1080i vs. 1080p vs. 4K: What’s the Difference & Which Should You Get in 2024?

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Navigating your TV settings can be confusing. You can quickly fall down a rabbit hole when searching online for terms like “1080p vs. 1080i.” It can be even more daunting when you learn how factors like your viewing distance and the type of content you consume can influence the results you see on your screen.

To truly understand the debate of 1080p vs. 1080i or find out if 4K TVs are what you need, we must delve into how each format affects your viewing experience based on your specific setup and preferences.

Whether you’re a die-hard gamer, a movie buff, or a sports fan viewing parties, we’ve got your back.

Join us in cutting through the tech jargon and finding the best way to enhance your viewing experience with your TV setup.

Key Takeaways

  • 1080p offers superior clarity over 1080i, especially noticeable in fast-moving scenes.
  • 1080i may introduce motion blur due to its interlaced scanning method.
  • The choice between 1080i vs. 1080p may depend on your specific viewing needs.
  • 4K resolution is replacing 1080p and 1080i with significantly higher detail.
  • Before upgrading to 4K, consider your access to 4K content and your stance on its higher energy consumption.

What Is the Difference Between 1080i and 1080p

So, what is 1080i vs 1080p? If you’re still wondering, you’re not alone; let’s explore the differences and determine which might be better for your entertainment needs. First of all, 1080i and 1080p share a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels.

However, what sets these two apart is their scanning techniques. The ‘i’ in 1080i stands for interlaced scan, which refreshes the screen by alternately drawing odd and even lines.


This process also requires two refresh cycles to complete the entire image. The method, still used in some broadcasting formats and previously common in older CRT TVs, can lead to motion artifacts or a slight blur in fast-moving images due to each frame being only partially updated at intervals.

By contrast, 1080p operates with a progressive scan approach, meaning each refresh updates every line on the screen from top to bottom.

This ‘p’ in 1080p ensures the entire image is redrawn sequentially, eliminating the motion artifacts seen in interlaced video and resulting in clearer, more stable visuals.

This makes it particularly effective in scenes with significant motion, providing a consistent and smooth viewing experience that is now standard in modern displays, including LED, OLED, and various UHD formats.

1080i vs. 1080p: Which Is Better?

An image showing the difference between 10809 and 1080i
1080p and 1080i. Source: ProScreenCast

If you look beyond the spec sheets, many will need help telling the difference between the two if they are shown side by side. However, this improvement is most noticeable when watching sports, action sequences in movies, or when playing video games.

In these situations, 1080p is undoubtedly the best option for viewing HD content and lengthy gaming sessions. But don’t be too surprised if you find yourself in a room full of people where not everyone can see the smoother visual experience.

So, comparing 1080p vs. 1080i, which is better for gaming and movies?

Is 1080i or 1080p Better for Gaming and Movies?

Gamers have traditionally been advised to avoid 1080i because its interlacing technique can cause an annoying blurred effect when playing. However, there is a counter-argument that 1080i and 1080p are suitable for gaming depending on several factors, such as the type of games played and personal sensitivity to display nuances.

When evaluating the difference between 1080i and 1080p it’s crucial to consider how each technology performs with the specific types of media you enjoy most.

Thanks to its progressive scanning method, 1080p refreshes every pixel row 60 times per second, making it the go-to choice for movie lovers. This leads to a smoother viewing experience without the motion artifacts commonly associated with 1080i displays.

1080i alternates illumination between odd and even rows of pixels, effectively updating each half of the screen 30 times per second. This can lead to a less stable image during high-motion scenes.

4K vs. 1080p and 1080i

Image comparing the size of 4K vs 1080p and i080i
4K vs. 1080p and 1080i. Source: ProScreenCast

1080p and 1080i displays on older sets are beginning to look dated when compared to the new 4K TVs.

Known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), these new kids on the block boast around four times the number of pixels in 1080p. This increase allows viewers to sit closer to their TVs without the image degradation typically experienced with lower resolutions, making 4K ideal for larger screens in our homes.

Home cinema fans and gamers led the charge to 4K.

But outside of these niche communities, many have resisted upgrading to Ultra HD because it involves more outlay, such as UHD streaming subscriptions, the latest game consoles, or an expensive cable package to reap the full benefits.

If you own a working 1080p TV and need access to 4K content, there is no real incentive to upgrade.

It’s also important to highlight that 4K TVs consume more energy.

Another inconvenient truth is that not all viewers notice the difference in quality, particularly if they are not accessing 4K-specific content like ultra-high-definition games or movies.

Feature 4K (Ultra HD) 1080p (Full HD) 1080i 720p
Resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels 1280 x 720 pixels
Pixel Count Approximately 8.3 million Approximately 2.1 million Approximately 2.1 million Approximately 921,600
Scanning Method Progressive scan Progressive scan Interlaced scan Progressive scan
Image Quality Sharper and more detailed; supports higher frame rates Very good quality; suitable for most content and gaming Good for static images but can blur during fast motion Good for less detailed viewing and lower-end displays
Best for High-end gaming, professional graphic design, and 4K films General viewing, gaming, and HD broadcasts General TV broadcasts and less dynamic content Sports and gaming where frame rate is a priority
Hardware Support Requires 4K-compatible devices Supported by all modern HDTVs and media devices Supported by older HDTVs and many current broadcast standards Supported by most modern but budget-friendly devices
Content Availability Increasing on streaming platforms and game consoles Widely available across all media platforms Becoming less common as newer technologies take over Common in broadcasting and streaming

Energy Consumption, Upscaling, and Environmental Impact

How big is your room? Did you know that the closer you sit to your TV, the higher pixel density of a 4K TV provides a noticeably sharper and more detailed image without visible pixelation compared to older models?

But the differences become less apparent if you’re seated further from the screen. It’s also worth remembering that 4K TVs consume more energy.

Keeping older technology longer can reduce waste and improve your environmental impact. However, the efficiency of new models can offset some of these impacts over time, presenting a balanced approach to upgrading technology responsibly.

As 4K becomes increasingly mainstream, shifting towards this higher resolution is inevitable as audiences embrace immersive viewing experiences that make previous HD standards seem less compelling.

But whether it’s worth upgrading will depend on your unique requirements.

The Bottom Line

While 1080i and 1080p deliver impressive HD visuals, 1080p offers a much smoother viewing experience. But make no mistake, 4K is the new sheriff in town.

However, upgrading to a 4K TV involves more than a higher initial purchase price. There are also increased energy consumption costs and the potential need for higher-tier streaming subscriptions to access 4K content to consider.

Whether you are happy to pay for the upgrade or continue to enjoy 1080p HD will depend more on your requirements and thoughts about reducing waste and environmental impact. The choice is yours.


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Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer
Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.