The Big Question: 4K Gaming

Image: Dead End Thrills

So 4K gaming is around the corner for consoles, and if you're upgrading your PC over the next 12 months then playing at 4K is a very distinct possibility.

Question is: do you really care?

I've often found that it's more intriguing to go back and play older games in 4K — like, say, DmC: Devil May Cry or the Mass Effect series — rather than trying to see what you can play right now in 4K. A lot of newer releases haven't had a lengthy cycle of post-release optimisations, after all.

Performance is one question mark that stops people from playing in 4K. But, weirdly, I've also come across another one: my mouse.

A side effect of playing games in 4K natively, at least on PC, has been the effect on my mouse. After almost three decades of gaming, you get used to the way certain things respond. It's why I still use 4:3 resolutions for Counter-Strike and Battlefield, even though I play every other game at 1080p.

So I'm curious. Where are you with 4K gaming right now? The industry will undoubtedly adopt it as a standard within the next 2 to 3 years; 4K/60fps will probably be the standard for whenever the next generation of consoles lands. But are you ready to migrate right now? Or would you prefer other benefits first?


    Could not care less. Sure, if I buy a new telly in 5-6 years it'll likely be 4K, as will the next gen of consoles. As for right now, a big fat "meh." 1080p is perfectly fine.

    I guess I'll care once it's more cheaply obtainable.

    Meh. Gimme a better story and gameplay over 4K any day.

      Been saying this for years!! Sure, keep up to date and make it look great but its probably about 6th or 7th on my list of things that make a good game

      This is why I am repurchasing my old gamecube collection. I feel as though moving back a generation or two is much more appealing than moving forward right now.

      A lot of people don't get that a more powerful machine can be used to increase immersion rather than resolution.

      Imagine something like Skyrim with no more loading for each building you enter, if you had more power you could render all the buildings in town at the same time without having to have transitions between indoors and outdoors.

      To me this is much more interesting than 4K.

      *carefully places a gold medal around your neck*

    I do not care for console 4k gaming, they need to sort out framerate first.

      Until PC hardware can do 4k at the FPS and price of what current hardware is doing 1080P at, no thanks

    Developers should be aiming for 1080p locked at 60fps. Hopefully they will start bringing in resolution settings in games, I would argue strongly that going from 60FPS to 30FPS is far more jarring and less enjoyable than dropping from 4K to 1080p

    Nah. It's a natural evolution rather than a matter of adoption, for me. One day 4K will be standard for consoles and TVs. I'll appreciate the upgrade then but I don't plan to make any effort towards it.

    For now, 1080p looks fine.

    For those wondering what the hell the mouse issue is that the author was referring to; it looks like getting the DPI setting on a mouse to feel right on a 4K display can be tricky for some people. I'm pretty sure Windows 10 is supposed to handle this nicely, maybe even Windows 8.1 - are you using Windows 7 or something?

    Last edited 21/09/16 11:28 am

      Depends on a number of factors. Are you using a logitech/razor/name other peripheral company mouse? Then there's a good chance it does it's own thing and ignores Windows default (assuming you've installed their software of course). And the games themselves are a big problem, Blizzard... UGH! They've been terrible when it comes to supporting UHD res and scaling from a mouse perspective.

      Diablo 3 mouse pointer is laggy and unresponsive unless you use default windows scaling. Has been for more than 2 years. Under Windows 10 with scaling the D3 mouse pointer would not appear at all for me (it was there just invisible). Had to move it round til I found the screen res options and change it to something else then back again.

      WoW is a little better but not by much. The pointer just ignores scaling so you get a teeny tiny cursor you can't see. Oh unless you install Windows 10 - in which case you get other weirdness, like the cursor becoming hyper sensitive and spinning your character like a top.

      And yes, DPI is the other factor. It's the easiest to fix, dial up your sensitivity a bit and it's good.

      It also entirely depends on the way the game is implemented. The recommended way is to let Windows tell you how far the cursor has been moved (in which case your Windows settings matter), but you can also just take over the mouse and read the raw data yourself. There's also some mouse scaling that happens if you don't have your DPI awareness settings right.

