Computer Display Standard - Standards

Standards

A number of common resolutions have been used with computers descended from the original IBM PC. Some of these are now supported by other families of personal computers. These are de facto standards, usually originated by one manufacturer and reverse-engineered by others, though the VESA group has co-ordinated the efforts of several leading video display adapter manufacturers. Video standards associated with IBM-PC-descended personal computers are shown in the diagram and table below, alongside those of early Macintosh and other makes for comparison. (From the early 1990s onwards, most manufacturers moved over to PC display standards thanks to widely available and affordable hardware).

Table of computer display standards
Video standard Full name Description Display resolution (pixels) Aspect ratio Color depth (2^bpp colors)
QQVGA Quarter Quarter Video Graphics Array Used for some portable devices, and a common alternative resolution to QCIF for webcams and other online video streams in low bandwidth situations, and the video modes of early digital cameras. 160×120 (19k) 4:3
unnamed unnamed A common size for LCDs manufactured for small consumer electronics and mobile phones, typically in a 1.7" to 1.9" diagonal size. This LCD is often used in the portrait (128×160) orientation. The unusual 5:4 aspect ratio makes the display slightly different from the QQVGA dimensions. 160×128 (20k) 5:4
unnamed unnamed A shared size for older portable video game systems. The nearly-square (but landscape) aspect and coarse pixel resolution gave these games a characteristic visual style. Colour depth ranged from 4 colours (2 bpp) with the original Game Boy, through 16~32 colours (4~5 bpp) with the Atari Lynx and Game Gear, to a maximum of 56 colours (equivalent of 6 bpp) from a wider palette with the Game Boy Colour. 160×144 (23k) 10:9 2 bpp ~ 6 bpp effective
HQVGA Half Quarter Video Graphics Array Used with some smaller, cheaper portable devices, including lower-end cellphones and PDAs, and perhaps most commonly the Nintendo Game Boy Advance (with, in that guise, 32k colours (15 bpp) onscreen). 240×160 (38k) 3:2
QVGA Quarter Video Graphics Array Half the resolution in each dimension as standard VGA. A retronym for CGA "medium" and EGA/MCGA/VGA "low" pixel resolution, normally used when describing screens on portable devices (pocket media players, cellular phones, PDAs etc.). No set colour depth or refresh rate is associated with this standard or those that follow, as it is dependent both on the manufacturing quality of the screen and the capabilities of the attached display driver hardware, and almost always incorporates an LCD panel with no visible line-scanning. However, it would typically be in the 8-to-12 bpp (256 to 4096 colour) through 18 bpp (262,144 colour) range. 320×240 (75k) 4:3
WQVGA Wide Quarter Video Graphics Array Effectively one-sixteenth the total resolution (one-quarter in each dimension) of "Full HD", but with the height aligned to an 8-pixel "macroblock" boundary. Common in small-screen video applications, including portable DVD players and the first-generation Sony PSP. 480×272 (131k) 16:9
TV Computer Non-interlaced TV-as-monitor Various Apple, Atari, Commodore, Sinclair, Acorn, Tandy and other home and small-office computers introduced from 1977 through to the mid-1980s. They used televisions for display output and had a typical usable screen resolution from 102~320 pixels wide and usually 192~256 lines high, in non-interlaced (NI) mode for a more stable image (displaying a full image on each 1/50th / 1/60th-second field, instead of splitting it across each frame). The limited resolution led to displays with a characteristic wide overscan border around the