How to Find High PPI (DPI) Monitors and Choose the Right One

By | September 20, 2020

Monitor DPI/PPI

DPI or PPI is a measure of how many pixels are there per inch. High PPI means that more pixels are packed in the same amount of space.

The "sharpness" of a display depends on the PPI and not just the resolution.

For example 2 monitors with the same Full HD resolution may have different sizes.

Its intuitive to think that a higher size and higher resolution gives a more clearer and sharper display but that is not totally correct.

At the same pixel resolution, the larger size display will have larger pixels hence lower PPI and the smaller one will have smaller pixels, hence high PPI.

Standard Monitor sizes and PPI

Lets take a look at some standard resolutions, screen sizes and their corresponding PPI values:

  • 1920x1080 - 15.6" - 141.21 PPI (Laptops & Notebooks)
  • ...
  • 1920x1080 - 21.5" - 102.46 PPI
  • 1920x1080 - 23.8" - 92.56 PPI
  • 1920x1080 - 27.0" - 81.59 PPI
  • 1920x1080 - 31.5" - 69.93 PPI
  • ..
  • 2560x1440 - 23.8" - 123.41 PPI
  • 2560x1440 - 27.0" - 108.79 PPI
  • 2560x1440 - 31.5" - 93.24 PPI
  • ..
  • 3840x2160 - 23.8" - 185.12 PPI - 4K UHD
  • 3840x2160 - 27.0" - 163.18 PPI - 4K UHD
  • ..
  • 2560x1080 - 29" - 95.81 ppi - 21:9 - W-FHD - Ultrawide
  • 2560x1080 - 30" - 92.62 ppi - 21:9 - W-FHD - Ultrawide
  • 2560x1080 - 34" - 81.72 ppi - 21:9 - W-FHD - Ultrawide
  • 3440x1440 - 35" - 106.55 ppi - 21:9 - W-FHD - Ultrawide
  • ..
  • Retina Display - 200+ PPI
  • Smart Phones - 300+ PPI

The above table clearly shows how increasing the monitor size at the same resolution lowers the PPI.

Though often times you might not be able to note the difference between 2 displays having different PPIs if the values are very close.

However if the difference is big for example 92 PPI and 120 PPI the difference would be noticeable. Images and videos on the higher PPI display will appear more sharp and clear.

From the above table it can be seen that laptops have higher ppi values or more pixels compared to desktop monitors.

The ppi or pixel density of a monitor affects the price as well. Lower ppi monitors will usually cost less and higher ppi monitors will cost more.

High PPI Displays

If you have seen the super lustrous display of Macbooks and wondered why do they look so beautiful, its because of the super sharpness created by the super high PPI Retina display. The macbooks have a ppi of over 200.

Similarly smartphones have a ppi of over 300 which is why the display looks so nice.

On typical monitors if you just move your eyes close enough you can see the individual pixels and even notice the RGB parts of it.

Computer monitors usually don't have that high PPI displays available yet. There are some rare ones but they are too expensive.

If you want to buy a High PPI Monitor for your desktop then we would recommend 3840x2160 (4K UHD) resolution on 23.8" sized displays. They have a PPI of 185.12 PPI which is the highest in monitors.

You can find such monitors on amazon.com

Since High PPI monitor typically have more pixels, they may not be able to offer higher refresh rates, but they can offer superior display panel like IPS.

Most high ppi monitors in the market today have a refresh rate of 60Hz with IPS display panel, which means sharper and crystal clear image and video display.

Choosing the Right PPI for your Monitor

So you might be wondering, what is a good PPI for a monitor. Historically 95-100 PPI has been the most popular configuration across the industry.

In the past we had PPIs as low as 82 but those are mostly obsolete now and not really good for modern displays that use high resolution images.

At the same time higher PPI is not always better. Things appear smaller on high PPI and appear bigger on lower PPI. So you have to choose wisely.

With improvement in technology a variety of resolutions and display sizes are now available in the market and you can choose one that suits your particular needs better.

Here is a quick guide on how to choose the best PPI for various use cases like Gaming, CAD, Office Work, Image & Video Editing etc. It should give you some basic idea on how to choose the best ppi for your next monitor.

1. Gaming and CAD

If you are into Gaming or doing some 3D CAD work you would probably go for a high resolution + moderate PPI display.

This means a high resolution on a big size, so that you have plenty of space on screen to display as many things as possible.

Any one of the following configuration should be suitable. If your budget permits then go for the higher resolution at a given size.

  • 1920x1080 - 23.8" - 92.56 PPI (Allows higher refresh rates - 144Hz)
  • 2560x1440 - 23.8" - 123.41 PPI (Refresh rate will be low)
  • 2560x1440 - 27.0" - 108.79 PPI (Allows higher refresh rates - 144Hz)

A PPI in the range 92-120 should work well for both Gaming and CAD design work.

When choosing a gaming monitor, keep in mind that at higher PPI and resolutions the refresh rates are typically lower.

Most high ppi monitors will have a low refresh rate around 60 Hz as mentioned before. But they will be able to offer better color displays with IPS panels.

2. Office Work

If you need a monitor for office work, like document work, coding, reading etc, a moderate resolution with moderate ppi would suffice. This means a moderate resolution on a medium sized monitor.

You do not need super sharp picture quality for office work and neither do you need a big display screen.

Also note that a very high PPI value might show smaller text on screen which would not be suitable for office work like document editing or coding.

One of the following configurations should suffice:

  • 1920x1080 - 21.5" - 102.46 PPI
  • 1920x1080 - 23.8" - 92.56 PPI
  • 2560x1440 - 23.8" - 123.41 PPI

3. Graphic Designing, Videos Editing and Animation

If you are doing graphic design like image editing, video editing or developing animations, then higher ppi is recommended as it will give better and sharper picture quality.

Higher pixel density will give a much clearer view of high resolution images and videos on the monitor thereby making it easier to edit.

  • 2560x1440 - 23.8" - 123.41 PPI
  • 3840x2160 - 23.8" - 185.12 PPI - 4K UHD
  • 3840x2160 - 27.0" - 163.18 PPI - 4K UHD

Font DPI Scaling on High PPI Displays

On High PPI displays things will appear smaller including the fonts. However fonts can be scaled using the fonts dpi setting.

You have to find the font settings option for your operating system and adjust the value of DPI.

Are High PPI Monitors worth it ?

High PPI monitors have more pixels to draw which implies that your computer must have more graphics processing power to generate display data for more pixels.

You would need a more capable graphics card if you plan to do graphics intensive work like 3d rendering or gaming. This drives up the overall cost of your PC setup.

Besides that high ppi monitors are also expensive on their own since the manufacturing process is more complicated to allow packing more pixels in smaller display area. As a result high ppi monitor prices are significantly higher compared to standard budget monitors.

However the upside is that the display quality is really sharp and far superior to regular monitors. So if you are doing graphics editing that requires the best possible display, or if you are used to seeing high quality sharp displays then high ppi monitors are totally worth it.

Conclusion

Monitor manufacturers usually don't mention the ppi value on the product itself. You have to calculate manually using the values of screen size and resolution.

If you are buying a new monitor, make sure to take a look at the PPI to get the best display for the price.

Resources

Wikipedia's guide on pixel density:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_density

To calculate Monitor DPI/PPI use the tools below:
https://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/technology/ppi-calculator.php
https://www.sven.de/dpi/

About Silver Moon

A Tech Enthusiast, Blogger, Linux Fan and a Software Developer. Writes about Computer hardware, Linux and Open Source software and coding in Python, Php and Javascript. He can be reached at [email protected].

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