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Does running at a higher resolution make your computer faster?

It is a good question, can your screen resolution impact the performance of your computer? Does running a higher resolution make the system slower or faster?

Well lets first start with the operating system here, and focus on windows. Keep in mind while I am talking about windows this should in general apply to all other operating systems. We will also be focusing on modern computers and not mid 90's here as well.

For those of you who don't know the screen resolution is what sets how much area your screen has. This is dependent on your monitor and graphics card on what it can be. Too weak of a monitor and you can't use the full power of your graphics card. Too weak of a motherboard and you can't make the best of your graphics card either. 

So the real question is how can having a lower resolution cause a drop in performance? Well back in the mid 90's programs were designed to run in a low resolution environments such as 640x480, 800x600, and if you were lucky 1024x768. Now modern systems run at 1280x1024 and much higher, thus the programs now are designed to run in bigger windows. In some cases they are a fixed size, and in others can only be made so small before information disappears or is hidden from view.

Now you might be thinking that is a good thing, being that less information is displayed. However we are talking about modern systems. If you run your system at a much lower resolution such as 800x600 your system will now spend time hidding things from you.

Think of it this way, if 10% of a web page is being cut off on the right side and you scroll down the computer now has to figure out what it has to draw next and then remove the extra part that can't be shown before you can look at it. This happens everytime you scroll, resize, maximize, minimize, open and even close programs and documents.

All of this adds up and becomes overhead for your system. Running at a higher resolution can't have a performance hit because most systems have graphics cards and motherboards that can handle the resolution options available.

Now this is not to say that is always the case! You can turn your resolution up too high for your graphics card to comfortably handle and slow it down. This is pretty unlikely nowadays, but I wanted to mention that it is possible.

So try cranking your resolution up and see the difference in performance. You can always change it back if you don't like it.

Last Updated: 07/16/2009 10:37 AM

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