VGA Max Resolution: Is VGA Capable of 1080p and HD/4K?

Since it was introduced in 1987, VGA technology has come a long way. It’s still one of the most common connector types for monitors, and even most modern monitors have at least one VGA port. While HDMI is the preferred connection, VGA still has a place.

Key Takeaways:

  • VGA can support 1080P and higher resolutions, but it’s not recommended for high resolutions (read more…)
  • VGA’s maximum resolution depends on the signal source and the quality of the VGA cable. (read more…)
  • VGA cannot support 4K (read more…)

Do remember, VGA is a very old standard, and most graphics cards don’t even include VGA ports anymore because it’s kind of dying out. The newer connectors, HDMI, Display Port, and DVI, are much better than VGA.

You could use a cheap VGA monitor as a secondary display for notes and whatnot. That begs the question, what’s the max resolution you can get with VGA? Is it capable of 1080P and higher resolutions? I had the same concerns, so I did some research, and I’ll share my findings with you in this article.

Is VGA Capable of 1080P?

While the original VGA (VGA standard) had a maximum resolution of 640×480, nowadays the VGA cable is capable of 1080P and higher resolutions. The limiting factor would be the hardware outputting VGA signals, the VGA cable doesn’t really have a maximum resolution.

In fact, most people can’t tell the difference between 1080P connected via HDMI or VGA, however, at higher resolutions, VGA starts to fall behind. While VGA can support 1080P, it’s not the recommended connection for displays for a number of reasons which we’ll get into in a moment.

What’s VGA Maximum Resolution?

VGA’s maximum resolution is limited by the signal source (video card, integrated chip, etc) and the quality of the VGA cable. Since it’s analog, there’s no bandwidth limit, it all depends on the source. On most modern graphics cards, the maximum resolution for VGA is 2048×1536 but it varies from the manufacturer. If you’re looking to get more than 1080P, I don’t recommend VGA.

Why is VGA Not Good for High Resolutions?

There are a number of reasons why VGA is not recommended for high resolutions. For one, VGA uses analog signals. Most hardware today uses digital, so the hardware (signal source) has to actively convert digital to analog which consumes power and some image quality will be lost as well.

Bear in mind, higher resolutions will require more video bandwidth, and even cranking at 1080P over VGA can be taxing in older systems. On computers, most of the time the VGA port will be connected straight to your motherboard, so the signal source would be your CPU’s integrated graphics. It’s a good idea to look up the specifications of your integrated graphics to see what resolutions are supported over VGA.

Another problem with analog connections is the signal quality degrades over distance, so the end result might not be true HD quality. To counter this issue, use a short VGA cable. Besides those issues, VGA is also more prone than it’s digital counterparts, to encounter display issues such as dimness, interference, flickering, inaccurate colors, signal cut-outs, and more. Generally, connectors that support digital signals are much more reliable and accurate.

Overall, I would only recommend using VGA for secondary monitors or watching media that’s not a natively high resolution in the first place. For everyday use, especially gaming and Netflix, HDMI or DVI will provide the clearest and brightest images.

Further Info:

Can VGA Support 4K?

Due to hardware limits, VGA cannot support 4K which is 3840×2160. VGA’s maximum resolution is around 2048×1536 which is 2K, and it probably won’t be true HD. For higher resolutions, use HDMI, Display Port, or DVI.

Can VGA do 60Hz?

VGA can do 60Hz at 1080P but anything more than that is pushing the limits.

What’s the Maximum Refresh Rate on VGA?

The maximum refresh rate depends on the signal source and your display. In most cases, you won’t be able to push 1080P at more than 60 Hz on VGA. While VGA has been rated at 85 Hz, it was on a very low resolution (800×600). You can some times get higher than 60 Hz on low resolutions, but most people will agree that’s not a good idea.

VGA vs HDMI

When it comes to VGA vs HDMI, HDMI is the clear winner for a number of reasons. The main reason is it uses digital signals, can support higher resolutions (and refresh rates), and can carry over high-quality audio too. Essentially, it’s an all-in-one cable, which makes it much more convenient than VGA. You can read more about that here.

VGA vs DVI

To cut to the chase, DVI is a much better alternative to VGA because it uses a combination of digital and analog signals and supports much higher resolutions. When comparing image quality, DVI has much clearer and brighter images than VGA’s.

VGA vs DisplayPort

DisplayPort is many times more superior to VGA because it not only can support HD resolutions (4K at 60hz) but it also carries over audio. Most competitive gamers use DisplayPort because it has the best image quality and highest refresh rates. Most 144 Hz monitors use Display Port.

1080P Analog VGA vs. 1080P Digital DVI/HDMI/Displayport Signal

To conduct an unscientific test, we connected an HP laptop to a HP monitor using both HDMI and VGA cables and took close-up pictures of the screen at approximately the same distance using an iPhone 8 camera. Upon zooming in and taking screenshots of the phone, we observed that the contours of the letters are more blurred in the VGA case (right side), while the image with HDMI is clearer and crisper. Though not a conclusive test, these observations suggest that there may indeed be a visible difference between analog VGA and digital DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort signals when it comes to visual quality.

What it Comes Down To:

Most tech enthusiasts will agree that VGA doesn’t really have a place in modern technology. I still think using a VGA monitor as a secondary display at 1080P is a good idea if you’re on a budget. However, most HDMI monitors are budget-friendly too, and even if they cost a few more dollars, the upgrade is worth it. For true-gamers, I suggest using Display Port, but either of the modern connectors that use digital signals will work well.

Was this article helpful?

Yes No
×

How can we improve it?

×

We appreciate your helpul feedback!

Your answer will be used to improve our content. And you can help other readers too 🙂

Follow us on social media:

Facebook Pinterest
About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and blogger with over 10 years of experience, currently serving as Blue Cine Tech's AV Editor. Specialising in gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology, my work has been featured in top technology blogs. I'm dedicated to breaking down the complexities of the latest tech trends, from explaining the intricacies of Dolby Vision to optimising your streaming experience. This blog serves as a platform for my ongoing exploration of the ever-evolving tech landscape. If you see me at industry events like CES or IFA, feel free to say hello.

2 thoughts on “VGA Max Resolution: Is VGA Capable of 1080p and HD/4K?”

  1. “Most tech enthusiasts will agree that VGA doesn’t really have a place in modern technology”

    Completely wrong. A majority of PC’s are not being used for gaming.
    VGA is still very useful, and still has a very large place in “today’s” technology. They are cheaper, (especially if you already own one when upgrading), and last just as long, so for a small, or even large company, they can and do use it still, even in 2023. I work on these things everyday, I know. If just a casual gamer, VGA is still just fine as well.

    Reply
  2. I think it should be clarified that the monitor needs to be able to support the Video format standard or it wont be able to output the higher resolutions mentioned. So a older monitor wont be able to output the resolution.

    You also mentioned it yourself that it depends on the GPU if its able to output a higher resolution, its a teamwork between both the Monitor and the GPU. Both need to support the resolution.

    If you use a adapter you move away from the monitor restriction as well because it converts the analog to digital.

    But moving to the next point as well, after carefully researching the subject
    VGA is able to output over 4k resolution and there is no limitation to what it can output, the only think that is limited is the Monitor and the GPU

    The biggest recorded resolution with VGA today is, Wide Hex Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WHUXGA) which has a resolution of 7680 x 4800

    Reply

Leave a Comment