Thoughts on screen resolution vs screen size?

I was hoping for some thoughts, comments, insights.

The situation: I am in the process of rebuilding my home office. Currently I have 2 Apple Studio Displays attached to a Mac Studio. I have found the Studio Display to be a superb display for my purposes, which includes a good deal of text based work, but also photography / image editing. Frankly, I don’t even find the much maligned webcam to be a problem for my limited videoconferencing needs. Having two monitors has worked, in general, well for me with one positioned directly in front as my main working display and the second on a monitor arm to the side, where I have “utility” windows such as Calendar, Messages, Things, Finder windows, etc.

With my home office completely dismantled (painting, repairing the ceiling, and now in the process of building new desks and wall unit), i have for the past few weeks been working on my MBPro, often connected to an LG 34 inch 5K monitor (the “5k2k” on my kitchen table. What I have noticed is that in my fairly frequent use of spreadsheets that are many columns wide and in the past have required a fair amount of horizontal scrolling, on the larger sized display I am able to have all the columns needed at one time on display, even with a second window to the side with other information simultaneously needed.

This makes me wonder about resolution vs screen size. Obviously the 34” is the same 5K resolution as the Apple Studio Display, but with the pixels spread over a larger screen area, and therefore an obviously lower pixel density. One reason I bought the ASDs in the first place is that I found (and still find) the text on the LG 34” to be not quite as sharp as I would like. (Another problem is that the MBP, whenever closed into clamshell mode and then allowed to go to sleep while connected to this monitor will crash and restart MacOS. I have no idea why, but presumably there is some sort of Thunderbolt glitch or incompatibility as the MBP is connected via TB to the monitor. It’s a 14” M3Pro based MBPro, btw.)

I was, out of curiosity, looking at the new Dell 40” 5K monitor that just hit the market and thinking about whether this could be a single high resolution monitor that could replace the two ASDs, but obviously the pixel density drops even further.

This makes me think about the value of pixel density vs pixel count vs screen size, and I wonder what others might think and/or advice they might have.

Certainly I could order the Dell with the backup plan of returning it if I just don’t like it, and I believe Dell still has a pretty liberal return policy, so I guess that’s an option, but I really don’t like to order things unless I am reasonably certain I will be keeping them.



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Only you can be the judge of what is good enough for you. Personally, I wouldn’t want to go much lower than the density of the single Studio Display I use as my main screen. That means I’m just not interested in the same number of pixels at a much larger size like 40". But…

…I say I wouldn’t want a 40" 5K monitor on the assumption that it is in the same 16:10 ratio as the Studio Display. There is a trend to very wide, curved displays, and a lot of people like these. I can see why, if, like you, their work involves wide content.

So the question comes down to pixel density. If a 40" display is in a 16:5 ratio, that’s a very different story than a 40" in 16:10 ratio. I’ve not done the maths, but I would imagine you don’t have to, anyway, as any decent monitor should list the density in the specs.

Also, the Studio Display is not only very dense, it also has very good colour reproduction out of the box. That doesn’t matter for spreadsheets, but you mention photography. I’d be looking at the specs for that aspect, too.

You’ve missed a variable: viewing distance. For use as a computer display, it’s assumed that viewing distance is a constant or near-constant, but unless you are going to sit at exactly the same distance from a huge display as you do for a small one, it matters.

There’s lots of places to go down that rabbit hole e.g.

Not all monitors are created equal, whatever their published specifications. Text might be “blurry” for reasons that are nothing to do with resolution.


It’s not quite as nice, but with 2 Apple Displays side by side, you can extend an excel window into a second monitor. Yes, you have bezels in the middle and it’s not as nice as a single wide monitor, but it’s an option if the crispness of display is important to you.