      It's way messier than it probably should be.

      Thanks for addressing that! I found it a bit frustrating that a mouse issue was mentioned but not elaborated on at all.

    Pushing technology towards 4K graphics rendering seems more important for VR than it does for conventional gaming at this point. The difference between 1080p and 4K in VR is massive. Much less so on a TV.

    I bought a 1080p tv back in the day so my 360 could pump out some sweet eyegasm.

    I still don't think many games have it though.

    Lost Odyssey & I can't remember.

    Now, I can't afford it. I'll buy a new tv when this one dies.

    Back in high school, I was only plugging two of tgevthree plugs of my n64 & PSX because that's all my tv had. Picture & sound was good enough.

    Not really (yet). From what I've read, most of the 4K TVs don't yet have the response time you'd want for gaming with HDR turned on. I'll wait a couple more years, hopefully by then they'll have that sorted out and the next gen consoles will come out around the same time and I'll upgrade the TV and the console then.

      I didn't realise that until I started looking for a new TV. Even some of the more expensive LG models had 60ms+ with most sitting around 100ms.

      Samsung has it figured out though. I picked up a 65" curved series 8 which sits on 19ms with HDR on. Can't feel the delay at all, it's great.

        Choice. My TV just died and I am looking to get one of their SUHDs

    Nope. I'm fine with 1920x1200, even 1680x1050 was plenty. I don't have the eyes of a graphics whore, can barely ever see the difference between those screenshots of the ultra high settings compared to regular. Hell, couldn't see the difference between DVD and Bluray when my friend tried to show me the "amazing difference" back in the day :p
    I'd much rather put the computing horsepower towards higher/smoother frame rates.

      I can def see the difference between dvd and bluray, but I'm with you for every thing else.

      Last edited 21/09/16 2:10 pm

        I'm not sure I've actually seen a Bluray in the eight or so years since, come to think of it. Even though I've ended up with a couple myself. And got given a player a birthday or two ago >_>

    Having just gone through getting a new TV I don't think people realise that 4K is already here and affordable. The majority of TV's you can buy now are 4K, with prices starting just below $1000 you can get a 40" 4K smart TV.

      There's no point in getting a 40" 4K TV, it's too small to notice the difference. You'd need to sit with your nose touching the screen for it to be worth it.

        So a bit like using a PC then ;-)

          Exactly :) That's why it's worthwhile to get a 4k monitor, because you sit so close you can tell the difference with the resolution.

      But.. why? I too, see the cheap ALDI non-smart 4K's, and even brand-names are coming down in price. But still, why?

      - For gaming, smart doesn't matter. You'll be turning it all off. You'll also need a 60Hz capable display.
      - For gaming, you'd be using consoles only. TV's aren't great as PC monitors. On the other hand, no console can render at 4K.
      - Content? 4K netflix @ 30fps, making your smart features work overtime? 4K bluray? Do you have the outlay for a: good 4K TV, sound system, player?

      It's just not mainstream enough to warrant a purchase.

    I've never witnessed 4K so i'm not sure what I'm missing. However a 1080p TV & Standard PS4/XBone is all I have and I can't afford to upgrade.

    I feel I'll stick in the 1080p camp until 4K becomes the standard (as with many others).

      4K vs 1080p at 55in+ TV's is a nice upgrade. The problem is the severe lack of content. 4K bluray masters are rare, and it's only a couple months ago that players became OK-priced (and with Xbone S). Your plan is effective.

    Meh. I don't watch a lot of movies and I'd rather a 1440p pc game with all the bells and whistles and a good framerate than a "4k" console game.
    Maybe in 4 years.

    My parents TV is failing, so I'm going to give them my 42 inch 1080p tv and buy a 55 inch 4k tv.

    I already preordered PS VR. My current PS4 is ejecting the disc randomly again though I have tightened the screw and removed the rubber foot and elevated the console.

    So... I might as well get the PS Pro and go 4k gaming?

      Mine was doing that so I sent it back to Sony and they sent me out a brand new retail box. I have more cables and controllers than I know what to do with.

