Computer display standard

Computer display standards are often a combination of aspect ratio, display resolution, color depth, and refresh rate.

This article describes the different display standards for computer displays.



Various computer display standards or display modes have been used in the history of the personal computer. They are often a combination of aspect ratio (specified as width-to-height ratio), display resolution (specified as the width and height in pixels), color depth (measured in bits per pixel), and refresh rate (expressed in hertz). Associated with the screen resolution and refresh rate is a display adapter. Earlier display adapters were simple frame-buffers, but later display standards also specified a more extensive set of display functions and software controlled interface.

Beyond display modes, the VESA industry organization has defined several standards related to power management and device identification, while ergonomics standards are set by the TCO.


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.

Vector Video Standards2.svg
Table of computer display standards
Video standard Full name Description Display resolution (pixels) Aspect ratio Color depth (2^bpp colors)
unnamed unnamed Various Apple Inc., Atari, Commodore PCs introduced from 1977 to 1982. They used TVs for their displays and typically included a 32×40 wide border in the overscan region of the television, with a usable space of only 320×200 or 160×200 or 80×200 (approximately). They used the non-interlaced (NI) mode to provide a stable image. The non-interlaced designation was dropped after all monitors were manufactured this way. 352×240 NI (approximately) 4:3 8 or 16 colors typical.
unnamed unnamed Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and others. They used NTSC or PAL-compliant RGB component displays or televisions. The interlaced (I) mode produced visible flickering. 704×480 I (approximately) 4:3 16 for ST or 4096 for Amiga (~256,000 for Amiga 4000).
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.[1] 720×350 (text) 72:35 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.[1] 640×200 (128k)
320×200 (64k)
160×200 (32k)
1 bpp
2 bpp
4 bpp
Hercules A monochrome display capable of sharp text and graphics for its time of introduction. Very popular with the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, which was one of the PC's first killer apps. Introduced in 1982. 720×348 (250.5k) 60:29 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).[1] 640×350 (224k) 64:35 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 video with a 60 Hz frame rate.[1] 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.[1] 320×200 (64k)
640×480 (307k)
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.[1] 640×480 (307k)
640×350 (224k)
320×200 (64k)
720×400 (text)
4 bpp
4 bpp
4/8 bpp
4 bpp
8514 Precursor to XGA and released shortly after VGA in 1987. 8514/A cards displayed interlaced video at 43.5 Hz.[1] 1024×768 (786k) 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. 800×600 (480k) 4:3 4 bpp
XGA Extended Graphics Array An IBM display standard introduced in 1990. XGA-2 added 1024×768 support for high color and higher refresh rates, improved performance, and support for 1360 (1365,333)×1024 in 16 colors (4 bits per pixel).[2] (+support 1056×400 [14h] Text Mode).[1] 1024×768 (786k)
640×480 (307k)
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 under one million pixels. 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)
640×480 (307k)
8 bpp
16 bpp
QVGA Quarter Video Graphics Array 320×240 (75k) 4:3
WQVGA Wide Quarter Video Graphics Array 480×272 (127.5k) 16:9
HQVGA Half Quarter Video Graphics Array 240×160 (38k) 3:2
QQVGA Quarter QVGA 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
HD High Definition (720p) This display aspect ratio is among the most common in recent notebook computers and desktop monitors. 1366x768 (1049k) 16:9


