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First post, by framebuffer

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I would need some help to correctly identify the common "low","mainstream", "high" and "ultra"video resolutions we used from 1996 to 2006.

edit: video resolutions used for gaming (no desktop or professional apps), using hardware of that year (more or less) at playable frame rates (where "playable" is 40-60+ FPS, depends of the game, but let's say something acceptable/enjoyable)

So, in 1996 I guess it's quite easy, I remember
- low/mainstream: 320x240 (or 320x200) - maybe we could consider 512x384 as a "mainstream" alternative for some games
- high: 640x480 (with 3D acceleration for some very luck ones)

1997
- low: 320x240 (or 320x200)
- mainstream: 640x480
- high/ultra: 800x600

1998
- low: 320x240
- mainstream: 640x480
- high: 800x600
- ultra: 1024x768 (pretty much a Voodoo2 SLI owners exclusive club I think)

1999
- low: 640x480
- mainstream: 800x600 or 1024x768?
- high: 1024x768 or 1280x1024 ?
- ultra: 1600x1200

2000
- low: 640x480
- mainstream: 800x600 or 1024x768?
- high: 1024x768 or 1280x1024 ?
- ultra: 1600x1200

2001
- low: 640x480 / 800x600 or
- mainstream: 1024x768
- high: 1280x1024
- ultra: 1600x1200

2002
- low: 800x600
- mainstream: 1024x768
- high: 1280x1024
- ultra: 1600x1200

2003
- low: 800x600
- mainstream: 1024x768
- high: 1280x1024
- ultra: 1600x1200

2004
- low: 1024x768
- mainstream: 1280x1024
- high: 1600x1200
- ultra: ?

2005
- low: 1024x768
- mainstream: 1280x1024
- high: 1600x1200
- ultra: ?

2006
- low: 1024x768
- mainstream: 1280x1024
- high: 1600x1200
- ultra: 1920x1200?

Any hint or comment is welcome 😀

Last edited by framebuffer on 2022-04-22, 07:52. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 1 of 34, by Cuttoon

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Impossible to define.
320 x 200 is known as mode 13h and lasted for quite some time as the de facto game standard.
That made do with 256 colors and 64 kB video RAM.
Many people still had to live with 512 kB into the 90s, that meant 640 x 480 at a maximum of 256 colors.

Mainstream SVGA pioneers in gaming were Syndicate in 1993 and Warcraft II in 1995.

Command & Conquer Red Alert in 1996 was special as it offered 320 x 200 in DOS but 640 x 480 in Win95.

1996 Duke Nukem 3D did up to 800 x and there's a list of games with "VESA" support here:
https://www.mobygames.com/attribute/sheet/att … et,0/p,2/so,1a/

Especially with 3D games, it was not so much a question of 2D resolution of card and monitor, but what would be playable in decent frame rates?

I like jumpers.

Reply 2 of 34, by schmatzler

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CAD CRT monitors were pushing much higher resolutions than 1600x1200, so putting this one as Ultra isn't really accurate, at least for the early 2000's.

Reply 3 of 34, by Meatball

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When you say Ultra, do you mean 60fps or greater gaming? Or just desktop resolution normally being observed with a refresh better than 60Hz? I'd be looking for a minimum of 85Hz on the desktop at the upper ends.

Ultra from the 2004 - 2006 timeframe probably would have still been 4:3 format - 2048x1536 or 1920x1440 (perhaps even for 2007). Around 2004 was when a 6800 GT or Ultra in SLI could handle 1600x1200 with power to spare in all but maximum settings for games of the time. When the 7 series arrived, they could crush 2048x1536 in SLI. Then the following year an 8800GTX by itself could do 2048x1536 fine.

Here's a few articles:
(2004) https://techreport.com/review/7671/nvidias-sli-in-action/
(2006) https://techreport.com/review/11006/quad-sli- … the-microscope/
(2006) https://techreport.com/review/10039/geforce-7 … cards-compared/
(2007) https://www.cnet.com/reviews/geforce-8800-gtx-review/

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Reply 4 of 34, by DosFreak

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Don't really understand what the op is asking, are we guessing what was the common resolution used by "gamers" for playing certain types of games for certain types of PC gamers during certain time periods?

