Screen Size and Aspect Ratio

Screen size – which is the screen size measured diagonally in inches – has nothing to do with resolution. I.e. a bigger screen does not guarantee a higher resolution. In fact, it is very common to see big LCD monitors with resolutions that are lower than the ones used by smaller units. If you see a big monitor being sold cheaper than a smaller display you can bet that the smaller unit has a higher resolution that the big display. This doesn’t mean that the smaller display is better than the bigger one; it will depend on the application. People looking for more space on the screen (e.g., image and video editing) will prefer a monitor with higher resolution (even if it is a “small” monitor) while “normal” users may want to enjoy a bigger screen at a lower resolution, since the lower resolution will keep the icons and letters at a good size. Of course the “lower” resolution here is in comparison with the “higher” resolution used by the other displays.

It is always worth mentioning that you can increase the size of the icons and letters on Windows’ Control Panel.

Aspect Ratio is the ratio between the horizontal and the vertical sides of the monitor. CRT monitors and the first (and cheaper) LCD monitors have a 4:3 (i.e., 1.33) aspect ratio, meaning that the horizontal side has a length that is 1.33 (4:3) times the vertical side, and that the vertical side has a length that is 0.75 (3:4) times the horizontal side. Currently “widescreen” aspect ratios are becoming more popular, with 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratios.

In the table below we list the most common aspect ratios and the most common resolutions for several aspect ratios. Monitors with different aspect ratios can usually at resolutions from other aspect ratios by adapting them.

Aspect Ratio Common Resolutions
4:3 (1.33) 640x480800x6001024x7681280x9601600x12001920x14402048x1536
5:4 (1.25) 1280×1024
15:9, 5:3 (1.66) 1280×768
16:9 (1.77) 1280x7201920x1080
16:10 (1.60) 960x6001280x8001440x9001680x10501920x12002560x1600

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.