Here you’ll find a complete list of the most common gaming resolutions and their uses in the world of streaming on Twitch, YouTube and Mixer etc and a brief description of their origins. We’ve provided the information as a quick to read table and a more detailed description underneath.
Table of Gaming Resolutions and their details
|Resolution||Short Name||Common Dimensions||Total Pixels||Bitrate (Kbps)||Common Uses|
|240p||Low-Definition||320×240||76,800||300-500||PS1, Mega Drive, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64 in NTSC regions|
|288p||Low-Definition||384×288||110,592||300-500||PS1, Mega Drive, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64 in PAL regions|
|480i/480p||Standard Definition||640×480||307,200||1,200-2,400||PS2, Gamecube, XBOX, Nintendo Wii, Dreamcast (PAL)|
|576i/576p||Enhanced Definition||720×576||414,720||1,300-2,500||Dreamcast, PS2, XBOX, Gamecube in PAL regions|
|720p||High Definition||1280×720||921,600||2,000-4,000||PC, PS3, Xbox 360 Nintendo Switch|
|960p||High Definition||1280×960||1,228,800||4,000-6,000||Upscalers, PC|
|1080i/1080p||Full High Definition||1920×1080||2,073,600||6,000-8,000||Xbox 360, PS3|
|1440p||Quad High Definition||2560×1440||3,686,400||7,000-9,000||Xbox Series X, PS5, PC|
|2160p||Ultra High Definition||3840×2160||8,294,400||15,000-25,000||Xbox Series X, PS5, PC|
|4320p||Full Ultra High Definition||7680×4320||33,177,600||25,000-50,000||None|
List of Gaming Resolution and what they mean
Here is a lis of the most common gaming resolutions you might come across on gaming streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Mixer and so on. This is not an exhaustive list but the most widely used resolutions are here including where and why they would be used.
We have included some links for deeper descriptions for some.
240p was known as standard definition but now called low definition. It is one of the lowest you’ll see on Twitch and common when people play retro consoles such as the Mega Drive, NES/SNES, PS1 and N64 in NTSC regions and it hasn’t been upscaled or they are using an emulator and playing the game. The most common dimensions used will be 320×240 with a pixel count of 76,800 and only needing a bitrate of around 500-800.
240p upscaled resolutions are 480, 720, 960 and 1,200. 960p being a fairly popular one with 1,200 (5x) being a resolution some monitors can’t quite handle.
This resolution was more than adequate when it was most common with CRT televisions with the use of scanlines. 240p as time went on started to look terrible on modern TVs who would stretch the 240p 4:3 ratio to a 16:9 TV and stretching the image way past the point of intention.
288p is/was the resolution used in PAL regions at 50hz. It uses a resolution of 384×288 which leads to a better picture but runs slower than 240p and as such not widely used by streamers who may prefer to use NTSC version for that specific reason. Pixel count is 110,592. The bitrate is more or less the same as 280p at the 300-500 mark.
Common consoles are the same as 240p which is the 16-bit and 32-bit generations such as the PS1, Sega Saturn and the Nintendo 64.
288p upscaled becomes 576i/p, 864i/p, 1152i and if you have a 2k TV 1440p. The bitrate is more or less the same as 280p at the 300-500 mark.
360p is still classed a low-definition resolution using the dimension of 480×360. It is most known as the lowest resolution YouTube videos will go but it is also half of 720p which is handy to downscale that resolution to improve upon the bitrate of a stream. Games which are played in 720p can naturally be cut down in half and keep their dimensions intact whilst staying on top of performance. Still a huge jump in pixels to 172,800.
The bitrate for this resolution is approximately 500-800 Kbps.
With the introduction of the sixth generation of home consoles such as the PS2, GameCube, Dreamcast and Xbox, 480i and 480p become the mainstream, dubbed “standard definition” for 480i and “enhanced definition” for 480p. PC gamers were likely already familiar with dimensions of 640×480 but this was new and helped make the sixth generation that much more graphical than the fifth. The number of pixels rises significantly to 307,200.
This new generation also brought new cables that the previous didn’t – component cables and VGA. However, most people did not realise at the time (me included) how important cables were during this generation of gaming resolutions. Using composite cables were the most common but moving over to component or VGA made a HUGE difference.
But again, PAL and NTSC regions differ sometimes, with some games being in 576i in PAL when they would have been 480i in NTSC. There’s also the thing about Dreamcast pushing 480p and most of the PS2 games being 480i – this bore the myth that Dreamcast was more powerful.
The bitrate to stream in this definition jumps up at this point to 1,200-2,400 (lower for interlaced, higher for progressive). That’s because 480p is significantly better than 480i – 480i is 240p doubled, whereas 480p is double the definition of 480i.
Find out more about 480i vs 480p here.
You probably won’t see many streams or videos on Youtube in 576i or 576p as it was most common in PAL regions, majority of players especially speed runners would be on 480i 60hz as it is literally 10 frames per second faster. It is a slight step above 460i and p with a common resolution of 720×576 and increasing the bitrate of your stream to 1,300 – 2,500 or so.
576 is still enhanced definition and not quite high definition, but at the time it probably felt that way.
My Dreamcast sometimes outputs in 576i but my PS2 never seems to.
720p resolution may not seem it now but this is where high definition started. 720p refers to a resolution of 1280×720 (16:9) or 960 x 720 (4:3). For most, this resolution would have happened first on PC, before being seen on PS3 and Xbox 360. This leap in resolution sees pixel counts almost reach 1,000,000 for the first time (921,600) more than double 576i and 576p and triple 480i and 480p.
At this point, progressive resolutions were the most common with resolutions with the “i” left in the past outside of retro gaming.
