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The PlayStation 5's missing 1440p support is a huge bummer

PlayStation 5 and a sad monitor
(Image credit: Future)

I bought my first 1440p monitor in 2013, the same year the PlayStation 4 was released. In the last seven years, the 1440p monitor has gone from a high-end PC gaming luxury to an ideal midpoint between cheap 1080p displays and expensive 4K. At 1440p, playing games at 100+ fps is now reasonably easy for powerful graphics cards. The best gaming monitor is 1440p. Seven years later, it's ridiculous Sony's PlayStation 5 can't output a 1440p video signal.

When I plugged Sony's new console into my current 1440p monitor, a 144Hz Asus model, it defaulted to outputting at 1080p60. The monitor has to upscale that 1080p signal to its native resolution, which feels like a ridiculous and unnecessary hit to picture quality for a $400 device released in 2020.

This isn't a matter of power. Over HDMI 2.1, the PlayStation 5 can output a 4K, 120Hz signal to a TV. There's no hardware reason Sony couldn't easily support 1440p when the PlayStation 5 does support other now little-used resolutions like 720p and 1080i. Instead, this oversight shows how differently Sony and Microsoft treat their high-end hardware and the kinds of players (and use cases) they support.

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 run on extremely similar hardware, and as we've talked about before, they're more similar to PCs than any previous console generation. Sony and Microsoft released the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X with better specs, and games started adopting PC-inspired "Performance" and "Graphics Quality" settings that prioritized resolution or framerate. But only Microsoft is really treating its hardware with the same PC attitude. 

In early 2018, Microsoft patched 1440p support into the Xbox One. Even better, Microsoft supported FreeSync at the same time, giving console players their first taste of variable refresh rates. The degree to which Microsoft is embracing backwards compatibility on the Xbox also feels in line with Windows' long, long history of keeping old software alive.

Both of the new consoles are built around SSDs and ray tracing, bringing some of the best of PC gaming hardware into a console. But where Microsoft has now been supporting the option of playing its consoles on a PC monitor for years, Sony's still wearing TV blinders. 

I'm not arguing that 1440p is as common a resolution as 1080p or 4K—it obviously isn't. But we know the hardware of the PS5, from its AMD system-on-a-chip to its HDMI 2.1 output, can easily handle 1440p. And this is not a difficult resolution to support. 

It's standard 16:9, unlike 21:9 ultrawide resolutions which understandably would create tons of extra work for game developers. Mathematically, scaling to 1440p is easy—it's 4x the pixels of 720p (which the PS5 supports!), just like 4K is quadruple the pixels of 1080p.

The PS5's meager video output options

It was a shame that the PS4 never supported 1440p, but maybe some aspect of its OS, designed in 2013, was a serious limiting factor. There's no such excuse for the PlayStation 5, a "next-gen" console designed for the technology of 2020 with a fresh UI and power to spare. Many console games even natively render at 1440p and upscale to 4K to keep steady performance. I bet they'd look pretty great on a native 1440p panel, huh?

The irony is that as Microsoft has made its Xbox more like a PC and fully committed to Windows gaming, it's given Sony a big opportunity with PC players. There's basically no reason to buy an Xbox to put at your desk alongside your gaming PC, where you've likely invested in a quality gaming monitor and headset. But Sony's exclusive games will eventually make the PS5 an attractive secondary system for many people. 

Even if only a fraction of PlayStation gamers ever make use of the feature, adding 1440p support to the PlayStation 5 would be a good PR move to Sony. It would signal to the PC audience that it knows there are plenty of people who might want to use the console outside the living room. And the PC gamer in me just hates to see a system as powerful as the PS5, built from the bones of PC hardware, not offer something as basic as decent resolution support.

C'mon, Sony. Even the $35 Raspberry Pi 4 can do 1440p. 

For more on the PS5, check out my review for PC gamers here.

Wes Fenlon
When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.