Today’s computer monitors and televisions come in a variety of screen resolutions and support a number of different formats. Ensuring the monitor or display supports to display resolution output by the computer or video device is critical to getting the best image quality.

What is Resolution

Displays, including screens, monitors, and televisions, display in image or video at a particular resolution, which is a measure of the level of detail shown in the visual image. Images are displayed as a grid of pixels, which are square or rectangular boxes of a certain color. The more pixels used to compose the image the finer the detail shown.

The number of columns and rows in the grid are referred to as the display’s “resolution”. Resolution is conveyed as the number of columns by the number of rows displayed on the screen. For instance, if the screen displays 640 columns and 480 rows of pixels it’s resolution is 640×480.

Use our TV viewing distance calculator to determine the right TV size and seating distance for your selected resolution.

Display Resolution Standards

There are a number of standards that have been agreed upon by display manufacturers and computer and device manufacturers to ensure that most devices output a common set of resolutions that could be displayed on most screens. For example, the 640×480 resolution noted above is the Video Graphics Array, or VGA.

Progressive vs. Interlaced Scan

Those who remember the early days when HD video started becoming popular likely remember seeing televisions that were a 720p or 1080i resolution and now it’s common to see televisions that are 1080p resolution or 4k. The “p” and “i” in these resolutions are referring to progressive and interlaced scan. In the early days of analog video bandwidth was a valuable commodity and increased resolution required using interlaced scanning.

Interlaced scanning is displaying half of the rows of pixels in the frame and the other half of the rows in the alternate frame. This allowed displaying higher resolution video using the less bandwidth than progressive scan, which is displays all rows of pixels in the frame at the same time. Interlaced scanning allows for higher resolution video but does introduce flicker. Today progressive scan is used most commonly.

Aspect Ratio

In addition to resolution there is an additional consideration when selecting a display for a computer or video device and that is the aspect ratio of the image. A display’s aspect ratio is the ratio of the number of columns to the number of rows, or essentially how rectangular the image is.

Common aspect ratios are 4:3, 16:9, and 16:10. 16:10 is most commonly used in computer displays, 16:9 is most commonly used for HD video, and 4:3 was most commonly in both computer displays and TV video before widescreen displays became commonplace. Use our aspect ratio calculator to calculate the aspect ratio of your display resolution.

Computer Display Resolutions

Common computer display resolutions
Resolution Aspect Ratio Standard
640×480 4:3 VGA
768×480 16:10 WVGA
800×600 4:3 SVGA
1024×600 16:9 WSVGA
1024×768 4:3 XGA
1280×768 16:9 WXGA
1280×800 16:10 WXGA
1280×960 4:3 SXGA
1400×1050 4:3 SXGA+
1600×1200 4:3 UXGA
1920×1080 16:9 FHD
1920×1200 16:10 WUXGA
1920×1280 3:2 FHD+
2560×1440 16:9 QHD
2560×1600 16:10 WQXGA
3840×2400 16:10 WQUXGA

Television and Video Resolutions

Common television video resolutions
Resolution Aspect Ratio Standard
640×480 4:3 VGA
720×480 4:3 480i, NTSC
720×576 4:3 576i, PAL
1024×576 16:9 PAL
1280×720 16:9 720p, HD
1920×1080 16:9 1080p, FHD
2560×1440 16:9 1440p, QHD
3840×2160 16:9 4K, 2160p, UHD
7860×4320 16:9 8K

See a list of common 16:9 TV screen sizes and dimensions.