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I'm trying to determine what is the highest monitor resolution that will be supported by a computer.

System

  • Win XP-era Compaq Presario SR1750NX that contains
  • Radeon Xpress 200 integrated graphics on an AMD Athlon 64 based motherboard.

    The Radeon Xpress 200 uses shared video memory (UMA). The computer has 3 GB RAM. (I'm not familiar with how UMA works and whether the video can access as much memory as it needs, or how much that would be.)

  • It is currently running Linux Mint 17.0. I understand that AMD has a Linux version of Catalyst. However, the Xpress 200 probably pre-dates ATI's acquisition by AMD, and the appearance of the UI looks generic, so the driver is probably FOSS, and possibly required some reverse-engineering.

  • The only built-in video connector is VGA. A VGA connector has no limit on resolution, but I understand the output quality at higher resolutions depends on the DAC and other factors.

Xpress 200 Info

The only thing I've seen that deals with maximum supported VGA resolution of the video chipset, itself, is the link posted by Daniel B in a comment, below. The "for Intel architecture" version of the Xpress 200 is spec'ed to support up to 2048x1536 (apparently a common spec based on a 400MHz DAC). Assuming the specs are the same in the "for AMD architecture" version, that would appear to be an upper limit. It isn't clear whether other factors would limit it below that (e.g., maximum memory it can use).

Usage

I don't think this affects anything, but just in case, the intended use is a lot of screen real estate for static content (large spreadsheets, lots of browser tabs, and the like), I'm not trying to view hi-res video or do 3D rendering.

Info From The System

Some years ago, I upgraded the monitor to 1600x900, just guessing that it would be supported. The available resolution settings under monitor preferences lists 1400x1050 as the only higher resolution, which is virtually the same total pixel count as the current monitor. However, I don't know if this reflects system assumptions based on the current monitor or the actual system limitation (or perhaps the limit of the Linux driver). The Linux driver does not have an explicit "list all" option.

Update

  • I checked with AMD and HP to see if they had any useful specs. Answer: No.
  • I used the xrandr command to see what it might show, which produced this (followed by available settings for the current monitor):

    Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1600 x 900, maximum 4096 x 4096
    VGA-0 connected 1600x900+0+0 (yada yada...)

    The 4096 x 4096 maximum refers to the virtual screen size (maximum framebuffer), rather than a (useful) resolution possible from the VGA port. Would that imply at least that the chipset limit is not further limited by memory (one variable eliminated)?

What I'm Looking For In An Answer

I'd like to get a higher resolution monitor, but don't know how to determine what the limit supported by the system would be, or what factor is the limitation.

  • An answer for this particular computer would be great. If that can't be answered without available specs, somebody actually using a higher resolution monitor on a similar system would be good evidence.
  • In a more general sense, how do I go about determining the limit for a given system? Is it just the chipset limit (in which case, I probably have an answer, already), or can that be further limited by other factors (memory, drivers, etc.)? If there can be further limits, can those be determined in a practical way, or does it basically come down to just locating specs?

marked as duplicate by Journeyman Geek Mar 19 '17 at 13:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • What about this? It says “resolutions up to 2048x1536x32bpp”. – Daniel B Mar 14 '16 at 17:58
  • @DanielB: Thanks, that's one I didn't spot. It does mention, "DirectX 9.0 integrated graphics (resolutions up to 2048x1536x32bpp)", which I'll assume is an upper limit. It isn't clear, though, if that would be limited by the hardware or drivers. – fixer1234 Mar 14 '16 at 18:04
  • That’s simply the maximum VGA connector resolution, so it might be bogus. Unfortunately, it looks like all datasheets of the northbridge have been lost when the ATI brand was discontinued. – Daniel B Mar 14 '16 at 18:08
  • @DanielB: Just noticed that the link describes Xpress 200 for Intel architecture. I don't know if there's any difference between that and its use (version?) in AMD architecture (the case with the Presario). Re: datasheets--the joys of working with old hardware. – fixer1234 Mar 14 '16 at 18:13
  • When you say "supported by the graphics hardware", are you including the monitor? IIRC there often aren't drivers for the monitor so even if you get the resolution correct for the installed graphics card, that might not be supported by the monitor. – Jim2B Mar 14 '16 at 18:16
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So after trawling the web for pages on this card I found the waybackmachine has a copy of the specs page from ATi

https://web.archive.org/web/20061006060608/http://www.ati.com/products/radeonxpress200/specs.html

