Video Graphics Array

What Does Video Graphics Array Mean?

Video Graphics Array (VGA) is a display standard originally developed in 1987 by IBM for its PS2 range of computers. VGA’s single-chip design facilitated direct computer system board embedding with minimum requirements. Later, VGA became the de facto standard for graphics systems in PCs.


VGA was IBM’s last graphical standard adopted by most manufacturers of clone computers. Super Video Graphics Array (SVGA) and Extended Graphics Array (XGA) replaced VGA.

Techopedia Explains Video Graphics Array

VGA was designed as an application specific and integrated circuit (IC) for analog signals, versus digital signals used in Monochrome Display Adapters (MDA), Color Graphics Adapters (CGA) and Enhanced Graphics Adapters (EGA) standards. VGA systems are not compatible with monitors built according to these older standards.

A VGA connector has 15 pins. In text mode, a VGA system normally provides a pixel resolution of 720×400. In graphics mode, a VGA system provides a pixel resolution of 640×480 (16 colors) or 320×200 (256 colors).

Additional VGA specifications include:

  • 256 KB video random access memory (VRAM)
  • 262,144 total colors
  • 16-color and 256-color modes
  • Master clock operating at 25.175 MHz or 28.322 MHz
  • Planar mode
  • Packed-pixel mode
  • Up to 800 horizontal pixels
  • Up to 600 lines
  • Split screen support
  • Refresh rates with a maximum of 70 Hz
  • Support for smooth hardware scrolling

VGA supports All Points Addressable (APA) graphic modes and alphanumeric computer display modes. Most PC games are compatible with VGA’s high-color depth.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…