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4K vs 8K – What’s the Difference between 4K and 8K?

Q: Can you tell the difference between 4K and 8K, the new ultra HD and FUHD resolutions?

A: 4K has 3,840x2,160 pixels and 8K has four times the resolution of 4K (7,680x4,320) for the ultimate in clarity and realism.

Maybe you have noticed that 4K has been applied to 4K monitor, 4K UHD TV, 4K camera, 4K projector and video streaming website like YouTube. But when the advent of 4K is still news, 8K comes out. Yes, an upgrade again. But is 8K better than 4K? What’s the difference between 4K and 8K resolution? Should I buy a 4K TV or an 8K TV? Here is a detailed 4K 8K comparison guide which will help you know better about 4K and 8K, and choose the best products you need.

4K vs 8K - Definitions

What is 4K? 4K resolution refers to the content having horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels, while 8K resolution supposed to be the successor to 4K resolution refers to the horizontal resolution on the order of 8,000 pixels. 8K is also known as Super Hi-Vision.

4K has the resolution standard of the new generation of Hollywood blockbusters with better contrast, more details and color information. It is different from the HD (1,920×1,080) and 2K (2,048×1,080) which have provided us good viewing experience to a large extent, 4K (4,096×2,160) has much better performance to offer super fine pictures. Compared to 4K, everything brought by 8K is much, much better as expected.

4K and 8K formats comparison: VVC H266 vs AV1, H.266 vs H.265

4K vs 8K – Specifications

  • Resolution:
    Resolution, 1080p, 4K, and 8K, indicates the number of pixels on a screen. 4K has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels mainly for Ultra HD television, or 4,096 x 2,160 pixels for digital cinema. 4K Ultra HD is exactly four times of the resolution of HD (1080p). BTW, different organizations standardize the 4K resolution differently, including 3,840x2,160, 4,096x2160, 4,096x2,560, 4,096x2,304, 3,840x2,400, 3,840x1,600 and 3,840x1,080.
    8K is a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. 8K Full Ultra HD is sixteen times the resolution of HD, and four times of 4K Ultra HD. The image effect is much sharper.
  • Video codec: The current video compression standard formats for 4K and 8K are HEVC, VP9 and AV1 from Alliance for Open Media. HEVC is widely applied to the current 4K TVs, smartphones, incl. iPhone, but the royalty structure and higher computer hardware demanding are headache. VP9 is the best choice for Android, Windows, YouTube, Chrome, Firefox. While AV1, backed by Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, etc, is meant to replace HEVC, becoming the single standard for 4K and 8K.
  • Total pixels: 4K Ultra HD has 8 million pixels, while 8K has 33 million pixels. More pixels, more details.
  • Number of pixels per row Number of rows of pixels Total pixels
    Ultra HD (4K) 3,840 2,160 8,294,400
    Full UHD (8K) 7,680 4,320 33,177,600
  • Frame rate: 4K Ultra HD has a frame rate of 50 fps or 60 fps, while 8K Ultra HD has 120 fps.
  • Standard viewing distance: Viewing distance of 4K Ultra HD is 3 x screen height, while that of 4K Ultra HD is 0.75.
  • Standard viewing angle: Viewing angle of 4K Ultra HD is 60°, but viewing angle of 8K Ultra HD is 100°.
  • Audio channels: Audio channel for 4K Ultra HD is 5.1, but the audio channel for 8K Ultra HD is 22.2.

