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Do you need a 4K monitor for color grading?

Whether you need a 4K monitor for color grading depends on a few key factors. In the opening section, we’ll provide quick answers to common questions about 4K monitors and color grading to help determine if you need one.

Quick Answers

Do I really need a 4K monitor for color grading?

Not necessarily. You can do professional color grading on a 1080p monitor. However, a 4K monitor will provide more detail and accuracy.

What size 4K monitor is best?

At least 27 inches. 32 inches is ideal for color grading.

Is 4K necessary for video editing?

No, you can edit video professionally on a 1080p monitor. But 4K provides more screen real estate and detail when editing 4K footage.

Will a 4K monitor improve my workflow?

Yes, a 4K monitor will give you more screen space for timelines, tools, etc. It will also show greater detail in 4K footage.

Is refresh rate important for color grading?

Yes, a 60Hz refresh rate or higher is recommended to prevent eye strain and ensure smooth playback.

When Is a 4K Monitor Beneficial for Color Grading?

Here are some key instances when a 4K monitor would be beneficial for color grading work:

  • You are working with 4K footage
  • You need to match colors across multiple shots precisely
  • You want to future-proof your system for 4K
  • You frequently work with HDR content
  • You want to see the maximum detail and clarity in your video

The higher resolution and pixel density of a 4K display allows you to see your video content in greater detail. This helps with tweaking colors accurately, seeing noise and artifacts, and ensuring consistency across shots.

What to Look for in a 4K Monitor for Color Grading

Here are the key specs and features to look for if you plan to use a 4K monitor for color grading work:

Feature Recommendation
Screen Size At least 27″, 32″ is ideal
Resolution 3840 x 2160 (True 4K)
Panel Type IPS or OLED
Color Depth 10-bit (1.07 billion colors)
HDR Support HDR10 or Dolby Vision
Refresh Rate 60Hz or higher
Color Gamut DCI-P3 90%+
Calibration Factory calibrated, additional calibration tools

Some key things to look for are a true 10-bit panel for billions of color gradations, wide color gamuts like DCI-P3 for accurate color reproduction, and a high level of factory calibration. HDR support is also nice to have for HDR grading workflows.

Benefits of a 4K Monitor for Color Grading

Here are some of the main benefits you can expect from using a 4K monitor for color grading work:

  • See more detail – The higher resolution reveals finer details in footage, helping you grade more precisely.
  • More accurate colors – 4K monitors can display a wider color gamut vs 1080p monitors.
  • Enhanced HDR – You can see the full impact of HDR footage on a 4K display.
  • Larger workspace – More screen real estate for color grading software and tools.
  • Future-proofing – 4K is increasingly common, a 4K monitor prepares you for 4K projects.
  • Consistency – Easier to match colors across multiple 4K shots.
  • Less eyestrain – Higher resolution displays tend to cause less eyestrain over long sessions.

The combination of higher resolution, expanded color range, and extra screen space make 4K monitors a valuable investment for anyone working extensively with color grading for video.

Do You Need a 4K Monitor for 1080p Video?

A 4K monitor can still provide benefits when working with 1080p footage:

  • Downsampling 1080p on a 4K monitor can look better than native 1080p.
  • You can future-proof for working with higher resolution formats.
  • More screen space for color grading tools and controls.
  • Wider color gamuts improve color accuracy at any resolution.
  • Consistent workspace if mixing 1080p and 4K projects.

However, a 4K monitor is not required. Color grading can be done professionally on a good 1080p display. So generally the need depends on your budget and how much 1080p vs 4K work you take on.

What is the Best Monitor Size for Color Grading?

For color grading, bigger is generally better when it comes to display size. Here are some monitor size guidelines:

  • 27″ – Good minimum size for 4K color grading
  • 32″ – Ideal size for 4K, provides extra detail and immersion
  • 40″+ – Useful for collaborative grading sessions

You want a display large enough to see fine details clearly at a natural distance. But you also don’t want to be straining your eyes or head movements.

For ultra high-end color grading, some opt for even larger reference monitors such as 48″ to 55″. But for most, a 32″ 4K monitor provides a great sweet spot of size and pixel density.

Can You Color Grade on a 1440p Monitor?

Yes, a 1440p monitor can work for color grading, with a few caveats:

  • Not as much detail as 4K, but an upgrade over 1080p.
  • Getting accurate colors may require higher-end 1440p monitors.
  • Won’t display native 4K, so not suitable if you work in 4K.
  • 32″ size recommended for ample grading workspace.

1440p monitors can be a good compromise if you want improved resolution over 1080p but don’t need full 4K. Just be sure to get one with good color reproduction. And you’ll have to keep deliverables to 1080p or 1440p only since you can’t monitor at 4K.

4K Monitor Recommendations for Color Grading

Based on the criteria outlined earlier, here are some good 4K monitor options to consider for color grading work:

Monitor Key Features
BenQ SW321C 32″ IPS 4K, HDR, 99% Adobe RGB, hardware calibration
EIZO ColorEdge CG319X 31.1″ DCI 4K IPS monitor, HDR, wide gamut, self-calibration
LG 32UN880-B 32″ IPS 4K, VESA DisplayHDR 600, 95% DCI-P3, USB-C
ASUS ProArt PA32UCX 32″ 4K IPS, HDR-10, Dolby Vision, 99.5% Adobe RGB, factory calibrated
Dell UltraSharp UP3218K 31.5″ 8K IPS monitor, HDR support, 100% Adobe RGB, certified calibration

These displays offer the color accuracy, resolution, HDR support and screen real estate needed for professional color grading work. Investing in a monitor like these will give you excellent color reproduction and future-proof your editing suite.

Budget 4K Monitor Options

Here are some more affordable 4K monitors to consider under $600 if you are on a tighter budget:

Monitor Key Features
LG 27UK650-W 27″ IPS 4K, HDR10, 99% sRGB
ViewSonic VP2768-4K 27″ IPS 4K, 99% Adobe RGB, hardware calibration
BenQ EW3270U 31.5″ IPS 4K, HDR, 95% DCI-P3
Acer CB282K 28″ IPS 4K, 90% DCI-P3, AMD FreeSync
ASUS TUF Gaming VG289Q 28” IPS 4K, HDR10, 90% DCI-P3

While they may cut some corners compared to high-end reference monitors, these 4K displays can still provide very good color reproduction for the price point.

Can You Color Grade on a TV?

Using a TV for color grading is possible in some cases but not ideal. Here are the pros and cons:


  • Large screen sizes for a lower cost
  • Latest TVs have 4K resolution, HDR, and wide color gamuts
  • Built-in features like smart platforms


  • Not as color accurate as monitors designed for color work
  • Prone to lag, slower response times
  • Not suitable for use as a PC monitor for grading software
  • Not ideal ergonomics for prolonged use

The latest high-end OLED TVs can provide excellent contrast and colors. But you would want to invest in a professional calibration to maximize accuracy. And the lack of features for pro monitor use make TVs best suited as client preview monitors.


A 4K monitor can provide valuable benefits for color grading work such as increased detail, accuracy, screen space and future-proofing. Though not absolutely essential, they are worth the investment for color professionals working extensively with high-resolution footage and HDR content.

When shopping for a 4K grading monitor, prioritize color accuracy, gamut, and factory calibration over pure specs. And aim for at least 32″ size for sufficient workspace. While pricier than a TV or basic display, a dedicated grading monitor will give you the quality and performance needed for precision color work.