Most importantly:

3D Graphics: Supports resolution up to 2536x2536@32bpp

2D Graphics: Supports a maximum resolution of 2048x1536@32bpp

External Support: Support for fixed resolution displays from VGA (640x480) to wide UXGA (1600x1200)

  • 1
    Fantastic! The 2D and 3D capabilities just reflect what the chipset is capable of supporting, but the external monitor support looks like what I was asking. I had given up hope on this one. Thanks. – fixer1234 Mar 19 '17 at 19:07
  • Thanks for accepting, this became a bit of a mission for me, trying to clear up some unanswered issues! – djsmiley2k Mar 19 '17 at 19:32
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The monitor sends out EDID data which contains the monitors ability list.

See here for more details.

https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/114359/how-to-get-edid-for-a-single-monitor

How do you find out a laptop screen panel manufacturer / model with Linux? (Samsung, LG, Chi Mei, etc)

ls /sys/class/drm/
cat   /sys/class/drm/card0-DP-2/edid
  • Thanks for responding. I'm not sure whether I'm not understanding the answer or you might have misread the question. My understanding of EDID is that it is data provided by the monitor to identify the resolutions it is capable of. I'm actually looking for the reverse. This refers to a fairly old computer with no available specs on its graphics capabilities. I want to buy a monitor with whatever is the maximum native resolution the computer will support, but don't know what that resolution is. So the question is how can I determine what is the highest resolution the computer will support. – fixer1234 Jan 24 '17 at 20:20
  • @fixer1234 is the physical connector on the back of the video card VGA (3 rows of pins), DVI, displayport or hdmi? VGA effectively tops out around 2560x1600. Anything more and display port or hdmi become necessary. 4k requires the newest version of the ports. How big do you want? – cybernard Jan 24 '17 at 20:49
  • Yeah, the only connector is VGA (This is an early Win XP era computer). It looks like the chipset has an upper limit of 2048x1536, but it isn't clear whether that might be further limited. I'll settle for whatever is the max resolution it will handle with the original hardware (it's too old to be worth expanding its capabilities; I'm keeping it running for as long as it lasts for the fun of seeing how it can still be used). – fixer1234 Jan 24 '17 at 21:13
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Back in the old days of CRT screens (the big ones with the holes on top), the display resolution was solely determined by the maximum resolution supported by your graphics card (CGA,EGA,VGA,SVGA,....) and of course your level of presbyopia (or how small a letter you can read). This was an attribute of CRT monitors due to their analog nature.

Nowadays, though, and since the advent of "fixed pixel number screens" (or digital screens) like LCDs, TFTs, ... the issue with the resolution has been quite simpler!

Now, there is The Display resolution which is one and only one for each display panel. This very specific resolution is the only one that would not blur your monitor colors or otherwise distort what you see due to up-scaling/down-scaling to make the selected resolution you set in your operating system fit into The Display Resolution. This is simply because it corresponds to the actual number of pixel elements your digital display contains.

More about screen resolutions can be seen in :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_resolution

To sum up, there is still a "maximum resolution" that is what your graphics card supports, and it will work even though distorted, but you would not want to leave the native resolution of your LCD or TFT monitor because you will have less than optimal image quality.