Despite being smaller by some margin than 1080p and 2K/4K, 720p is a common resolution for people to stream with due to a reasonable bitrate range of 2,000-4,000 and enough clarity to make the gameplay look good and run at 60 fps. 720p is a resolution which can be downscaled from 1080p and 2k easily, too.
When the performance is being pushed, many streamers will opt for 720p 60 frames per second over 1080p at 30 frames per second where 1080p60 isn’t feasible for smooth gameplay.
There is another reason why to some the leap was massive – cables. Moving from using poor composite or SCART cables to a HDMI cable was itself a leap even without the increase in resolution and pixels.
Games were significantly sharper on this resolution to the point where it would blow people away. The Nintendo Switch’s maximum output when in handheld mode is 720p which still looks amazing.
960p seems like an add choice but makes perfect sense. 960p at 1280×960 keeps the width of 720p but adds height, it also adds some extra pixels (1,228,800) but with lower intensity to 1080p and lower input lag. It is quite literally between HD and Full-HD which in some cases makes the difference between an extra few frames. In reality, most gaming PCs can easily handle the next resolution and keep the FPS, 960p is just what professional gamers and streamers are used to.
960p is a resolution that is almost exclusive got PC gamers with very few console games outputting at this resolution – typically it is used on first person shooters such as counter strike where is an option to be selected in video settings, something which is almost always absent on consoles.
Interestingly it also exactly half of 480p which means it keeps the same aspect ratio that many people may have gotten used to. Meaning, games could be played at 960p and outputted at 480p.
Regarded as “Full HD” and the gold standard of definition for many years since the introduction of HD TVs and monitors which could support it. 1080i does not have as much as definition as 1080p due to being interlaced but both share the 1920×1080 dimension.
1080i was not regarded as Full HD. TVs that could do interlaced but not progressive were not marketed as full HD.
The pixel count with this resolution reached 2,000,000, more than double 720p which was also technically “high definition”. This was a huge leap in graphical quality and has been more or less the mainstream gold standard for three generations of games consoles – 1080p was introduced with the PS3, the standard in PS4/PS4 Pro and even with the PS5 (despite being able to do 4k).
In terms of actual gaming, this was the resolution to be expected for many years, as PCs and consoles become more powerful games which ran in 60 fps and then 120 fps became more and more common and now to be expected while being in 1080p.
However, streaming on Twitch at 1080p60 is still not everywhere as the bitrate demands of this resolution reaches 6,000 and can top 8,000 in rare cases, which is at the edge of the soft bitrate cap of 6,000 and the hard cap of 8,000.
To stream in 1080p you will need a dedicated streaming PC, a very good gaming PC and most likely playing single player games to preserve the frame rate.
1440p is also known as 2K or Quad High Definition. The dimensions jump to 2560×1440 progressive. It is not a common resolution as consoles are either pushing 1080p or 2160p. 1440p gaming and streaming is most commonly found on the PC but it is still fairly rare to find it.
The reason being is that most people are used to 60 fps and 120fps on 1080p and holding on to that frame rate with the new resolution can be too demanding, more so for streaming on Twitch, YouTube and Mixer.
Have you ever played a PS5 game with a 4k option only to find that a lower resolution with more fps just feels better?
However, monitors and TVs which are 2K (or above) have a very unique ability of being able to natively accept upscaled resolutions of 4x and 5x and a lot of things in-between. For those who are fans of original retro consoles and use upscalers such as OSSC in a stream you’ll be pleased to know that 5x PS1/Saturn/N64 is 1200p and 5x 288p is 1440p. They can also handle double 480i/p (960p) and double 720p (1440p).
It is possible to stream in 1440p but the demands are high as the pixel count reaches 3,686,400 and the bitrate can start at 7,000and go up to 9,000 depending on the frame rate. More often than not, it is easier to just stick with the stability of 1080p until technology catches up a bit more. But, the likelihood is that 2K resolution will remain a niche option and 4K will be adopted more.
2160p is better known as 4K or Ultra HD. The dimensions are 3840×2160 with a pixel count of 8,294,400 – more than double 2k and 4 times more than 1080p, hence the name. Gaming in this resolution is gloriously detailed but it does mean that you will need a very high end PC to get 60 fps or more – for console gaming at 4k it is usually 30 fps. To some, the drop in fps is not worth it.
First person shooters are better with a higher frame rate. 1080p at 120 fps is usually favoured over 4k at 60. You can imagine that the next generation of consoles will be able to perform 2160p120 much like PCs already can.
To stream in 4K resolution live, you’d be looking at 15 mbps to 25mbps upload speed for it to be stable enough for your viewers, who themselves would need a good internet connection to enjoy it. Recording 4K gaming for YouTube is one thing but to stream it live is another.
4320p, otherwise known as 8K or Full Ultra high definition is the highest resolution commercially available TVs go up to currently, bringing in a total of 33,177,600 pixels, 4 times bigger than 4K with a working dimension of 7680×4320. You can already buy TVs with 4320p but the reality is there is so little content at this scale that everything would just be upscaled to it, rather being native.
From a streaming point of view, we are away off, perhaps a decade off when you consider 2160p60 or 2160p120 isn’t even here yet. Gaming wise, we could be as little as 5 years away, first with PC of course with consoles needing at least another generation, maybe 2.
8k recordings uploaded to YouTube are probably the same length of time away, but with 8k TV/monitor adoption in its infancy who would even be able to watch it?
The bitrate needed for this kind of resolution would START over the Twitch cap at around 25,000 Kbps and the current generation of gaming PCs probably wouldn’t be able to achieve a stream even if it was allowed.