Video Resolution Alphabet Soup

August 6, 2015 at 10:00 AM


VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, UXGA – if this looks like Greek to you, you are not alone.  Luckily, we can translate this into terms that are easier to understand.


These abbreviations designate the resolution that a video monitor or video card supports. For example, a UXGA (Ultra Extended Graphics Array) monitor supports a resolution of 1600 x 1200.


Though no matter what the resolution level is, the video format is the same. 

All monitors use the same analog HD15 interface and cabling.


Higher resolution monitors are backward compatible with all lower resolutions. For example, a UXGA monitor can display resolutions from VGA to UXGA. Some high end monitors support resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 at 79Hz, which is a part of the same multi-sync format and is also backward compatible to lower resolutions.


Here is a chart showing the naming conventions and resolution hierarchy:



Regardless of what resolution a monitor or video card is able to support, they are all commonly referred to as VGA. The naming conventions were never widely adopted by the general public. Thus, even the most high end 3-D graphics card will be labeled as having a VGA port, in addition to a DVI port in many cases, even though the output resolutions are much higher than 1920 x 1440.


Frequently, high end monitor manufacturers don’t mention VGA, SVGA, or any resolution abbreviations. They typically list the maximum resolution that their product(s) support as well as the refresh rate.


Whether a product is labeled a VGA, SVGA, LCD, or WQUXGA, you now know how to decipher the video resolution alphabet.


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