The only way your could break yourself out of these boundaries is if you plugged your laptop to an external monitor supporting a different native display resolution (say for example HP S2331 which supports 1920x1080). I have been searching around and couldn't find what the native resolution of your laptop's panel is (probably if you look below and hit in google a serial number and try to find the actual part number of the panel itself you will stand a better chance, but there is also the easy way! Just change resolutions starting from the standard for your monitor's inches and stop when the blur goes away...! You could even plug your old laptop to a Full HD screen and if your graphics card and your processor can reproduce HD material get a Full HD 1080p resolution. (I doubt that though... but theoretically it is possible).

Based on the discussion below, I realized that you are after a standardized test for a full system performance over a specific resolution. Such a test unfortunately does not exist because different applications have different requirements from a system. For instance 3d apps require CPU, memory and graphics card performance as well as motherboard bridge data transferring speed, while web browsing mostly needs memory.

The closest thing to a standardized test that I can think of, is video reproduction. To avoid having bought the screen just to realize that it cannot reproduce video at resolution X you can test it by playing back video in headless mode using X virtual framebuffer xvfb. Then you can get playback statistics using the method described here: https://forum.videolan.org/viewtopic.php?t=61867 And compare them with those of another machine.

I really hope this will help!

  • On colour CRTs, the display resolution was limited by the dot pitch. Nothing to do with your eyesight. – Chenmunka Aug 3 '16 at 11:34
  • Thanks for the reply, and welcome to Super User. What you wrote is correct information, but the problem is actually something different. It's a desktop system and I want to get an external monitor whose native resolution is the maximum that the graphics card will support. The question is, how to figure out what that resolution is. Since this doesn't really address that question, it might attract downvotes (no good deed goes unpunished), so you might want to delete it. Your post is well-written, though, and there may be another question on the site that it answers if you repost it there. – fixer1234 Aug 3 '16 at 15:21
  • Hello, thank you very much but I am not afraid of negative criticism! If somebody wants to down-vote the answer let them down-vote it... As for your question, I took it as granted that the monitor would be a tft since you mentioned an HP laptop model. In any case, if your monitor is a CRT then in most cases you will just have to learn what the maximum resolution your graphics card supports. – Agelos Assonitis Aug 4 '16 at 11:10
  • Which for the ATI RadeonX200 with chipset RS480 is according to: blogulate.com/content/msi-rs-480-m2-il-2-specifications, up to 2536×2536@32bpp in 3D and 2048×1536@32bpp in 2D. But you will probably have to verify this in practice because it might be affected by the overall computer's performance. Unless it is a ATI Xpress 200P (which is based on chipset RX480).... Also, mind that over the VGA output the maximum resolution may be less. Please, communicate if this is what you need. Last but not least if your monitor is a flat panel better to use the native panel's resolution. – Agelos Assonitis Aug 4 '16 at 11:21
  • @AgelosAssonitis, the alert system is limited. You get an alert to comments only on your own post or if you are the only other person associated with a post. You can "address" a comment with @, like I did here, and that person will get an alert if they were already associated with the post. I just stumbled across your comments. Sorry if I gave the impression that it's a laptop; it's a desktop. Also, the plan is to get an LED monitor and use it at its native resolution, as you mentioned. The information you found about the chipset matches what I had found. So we've arrived at the same place. – fixer1234 Aug 5 '16 at 5:02
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Have you looked at the "list all" list of resolutions in your display adapter properties? If I'm not horribly mistaken (possible!) that shows all of the supported video outputs from your video card, assuming you have the most recent drivers installed etc.

This was true for my old Radeon card in an old intel optiplex 745 - I tested on a monitor that could support higher resolutions, hacked the table to allow higher resolutions with the correct aspect ratio, and got no picture unless I used values lower than those listed in display adapter properties.

  • The Windows version of the driver typically has a "list all". I'm on Linux and the driver doesn't. I can't tell if what it shows is everything it is capable of, or the list is limited to what it can display on the connected monitor. The list includes many resolutions that can be interpolated onto the current monitor, but the highest listed resolution is the native resolution of the connected monitor. – fixer1234 Aug 13 '16 at 4:22

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