What is Aspect Ratio for Monitor | 4:3 vs. 16:9 vs. 21:9

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When you are looking out to buy a new monitor, it becomes a tedious task for newbies. People start thinking about different factors such as resolution, refresh rate, response time, and most importantly, aspect ratios.

In the most basic terms, if we talk about aspect ratio, it is the ratio between the width and height of the monitor display. Suppose you got a new monitor, and you start watching an old 90s show. That time you will notice black bars on both sides. What is that? It is because the show you are watching was made for a TV of that time, and you are watching it on your new 16:9 ratio monitor. Confused? We bet!

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What is Aspect Ratio for Monitor

The aspect ratio of a monitor is the proportion of the width and height of the display. The aspect ratio defines the overall shape, and the ratio you usually see is in the format W:H. Interestingly, most of the Monitors available in the market today, whether cheaper or costly, are of the ratio 16:9.

Nevertheless, monitors with the aspect ratio work great for day-to-day tasks like programming and playing games, but you may notice some issues during watching movies. This is because movies are made in the aspect ratio of 21:9, and that is greater than 16:9. As a result, you will see huge black bars on the top of the screen while watching. 

Furthermore, earlier TV shows were made using the 4:3 aspect ratio, and that makes it much smaller than today’s ratio and again. As a result, you will see black bars on top and sides as well. Moreover, these black bars are called letterboxes. Still, as computers are getting smart, they have introduced a Zoom-in feature that helps overcome these letterboxes and makes the movies and TV shows work on full screen. 

But if you are a gamer, you don’t need to worry because most of the AAA titles are designed in a 16:9 ratio, and also, you get an in-game option setting to alter that. There some monitors available in the market that come with a 32:9 aspect ratio, or ‘Super UltraWide.

Now, if you are confused between 4:3, 21:9, and 16:9, keep reading, and you will understand everything. 

Aspect Ratio 4:3

Generally known as four by three or 1.3:1, 4: 3 is the standard television aspect ratio since the invention of movies and cameras. After that, when the monitors became evident, they started using the same resolution as standard. As a result, CRT monitors are usually 4:3. 

4:3 Aspect Ratio
4:3 Aspect Ratio

4: 3 aspect ratio is also known as the Fullscreen because both sides are equally filled, and that’s why it is the standard of films and computer monitors in the early days. However, after HD came into existence, no-one ever looked for 4:3, and hence they became extinct slowly. Still, a lot of old TV shows and movies are available in this aspect ratio, and users still watch them on their standard 16:9 monitors. 

If the aspect ratio is 4:3 then the associated resolution should be within 1400×1050, 1440×1080, 1600×1200, 1920×1440, 2048×1536.

An interesting fact is Apple devices like the iPad still use the aspect ratio of 4:3. All of you must have noticed why an iPad usually seems square. It is because of that reason. Another thing to know is 4:3 was the earlier standard for the Academy of Motion Pictures. 

Aspect Ratio 16:9

16:9 or sixteen by nine is the most popular and present aspect ratio available across all monitors. Moreover, 16:9 is the standard format for digital television and HD Monitors. Also, 16:9 successfully replaced the 4:3 ratio. 

16:9 Aspect Ratio
16:9 Aspect Ratio

16:9 monitors are the latest trend in the market, and approximately every LCD or LED monitor available today in the market is of this aspect ratio. Even video games are produced in this, and DVDs come as well. 

If the aspect ratio is 16:9 then the associated resolution should be within 1280×720, 1366×768, 1600×900, 1920×1080, 2560×1440, 3840×2160, 5120×2880, 7680×4320.

If the aspect ratio is 16:10 then the associated resolution should be within 1280×800, 1920×1200, 2560×1600.

Aspect Ratio 21:9

21:9 or twenty-one by nine is the cinemascope aspect resolution used in movie theatres. A downloaded movie has black bars or letterboxes on the top and bottom, as we all have experienced. The only reason behind this is its aspect ratio. The movie is made in 21:9 and is being run on a 16:9 monitor, which is, of course, smaller in width. 

21:9 Aspect Ratio
21:9 Aspect Ratio

However, 21:9 is not the usual format we see in our day-to-day lives because most of us have the traditional 16:9 monitors. Still, there are ultrawide monitors and televisions available in the market that are capable of running 21:9 videos and are cinematic. 

If the aspect ratio is 21:9 then the associated resolution should be within 2560×1080, 3440×1440, 5120×2160.

If the aspect ratio is 32:9 then the associated resolution should be within 3840×1080, 5120×1440.

4:3 vs. 16:9 vs. 21:9 | Which Is Best For You?

If you enjoy watching movies, then you might have noticed that the 4:3 aspect ratio provides a box-like experience. Which, however, some people might like, and some may hat. But there’s nothing to do; it was the old standard. 

Now coming to the newer standard, 16:9 is the exotic resolution everyone wishes for whenever he/she buys a monitor or a TV. However, watching 4:3 on a 16:9 monitor may not provide you a good experience. Further, the cropping factor comes into play, and the results can be disastrous. But again, there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Likewise, cinematic display ratio 21:9 are the best as they provide the highest resolution and a tremendous experience but again are not common. So it’s up to you which you prefer. Whether you are into watching a lot of shows and movies or you are a gaming fanatic, according to us, 16:9 would suffice your everyday usage. 

In case you have a wholesome amount to spend, you can go for an ultrawide monitor that will give you a 21:9 aspect ratio, and that would really be a delight to your eyes. Nowadays, a lot of monitors are available at 16:9 and 21:9, but here you have to decide which suits you. While 16:9 proves helpful to the majority of audiences, some may not like the top and bottom letterboxes, so for them, 21:9 is the wise option.

Other than that, if you are going to purchase a new monitor, 16:9 is really enough, and you will not need to think twice. What matters the most is the resolution of the monitor you wish to purchase. 

Rohit is a software engineer. A pro lover of Technology and tech gadgets. I am a gamer too. Our team is here to help you find the best monitor products to decide which one is best for you.

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