active area. Some more powerful machines were able to display higher horizontal resolutions - either in text-mode alone, or in low-colour bitmap graphics, and typically by halving the width of each pixel rather than physically expanding the display area - but were still confined in the vertical dimension by the relatively slow horizontal scanning rate of domestic TV. These same standards - albeit with progressively greater colour depth, and upstream graphical processing ability - would see extended use and popularity in TV-connected home games consoles right through to the end of the 20th century. 140×192 NI (low-end), 320×200 NI (typical), 640×256 NI (high-end) 4:3 (non-square pixels) 1~4 bpp typical, 2 or 3 bpp common.
ST Colour Atari ST (etc.) Colour, Broadcast-standard Atari ST line. Colour modes using NTSC or PAL-compliant televisions and monochrome, composite video or RGB-component monitors. 640×200, 320×200 4:3 (or 16:10 with square pixels) 2~4 bpp for ST, 8~15 bpp on later models (TT, Falcon).
ST Mono Atari ST (etc.) Monochrome, proprietary standard Atari ST line. Hi-res monochrome mode using a custom non-interlaced monitor, possibly derived from monochrome VGA, with the slightly lower vertical resolution (imposed by limited video memory) allowing a higher, "flicker free" 70 Hz refresh rate. Later machines in the series could also use colour VGA monitors. 640×400 4:3 (or 16:10 with square pixels) 1 bpp for ST, 4~6 bpp greyscale on later models (TT, Falcon), plus 8 bpp colour on VGA monitors.
Video monitor I/NI Full-broadcast resolution video monitor or television Commodore Amiga line and others (e.g. Acorn Archimedes, later Atari models (TT, Falcon). They used NTSC or PAL-compliant televisions and monochrome, composite video or RGB-component monitors. The interlaced (I) mode produced visible flickering of finer details, eventually fixable by use of scan doubler devices and VGA monitors. 720×480i/576i maximum. Typically 640×400i/512i or 640×200/256 NI, and 320×200/256 NI for games. 4:3 (non-square pixels) Up to 6 bpp for Amiga (8 bpp with later models), typically 2~4 bpp for most hi-res applications (saving memory and processing time), 4~5 bpp for games and "fake" 12/18 bpp for static images (HAM mode). Up to 15 bpp for Archimedes and Falcon (12 bpp for TT), but typically 4 bpp in use.
Mac Mono 9" Original Apple Macintosh display The single, fixed screen mode used in the first generation (128k and 512k) Apple Mac computers, launched in 1984, with a monochrome, 9" CRT integrated to the body of the computer. Used to display one of the first mass-market fulltime GUIs, and one of the earliest non-interlaced default displays with more than 256 lines of vertical resolution. (Early models used a 384×256 screen; both standards are cut-down from the 720×364 of the preceding Lisa model) 512×342 (175k) Very nearly 3:2 (to within 0.2%); 256:171 exact. Displayed with square pixels on a moderately wide-screen monitor (equivalent to 16:10.67 in modern terms). 1 bpp
Mac Colour Apple Mac II and later models The second generation Macintosh, launched in 1987, came with colour (and greyscale) capability as standard, at two levels depending on monitor size - 512×384 pixel (one-quarter of the later XGA standard) on a 12" (4:3) colour or greyscale ("monochrome") monitor, 640×480 with a larger (13" or 14") high resolution monitor (superficially similar to VGA but at a higher 67 Hz refresh rate) - with 8-bit colour/256 grey shades at the lower resolution, and either 4 or 8 bit colour (16/256 grey) in high resolution depending on installed memory (256 or 512 kB), all out of a full 24-bit master palette. The result was equivalent to VGA or even PGC - but with a wide palette - at a point simultaneous with the IBM launch of VGA.

