8K VS 4K and Upscaling Is 8K Worth the Upgrade?

8k vs 4k

It’s really hard to keep up with TV technology. Anyone who has owned a new TV in the last few years is sure to know the experience. You saved all your cash on a new best-in-class TV and, soon after you set it up, a new batch of next-generation TVs is revealed, which claims to outperform your new set in almost every way.

This is where we are in the battle of 8k and 4k TVs for now. While universal exposure to true 8 K UHD content is a long way off, several TV manufacturers expect that the incredible upscaling and better regulation provided by this first wave of 8K sets will help to satisfy viewers that upgrades from 4K TVs are already worth.

The advantages of 8k over 4k on display are clear. But unlike the switch between 4k and 1080p, the difference is not as noticeable in reality. 8k TVs have four times as many pixels as their 4k equivalents and 16 times as many pixels as 1080p TVs.

Those additional pixels can make a significant difference in picture quality, but they do that only if you’re viewing native 8k content and you’re sitting close enough to feel the difference. See also our recommendations on Samsung vs Sony, Samsung vs LG.

Find the Best 4K TVs

Why does it matter?

Simply put, the resolution is the collection of pixels used to make up the picture of your Television. Higher quality screens make it possible to see more fine info on your favorite sports, videos, and TV shows. Upgrading to higher quality TV may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not always necessary.

Although most of the new TVs have a 4k resolution, the first 8k TVs have started to enter the market. So, if you’re looking for a new TV, are you going to have a 4k or 8k?

8k 4k
Sizes available Good Great
TV Sizes Available 55″ to 100″+ 40″ to 100″+
Height in pixels 4320 2160
Width in pixels 7680 3840
Availability Okay Excellent
Content Availability Extremely limited Excellent

 

Find the Best 8K TVs

Content

There is actually almost no 8k content available. There are actually a few demo clips available on YouTube, as well as a few advanced tutorial videos available for free. On the only 8k TV we’ve reviewed so far, the Samsung Q900R, the only 8k videos available on YouTube are limited to 4k replay, since the TV actually may not accept YouTube’s 8k file format.

Some of the latest PCs will display at 8k but are limited to a maximum refresh rate of 30Hz and there are a few other limitations. This is due to the HDMI 2.0 bandwidth limitations, and this condition will improve drastically after the first HDMI 2.1 graphics cards have been released.

One of the key factors for scarcely any usable content is that the vast majority of video production is only produced in 4k or lower. A few recent films, including Disney / Marvel’s Captain Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol, were at least partly filmed in 8k. 2, but then these were just partly shot in 8k, and the actual videos were mastered in 4k. 8k videos are expected to be at least 3-5 years away.

Winner: 4k. This will likely take a while to change, but eventually, the availability of 8k content will improve.

8k 4k
UHD Blu-Ray No Yes
Netflix No Yes
Amazon Video No Yes
Vudu No Yes
YouTube Yes Yes
Game Consoles No* Yes
PC Games Yes Yes

Gaming

Gaming is a bit different from that. As video games make much of their content even when it’s required, relatively little research is needed to support the higher resolution. As long as the hardware running the game is efficient enough to render frames fast enough, most games will quickly be upgraded to accommodate the maximum resolution possible, and certain games do support up to 8k resolutions or better.

The highest resolution of most games and gaming devices currently licensed is 4k. That is about to improve, however, when the next generation of gaming consoles unveiled by Microsoft and Sony, and both indicated that their latest consoles would support 8k resolutions, while they would only reach 4k at 120Hz.

Winner: 8k. Although 8k gaming is currently nearly non-existent, this will change very quickly once new graphics cards and consoles have been released.

Native 8k vs 4k

The two images above show the same picture in separate native resolutions. The first picture is a native 8k picture, seen on a native 8k TV, the Samsung Q900R. The second image is a native 4k image, seen on a native 4k TV, the Sony X950G.

Samsung provides a clear picture, but in fact, it’s only visible from an incredibly close-up. From a decent viewing point, the two pictures look nearly close.

It is necessary to remember that this comparison is based on a valid 8k image. 8k video is virtually non-existent at this point, and much of what you’re looking at is probably lower resolution content upscaled to 8k, which looks different from native 8k and 4k.

Winner: 8k. The higher resolution results in a slightly more detailed image, but the benefits are limited.

4k Upscaled to 8k vs 4k

In order to display low-resolution content on an 8k TV, the Television will conduct a procedure called upscaling. This process improves the pixel count of a lower resolution image, enabling a device with less pixels to match a device with several more. It is necessary to note that because the number of details in the signal will not change, there should be no further detail present.

With 8k TVs, upscaling efficiency is more important than ever before. Since the majority of broadcast material is only 1080p or much lower, 8k TV will interpolate ~94 percent of the pixels when viewing 1080p video.

Winner: 4k, but barely. 4k on a native 4k TV will always look slightly better than an upscaled image.

Viewing Distance – 8k vs 4k

Having an 8k TV and genuine 8k content isn’t enough. There are limits to what your eyes can see, and if you are too far away from the TV, you won’t see any advantage with an 8k display over a 4k display.

As you can see, 8k TVs are most useful while sitting extremely close to the TV-far closer, in reality, than most people are sitting comfortably.

That doesn’t mean you’re not going to see any change at all – it just means it’s not going to be important. It all depends on the quality of the video you’re viewing. But high definition TV can’t render low-quality content appear good.

Winner: 4k. 8k TVs allow you to sit closer to the TV, but this is too close for most people.

Build quality: Comparing Samsung Q900 vs Samsung Q9FN

From the front, the two TVs are similar in terms of style, with both featuring the straight edges and pointy corners common of the company’s latest versions.

The Q900R bezels are positioned outwards rather than inwards like they are on the Q9FN, and the Samsung branding has been relocated from the top to the bottom right.

The main difference is in the stands, with the Q9FN having an elegant pedestal, while the Q900R gets more functional legs. Such legs can be placed either at the ends of the bottom edge of the Q900R or closer to the center, or they can be tucked away into unique recesses at the rear of the safe-keeping package if you want to be wall-mounted.

The uniform width of the Q900R and its fully flat back makes it appear more like a curvy photo frame when assembled, while the smooth tapering of the Q9FN covers the fact that it is only a bit thicker than its 8K.

All TVs utilize Samsung’s One Connect model, which requires all connections to be moved from the rear of the set to a different One Connect panel, with the two components linked via a small, semi-transparent cable.

It’s an outstanding feature, but it doesn’t provide a point of differentiation between these two sets – while Samsung claims it would replace the One Link box of the Q900R with one that completely supports HDMI 2.1, free of charge if requested by the user.

Sound

Samsung has so far ignored the recent trend of building TVs with integrated soundbars, however, the virtually invisible Q9FN and Q900R speaker systems both deliver shockingly well-performed audio performance.

The optimized model is better in all cases. Once picked, both TVs provide a big, bold, and spacious output with a relatively simple, concise dialogue. Of the two, the Q900R is a little more complete-bodied and more dynamic, but it’s not a night-and-day upgrade worth spending the extra amount.

What’s more, both TVs can be easily and cost-effectively improved through the addition of a separate soundbar.

Conclusion

8k TVs are an incredible step-up of Television capabilities. Offering 4x the amount of pixels of a 4k TV and 16x the amount of pixels of a 1080p Screen, these new screens offer stunning resolution rates. Unfortunately, as amazing as these TVs are, there is absolutely no material available to them. This is likely to change over the coming years when more 8k content becomes available, but it is expected to take at least 3-5 years for 8k videos, so it’s definitely not worth 8k TV right now.

Winner: 4k, for now.