What Is Aspect Ratio and Which is the Best for Gaming

Fun tech fact- there are dozens of aspect ratios available but you only need to know about three of them.

So, what is Aspect Ratio? (4:3, 16:9, 21:9)

When picking a TV set or monitor, you may always encounter the term aspect ratio. It is a small factor to consider but still very important. For one, it makes you realize the differences presented by different video sizes.

Aspect ratio is the ratio of a screen’s width to its height. It is measured in two numbers, i.e. x:y for example 16:9. It gives the relationship between the width and height of not only screens but also images.

For content creators, this is an important subject as it allows you to move images and designs from one display to another. Calculating aspect ratio will also help you to compress digital images so that they can fit in certain screen size.

Since we are all about monitors and TVs, we are going to discuss aspect ratio and what it means to the end user in respect to display aspect ratio.

16:9 vs 21:9 vs 4:3 Aspect Ratio

Older screens that had Standard Definition resolution normally had 4:3 aspect ratio. It means that the screen is 4 units wide and 3 units high. It looks much like a square and is also found in old computers.

4:3 aspect ratio is no longer a standard as TVs are now in HDTV standard or higher. Hence the adoption of the 16:9 aspect ratio also known as a widescreen format. Widescreen displays are ideal for DVDs, gaming, and working with side by side documents.

It is the most used format so that it content fill the screen. But when you have videos recorded in 4:3 aspect ratio, the picture may not fill the screen on a 16:9 aspect ratio TV. It results in black bars around the corners.

In some cases, if your display has a formatting mode to manipulate the picture size to fit the screen, the image may appear distorted. And in other cases, you have the choice to crop the image such that it fits the screen without distorting.

To prevent distortion, you will need to make sure that your TV is set to the correct aspect ratio so that images adjust appropriately. Older TVs use 4:3 square aspect ratio and it should not be changed in the settings. The same applies to new screens that use a 16:9 aspect ratio.


What about 21:9 Aspect Ratio

Also known as ultrawide aspect ratio, it is found on PC monitors. It represents two 4:3 images set side by side. It is ideal for gaming, web design, and video & photo editing. You have all that workspace that allows you to work without going in and out of windows.

Aspect Ratios and their Associated Resolutions 

Finding a monitor with the perfect resolution and aspect ratio should not be a hard thing. Manufacturers match the aspect ratio to the resolution all you to do is match these specs to your needs.

The most common resolutions used with the three aspect ratios are:

16:9 - 1920 x 1080(FHD), 2560 x 1440 (QHD), 3840 x 2160 (4K), 5120 x 2880 (5K), 7680 x 4320 (8K), 1280 x 720 (HD), 1366 x 768 (plasma and LCD resolution), 1600 x 900 (HD).

4:3 - 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1440, 1600 x 1200, 1440 x 1080, 1400 x 1050

21:9 -2560 x 1080, 3440 x 1440, 5120 x 2160

What Aspect Ratio is best for You?

Since most TV shows and videos are made to be viewed on a 16:9 aspect ratio, you can bet on a 16:9 aspect ratio TV to get the best picture performance. Even better, TVs use a 16:9 aspect ratio so no worries about shows not fitting your screen appropriately.

Monitors that come with 21:9 aspect ratio are good with movies as most of them are filmed in the same 21:9 aspect ratio. You will find that you will see black bars when watching such movies on your standard TV.


16:9 aspect ratio can comfortably view 21:9 and 4:3 content but it does not go very well when viewing 16:9 aspect ratio content on 21:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios.

For productivity and gaming, you are better off with a 21:9 monitor thanks to its wide field of view. If you watch your movies and TV shows on a PC monitor, we’d suggest picking a 16:9 aspect ratio because even the prospect of watching on an ultrawide screen seems perfect, you will encounter vertical bars with TV shows.

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