        Mine was doing that, I too tried the same fixes. In the end I opened it, bent the touch sensor slightly and hoped it didn't die inside it's warranty period. It's been 18 months since and she hasn't missed a beat.

        Hm. Thanks guys.

        I might do the touch sensor thing mentioned by haz..

        I don't really want to send the entire thing back to Sony, and it's pretty good excuse to get a Pro. Besides, I'm not sure what the warranty situation would be for me after I've swapped the hard drive and ripped off the rubber foot.

        Last edited 21/09/16 1:51 pm

      I have a 60" television I'm flat out telling the difference between channels 91 and 90 let alone discerning if my games are in 1080p

      In fact noted 720p games on the Xbox One like Watch Dogs or Battlefield 4 look incredible

      I'd imaging for 4K to have any impact I'd want to have a really really big TV!

    My PC runs everything in 4K, and I can say when I play WoW on my old laptop while the missus gets ready to go out its a totally different game. Once you go 4K there's no going back.

    The downside of this is games like Doom which don't support SLI (I run 2 x GTX980's), and I cant bring myself to play it at a lower resolution or less than 60 FPS.

      I agree with the whole "no going back" thing. I couldn't handle having less now.
      Given I run a 4gb 960, a few of my games don't quite cut it in 4k, lke Doom, but the Vulkan update sure helped. I get a solid 30fps at 4k in Doom since then, but like you, I do enjoy the 60fps much more, so I generally run it at 2560x1440 just for that extra smoothness. Only a few games I need to do that for though thankfully. UE4 engine games in particular really tend to push things a bit, but depends on the game too. Pool Nation FX runs on UE4, but since there's not a lot to it, playing at 4k is fine.

        I've been running 4k on a Samsung UHD monitor with a GTX970 for awhile now. I found 90% of the games I play were just fine on it. The obvious first thing to do is turn off Anti-aliasing. The pixel density on a 28" monitor is so high that it's barely needed (I cannot see the difference). A few of the games require more tweaking, turning grass density down, or shadow quality. But I find most of those things are annoying anyway so I prefer to turn them down regardless of framerate.

        Not a fan of Windows 10 generally but I tried it for about a month and found it improved a couple games. Grim Dawn for example I used to play on Win8.1 at 2560x1440 because 4k was just a touch too laggy. When I was testing it on Win10 the game was actually smooth enough to play at 4k res. Surprised me.

        I did have the same Doom problem though. Found it was between 20-40 fps and suffered occasional spikes. Wound up buying a GTX1070 and it's now in the 60fps sweetspot. Even bumped some settings up a little higher. Still not ultra settings but it looks great.

        I also went through a couple of my other games that were smooth at 4k with some settings turned down on the GTX970 and tried higher settings. Diablo3 for example is now running 4k smooth as at maximum settings, same with Grim Dawn. Only thing still turned off is anti-aliasing.

          Yeah AA can kill a lot of games. Even on lower resolutions though, I never tended to use AA, as I found it made the picture too blurred at times. Perhaps it's cos my eyes are really good, but I've never really found a game where I actually found AA was required to make it look better. :) Certainly not at 4k though! As you said, the pixel density is just insanely good!

            Maybe back in the 640x480 or 1024x768 days. I remember playing a few FPS games and on a 21" CRT the jaggies were pretty nasty. Back when I had a Voodoo card or maybe my first Geforce 256. But man, that's a long time ago now.

            Back in those days the pixel density was about 37ppi @ 640x480 and 60ppi @ 1024x768 on my 21" monitor. Compared to now 157ppi @ 3840x2160 on my 28". Or what a lot of people use, 82ppi @ 1920x1080 on a 27".

            edit: Nice article on 4k and pixel density here and they're even using the same monitor as I do :)


            Last edited 21/09/16 3:05 pm

              Yeah mine's 157.3 ppi. 28" is a great size for 4k. I can't imagine any smaller being useful without scaling, cos text would just be way too tiny!

    I've been gaming in 4k for a while now, using my gtx 960. Some games struggle a little at that res, but I've been surprised by how many actually run really well. I've not had any mouse issues at all though.

