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4K Gaming Dilemma: Ultra HD or 60 Frames Per Second

by on August 6, 2014
 

by Stephan Jukic – August 6th, 2014

While the debate as to whether 4K is the future of gaming leans in favor of widespread adoption of the resolution format, there are still some weak spots in the meshing of 4K UHD and consumer ready gaming left. The resolution is well within reach of modern games, don’t get us wrong, and many modern games are fully 4K screen compatible. It’s just that there are still some milestones that need to be passed before we really see the resolution format become more widespread in PC/video gameplay.

For starters, 4K monitors are still slightly on the pricey side. They are getting cheaper and very quickly but still remain outside the reach of many younger gamers, who drive the overall market. While monitors from Acer, Samsung and a couple of other lesser known display technology makers are dropping in price down to just above $500 dollars, that’s still a stiff bill for gamers whose remaining rig costs them $1500 or more.

If you factor in the fact that playing games in 4K mode requires some very powerful and expensive graphics processing units (GPUs), often more than one working in parallel, the cost of even a cheaper 4K monitor doesn’t quite look so cheap.

Furthermore, there is the still major problem of frame rates, and this issue is one of the defining limitations of 4K PC gaming. While games themselves are 4K graphics capable and the monitors are completely ready to display all that resolution, even higher end GPUs often have problem processing action intensive games at frame rates that go above a maximum of 30 fps. Some can barely even manage 20 fps and this is a big problem for fast action games that simply don’t render properly at rates below 60 fps.

A recent report from PC Gamer, for example, showed that running a game such as “Metro: Last Light” in 4K barely worked even at 20 fps on even a powerful gaming rig and was a complete failure at higher rates.

While some gamers are willing to settle for 30 fps in exchange for absolutely stunning visuals on their 3840 x 2160 pixel screens, the games they tend to play are not exactly the most exciting on the market today; those tend to be action intensive first person shooter games.

Less GPU intensive games like Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider performed decently at rates slightly above 30 fps under 4k Resolution and although this is an improvement, these are still not some of the most popular games out there and the fine smoothness of 60 fps was nowhere near reached.

In fact, some of the only real performers at a full 60 fps on a full 4K screen were older games such as Counter Strike Global Offensive and a game called Sleeping Dogs. And even these oldies required a rig with robust specs to reach that 60 frame mark.

This is the current overall landscape of 4K gaming: It’s definitely here and it’s something a lot of gamers want but the fully smooth rendering of 60 fps usually has to be foregone if you want to play any of the more decent and active stuff on the market. Better GPUs and better processing power in gaming rigs both still need a bit more development.

Story by 4k.com

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