Screen size, resolution, desktop size, and text readability

I’m planning to replace a 24" HD (1920x1080) display with 27" – I’m confused about the pros & cons of higher resolution (QHD or UHD).

My motivation for the replacement is to get more screen width to provide a more comfortable fit for multiple windows. I can get the larger display in HD (“FHD”), QHD, or UHD resolutions. The specs of displays generally imply that their default resolution – e.g., 3840x2160 for UHD/4K – is the only one that they’re “comfortable” with (my terminology).

I’m not sure of the relation of screen real estate – e.g., desktop size – and readability of text. If I get a UHD/4K display will I get more text / wider windows at the expense of making the letters smaller and harder to read? Thanks for any attempt to lessen my confusion.

Mac mini (2018)
Monterey 12.5.1
(Cross-posted at but I was frustrated with lack of navigation there; couldn’t find my question post.)

It is confusing. I’ve read a lot and am still confused. You can have a look at these two articles and a YouTube video:

Mac External Displays…

Scaling on MacOS…

Why I Returned My 4K Monitor (YouTube)

The first article, from Bjango, is the most technical, but it does have interesting details about how scaling works and how it can affect machine performance.


Thanks! I was persuaded by the video and the article linked with it, which you also linked. I’m going with QHD, 1440p, 2560x1440.

I wouldn’t overthink it unless you enjoy that. Last year I upgraded an old HP 24" HD monitor to an LG 27" 4k monitor for my secondary mac, a 2018 mini. My primary mac is a 27" 5K retina imac. Both are set to 2560 x 1440 via the normal system prefs (I didn’t install the LG software), which is the default for the iMac and IIRC was the default for the LG. The LG is noticeably not retina, but it’s fine at all of the five primary built-in scalings (more are available via option-Scaled in Display prefs). It’s a trade off between font size and real estate, just try each one and see which you like best.

The physical size of the LG is pretty close to the old HP because HP has big bezels, and LG has almost none.

Ah, actual experience! Thanks. I enjoyed “unless you enjoy that” – how did you know? :grinning:

But I still think I’m going to go with a 1440p monitor. My primary concerns are text, scrolling text, and performance, and I’m from what I’ve seen via youtube that 1440p is the scaling I’d choose with a 2160p monitor.

It all comes down to the resolution in pixels that results in a text size that you can read comfortably. I have a 27-inch Retina iMac and a non-Retina 27-inch Thunderbolt Display side by side. Both run at 2560x1440, so they’re the same effective resolution, but the Retina iMac has twice as many actual pixels and uses pixel doubling to make the text much sharper. I don’t mind using the Thunderbolt Display, but the iMac is much crisper.

Thanks, Adam. OK. I’ve changed my mind again and am going with a 4K display.

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P.S. In a comment to the video, someone plausibly claims to have shown that the performance problems with scaling a 4K display to 2560x1440 are not in the GPU but due to insufficient RAM – main memory that is shared with the GPU.

My 27-inch Asus monitor on my 2018 MacMini just bit the dust in an odd way; it still turns on but display the image on the screen. I plugged in a 24-inch Sausmung that I had from an earlier Mac, and it shows the screen image, so there’s no problem with the MacMini. I have been having problems with the Asus monitor taking a long time to display a screen image, but this time it seems to have stopped, so I’m looking for a replacement. My existing desk can fit 27 to 32 inch screens reasonably well. I write about technology, so I need screen readability for my aging eyes (I have floaters that get in the way).

The reasonably local computer store has a befuddling number of monitors. What are the advantages of 2K vs. 4K screens? I don’t care much about video other than it be sharp. I’m planning to visit the store and check how what they have look to my eyes, and for at least the moment I have a workable 24-inch screen. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Jeff