolink Argus 3 Pro is a popular 2K 4MP battery WiFi camera. You can put it anywhere for convenient and smart surveillance. Check out the high quality video shared by a user of Argus 3 Pro.

Reolink Argus 3 Pro

2K 100% Wire-Free Spotlight Camera

2K 4MP Super HD, Battery/Solar Powered, Person/Vehicle Detection, 5/2.4 GHz Dual-Band WiFi, Color Night Vision, Two-Way Audio.

  • You are on a tight budget.
  • You simply want general-purpose surveillance.
  • You need an entry-level security camera.

Typical Scenarios:

  • Barn & farms
  • Vacation homes
  • RVs
  • Boats & marina

Important Note: Actually, some high-quality 1080p Full HD security cameras might also offer you clear images with vivid details, just like the Reolink Argus 2E 1080p rechargeable battery security camera (shown as below).

Reolink Argus 2E

Wire-Free, Battery or Solar Powered IP Camera

Rechargeable Battery & Solar Powered; 1080 Full HD; Stunning Night Vision; Built-In Siren; 120° Wide Viewing Angle; Two-Way Audio.

When to Choose 720p Security Cameras:

The simple answer is: NEVER.

Not only because the 720 HD security cameras deliver blurry and low-quality images, they also no long hold advantages in price over 1080p or 1440p security cameras.

If you are on a tight budget, you can even buy the best and cheap 1080p or 1440p security cameras below $100.

So there’s simply no good reason to invest your hard-earned money in these low-resolution 720p CCTV security cameras.

Bonus Tips: 4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p for Various Devices

Besides security cameras, resolution significantly influences user experience across various digital devices, dictating the level of detail and clarity each can provide. From televisions and gaming to video streaming and resin printing, the right resolution choice can totally change your experience.

For TVs

As you seek the perfect resolution for your television, it's crucial to take into account the TV's size and the viewing distance.

4K televisions deliver an immersive and vivid viewing experience, especially on larger screens of 55 inches and beyond. You will marvel at the stunningly realistic images and fine details that can enhance your enjoyment of fast-paced action films and nature documentaries.

Meanwhile, 1440p could be a viable choice for smaller TVs and budget-conscious consumers who still crave a high-quality experience. 1080p, often adequate for TVs up to 40 inches, is still widely accepted as a standard, providing a satisfactory viewing experience. Lastly, 720p might be suitable for smaller sets where the lower resolution isn't as noticeable.

For Gaming

Choosing the best resolution for gaming hinges not only on the game graphics but also on the capabilities of your hardware. 4K resolution requires a high-end graphics card to run games smoothly but promises an unrivaled, immersive gaming experience with its detailed imagery and lifelike visuals.

1440p resolution strikes an appealing balance between image quality and performance, ideal for avid gamers looking for superior visuals without taxing their hardware too heavily. 1080p is a reliable workhorse of the gaming world, providing solid performance on mid-range hardware. It remains a popular choice for competitive gamers who prioritize high frame rates.

Conversely, 720p is an acceptable choice for gamers on lower-end hardware or smaller screens, ensuring smoother performance.

For Videos

In terms of video playback, the desired resolution may vary based on the content and device you are using. 4K videos will provide the highest level of detail and clarity, suitable for large screens and high-quality content, such as professional-grade films or videography.

On the other hand, 1440p and 1080p will deliver high-definition video that should satisfy most casual viewers, even on reasonably large screens. These resolutions are also more data-friendly, a vital consideration for those with limited bandwidth or data plans.

For mobile devices or smaller screens, 720p videos could be an optimal choice, offering decent quality while conserving data usage.

For Resin Printers

With a 4K resin printer, you can achieve incredibly high-detail prints suitable for intricate models or prototypes.

1440p and 1080p resin printers are excellent choices for hobbyists and semi-professionals, ensuring a good balance between detail and cost-effectiveness. They produce high-quality prints without the added expense of a 4K printer.

Meanwhile, 720p resin printers, while less common, can be useful for larger, less detailed prints or for users on a tight budget.

The Future of Resolution: Cutting-Edge 4K WiFi 6 Security Camera

In our exploration of resolution standards like 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p, we've explored the visual technologies that define clarity and detail in various contexts. For those seeking unparalleled surveillance precision, our company proudly presents the new 4K WiFi 6 security camera series. With a focus on delivering top-tier resolution, these cameras redefine the standard for monitoring and safeguarding your surroundings.

You can choose between our 4K WiFI 6 devices like E1 Outdoor Pro, RLC-810WA, and the camera kit RLK12-800WB4. These cameras share the following features:

  • Dual-band WiFi 6: Support both 2.4 and 5GHz
  • Smart night vision: Black & White Night Vision; Color Night Vision; Smart Mode
  • Ultra-high resolution: 4K 8MP
  • Smart detection: Person/vehicle/pet (animal)
  • Two-way audio and remote access:Reolink app/Client

More and more people are looking for clearer security footage, so Reolink created a camera that go beyond 4K resolution. One example is the Duo 3 PoE, which has amazing features. It's the a 16MP dual-lens PoE camera, giving super clear images. With a wide 180° view, it sees a lot of area at once. It also tracks movement automatically, so nothing sneaks by. Plus, it has color night vision for clear images, even in the dark. Whether for home or business, Duo 3 PoE is reliable and gives peace of mind.

Reolink Duo 3 PoE

Groundbreaking 16MP Dual-Lens PoE Camera

16MP UHD, Dual-Lens, Motion Track, 180° Wide Viewing Angle, Power over Ethernet, Color Night Vision.


Is 1080p good for security cameras?

Absolutely, 1080p resolution provides high-definition image quality that is more than sufficient for most security camera applications. It provides clear and detailed footage, enabling you to identify facial features or license plate numbers more easily than in lower resolutions.

Is 720p good enough for gaming?

Indeed, for many gamers, particularly those with less powerful hardware or smaller screens, 720p could be a satisfactory choice. While it may not deliver the same level of detail and immersion as higher resolutions, it does require less processing power, resulting in smoother performance and faster frame rates.

Is there a big difference between 720p and 4K?

Yes, the difference between 720p and 4K is considerable. 4K resolution offers significantly more detail and clarity than 720p. It boasts four times the number of pixels of 1080p, and sixteen times that of 720p. Consequently, the image quality of 4K is substantially more detailed and sharp. However, to take full advantage of 4K, you'll need a larger screen or closer viewing distance where the increased detail is discernible.

Is a higher resolution always better?

Not necessarily. While a higher resolution does offer more detail and sharper image quality, its effectiveness is largely dependent on the application and the device in question.

For example, on smaller screens or at larger viewing distances, the human eye might not discern the additional detail provided by ultra-high resolutions like 4K. Similarly, higher resolutions require more processing power and can impact device performance and data usage. Therefore, the "best" resolution is often a balance between desired image quality, device capabilities, and practical considerations like cost and performance.


Understanding the differences between 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p is crucial in today's digital era. Whether you're a responsible home owner, gaming enthusiast, a graphic designer, a movie buff, or a casual user, knowing these differences will guide you in making the right choice.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas to share, don't hesitate to leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!


All Comments Are Welcome

Jenny is an editor from Reolink. Her posts are helpful for homeowners, undergraduates, small business owners, and pretty much anyone who needs security tips for a worry-free world. If you want to say hi, you can email her at (replace # with @) to connect!