Resolution

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Resolution is the measure in which how many pixels are displayed on the screen.

For emulation of 2D systems, the resolution can only be upscaled, making the pixels more apparent. For emulation of 5th generation consoles and newer, the internal resolution can be increased to make the game look sharper.

Color encoding

On systems connected with a composite, s-video or rf cable the color of the video signal is encoded using either NTSC or PAL. While NTSC and PAL has become synonymous with 60 and 50hz, the color encoding is independent of refresh rate, with the Dreamcast popularising "PAL-60" modes in PAL regions. Note that a RGB or component video signal is not inherently NTSC or PAL coded. When playing on an emulator, NTSC filters can be used to produce an image similar to playing on a TV.

SECAM is a third color standard but due to many of the countries that used it were Second World and Third World few consoles would use that format, and consoles and home computers released in France would often use RGB SCART cables instead. See this Wikipedia article for a list of current and former SECAM countries

See also Broadcast and Cable Communication Systems

Colorspaces

The overwhelming majority of consoles uses the RGB colorspace, storing colors as color triplets, often resulting in colordepths powers of 8 (64, 512, 4096, 32768 and so on). A few systems, such as those by Atari as well as the NES, instead used a Color/Luminance scheme, with 4 bits determining the hue, utilising a property of NTSC/PAL encoding by delaying the color subcarrier, with one or more values instead omitting the signal resulting in a greyscale image, with the remaining bits determining the brightness.

Integer Scaling
Main article: Scaling

Upscaling the resolution will only look good if you scale it by integers (2x, 3x, 4x, etc.). If you are scaling with non-integers, you can make the image look better using the Pixellate shader.

Consoles[edit]

2D Consoles[edit]

2D consoles generally are consoles from the 2nd to 4th generation of video game consoles.
System Native Resolution (WxH) Color depth and color space Video display resolution Native Refresh Rate (Hz)
CHIP-8 64x32 (original)
Extensions: 64x48, 64x64, 64x128, 128x64, 256x192[N 1]
Monochrome (original)
Extensions: 4 colours, 16 colours, 255 colours.[N 2]
Fairchild Channel F 102x58 8 colors 240p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[N 3]
Atari 2600 160×192[N 4] 128 (NTSC)/104 (PAL) colors, Color/Luminance 240p 59.922751013551 (NTSC), 49.860759671615 (PAL)
Atari 7800 160×192, 320x192, 160x224, 320x224[N 5] 256 colors, Color/Luminance 240p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[N 3]
Bally Astrocade 160x104 256 colors, Color/Luminance 240p 60 (NTSC)[N 3]
Mattel Intellivision 160×192 16 colors 240p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[N 3]
NES 256×240 52 colors, Color/Luminance[N 6] 240p 60.098813897441 (NTSC), 50.006978908189 (PAL)
Sega Master System 256×192, 256×224, 256x240 (some PAL games) [N 7] 64 colors, RGB 240p 59.922751013551 (NTSC), 49.701460119948 (PAL)
NEC PC Engine 256×224, 336x224, 512x224, 512x240 512 colors, RGB 240p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[N 3]
SNES 256×224, 256×239, 512×224, 512×239

512×448, 512×478

15-bit, RGB 240p, 480i 60.098813897441 (NTSC), 50.006978908189 (PAL)
Sega Genesis 320×224, 256×224, 320x240 (some PAL games), 256x240 (some PAL games),

320×448, 256×448, 320x480 (some PAL games), 256x480 (some PAL games)

512 colors, RGB 240p, 480i 59.922751013551 (NTSC), 49.701460119948 (PAL)
Sega 32X 320×224, 320x240 (PAL only) 15-bit, RGB 240p 59.922751013551 (NTSC), 49.701460119948 (PAL)
SNK Neo Geo AES 320x224 16-bit, RGBI 240p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[N 3]

3D Consoles[edit]

3D consoles generally are consoles from the 5th generation and later.

