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Can A 4k TV Run 1080p? (Does A 4k TV Make 1080p Look Better?)

If you’re anything like me, you may have recently purchased a 4k TV and have been wondering if it can run 1080p resolutions and whether it would make 1080p look better. I recently had to answer this question for myself, and so I decided to do some research to get to the bottom of this. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my findings, including the pros and cons of using a 4k TV for 1080p, as well as some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

The answer to the first question is yes, FHD 1080p videos are playable with the higher 4K UHD television. The 1080p format will first go through a process called upscaling, that is, the filling of more pixels to make it fit with the 4K format. 

Playability1080p videos are playable in 4K UHD televisionsNone
UpscalingCan make the picture look betterLow-quality 1080p content won’t look better in 4K TVs
Picture Quality4K TVs have a better pixel density, with sharper and more refined imagesThe difference between 1080p and 4K on a 4K TV may be hard to spot
Screen Size4K TVs can come in larger screensNone
Built-in ScalersLeading 4K UHD TV brands have reliable built-in scalersCheaper 4K TVs may have unreliable built-in scalers
Visual AppealClearer picture, better colors, and a visually higher dynamic range for 4K UHDPoor 1080p content can appear marred, pixelated, or blurry on 4K TVs

Can A 4k TV Run 1080p? 

The fewer pixels of 1080p video are playable in 4K UHD televisions. However, it won’t appear in its default format of 1920 x 1080 digital display.

The excess six million pixels of the 4K screen resolution replenish the shortage of 1080p to make it compatible with the higher 4K display. This process of filling pixels is known as up-scaling.

This function is necessary when higher-resolution TVs play lower-res video files. Otherwise, the video clip will only play on a small portion in the middle of the screen, surrounded by the vast extra black pixels—which would be an eye sore to the viewers.

Playing 1080p on a 4K screen is spontaneous. That means you won’t have to wait as the lower-res video file undergoes up-conversion. Leading brands of 4K UHD TVs make exceptionally intuitive video players with reliable built-in scalers.

This TV tech feature, however, is not guaranteed in mediocre cheaper units. That’s because most of these devices will display lagging motion pictures incoherent with the audio.

Does a 4K TV Make 1080p Look Better?

Yes and no—it depends.

A few factors need consideration to answer this question:

  • The quality of the 1080p content.
  • The capacity and upscaling grade of the 4K TV.
  • Your subjective judgment on the matter.

An excellent rate 1080p video going through exceptional scaling on a quality 4K TV will look sharper. However, it’s not substantially better compared to a 1080p on a 1080p screen, or a 4K resolution on a 4K screen.

You might even have a hard time seeing the difference if you compare a 1080p playing on a 1080p screen and a 1080p on a 4K screen. It will take a pixel-peeking investigation to notice the distinction, which is not a real-world, day-to-day scenario among regular TV consumers.

The opposite is also true. If you have poor 1080p content playing on a 4K screen, it won’t come out better or sharper. The additional pixels will make the low-grade 1080p content appear stretched and, therefore, provide a blurry outcome.

What Are FHD and UHD Pixel Resolutions?

Television sets have become an instrumental part that enabled the world to witness history’s most monumental moments that unfolded in the past 50-70 years.

Each decade exhibits promising progress, as all trajectories of technological transitions do. However, the quality of the display resolutions of TVs notably took a significant hop in the late 2000s. That’s when then-newer Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) televisions started to appear in the market.

Full High-Definition (FHD)

With the adaptation of the new type of screen, conventional Cathode-ray Tube (CRT) screens became a thing of the past. 

The advanced visual display, also known as Full High-Definition (FHD), boasts a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p) with an aspect ratio of 16:9 (width-to-height ratio), displaying brighter and more detailed images.

4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD)

Shortly after FHD 1080p came out in the late 2000s, one of the leading brands, LG, proudly revealed the first 4K Ultra High Definition TV in 2012. It was a TV screen with much denser pixels.

Simply put, 4K is 1080p four times over when it comes to pixel count. That converts to a total of 8 million plus pixels on a screen.

Pixel Count of FHD and 4K UHD

The number of pixels from 1080p FHD and 4K UHD screens are:

  • Full HD 1080p (1920 X 1080 = 2,073,600 pixels)
  • 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels)

Clearer, Bigger, and Better 4K UHD

Therefore, having a 4K UHD in the same space where 1080p FHD fits, you’ll get a clearer picture, better colors, and a visually higher dynamic range.

Furthermore, because 4K displays have an outstanding pixel density, they can come on larger screens and still exhibit sharp and refined images.

The advent of LCD screens is also the arrival of modern-era televisions. Competing manufacturers aspire to provide better display output of their products. TV screen displays became a contest of quality and clarity through resolution sizes.

Pros of Using a 4k TV for 1080p:
  • 1080p videos are playable in 4K UHD televisions
  • Upscaling can make the picture look better
  • 4K TVs have a better pixel density, with sharper and more refined images
  • 4K TVs can come in larger screens
Cons of Using a 4k TV for 1080p:
  • Low-quality 1080p content won’t look better in 4K TVs
  • Cheaper 4K TVs may have unreliable built-in scalers
  • The difference between 1080p and 4K on a 4K TV may be hard to spot


Can a 4k tv run 1080p? Definitely. 4K Ultra High-Definition TVs can play lower-resolution 1080p FHD. 

Does a 4k tv make 1080p look better? Yes, but only for high-quality 1080p video. Best TV brands have impressive built-in scaling that can render an excellent 1080p video. However, poor 1080p content won’t look better on 4K screens. It will in fact appear marred, pixelated, or blurry.

Read more: can a 4k TV be used as a computer monitor?