Although the tech world is crazy about technologies like 4K displays, curved OLED monitors, and 240Hz refresh rates, many of us are still using a 1366×768 pixel monitor.
Work computers, budget laptops, and Chromebooks are still widely available with 1366×768 displays, which begs the question – what exactly is a 1366 x 768 display? And further, is it good for gaming?
Here, we will take a deep dive into the pros and cons of a 1366×768 monitor, and tell you whether or not it is good enough for gaming.
Quick Answer: Is 1366×768 Good for Gaming?
The quick answer is that a 1366 x 768 display is good enough for gaming, but it still has some deficiencies. Depending on the type of gaming you are doing, you may or may not notice a difference in screen resolution between this display and a 1080p “full” high-definition screen.
In side-by-side testing, most users can tell the difference between 768 and 1080 displays. Primarily, this is because a 1080p has roughly twice the pixels and therefore has higher contrast and overall resolution.
If your budget is unlimited, avoid purchasing a 1366×768 display for gaming.
If you want an oversized screen, avoid a 1366×768 display (most people will tell you that any screen over 15” will look slightly distorted unless the resolution is 1080p or higher).
Alternatively, if your budget is limited and you already own a budget computer with a 1366 x 768 display, there isn’t a real “need” to upgrade.
This is especially true because most budget computers have lower quality components, so a 240Hz 4K display would be under-utilized by a budget computer with a mediocre GPU. In fact, this higher resolution will actually be pretty taxing on a low-quality GPU, so you could even argue that a 1366 x 768 display is “better” for this use than a 4K display.
Longer Explanation: Gaming on a 1366 x 768 Display
To be clear, a 1366×768 screen is not high-performance. Rather, this is the kind of display that generally comes standard on budget laptops, Chromebooks, and sub-$500 plastic body laptops that are marketed to students.
Often, this screen is included on these laptops for a simple reason – 768 screens are cheap and readily available. So, it is a good way for manufacturers to save some money.
This screen has about half the pixels of a 1080p display, so the resolution (visual detail) is less impressive. If you stretch a 1366 x 768 video to a 1080p format, you will get some distortion and lose clarity.
As mentioned above, monitors that are larger than 15.6” will start looking slightly blurred if using a 1366 x 768 format. For monitors smaller than 12”, it is challenging (at least for my eyes) to tell the difference between 768 and 1080p. In a side-by-side test you might notice the difference, but otherwise the clarity is comparable.
Additionally, for non-gaming tasks like typing, browsing the internet, or using Excel, there is almost no difference in image clarity.
The only issue that users tend to have when computing is that a 768 resolution yields a small desktop appearance. In other words, the screen won’t be wide enough for side-by-side tasks, and it will appear short when browsing the internet or using spreadsheets. Many people can use a 768 display without any issue (after all, it is the screen that most of our companies provide us!), but for those of us that are particular about our computer workstation, it may feel limiting to use a 768 rather than 1080 display.
One further point to consider – the quality of your gaming rig should match the quality of your monitor.
If you are gaming on an old laptop that you bought for your freshman year of college, don’t assume that you can connect to a 4K monitor and get professional quality visuals. As mentioned above, some of the newer, high-performance monitors are quite taxing on a GPU.
This means that a 34”, 1440p, 175Hz monitor isn’t a good fit for a low-powered gaming computer. You will either put undue stress on your computer, or else have to “dumb down” your monitor (in which case there was no need to spend $1,200+ on a gaming monitor).
There are hundreds of guides available that explain how to build or buy a gaming PC. Be sure to spend some time before purchasing anything, because many people make the mistake of mismatching high-performance components with low-powered devices, and vice versa.
Frame Rate (fps) with Lower Resolution Gaming
One advantage to gaming on a lower resolution monitor (such as a 1366×768 rather than 4K) is that lower resolutions are less demanding on your GPU.
This conversation can become very technical very quickly, so we won’t get too far into the weeds here. But the bottom line is that, if your GPU is running near its max capability, a 720p or 768 monitor is going to put less workload on it than a 1080p or 4K monitor would.
As a result of this lower resolution, it may be possible to get a higher FPS (frame rate) when gaming on a lower resolution monitor than a higher resolution monitor. In other words, your video on a 768 monitor may be less vivid, but it can be smoother and less choppy due to the higher FPS.
On a high-powered gaming rig, your GPU probably won’t bottleneck you from playing 1080p graphics. But on a budget setup, the resolution and frame rate may be worth considering.
Again, this is a complicated discussion that we are over-simplifying, but it is just one further point for you to consider.
Is there a point in buying a “gaming” monitor?
This depends who you ask. But generally speaking, you need to pay for a monitor with good specs, whether or not it is marketed as “gaming” or not. The key factors in selecting a monitor are size, type of display, screen resolution, and refresh rate, among others. But being called a “gaming monitor” rather than just a monitor doesn’t have any inherent value.
Which is better, 1366×768 or 1280×720 (720p)?
1366×768 is higher resolution, therefore generally considered “better.” It has more pixels than 768, and is capable of playing 720 video. On the other hand, a 720 display cannot play 1366×768 video without downsizing and distorting the video.
Which is better, 1366×768 or 1920×1080 (1080p)?
1920×1080 is higher resolution, therefore generally considered “better.” In fact, a 1080 display has roughly twice as many pixels as a 1366×768 display. This means that images and video will be sharper and more crisp. A 1080 display can flawlessly play 1366×768 video, whereas a 1366×768 display cannot play 1080 video without a loss of quality.
Can you play 1080p video on a 1366×768 display?
Yes, nearly any 768 display should be capable of playing 1080p video. However, it will not be “true” 1080p video. Instead, it will be scaled down to the 1366×768 resolution. This means that you need a 1080p or better display to watch “true” 1080p high-definition video. Because the aspect ratio of these two displays is the same (16:9), there won’t be any stretching of the video. But you will lose clarity by playing 1080 video on a 1366×768 display.
Gaming on a 1366×768 display may not be suitable for tech enthusiasts and elite gamers. The resolution is just too low.
However, for the other 90%+ of the population, you will be able to game on a 1366×768 display comfortably. Although side-by-side testing will always favor a 1080p or 4K monitor over a 1366×768 monitor, the quality difference isn’t always worth spending thousands to upgrade your gaming setup.
Plus, unless you have a high-powered GPU, your monitor may not even be the bottleneck in your setup. There isn’t any reason to spend $1,200+ on the latest and greatest gaming monitor unless you have the rest of the machine to support it.
Having said all of that, if you are purchasing a computer with the intent to game, aim for a 1080p display or higher.