4K vs 8K – Development

  • 1984: Hitachi released the CMOS graphics processor ARTC HD63484 which can display up to 4K resolution when in monochrome mode.
  • 1995: NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, started to research 4320p, which was standardized by SMPTE in October 2007.
  • 2003: Dalsa Origin became the first commercially available 4K camera for cinematographic purposes.
  • 2004: Sony offered the 4K projectors.
  • 2010: YouTube started supporting 4K video uploads. Vimeo allowed for an upload up to 4096x3072 pixels.
  • 2011: Theaters began projecting movies at 4K resolution.
  • 2012: Sony released the first 4K home theater projector. The test about the transmissions of the 8K resolution applied by NHK in 2012 Summer Olympics and at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • 2013: On April 11, 2013, Canadian Bulb TV became the first broadcaster to provide a 4K liner channel. Sharp announced the LC-70UD1U on June 26, 2013, the world's first TV with THX 4K certification. In December 2013, users could view 4K videos on YouTube. Including Samsung Galaxy Note 3, mobile phones had the ability to record videos at 2160p (3840x2160). Cameras started supporting 8K resolution recording since 2013. They are AH-4800 from Astrodesign announced in 2013, Red Weapon VV in 2015, Red Weapon 8K S35 and Red Epic-W 8K S35 in 2016, and Red Weapon Monstro VV in 2017.
  • 2014: Netflix began streaming 4K contents to compatible televisions and the first two titles are House of Cards and Breaking Bad. Naughty America launched the first adult video service streaming in 4K in January 2014. And Amazon Studios began to shoot contents with 4K resolution. In November, United States satellite provider DirecTV became the first pay TV provider to offer 4K contents.
  • 2015: In August, British sports network BT Sport launched a 4K fed about 2015 FA Community Shield football match.
  • 2016: In March, the first players and discs for Ultra HD Blu-ray supporting 4K resolution and HDR at 60fps were released. On August 2, Microsoft released the 4K streaming device Xbox One S. In November, Sony released the PlayStation 4 Pro with support for 4K streaming and 4K gaming. NHK entailed the launch of 8K test broadcasting and it unveiled BS8K to broadcast channels at 8K resolution.
  • 2017: On November 2017, Microsoft released the 4K streaming and gaming device Xbox One X.
  • 2019: Mobile phones with 8K recording abilities were published in May, like ZTE Nubia Red Magic 3 series. At CES 2019, the first 8K TVs were unveiled. PlayStation 5 from Sony has a support for 8K graphics.
  • 2020: Microsoft’s Xbox Series X with 8K graphic support was released.

4K TV vs 8K TV: 4K TV is Your Current Choice

4K TV market is shared by 9 brands, including Samsung, TCL, LG, Sony and Hisense, with hundred types being sold. 4K is the resolution standard for most televisions out the market as of now, and 8K TVs are trickling out. When the first 4K TVs came out, they were 84 inches large and cost a staggering 5 digits. But when there are more and more 4K devices and contents, 4K is almost as popular as HD and become less expensive.

8K 4K
Height in pixels 4320 2,160
Width in pixels 7,680 3840
TV sizes available 755” to 100” + 40” to 100” +
Content availability Extremely limited Excellent
TV brands Sharp, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, BOE, Hisense, Changhong, Sony SAMSUNG, TCL, INSIGNIA, Sony, LG, Hisense, VIZIO, Samsung Electronics, DURAGADGET, Amazon
TV types 18 100+

Should you buy a 4K TV or an 8K TV?

4K TVs are now accepted widely by consumers. With over one thousand, you can get a good 4K TV. However, 8K TVs are very, very expensive right now which may cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Worse still, there are few 8K consumer contents to watch. So, if you have enough money to burn, you can buy an 8K TV.

4K Video vs 8K Video

4K contents is becoming more widely available. You can get the 4K contents from YouTube, Dailymotion, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, GoPro, iPhone, etc. While there is almost no consumer 8K content available currently.

4K Video Recording vs 8K Video Recording

The cameras for 4K video recording are ranging from professional cameras like Arri Alexa to mobile phone camera like Samsung Galaxy Note 3. In summary, they are over 200 types of 4K video recording devices, while only 30+ 8K video recording cameras.

4K vs 8K Gaming

Since the first 4K monitor was released in 2013, 4K gaming experience get to a brand new level and become quite common. Now, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X are capable of streaming 8K contents including the video games. And we believe the 8K gaming will be available quickly once the new graphics cards and consoles have been unveiled.

4K Streaming vs 8K Streaming

4K broadcasting and streaming started from 2014, when United States satellite provider DirectTV became the first pay TV to offer 4K contents. It is widely applied worldwide now. As for 8K broadcasting, though it had been tested in Japan, China, the UK and Korea, you can’t expect to see 8K over the airwaves in the near future.

Wrap up

For now and for the next couple of years, 4K is just the trend. But 8K is what we chase for and it will be used wide in the future. 10K and 16K are being studied, is the spread of 8K far away?

4K and 8K Ultra HD, the two Ultra HD formats, can provide super vivid image and deliver perfect visual sense. However, it would be a luxury for ordinary people to buy a high-end 4K or 8K UHD TV. And even if UHD TVs are affordable, it is difficult to get various TV shows or movie videos to be fully compatible with the high-tech products, especially for 8K UHD TV. But if you want to play 4K or 8K resolution videos on iPhone, iPad, Android, Microsoft and other devices, a 4K/8K video converter is a good bet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author - Kistent Waung

Kistent Waung twitter icon

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

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