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I have a old computer, and I want to buy a big LCD. The best I've found so far is Viewsonic's 24" LCD TFT monitor.

So will it run without any problems, or do I need to upgrade the video cards or something as well?

The computer is not too old: it has P4 board and celeron processor, with 128 graphics memory.

And in display properties, it says that the maxium that I can use is 1280 x 1024 resolution.

I am noob hardware-wise, so need help on this stuff.

Thanks

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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 28 '10 at 10:36

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Display properties is irrelevant; it will show the maximum that your current monitor can handle, not the maximum that your video card can possibly handle. –  Ricket May 29 '10 at 1:24
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8 Answers 8

The trick here is whether your video card can handle the monitor. LCD monitors have a particular resolution they look best at. With a 24", you're probably looking at 1920x1200. There are five things you need to look at:

  • Is there enough memory to build your desktop image? That's 1920 * 1200 pixels * 32bits per pixel / 8 bits per byte / 1024 bytes per KB / 1024 KB / MB = 8.79MB per frame. 128MB of video memory should be enough to handle that.
  • Is the memory bus fast enough to deliver each frame to the display? That's 60hz (cycles/frames per second) * 8.79MB per frame = 527MB / second through that card. You need to make sure you card's memory bus will do that.
  • Is your card built to handle this resoultion? The card may be fast enough, but a lot of those older cards were built before wide screen displays were popular and just don't have support for them built in.
  • Do you have the right kind of display port? Your current card almost certainly has a VGA port, but many newer monitors expect a DVI connection, as VGA can start to see distortion at higher resolutions.
  • Is the card fast enough for 3D rendering? If you want to also do things like gaming or Windows Aero, you need enough additional performance in the card to handle it.

You can get cheap (<$50) video cards that would easily drive this monitor. I would be tempted to look at one of those, but that brings up the whole new issue of what kind of video port your computer has (probably just AGP).

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I think you meant VGA, not RGB. –  Hello71 May 29 '10 at 1:30
    
Oops, yeah. Just a little TLA overload there. –  Joel Coehoorn May 29 '10 at 5:54
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With 128MB on your Graphic Card you should be able to use resolutions higher then 1280x1024. And you probably need A Higher resolution if you want to use your new Monitor in a native resolution most 24" Monitors have a resolution of 1920x1080 (16:9 Full HD) or 1920x1200 (16:10).

IMHO it should work, I think you can now set a max resolution of 1280x1024 because your current monitor doesn't support more. Most of the times the graphics card is able to tell what works with a specific monitor.

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@admintech: That's an unusual call to make without knowing more information about what the screen is being used for. It's not as if 24" LCDs are particularly expensive anymore. –  afrazier May 28 '10 at 18:53
    
@admintech: As afrazier said you certainly can't say better graphics card is required merely to "enjoy" the larger monitor. The less expensive graphics card should yield an image that looks just as good. What you gain with more expensive card is mostly speed at processing 3d graphics, which is relevant for gamers but not many other users. I use hdmi from my $500 notebook computer with relatively low-powered graphics to enjoy my 1080p TV just fine. –  Herbert Sitz May 28 '10 at 19:11
    
Why are these comments on my post and not on admintechs? –  Jens Fahnenbruck Jun 10 '10 at 18:04
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Monitor size matters, but not to your computer. It does care about the supported resolution though. Make sure your video card supports the "native" resolution of the new monitor (at full color and 60Hz). The native resolution is usually the maximum resolution listed and is the one which gives the best picture.

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The fact that your current display settings indicate maximum resolution of 1280x1024 doesn't mean you can't run a higher resolution monitor. It sounds like like your graphics card would easily support a higher res monitor, but your current choice is limited to max of 1280x1024 because that's the highest resolution your current monitor will accept.

Also, size in inches of the monitor is irrelevant to your computer's ability to "drive" the monitor. The important thing is the resolution. For example, a 19" monitor with 1920x1080 resolution would be more difficult to drive than a 32" monitor with 1280x720 resolution. It's the number of pixels that matter.

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+1 for mentioning that the currently displayed max resolution in Properties is for your current monitor not necessarily the video car'ds maximum resolution. To get that info check your owner's manual or google your video card's make/model. –  Chris Nava May 28 '10 at 16:23
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You should check with your current graphics card supplier but it sounds like your current graphics card won't handle a big 24" monitor that well. I wold highly recommend getting a new graphics card or PC before getting a bigger monitor

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For a given resolution, a larger monitor will have fewer pixels/inch, making the image look less "fine" than on a smaller monitor. I have a 24" monitor at 1920x1200, which gives 94 pixels/inch along the diagonal. 1280x1024 on a 24" monitor gives 68 pixels/inch, or almost 40% larger pixels. Plus you'll get the best images if the monitors native resolution matches the maximum resolution of the card. Otherwise, the image will have to resized or cropped to display it. If resized, you'll lose image quality; if cropped, you'll waste screen space (it will have an unused border area). It's best if you can try one before you buy it.

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The maximum 1280x1024 resolution you see on your Display properties dialog is referring to the resolution of your current attached monitor. If you attach a 24" monitor, you will get different values as Windows queries the supported resolutions of the new monitor. (e.g. 1920x1200)

Having said that, it is best to refer back to your video chipset/GPU documentation (manual or support web site) to determine what is the maximum resolution it can actually support. You never truly stated the exact model (it has nothing to do with the CPU), and it could be a low-end motherboard-integrated chipset for all we know.

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It can't hurt to check but think this is pretty much a non-issue any more. My 3 year old little $300 netbook can drive an external display at 1920x1080. I'll go out on a limb and say any graphics system with specs of 128MB RAM will do 1080p. –  Herbert Sitz May 28 '10 at 19:59
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You haven't mentioned whether you're connecting the monitor via a digital (DVI) or analog (VGA) connection.

Older video cards' (pre-2006?) DVI ports had a limited amount of bandwidth, limiting maximum resolution to 1280x1024 (LCD screens of this resolution were the most common at the time). A bit more detail is available from this article about DVI compliance from 2003.

You need to check whether your video card can output a higher resolution (the easiest thing to do is borrow a friend's high-resolution monitor and see if it works). Guessing the age of the computer described, it seems unlikely.

Also from the age of the computer, it'd be difficult to find a video card (I'm guessing AGP?) that was both inexpensive and supported newer higher resolution monitors.

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