Later, larger monitors (15" and 16") allowed use of an SVGA-a-like, binary-half-megapixel 832×624 resolution (at 75 Hz) that was eventually used as the default setting for the original, late 90s iMac. Even larger 17" and 19" monitors could attain higher resolutions still, when connected to a suitably capable computer, but apart from the 1152×870 "XGA+" mode discussed further below, Mac resolutions beyond 832×624 tended to fall into line with PC standards, using what were essentially rebadged PC monitors with a different cable connection. Mac models after the II (Power Mac, Quadra, etc.) also allowed at first 16-bit High Colour (65536 or "Thousands of" colours) and then 24-bit True Colour (16.7m or "Millions of" colours), but much like PC standards beyond XGA, the increase in colour depth past 8 bpp was not strictly tied to changing resolution standards.

512×384 (197k), 640×480 (307k), 832×624 (519k) 4:3 4 bpp, 8 bpp, and later 16/24 bpp
Powerbook internal panel Apple Powerbook, early generations The first Powerbook, in 1991, replaced the original Mac Portable (basically an original Mac with an LCD, keyboard and trackball in a lunchbox-style shell) and introduced a new 640×400 greyscale screen. This was joined in 1993 with the "165c" model, which kept the same resolution but added colour capability similar to that of the Mac II (256 colours from a palette of 16.7 million). 640×400 (256k) 16:10 / 8:5 (square pixels) 8 bpp
MDA Monochrome Display Adapter The original standard on IBM PCs and IBM PC XTs with 4 kB video RAM. Introduced in 1981 by IBM. Supports text mode only. 720×350 (text) 72:35 (effectively 4:3 (non-square pixels) on CRTs but could be a variety of aspects on LCDs) 1 bpp
CGA Color Graphics Adapter Introduced in 1981 by IBM, as the first color display standard for the IBM PC. The standard CGA graphics cards were equipped with 16 kB video RAM. 640×200 (128k)
320×200 (64k)
160×200 (32k)
16:5
16:10/8:5
4:5 (effectively 4:3 on CRTs; various aspects on LCDs)
1 bpp
2 bpp
4 bpp
Hercules A monochrome display capable of sharp text and graphics for its time. Very popular with the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, which was one of the PC's first killer apps. Introduced in 1982. 720×348 (251k) 60:29 (effectively 4:3) 1 bpp
EGA Enhanced Graphics Adapter Introduced in 1984 by IBM. A resolution of 640×350 pixels of 16 different colors (4 bits per pixel, or bpp), selectable from a 64-color palette (2 bits per each of red-green-blue). Other commonly used modes were the existing CGA 320×200 and 640×200 resolutions in 4 bpp, with a fixed palette corresponding to the 16 colours available in CGA text mode, allowing an EGA card to be used in full colour with an unmodified CGA monitor by setting the correct dip switch options; plus full EGA resolution (and CGA hi-res) in monochrome if installed memory was insufficient for full colour above 320×200. 640×350 (224k), 640×200 (128k), 320×200 (64k) 64:35, 16:5 and 16:10/8:5 (all effectively 4:3) 4 bpp
Professional Graphics Controller With on-board 2D and 3D acceleration introduced in 1984 for the 8-bit PC-bus, intended for CAD applications, a triple-board display adapter with built-in processor, and displaying high-resolution, full-colour graphics with a 60 Hz frame rate. 640×480 (307k) 4:3 8 bpp
MCGA Multicolor Graphics Adapter Introduced by IBM on ISA-based PS/2 models in 1987, with reduced cost compared to VGA. MCGA had a 320×200 256 color (from a 262,144 color palette) mode, and a 640×480 mode only in monochrome due to 64k video memory, compared to the 256k memory of VGA. 320×200 (64k)
640×480 (307k)
16:10 (effectively 4:3)
4:3 (square pixels)
8 bpp
1 bpp
VGA Video Graphics Array Introduced on MCA-based PS/2 models in 1987. VGA is actually a set of different resolutions, but is most commonly used today to refer to 640×480 pixel displays with 16 colors (4 bits per pixel) and a 4:3 aspect ratio. Other display modes are also defined as VGA, such as 320×200 at 256 colors (8 bits per pixel) and a text mode with 720×400 pixels. VGA displays and adapters are generally capable of Mode X graphics, an undocumented mode to allow increased non-standard resolutions, most commonly 320×240 (with 8 bpp and square pixels). VGA, like the majority of the following standards, was capable of displaying most standard modes featured by IBM-compatible PCs - CGA, EGA, MDA and MCGA - but typically not Hercules or PGA/PGC. 640×480 (307k) (hi-res graphics and LCD text)