On my rig was capable of playing Q3 at 2048x1536 in Dec 2001 at 70.1fps P3 @ 1166mhz w/ Geforce 3 Ti500 but I didn't bother to play at that res since I had 116.5fps at 1280x1024
I want to say my monitor definetly couldn't do 85hz at 2048x1536 so that was likely another reason to game at a lower res. I was gaming at 1600x1200 @ 85hz in 2001 and 2002 when the game could handle it so, no doubt there were people gaming at higher res.

In April of 2003 it was 90.5fps at 2048x1536 with a XP 2000 @1666mhz w/ GF4 Ti4600

I don't upgrade monitors much:
Before 2001 can't remember.....
2001-2007 1600x1200 (1280 if I want moar fps)
2007-2016 1920x1200
2016-2020 2560x1440
2021-current 3840x1600

Carmack used this in 1995
https://www.reddit.com/r/crtgaming/comments/g … 96_all_we_know/

I have no doubt people gamed on the Sony GDM-FW900 in 2003, now what resolutiion and how many people is the question.

You are probably best off checking old benchmarks from reviews but those are geared to enthusiasts so possibly high or ultra on your list.

Last edited by DosFreak on 2022-04-22, 13:22. Edited 13 times in total.

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Reply 5 of 34, by Standard Def Steve

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IIRC the first batch of DL-DVI monitors and video cards were available in late 2004 or early 2005. If you wanted to actually game at 2560x1600 though, you pretty much needed a pair of 6800 Ultras in SLI, plus a brain that could perform convincing 15fps -> 60fps motion interpolation. 😜

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Reply 6 of 34, by framebuffer

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My apologies, I phrased the question very badly, let me try to be more clear

I meant video resolutions used for gaming (no desktop or professional apps), using hardware of that year (more or less) at playable frame rates (where "playable" is 40-60+ FPS, depends of the game, but let's say something acceptable/enjoyable)

Should I do it for 2022 I would say

low: 720p
mainstream: 1080p
high: 1440p
ultra: 4K

The reason I'm asking is because I would like to do/write a serie where I investigate the hardware needed to play certain games (with maxed settings) at launch, using the highest (common) video resolution of the period and if it was not possible, then when (and with which hardware) it became possible.

The values I used in the first post are a mix of my memories and Andandtech's reviews of the period, but I wanted to double check them with others

Hope that now is more clear 😉

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Reply 8 of 34, by RandomStranger

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I miss 1680×1050 (16:10) in 2006. I think that was fairly popular as well. Also pre-2k I think it's too early for 1280×1024 (5:4) to be relevant. Probably after 2002-2003.

sreq.png retrogamer-s.png

Reply 9 of 34, by Hoping

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I remember reading some articles saying that anything above 25fps was great because the human eye could really process more or something like that, I think that the 60 fps thin started around 2005. I almost sure that most people didn't care much about fps it the 90's as long as the games was playable.
People became more elitist in this regard following youtube and reviews, forgetting that not everyone can buy the same hardware that youtubers and company have. Of course the experience is different at 144fps than at 30fps but we should put a little brake on all that and be more realistic. Let's remember that playing 3D games in 640x480 was not viable until the appearance of somewhat capable graphics accelerators. So talking about what was the most common resolution in a particular year is relative.
It wasn't that easy to afford a 3dfx Voodoo when it came out just like it's not that easy to afford a 3090 today, most of the first world is working middle class or so I think. I also remember games that weren't ready for high resolutions, very small text fonts or mouse cursor or games that only supported up to 640x480 even in the days of 3D accelerators, and I don't remember that even if 3dfx Voodoo supported 800x600 it was useful.

Reply 10 of 34, by RandomStranger

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Hoping wrote on 2022-04-22, 12:19:

I remember reading some articles saying that anything above 25fps was great because the human eye could really process more or something like that, I think that the 60 fps thin started around 2005. I almost sure that most people didn't care much about fps it the 90's as long as the games was playable.

