Can You Tell The Difference Between 720p, 1080p, And 4K? This Chart Can Tell You

Can You Tell The Difference Between 720p, 1080p, And 4K? This Chart Can Tell You

When I rip my Blu-Ray discs for my home theatre PC, I’m always debating whether to rip in 720p or 1080p. Can I really see the difference?

It turns out, that debate depends on a lot more than your eyesight. A few years ago, I couldn’t tell the difference, but lately, my 1080p rips have been looking noticeably better. But it wasn’t my eyesight that was improving — it was the big new TV I’d bought.

The bigger your TV is (and the closer you sit to it), the more likely you’ll actually be able to tell the difference between standard definition, 720p, 1080p, and even 4K. The chart above, from Carlton Bale, is a good reference for figuring out whether 1080p or 4K really matter in your living room. (It’s based on 20/20 eyesight, so your mileage may vary — see this blog post for more information on how these values were put together.)

We’ve shared calculators for this information before, but they were focused on setting up your home theatre. But for most of us, viewing distance is dependent on our living room, and TV size is dependent on our budget. So I like that this chart takes the opposite approach: Given your TV size and viewing distance, is it really worth ripping in 1080p? That’s the question I always needed to answer.

And unless you have a truly giant TV, don’t even worry about 4K.

Does 4K Resolution Matter? [ via Reddit]


  • Consider the material you’re ripping… if you’re ripping a DVD, there’s no point in upscaling it to a higher resolution. If the BDVD transfer is garbage, perhaps don’t worry so much about 1080P (as the persons transferring it originally didn’t bother).

    That being said, if the movie is more that ‘AAA’ action movie, somtimes it might be worth the higher detail in preperation for any eventual upgrades.

  • LOL @ don’t even worry about 4K… what’s considered a giant TV by LH these days.. 50″?

    Loving 4K on my 65″.. and I don’t consider 65″ particularly huge.

  • there’s no way this is accurate, my 42″ TV is 12 feet away and I can see a clear difference between 720 and 1080. 480p and 1080p will definitely not be “equivalent” as this chart suggests…

  • The problem with charts and calculations like this is it assumes 20/20 vision is ‘perfect’ vision when in reality it’s just the minimum to be classified as having ‘normal’ vision. On those vision test charts there’s another 3 smaller lines under the one that classifies you as having 20/20 vision.

    The majority of people who don’t need glasses will be able to see better that this chart assumes.

  • My old projector is putting a 720p picture over a wall area with 125″ diagonal, and I’m watching from about 15 foot – with my glasses off. Judging by this chart, I’d see an improvement if I just went to 1080p AND put my glasses on.
    When the lamp goes I will probably use this to justify buying a new projector, with better specs. Until then, I think I’ll just leave my glasses off…

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