Home Introduction Recommended
Failed Test Back
Hardware Level VGA and SVGA Video Programming Information
Product Recommendations for Video Developers
This page is to provide
hardware recommendations for those implementing the information on this
site. There are no recommendations for video cards, as the goal is
to increase programmer support for all cards, existing or otherwise, rather
than try to influence people to buy a specific video card implementation.
I will, however recommend hardware, other than the video cards themselves
that are helpful in the development of software for video cards in general.
Monitors are a strong issue to me, both for safety concerns, and financial
concerns, as it is usually advantageous to buy an new, indestructable monitor
than to burn through many cheap, expendable monitors.
For a monitor to be recommended
it must meet all of the following criteria:
The following monitors have been evaluated by myself personally, and have
been determined to meet all these criteria.
It should be able to tolerate improperly formed video inputs for an extended
period of time without the possibility of being damaged. It should
also be tolerant to extremely frequent mode changes. Damage due to
this kind of operation should not be excluded by the standard manufacturer's
warranty. This is critical due to the replacement cost of high-performance
monitors, and due to the possible safety and fire hazards failing monitors
It should be able to synchronize to a wide variety of properly formed signals,
including both standard and custom video timings. This important
for developing the modes required for special applications.
It should handle the maximum frequencies/resolutions that can be generated
by current and future (to a reasonable extent) video chipsets.
It should be compliant to all levels of display to host communication and
power mamagement so code can be developed that implements these features
of the video hardware.
If the monitor allows the picture controls to be saved/restored on changes
in mode, it should be allowed to defeat this feature so that the generated
video timings can be adjusted to minimize the visible effects of mode change.
It should be currently available on the market and covered by manufacturers
warranty for the period of time required to develop the desired application.
It has been put through my own personal monitor torture tests, as well
as operated for an extended period of time under conditions related to
video software development.
At this time, there are no monitors that I have determined meet all these
This section lists monitors
that have either died for me while testing, or have died for others in
a fashion that would imply that the programmer was responsible for their
failure. This does not imply that the programmer was at fault, as
these things naturally happen when developing drivers. I strongly
recommend the purchase of one of the recommended monitors, to avoid damaging
a valuable monitor
Compaq VGA (not SVGA) -- I do not know the model specifically.
It was a fixed frequency model, and the horizontal circuitry was damaged.
The problem was repeatable after repairs were made, so I believe that the
monitor can be damaged by normal mode testing. I have met others who claim
to have experienced this same problem. Not recommended.
CTX CMS-1561LR -- The problem with this monitor occured when
driving the monitor at the high end of its frequency envelope. The
monitor synced to the frequency, but may have been slightly overdriven.
The horizontal output transistor and some capacitors were replaced and
the monitor was restored to working order. The problem has not been
repeated, so ordinary failure is likely.
NCR MBR 2321 -- This one comes from a friend in Fayetteville,
AR, whose monitor blew caps while writing a svgalib video driver.
The explosion from the capacitors shattered the rear of the picture tube,
damaging the monitor beyond repair. Not recommended due to the catastrophic
nature of the failure. The operation being performed when the failure
occurred was frequent mode changing.
Test Equipment Recommended
There are certain pieces
of test equipment that can come in handy when working with video cards.
This can be especially important when verifying that the video signal being
generated is, in fact the one intended by the programmer. Failure
to do this can cause catastrophic failure when the driver is used in conjunction
with a fixed-frequency or other monitor that can be damaged by improper
Notice: All trademarks used or referred to on this page are the property
of their respective owners.
At this time, I cannot recommend any test equipment other than a good frequency
counter, as this is really not in my area of expertise. If you can
help me in my research into this, I would be greatly appreciative.
All pages are Copyright © 1997, 1998, J. D. Neal, except where
noted. Permission for utilization and distribution is subject to the terms
of the FreeVGA Project Copyright License.