I guess some cared, there are users here who claim that. As I remember 60fps became the standard when LCD overtook CRT and using your monitor in it's native resolution, and also matching the frame rate and refresh rate which was usually 60Hz really became a thing.

sreq.png retrogamer-s.png

Reply 11 of 34, by Hoping

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I said most people, no anybody, but is a guess, because those ones that can afford the most expensive hardware would always care of things like that. At least there where CRTs capable of 120hz at 640x480, I've had a Sony trinitron it 1997 capable of that, but I remember that most people didn't even knew that using a CRT at 60hz was very bad for their eyes and never changed the refresh rate.
I wonder how many users are running their CRTS at 60hz only because the LCDs use that and they think that's good and never used CRTs before.

Reply 12 of 34, by Gmlb256

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Hoping wrote on 2022-04-22, 12:19:

People became more elitist in this regard following youtube and reviews, forgetting that not everyone can buy the same hardware that youtubers and company have. Of course the experience is different at 144fps than at 30fps but we should put a little brake on all that and be more realistic. Let's remember that playing 3D games in 640x480 was not viable until the appearance of somewhat capable graphics accelerators. So talking about what was the most common resolution in a particular year is relative.

True, I had a discussion with someone where he said that being stuck at 640x480 was "painful" (even in 2D Windows games) and that in 1998 people were cranking up resolutions. I don't question the latter one but it disregards the fact that many people couldn't afford a decent experience with higher resolutions at the time.

Reply 13 of 34, by leileilol

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and then there's marketing....

Mid-late 1998 was when hi-resolutions got really plugged out by new consumer video cards. nVidia TNT were about boasting 1600x1200, and Banshee? 1920x1440. Framerates? Not right now! BUY 16MB CARD. Were 'gamers' really using these resolutions? Maybe if it's Total A, but for games that matter (starcraft quake2 etc) 640x480 was still that. Don't forget about the masses on Rage Pros that can't afford to bump a res up from this in most games due to slow alpha blending at the time, and those Rage Pros were everywhere (including Macs)

I personally started maining 1280x1024x32 in 2000. I didn't mind the aspect squish on my CRT as long as I got to see more floor. A lot of games supported 1280x1024 as the res rather than the proper 1280x960. 1152x864 was often a good middle ground (often with a better refresh rate). It wasn't until around 2010 I got to bump that up to 1920x1080 with a newfangled 16:9 LCD since (....forever)

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long live PCem

Reply 14 of 34, by Hoping

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Back them had a TNT PCI with an Pmmx 200 and remember Forsaken benchmarks at 1600x1200 on the TNT, but what I don't remember is the cost of a monitor capable of 1600x1200 at least at 75hz, I'm talking of 1998, and a friend of mine still had a Ati mach64 with 2Mb, and another friend had a Rage II also with 2Mb, I could upgrade from a Mystique to the TNT. I was very, very lucky.
And if I'm not mistaken games that used Glide exclusively designed for the Voodoo 1 only supported 640x480, and 3dfx patches for various games also only supported 640x480. So I think that 640x480 was the sweet spot for some years.

Reply 15 of 34, by DosFreak

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Did some digging and looks like I was using this POS Proview 15" from Feb 1999 to March 2001.
Before that I was using my 486DX4/100 w/VLB video card since 1995/6. Remember having to play Quake 1 at some 512x res in DOS.
Didn't have a 3d accelerator at this time. Was probably playing Duke at 1024.

Proview 15" Feb 1999 to March 2001
1024x768 (max 1152x864)
2XP3-700E@966 v1.85 138Mhz bus X 7 1/4
Hercules 3D Prophet 2 GTS 64M 220C/360M Bios v3.15.00.12

Bencharks from Feb 28 2001 to 3-2-2001
QUAKE 3 v1.27h
Q3BENCH
Demo127
Demo X 3

Normal/MAX

320x240 =111.97/
400x300 =111.47/
856x480 =112.67/
512x384 =110.90/
640x480 =110.30/
800x600 =109.53/
960x720 =108.17/
1024x768=107.10/
1152x864=104.07/