720×400 (CRT text; 288k equivalent)
4:3
9:5 (effectively 4:3)
4 bpp
4 bpp
8514 Precursor to XGA and released shortly after VGA in 1987. 8514/A cards displayed interlaced video at 43.5 Hz in 1024×768 resolution, and at 640×480, 60 Hz non-interlaced, both with up to 256 colours.
The high resolution mode introduced by 8514/A became a de facto general standard in a succession of computing and digital-media fields for more than two decades, arguably more so than SVGA, with successive IBM and clone videocards and CRT monitors (a multisync monitor's grade being broadly determinable by whether it could display 1024×768 at all, or show it interlaced, non-interlaced, or "flicker-free"...), LCD panels (the standard resolution for 14- and 15-inch 4:3 desktop monitors, and a whole generation of 11~15-inch laptops), early Plasma and LCD "HD Ready" televisions (albeit at a stretched 16:9 aspect showing down-scaled material), professional video projectors, and latterly tablet computers.
1024×768 (786k), 640×480 (307k) 4:3 8 bpp
SVGA Super Video Graphics Array A video display standard created by VESA for IBM PC compatible personal computers. Introduced in 1989. Displayed the regular VGA modes, plus 800×600 in 16 colours at a slightly lower 56 Hz refresh rate.
As it was one of the feature modes on third-party video cards offering a wide array of "extended" video modes (making best use of whatever memory they had available, e.g. 384 kB instead of the minimum 256 kB to meet the VESA standard), "SVGA" - and later "VESA" - became, for a while, a catch-all term describing any video card or mode over and above "standard" 640×480, 4 bpp VGA - including base resolution VGA in 8 bpp colour (a common choice for "SVGA" mode in PC games), and a wide variety of high- and true-colour modes, until high-resolution, true-colour displays became commonplace enough to no longer be deemed worthy of a special group designation.
800×600 (480k) 4:3 4 bpp
XGA Extended Graphics Array An IBM display standard introduced in 1990. XGA added built on 8514/A's existing 1024×768 mode and added support for "high color" (65,536 colour, 16 bpp) at 640×480. The second revision ("XGA-2") was a more thorough upgrade, offering higher refresh rates (75 Hz and up, non-interlaced, up to at least 1024×768), improved performance, and a fully programmable display engine capable of almost any resolution within its physical limits. For example, 1280×1024 (5:4) or 1360×1024 (4:3) in 16 colors at 60 Hz, 1056×400 Text Mode (132×50 characters), 800×600 in 256 or 64k colour, and even as high as 1600×1200 (at a reduced 50 Hz scan rate) with a high quality multisync monitor (or an otherwise non-standard 960×720 at 60 Hz on a lower-end one capable of high refresh at 800×600, but only interlaced mode at 1024×768). However, the extended modes required custom drivers, and so only the basic options (1024×768×8 I, 640×480×16 NI, high-res text) were commonly used outside of Windows and other hardware-abstracting graphical environments. 1024×768 (786k)
640×480 (307k), 1056×400 (text, 422k equivalent)
4:3
4:3, 66:25 (effectively 4:3)
8 bpp
16 bpp
XGA+ Extended Graphics Array Plus Although not an official name, this term is now used to refer to 1152×864, which is the largest 4:3 array yielding less than a binary megapixel (2^20, 1048576 pixels, 1048 decimal kilopixels), thus allowing the greatest "normal" resolution at common colour depths with a standard amount of video memory (128 kB, 512 kB, 1 MB, 2 MB...). Variants of this were used by Apple Computer (at 1152×870) and Sun Microsystems (at 1152×900) for 21-inch (530 mm) CRT displays. 1152×864 (995k)
1152×870 (1002k), 1152×900 (1037k)
4:3 8 bpp
16 bpp
HD High Definition (720p) This display aspect ratio is among the most common in recent notebook computers and desktop monitors. 1360×768 (1044k)