Note that resolutions listed here are not comprehensive, just because a resolution isn't listed doesn't mean it wasn't supported

System Native Resolution (WxH) Color depth and color space Video display resolution Native Refresh Rate (Hz)
Nintendo 64 320x200, 320x400, 320x240, 320x480, 640x200, 640×240, 640x400, 640×480[O 1] 15-bit/21-bit, RGB[O 2] 240p, 480i (NTSC), 576i (PAL) 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
Sega Saturn 320×224, 320×240, 320×256, 352×224, 352×240, 352×256, 640×224, 640×240, 640×256, 704x224, 704×240

320×448, 320×480, 320×512, 352×448, 320×480, 352×512, 640×448, 640×480, 640×512, 704×448, 704×480, 704×512

15-bit/24-bit, RGB 240p, 480i (NTSC), 480p, 576i (PAL) 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
PlayStation 256×224, 256x240, 320x224, 320×240, 368x224, 368x240, 512x224, 512×240, 640x224, 640x240, 704x224, 704x240

256x448, 256x480, 320x448, 320x480, 368x448, 368x480, 512x448, 512x480, 640x448, 640×480, 704x448, 704x480 [O 4]

16-bit/24-bit, RGB[O 5] 240p, 480i (NTSC), 480p, [O 6] 576i (PAL) 59.940060138702 (NTSC), 50.00028192997 (PAL)
PlayStation 2 256x224, 256x240, 256x448, 256x480, 256x512, 320x224, 320x256, 320x448, 320x480, 320x512, 384x224, 384x256, 384x448, 384x480, 384x512, 512x224, 512x256, 512x448, 512x512, 640x224, 640x240, 640x256, 640x448, 640×480, 640x512, 704x224, 704x240, 704x256, 704x448, 704x480, 704x512 24-bit, RGB 240p, 480i (NTSC), 480p, 576i (PAL), 576p, 720p, 960i (GSM Selector), 1080i (Gran Turismo 4) 59.94 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
Sega Dreamcast 320x240, 256x224, 256x240, 512x224, 512x240, 640×480, 512x448, 512x480, 672x480, 544x608, 400x240, 416x768, 384x864, 320x960, [O 7] 24-bit, RGB 240p, 480i (NTSC), 480p, 576i (PAL), 576p, 720p, 960p [O 8] 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3], 75Hz, 120Hz [O 7]
GameCube and Wii 640x480, 640x528, 640×576[O 9]

etc

24-bit, RGB 240p, 480i (NTSC), 480p, 576i (PAL), 576p, [O 10] 960i, 1080i, 1152i (through Swiss) 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
Xbox 640×480, 640x576, 720x480, 720x576, 1280x720, 1920x1080 24-bit, RGB 480i (NTSC), 576i (PAL), 480p, 720p, 1080i [O 11] 59.94 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
Xbox 360 640x480, 720x576, 1280x720, 1920x1080[O 12] 24-bit, RGB 480i (NTSC), 576i (PAL), 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p 59.94 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3]
PlayStation 3 640x480, 640x576, 720x480, 720x576, 960x720, 1280x720, 1280x768, 1280x800, 1440x900, 1280x1024, 1600x1024, 960x1080, 1280x1080, 1440x1080, 1600x1080, 1600x1200, 1920x1080, 2048x1080, 1920x1200, 1920x1440, 2048x1152, 2048x1536, 2560x1440, 2560x1600[O 13] 24-bit, RGB 480i (NTSC), 576i (PAL), 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p[O 14] 59.94 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[O 3], 75Hz, 120Hz

Portables[edit]