      How much did your monitor (if it even is a monitor, I use a telly) set you back when you got it?

      I have a GTX 970 and have been looking at making the jump. I don't want to dabble in the fresh cards just yet.

        I got mine for $485 just over a year ago now. It's an AOC U2868PQU.

    I'll start worrying about the promises of the next generation of consoles (ie. 4K gaming) when they start fulfilling the promises of the current generation of consoles (ie. 1080p60 as standard).

    I have a nice rig that CAN handle 4k. Barely. It is SOOO hard on the machine.

    Being the graphics whore that I am, I would much rather run at 2k with all settings on ultra at 60fps (or 100, 120, 144 or 165 hehehe) than 4k at 60fps.

    Maybe the next gen of consoles can do 4k. That's probably 4 years away or so so yeah, maybe but it feels to me like a few years ago when all the manufacturers were telling us that we needed to go 3d. In reality they just wanted to sell TVs and glasses. Yes 1080p looks a little sad next to 2K but 4k is not a quantum leap and for me it's not a "once you try you can never go back". It's okay but for what it requires of your hardware, right now I just don't think it's worth it.

    Give me those silky framerates any day.

      Isnt 2k = 1080p?

      1920(2k) × 1080(p)
      3840(4k) × 2160(p)

      I know the first number is actually "pixels" and the second number is "lines"...

      Am I going crazy?!?

        You might be right. I thought 2k was 2560x1440.

        I like this res. It's a nice upgrade from 1080p but it's waaaaay nicer on the hardware.

          Yeah, my GTX770 4GB does ok at that res. I'm still thinking of upgrading though. Its about that time.

    I would rather have ultra wide screen, gsync/freesync, OLED, HDR and a high refresh rate before I worry about 4K. Although I am very happy the 4K fad is here to push graphics technology forward and bring VR to us quicker.

    4K is a joke at the moment. For pcs you need an absolute monster rig to run it well at anything above 60fps and let's not kid ourselves if you are running any less on a pc then you are doing it wrong. Either that or you have to scale back the graphics to the point where it looks like ass but runs well.

    Given that, do people really expect 4K to look good and run well on consoles like the PS4pro? They are deluding themselves if the do, considering at 900p a lot of games run a 'cinematic' or as I like to call it slide show 24fps.

    Also although 4K tvs are fairly common and getting cheaper ( I picked up a 60" last year for 2k) they still lack the response time for good gaming. Especially with HDR.

    I think the PS4pro will be lol for 4K but Scorpio may have a chance if they get the hardware right.

    Still I will stick to 1440p @ 165hz and fps thank you very much. My games can run at max res, at max graphics and at max fps and are buttery smooth.

      I'll be surprised if even Scorpio handles it well. It's just not doable at the moment on a reasonable budget.

      So Microsoft either keep it relatively console priced and it's in the same boat as the PS4 Pro, or they go gangbusters after 4K and it's priced out of the reach of most console consumers.

        Given how pcs are handling 4K on some of the best hardware. Consoles won't be able to handle it on a reasonable budget until it is last gen and pcs are on 8k or whatever is next.

      I run a lot of games at over 60fps on my gtx 960. Not everything, but many games (like Reflex - the quake style fps) I run at 2160p at over 100fps no problems at all.
      It's very dependent on which engine the game uses.

      Samsungs have really low response times now, I believe since series 7? But I know series 8's are down to ~20ms with hdr on.

    An alternative explanation to the above on the mouse issues might be vsync? I know I've had problems with mouse tracking in the past while vsync is enabled in games.

    When i upgrade, 4k doesnt interest me at all.
    VR however is worth it.

    Given any choice right now I'd take an utterly cracking OLED 1080p screen over anything 4K.

    On the PC front I'm still on 1080p but it's by choice. I could go higher but the investment to maintain the quality I expect is unreasonable and not worth it really. I can pump a few hundred in every couple of years and get something that does the job. As much as I enjoy the premium end of things, it's a hard and expensive habit to get away from; the 9700pro, 7800GTX, 4870x2 were all beasts but my poor poor wallet.

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