1366×768 (1049k)

16:9 to within 0.05% accuracy

(683:384 exact)

24 bpp
WXGA Widescreen Extended Graphics Array A wide version of the XGA format. This display aspect ratio was common in widescreen notebook computers until ca. 2010. 1280×800 (1024k) 16:10 24 bpp
HD+ High Definition Plus (900p) This display aspect ratio is becoming popular in recent notebook computers and desktop monitors. 1600×900 (1440k) 16:9 24 bpp
SXGA Super Extended Graphics Array A widely used de facto standard, introduced with XGA-2 and other early "multiscan" graphics cards and monitors, with an unusual aspect ratio of 5:4 (1.25:1) instead of the more common 4:3 (1.33:1), meaning even 4:3 pictures and video will appear letterboxed on the narrower 5:4 screens. This is generally the native resolution - with, therefore, square pixels - of standard 17" and 19" LCD monitors. It was often a recommended resolution for 17" and 19" CRTs also, although as they were usually produced in a 4:3 aspect it either gave non-square pixels or required adjustment to show small vertical borders at each side of the image. Allows 24-bit colour in 4 MB of graphics memory, or 4-bit in 640 kB.
  • Some manufacturers, noting that the de facto industry standard was VGA (Video Graphics Array), termed this the Extended Video Graphics Array or XVGA.
1280×1024 (1310k) 5:4 24 bpp
SXGA+ Super Extended Graphics Array PLUS Used on 14-inch (360 mm) and 15-inch (380 mm) notebook LCD screens and a few smaller screens, until the eventual market-wide phasing-out of 4:3 aspect displays. 1400×1050 (1470k) 4:3 24 bpp
WXGA+ (WSXGA) Widescreen Extended Graphics Array PLUS An enhanced version of the WXGA format. This display aspect ratio was common in widescreen notebook computers and many 19" widescreen LCD monitors until ca. 2010. 1440×900 (1296k) 16:10 24 bpp
UXGA Ultra Extended Graphics Array A de facto high-resolution standard. This is the native resolution for many 20" LCD monitors, and was a recommended mode for some high end 21" CRTs. 1600×1200 (1920k) 4:3 24 bpp
WSXGA+ Widescreen Super Extended Graphics Array Plus A wide version of the SXGA+ format, the native resolution for many 22" widescreen LCD monitors, also used in larger, widescreen notebook computers until ca. 2010. 1680×1050 (1764k) 16:10 24 bpp
Full-HD Full High Definition (1080p) This display aspect ratio is the native resolution for many 24" widescreen LCD monitors, and is expected to also become a standard resolution for smaller to medium-size, wide-aspect tablet computers in the near future (as of 2012). 1920×1080 (2073k) 16:9 24 bpp
WUXGA Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array A wide version of the UXGA format. This display aspect ratio was popular on high-end 15" and 17" widescreen notebook computers, as well as on many 23–27" widescreen LCD monitors, until ca. 2010. It is also a popular resolution for home cinema projectors, besides 1080p, in order to show non-widescreen material slightly taller than widescreen (and therefore also slightly wider than it might otherwise be), and is the highest resolution supported by single-link DVI at standard colour depth and scan rate (I.E. no less than 24 bpp and 60 Hz non-interlaced) 1920×1200 (2304k) 16:10 24 bpp
2K DLP Cinema Technology Digital Film Projection standard. 2048×1080 (2212k) 1.8962:1 48 bpp (at 24 frame/s)
QWXGA Quad Wide Extended Graphics Array Samsung has a QWXGA resolution 23-inch (580 mm) LCD monitor, the 2342BWX. 2048×1152 (2359k) 16:9
QXGA Quad Extended Graphics Array This is the highest resolution that generally can be displayed on analog computer monitors (most CRTs), and the highest resolution that most analogue video cards and other display transmission hardware (cables, switch boxes, signal boosters) are rated for (at 60 Hz refresh). 24-bit colour requires 9 MB of video memory (and transmission bandwidth) for a single frame. Also the native resolution of medium to large latest-generation (2012), standard-aspect tablet computers. 2048×1536 (3146k) 4:3 24 bpp
WQHD Wide Quad High Definition The native resolution for many 27" widescreen LCD monitors. 2560×1440 (3686k) 16:9 24 bpp
WQXGA Widescreen Quad Extended Graphics Array A version of the XGA format, the native resolution for many 30" widescreen LCD monitors. Also, the highest resolution supported by dual-link DVI at a standard colour depth and non-interlaced refresh rate (I.E. at least 24 bpp and 60 Hz). Requires 12 MB of memory/bandwidth for a single frame. 2560×1600 (4096k) 16:10 24 bpp
QSXGA Quad Super Extended Graphics Array Double the resolution of SXGA in each dimension. 2560×2048 (5243k) 5:4 24 bpp
QWXGA+ Quad Wide Extended Graphics Array Plus Used on the MacBook Pro with Retina display. Double the resolution of the previous 1440×900 standard in each dimension. 2880×1800 (5184k) 16:10 24 bpp
WQSXGA Wide Quad Super Extended Graphics Array 3200×2048 (6554k) 25:16 24 bpp
QUXGA Quad Ultra Extended Graphics Array 3200×2400 (7680k) 4:3 24 bpp
4K UHD 4K Ultra-high-definition Four times the resolution of 1080p, available in some 56" displays. Requires a dual-link DVI, category 2 (high-speed) HDMI, Displayport or single Thunderbolt link, and a reduced scan rate (up to 30 Hz); a twin link Thunderbolt connection could support this resolution at a full 60 Hz, or 30 Hz in stereoscopic 3D. 3840×2160 (8294k) 16:9 24 bpp
WQUXGA Wide Quad Ultra Extended Graphics Array The IBM T220/T221 LCD monitors supported this resolution, but they are no longer available. 3840×2400 (9216k) 16:10 24 bpp
4K DLP Cinema Technology Digital Film Projection. The current standard (2012) in digital cinema. 4096×2160 (8847k) 1.8962:1 48 bpp (at 24 frame/s)
HXGA Hex Extended Graphics Array 4096×3072 (12583k) 4:3 24 bpp
WHXGA Wide Hex Extended Graphics Array 5120×3200 (16384k) 16:10 24 bpp
HSXGA Hex Super Extended Graphics Array 5120×4096 (20972k) 5:4 24 bpp
WHSXGA Wide Hex Super Extended Graphics Array 6400×4096 (26214k) 25:16 24 bpp
HUXGA Hex Ultra Extended Graphics Array 6400×4800 (30720k) 4:3 24 bpp
8K UHD 8K Ultra-high-definition (Super Hi-Vision) A digital format in testing by NHK in Japan (with a partnership extending to the BBC for test coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games), intended to provide effectively "pixel-less" imagery even on extra-large LCD or projection screens. 7680×4320 (33177k) 16:9 30 bpp ~ 36 bpp
WHUXGA Wide Hex Ultra Extended Graphics Array 7680×4800 (36864k) 16:10 24 bpp

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