System Native Resolution (WxH) Color depth and color space Video display resolution Native Refresh Rate (Hz)
Virtual Boy 384×224 (per screen) 4 shades of red 240p 50.273487773488
Game Boy/Color 160×144 15-bit, RGB (4 shades of grey for non-color games) 144p 59.727500569606
Sega Game Gear 160x144 (native GG mode), 256x192 downscaled (SMS backwards compatible mode) 4096 colors, RGB (64 color in SMS backwards compatibility mode) 144p 59.922751013551
SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color 160x152 4096 colors, RGB 152p 60[P 1]
WonderSwan 224×144 4096 colors, RGB 144p 75.471698113207
Game Boy Advance 240×160 15-bit, RGB 160p 59.727500569606
Pokémon Mini 96×64 1-bit monochrome ? N/A
Nintendo DS 256×192 (per screen) 18-bit, RGB 2x192p 59.826098288081
PlayStation Portable 480×272 24-bit, RGB 272p, 480i, 480p (PSP-2000 and 3000 models with video cables) 60[P 1]
Nintendo 3DS 800x240 top screen[P 2]

320x240 bottom screen

24-bit, RGB 2x240p 60[P 1]

Home computers[edit]

System Native Resolution (WxH) Color depth and color space Video display resolution Native Refresh Rate (Hz)
Apple II 280x192 6 colors (high res), 15 colors (low res) [Q 1] 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Atari 8-bit 160x192, 320x192 128/256 colors, Color/Luminance [Q 3] 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
IBM PC (CGA) 320x200, 640x200 16 colors, RGBI [Q 4] 240p 60[Q 2]
Commodore VIC-20 176x184 [Q 5] 16 colors 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Commodore 64 160x200, 320x200 [Q 6] 16 colors 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Commodore Plus/4 160x200, 320x200 121 colors, Color/Luminance [Q 7] 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Sinclair ZX Spectrum 256x192 15 colors, RGBI 288p 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
BBC Micro/Acorn Electron 160x256, 320x256, 640x256 [Q 8] 8 colors, RGB 288p 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Amstrad CPC464/664/6128 160x200, 320x200, 640x200 [Q 9] 27 colors, RGB 288p 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Amstrad 464+/6128+ 160x200, 320x200, 640x200 4096 colors, RGB 288p 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
MSX1

TI 99/4A

256x192 [Q 10] 15 colors 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
MSX2 256x192, 256x212, 512x212, 256x424, 512x424 512 colors, RGB [Q 11] 240p, 288p, 480i, 576i 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
IBM PC (EGA) 320x200, 640x200, 640x350 16 colors (200 line modes), 64 colors (350 line modes), RGB 240p, 350p 60[Q 2]
Apple IIGS 320x200, 640x200 4096 colors, RGB 240p, 288p 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]
Commodore Amiga 320x200, 640x200, 640x400, 320x256, 640x256, 640x512 4096 colors, RGB 240p, 288p, 480i, 576i 60 (NTSC), 50 (PAL)[Q 2]

Fantasy systems[edit]

Fantasy consoles and computers are intended to replicate the experience of older video game consoles.

System Native Resolution (WxH) Color depth and color space
4BoD 16x16 1-bit monochrome
Mini Micro 960x640
PICO-8 128x128 16 colors
Vircon32 640x360 24-bit, RGB
TIC-80 240x136 16 colors

External links[edit]

Wikipedia - List of common resolutions: Analog systems

Notes[edit]

Notes (consoles)

