Computer display standard

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Various computer display standards or display modes have been used in the history of the personal computer. They are often a combination of display resolution (specified as the width and height in pixels), color depth (measured in bits), 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.

Until about 2003, most computer monitors had a 4:3 aspect ratio and some had 5:4. Between 2003 and 2006, monitors with 16:9 and 16:10 (8:5) aspect ratios have become commonly available, first in laptops and later also in standalone monitors. Productive uses for such monitors, i.e. besides widescreen movie viewing and computer game play, are the word processor display of two standard letter pages side by side,[1] as well as CAD displays of large-size drawings and CAD application menus at the same time. Further, 16:10 allows viewing of 16:9 video on a computer with player controls visible, and 16:10 is also comes very close to a golden rectangle, which is often considered the most aesthetically pleasing aspect ratio.

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.

  • Some manufacturers, noting that the de facto industry standard was VGA (Video Graphics Array), termed this the Extended Video Graphics Array or XVGA.

Display resolution prefixes

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

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

Other resolutions

There are also some other 4:3 ratio resolutions such as 1400x1050 SXGA+ and unnamed ones like 1152x864 (sometimes referred to as XGA+).

See also

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