WXGA Widescreen Extended Graphics Array A version of the XGA format. This display aspect ratio is becoming popular in some recent notebook computers. 1280×720 (922k)
1280×800 (1024k)
16:9 or 16:10 32 bpp
HD+ High Definition Plus (900p) This display aspect ratio is becoming popular in recent notebook computers and desktop widescreens. 1600×900 (1440k) 16:9 32 bpp
SXGA Super Extended Graphics Array A widely used de facto 32 bit Truecolor standard, with an unusual aspect ratio of 5:4 (1.25:1) instead of the more common 4:3 (1.33:1), which means that 4:3 pictures and video will appear letterboxed on the narrower 5:4 screens. This is generally the physical aspect ratio & native resolution of standard 17" and 19" LCD monitors.
  • 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 32 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. 1400×1050 (1470k) 4:3 32 bpp
or WXGA,
(or WSXGA)
Widescreen Extended Graphics Array PLUS A version of the WXGA format. This display aspect ratio is becoming popular in some recent notebook computers, and is the native resolution for many 19" widescreen LCD monitors. 1440×900 (1296k) 16:10 32 bpp
UXGA Ultra Extended Graphics Array A de facto Truecolor standard. This is the native resolution for many 20" LCD monitors. 1600×1200 (1920k) 4:3 32 bpp
WSXGA+ Widescreen Super Extended Graphics Array Plus A version of the WXGA format. This is the native resolution for many 22" widescreen LCD monitors. 1680×1050 (1764k) 16:10 32 bpp
Full-HD (1080p) Full High Definition This display aspect ratio is the native resolution for many 24" widescreen LCD monitors. It is also that of any 1080p or 1080i HDTV. 1920×1080 (2073k) 16:9 32 bpp
WUXGA Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array A version of the UXGA format. This display aspect ratio is becoming popular in high end 15" and 17" widescreen notebook computers, such as Apple's 17" MacBook Pro. This is the native resolution for many 23"-27" widescreen LCD monitors. 1920×1200 (2304k) 16:10 32 bpp
2K DLP Cinema Technology Digital Film Projection 2048×1080 (2212k) ≈19:10 48 bpp (at 24 frame/s)
QXGA Quad Extended Graphics Array This is the highest resolution that generally can be displayed on analog computer monitors (most CRTs). 2048×1536 (3146k) 4:3 32 bpp
QWXGA Quad Wide Extended Graphics Array Samsung have taken the wraps off of the company’s first QWXGA resolution 23-inch (580 mm) LCD monitor 2342BWX 2048×1152 (2359k) 16:9
WQHD Wide Quad High Definition This is the native resolution for many 27" widescreen LCD monitors. 2560×1440 (3686.4k) 16:9 32 bpp
WQXGA Widescreen Quad Extended Graphics Array A version of the XGA format. This is the native resolution for many 30" widescreen LCD monitors. 2560×1600 (4096k) 16:10 32 bpp
QSXGA Quad Super Extended Graphics Array 2560×2048 (5243k) 5:4 32 bpp
WQSXGA Wide Quad Super Extended Graphics Array 3200×2048 (6554k) 25:16 32 bpp
QUXGA Quad Ultra Extended Graphics Array 3200×2400 (7680k) 4:3 32 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 32 bpp
4K DLP Cinema Technology Digital Film Projection 4096×1716 (7029k) 2.39 48 bpp (at 24 frame/s)
HXGA Hex[adecatuple] Extended Graphics Array 4096×3072 (12583k) 4:3 32 bpp
WHXGA Wide Hex[adecatuple] Extended Graphics Array 5120×3200 (16384k) 16:10 32 bpp
HSXGA Hex[adecatuple] Super Extended Graphics Array 5120×4096 (20972k) 5:4 32 bpp
WHSXGA Wide Hex[adecatuple] Super Extended Graphics Array 6400×4096 (26214k) 25:16 32 bpp
HUXGA Hex[adecatuple] Ultra Extended Graphics Array 6400×4800 (30720k) 4:3 32 bpp
Ultra High Definition Television Ultra High Definition Television 7680×4320 (33177k) 16:9 32 bpp
WHUXGA Wide Hex[adecatuple] Ultra Extended Graphics Array 7680×4800 (36864k) 16:10 32 bpp

Display resolution prefixes

Although the common standard prefixes super and ultra do not indicate specific modifiers to base standard resolutions, several others do:

Quarter (Q or q)
A quarter of the base resolution. E.g. QVGA, a term for a 320×240 resolution, half the width and height of VGA, hence the quarter total resolution. The "Q" prefix usually indicates "Quad" (4 times as many, not 1/4 times as many) in higher resolutions, and sometimes "q" is used instead of "Q" to specify quarter (by analogy with SI prefixes like k/K, m/M), but this usage is not consistent.[2]
Wide (W)
The base resolution increased by increasing the width and keeping the height constant, for square or near-square pixels on a widescreen display, usually with an aspect ratio of either 16:9 or 16:10.
Quad(ruple) (Q)
Four times as many pixels compared to the base resolution, i.e. twice the horizontal and vertical resolution respectively.
Hex(adecatuple) (H)
Sixteen times as many pixels compared to the base resolution, i.e. four times the horizontal and vertical resolutions respectively.
Ultra (U)
eXtended (X)

These prefixes are also often combined, as in WQXGA or WHUXGA.

Other resolutions

There are also some other 4:3 ratio resolutions such as 1400×1050 SXGA+ and unnamed ones like 1152×864 (sometimes referred to as XGA+).

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Scott Mueller Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Second Edition, Que Books, 1992, ISBN 0-88022-856-3 pp. 669-692
  2. ^ Shin, Min-Seok; Choi, Jung-Whan; Kim, Yong-Jae; Kim, Kyong-Rok; Lee, Inhwan; Kwon, Oh-Kyong (2007), "Accurate Power Estimation of LCD Panels for Notebook Design of Low-Cost 2.2-inch qVGA LTPS TFT-LCD Panel", SID 2007 Digest 38 (1): 260–263 

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