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Reply 16 of 34, by DosFreak

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FEB 2000
Motherboard: Soyo SY5EMA+
Processor : AMD K63-400@433 124mhz fsb @3.5 multiplier
Floppy : 1 5.25", and 1 3,5"
Hard Drives: 1 Maxtor 68000 27.2g 7200rpm DMA/66, 1 Maxtor 7.2g 5400rpm DMA/33
CDROMS : 1 Ricoh MP7040A CDRW 4x4x24, 1 Creative DVD 6X-DVD 24X-CD
Video : Matrox G400 SH OEM 32m AGP
Sound : Soundblaster Live! X-Gamer
Decoder : DXR3 (Sigma Designs Hollywood +)
NIC : ISA SMC 10BT
RAM : 128M PC-100 Generic
Mouse : Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer with Intellieye (USB)
Joystick : Microsoft Precision Pro (USB)
Gamepad : Original Microsoft Sidewinder Gamepad
Monitor : 15" Proview POS

Quake 3 demo001

5.50.010
With 5.30.007
G400.DRV,G400.VXD
G400DD32.DLL and
5.50.010 G400DD.VXD
and TURBOGL

1152X864
27.0

1024X768
32.0

960X720
22.3

800X600
35.5

640X480
35.8

512X384
36.1

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Reply 17 of 34, by DosFreak

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SEPT 2000

P3550@630 115mhz FSB X 5.5M
Abit BE6 Rv1
128m PC-100 Generic
Prophet II 64mb GTS
220C/390M
Buffer Flipping Mode - Page Flip
Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Nvidia Windows 2000 6.18 Drivers
POS Proview 15"

Quake 3 V1.17

16b/32b
1152X864=46.6/36.3
1024X768=49.7/42.3
960X720 =50.8/50.2
800X600 =52.2/50.1
640X480 =52.6/52.2
512X384 =52.7/52.4
400X300 =53.0/52.6
320X240 =53.0/52.7

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Reply 18 of 34, by Cuttoon

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framebuffer wrote on 2022-04-22, 07:49:
My apologies, I phrased the question very badly, let me try to be more clear […]
Show full quote

My apologies, I phrased the question very badly, let me try to be more clear

I meant video resolutions used for gaming (no desktop or professional apps), using hardware of that year (more or less) at playable frame rates (where "playable" is 40-60+ FPS, depends of the game, but let's say something acceptable/enjoyable)

Should I do it for 2022 I would say

low: 720p
mainstream: 1080p
high: 1440p
ultra: 4K

The reason I'm asking is because I would like to do/write a serie where I investigate the hardware needed to play certain games (with maxed settings) at launch, using the highest (common) video resolution of the period and if it was not possible, then when (and with which hardware) it became possible.

The values I used in the first post are a mix of my memories and Andandtech's reviews of the period, but I wanted to double check them with others

Hope that now is more clear 😉

I see. Well, you're in for quite some confusion and complexity there.

But, coming back to one of your initial suggestions:
Half-Life is from 1998.
Technically, that supported all VESA modes up to the usual 1280 x 1024 which would be carried on to 19" TFTs for another decade or so.
Some people will have had a 21" CRT back then that actually did that resolution. (The better ones were supposed to do 1600 x 1200 in some quality.)
I just very much doubt that any contemporary 3D card would have made that any fun.

The main question is, what was considered appropriate or good with that game?
In the wild west phase of HL mod gaming like the counter-strike betas, maxing out FPS was a big deal, hoping for some competitive edge.
Conventional wisdom was that there's little point of running CS at more than 800 x 600 since the engine will not produce all that many details beyond that.
IIRC, I ran it at 1024 x 786 but my skills were limited anyway. On a 15" CRT from 1997.
(on a v3000 with optimzed gl drivers, until 2002.)

So, if anything, you'd have to determine a definite FPS in defined benchmarks that could be considered playable and test that yourself or issue requests here for people with the hardware to test it.

And, try to find out not only what hardware was theoretically available at a given time but what people would actually own or buy that year. E.g. this is what a major German chain of PC stores would offer in July 1997:
https://katzentier.de/_misc/Vobis/?frame=left … 13%201997-07-24
- Oddly enough, the ad doesn't even mention the 3dfx cards. The relabled "3d grafik boostar" was a s3 virge 😜

I like jumpers.

Reply 19 of 34, by weedeewee

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I bought this monitor, CTX1792UA , somewhere in the 90's.

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