Notes (2D consoles)
  1. Sourced from here: 64x32 (Original CHIP-8), 64x48 (CHIP-8 for ETI-660) 64x64 (Two-page display for CHIP-8, Two-page display for CHIP-8X, CHIP-8 for ETI-660 with high resolution, CHIP-8 AE (ACE Extended), CHIP-BETA). 64x128 (HI-RES CHIP-8, Hi-res CHIP-8X, CHIP-8 AE (ACE Extended)), 128x64 (CHIP-VDU / CHIP-8 for the ACE VDU, CHIP-10, CHIP-8 AE (ACE Extended), S-CHIP) 256x192 (Megachip)
  2. 1-bit monochrome (original), 2-bit 4 colors (XO-CHIP), 4-bit 16 colors (HYPERCHIP-64) 8-bit 255 colors (Megachip).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Preliminary or approximate value.
  4. This is a rough figure given for simplicity's sake. In reality, the Atari 2600 doesn't really output pixels, and it has no limits on the number of lines it can display. However, it did have a hard limit on the number of horizontal color clocks for drawing the picture (160), and most games only output 192 lines, hence the commonly given resolution of 160x192.
  5. As with the Atari 2600, the vertical resolution is determined by the game, typically between 192 and 224
  6. The NES has a 6-bit palette, but not all of the 64 possible entries maps to unique colors.
  7. When horizontally scrolling, the leftmost 8 pixels are blanked out, resulting in an effective 248x192 resolution. The 224 and 240 line modes have limited compatibility, in general SMS2 supports them while SMS1 and Megadrive in SMS backwards compatibility mode don't
Notes (3D consoles)
  1. While N64 games ran at various resolutions internally, in practice the hardware's VI component always doubled the scale horizontally, and output in either 640x240p or 640x480i, though there is letterboxing at times.
  2. The N64 can use either either 18-bit (15 bits of RGB and 3 bits of alpha) or 32-bit framebuffer, however the DAC is only capable of outputting 21-bit RGB
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Preliminary or approximate value.
  4. https://www.problemkaputt.de/psxspx-gpu-status-register.htm https://www.psdevwiki.com/ps3/Emulation#PS1_Native_resolution
  5. The PSX can use a 16-bit or 24-bit framebuffer, however most of the GPU's commands can only render onto a 16-bit framebuffer
  6. The PSX does support 480p mode if you use an RGB SCART (or VGA) cable, see [1]
  7. 7.0 7.1 These are from the DreamHAL documentation, as a rule 1. the Dreamcast has a fixed pixel clock, adding more vertical lines or increasing the refresh rate will reduce the horizontal resolution, 2. if PowerVR is to be used, the resolution needs to be a multiple of 32 due to tiling
  8. A variety of display moves are possible for homebrew programs, see [2]
  9. Similar to N64, games ran at various resolutions internally[3], though output is usually in 480p.
  10. https://wiibrew.org/wiki/Video_output
  11. 480p and higher resolutions only available on NTSC and modified Xboxes
  12. The Xbox 360's GPU is very flexible when it comes to the resolutions it can use, scaling it on the fly without needing a separate framebuffer
  13. [4]
  14. PS3 does not output 240p [5]My Life in Gaming RGB206
Notes (Portable consoles)
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Preliminary or approximate value.
  2. This is the "true" resolution of the top screen and what games will be rendered at in full 3d mode, however, due to said 3d effect the horizontal resolution is effectively halved. Each eye will only see 400x240 and games run in 2d mode will (normally) be rendered at 400x240 [6]. However the homebrew Hori HD allows the full 800 pixel resolution to be used in 2D mode.

Notes (computers)

  1. The original Apple II doesn't actually implement color in hardware, instead utilising a quirk of how NTSC displays video to generate color, as the pixel clock is the same as the NTSC subcarrier. As a consequence, PAL Apple IIs would display in black and white unless a separate PAL color card was added
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Preliminary or approximate value.
  3. The early Atari 400/800 models used the CTIA chip which supports 128 colors, models manufactured after 1981 used the updated GTIA chip which increases this to 256
  4. This is with the digital CGA connector. Demos have managed to display 1024 colors with CGA over composite video [7]
  5. This is the standard resolution with 22x23 characters. Demos have managed to output resolutions as high as 224x280 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPXcp61Bg2I
  6. It is possible to trick the VIC-II chip into drawing sprites outside this area, yielding a higher resolution
  7. 15 colors with 8 shades plus black
  8. In addition to these graphics modes, BBC Micro but not the cheaper Atom Electron has a teletext-based video mode. This has an effective resolution of 480x500 but only supports alphanumerical characters and coarse block-based graphics
  9. These are the standard resolutions usable by the system, by reprogramming the CRTC resolutions as high as 768x272 are possible
  10. The 40 column text mode has an effective resolution of 240x192, multicolor mode has 64x48 pixels
  11. The MSX2+ adds additional screen modes with up to 19268 colors. https://map.grauw.nl/articles/yjk/