Chapter 3: Fine-Tuning Windows Vista’s Appearance and Performance
Conﬁguring Your Monitors
Windows Vista automatically configures your monitor settings the first time you log
on. Windows does this by choosing the best display settings for your monitor. The
optimized settings include:
Determines how much information is displayed on the screen, measured hori-
zontally and vertically in pixels. Low resolutions, such as 640 × 480 or 800 × 600
pixels, fit fewer items on the screen but those items appear larger. High resolu-
tions, such as 1,280 × 1,024 or 1,600 × 1,200, fit more items on the screen but
those items appear smaller. Clarity typically is determined by the dots per inch
(dpi) being displayed. Generally, the higher the dpi, the better the text and on-
screen elements will look. However, if you set the screen resolution too high,
you might affect the supported refresh rate and color options, which could
reduce clarity as well.
Controls the frequency at which the screen is redrawn. To get the best possible dis-
play, you’ll want to be sure you use as fast a refresh rate as possible. If the refresh
rate is set too low, the screen can flicker, which can cause eyestrain and headaches.
To reduce or eliminate flicker, you’ll want the refresh rate to be at least 72 hertz.
Controls the number of color bits associated with each pixel. To get the best
possible display, you’ll want to use at least 32-bit color. With 24-bit color, you
won’t see most of Windows Vista’s visual effects. With 16-bit color, the edges of
interface elements may appear to be jagged rather than smooth.
Your computer’s video card and monitor together determine the screen resolution,
refresh rates, and colors that you can use. Generally, you’ll want to use the highest
quality setting that is mutually supported. Most monitors have a base or native reso-
lution, which is the resolution that the monitor was designed to display best.
Proper display depends on your computer using accurate information about your
graphics card and monitor. Depending on which graphics card and monitor models
Windows Vista thinks you have, different driver files are installed. These drivers
determine which display resolutions, colors, and refresh rates are available and
appropriate for the system. If the graphics card and monitor aren’t detected and con-
figured properly, Windows Vista won’t be able to take advantage of their capabilities.
Your display settings can be less than optimal for many reasons. Sometimes Win-
dows Vista doesn’t detect the device, and a generic device driver is used. At other
times, Windows Vista detects the wrong type of device, such as a different model, in
which case the device will probably work but some features won’t be available, or
worse, incorrect (and incompatible) options will be available.