1080p vs 900p vs 720p Screenshot Comparison: Can You Tell the Difference?

on February 23, 2014 11:38 AM

Fairly often we hear from developers, publishers, members of the press or even just from our friend a block down the road that it’s impossible to distinguish between 1080p, 720p or 900p resolutions at certain conditions, normally the size of the screen and/or the distance from it.

Of course this gets applied to the console war between PS4 and Xbox One, and it often causes endless arguments topped by scientific explanations for or against said impossibility. But can you see the difference? and if yes, at what distance?

This piece doesn’t aim to drop on you a positive or negative answer to that question. What it does aim to do is to help you find it for yourself.

We picked seven PC games, that are the perfect testbed for this kind of experiment, as they allow us to change resolution at will. Then we grabbed a screenshot each in 720p, 900p and 1080p. Every other detail setting was maxed for all the screenshots in order to ensure parity of conditions. Finally, we resized the 720p and 900p screenshots to 1080p in order to simulate the upscale done by your console of choice.

We were also careful to pick games with very different visual styles, in order to provide the widest possible range of examples. Below you can see the three screenshots for each game, and an animated GIF switching between all three resolutions dynamically. To ensure the best results, please click on each screenshot to enlarge them, and to start the animation. 

Batman: Arkham Origins

01_720BatmanOrigins 01_900BatmanOrigins 01_1080BatmanOrigins

Animated GIF

01_BatmanOrigins

Crysis 3

02_720crysis3 02_900crysis3 02_1080crysis3

Animated GIF

02_crysis3

EverQuest Next Landmark

03_720EverQuestNextLandmark 03_900EverQuestNextLandmark 03_1080EverQuestNextLandmark

Animated GIF

03_EverQuestNextLandmark

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

04_720ffxiv 04_900ffxiv 04_1080ffxiv

Animated GIF

04_ffxiv

Total War: Rome II

05_720rome2 05_900rome2 05_1080rome2

Animated GIF

05_rome2

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

08_720witcher2 08_900witcher2 08_1080witcher2

Animated GIF

08_witcher2

Star Citizen Hangar Module – Example 1

07_720StarCitizen2 07_900StarCitizen2 07_1080StarCitizen2

Animated GIF

07_StarCitizen1

Star Citizen Hangar Module – Example 2

06_720StarCitizen1 06_900StarCitizen1 06_1080StarCitizen1

Animated GIF

06_StarCitizen1

Check out all the screenshots above and especially the animated GIFs at their full size. Try increasing gradually the distance from yours screen, and you’ll get your answer.

Did you see a difference at all? If yes, at what distance did it start to become invisible? What’s the size of your screen? Feel free to let us know your own results in the comment below.

Of course there’s no real 100% accurate answer for everyone, as every eye is different, and each individual perceives and elaborates details in a different way. Hopefully this little experiment helped you find your own very personal answer.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.