KarbosGuide.com. Module 7b.5

The video card (continued)

The contents:

  • About the Windows driver
  • About DDC
  • About Quickres (a smart utility)
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  • The screen image and Windows

    Once you buy both a good monitor and video card, you have to make them work together. That is done in Windows through driver programs. That part of the installation is extremely important, it requires attention.

    If you leave it to Windows to install the necessary drivers, the result may be mediocre. Windows is so smart, so along the road it will find your hardware. And Windows will install drivers, when it encounters new software. Often some standard drivers are installed . They will make the software work, but no more.

    The Windows drivers link video card and monitor together, and make them cooperate with each other.

    Checking the drivers

    If you care about your screen image, you must make sure you have the correct drivers installed. We are talking about two drivers:

  • Driver for the video card (the most important).
  • Driver for the monitor (less important).

    Both can be found in Windows, in My Computer -> Control Panel -> Display:

    You should choose Settings and click on Advanced:

    It opens a box, which the graphics driver may alter. Here you see my current settings. The ATI Radeon controller has istalled its own settings. The first five tabs are standard ones, but ATI has added six new tabs:

    If you check the tabs Adapter and Monitor, you should find the names of your hardware and find the optimal drivers are installed. This allows Windows to get a full picture of the video system. Then the video card can deliver the optimal signals to the screen.

    I once destroyed a 17" monitor by changing the video card. I adjusted the new card to deliver precisely the maximum ability of the monitor - according to the specifications. However, the monitor was a few years old. It had always run at a lower resolution and refresh rate, to which it must have adjusted itself. It did not work out - the electronics burned out!

    Adjusting the refresh rate

    The standard driver in Windows often cannot adjust refresh rates. You can check it on the tab Monitor:

    Often, a new driver has to be installed to exercise this option. Here is a Matrox Millennium II video card, with its own dialog boxes installed:

    And here are the settings from my notebook, which has an adjustable Cirrus Logic video chip:

    You need to install a driver program, which works specifically with your video card. Otherwise, you are guaranteed not to utilize your video card efficiently. Very few dealers seem to understand this concept. Nearly all PCs are sold with Windows standard driver installed and the video system will render absolute minimum performance!


    VESA DDC (Display Data Channel) are technologies, which should allow the video system to find the optimum adjustment, through communications with the video card. I do not think it is quite working yet.


    If you want to experiment with different screen resolutions, you can install this program: QuickRes.exe. It is a small Windows utility application (only found in some versions of Windows), which you then have to run (double click on it).

    Then, the program will appear as a small icon in the lower right corner of your screen (in the Systray):

    When you right click on the icon, a menu will open showing all the resolutions and color depths you can choose from on your PC:

    Here you can see, that the resolutions on my PC go from 640 x 480 up to 1600 x 1200. Color depth goes from 8 bit (256 colors) to 32 bit.

    Note that the maximum color depth at 1600 x 1200 resolution is 16 bit and at 1280 x 1024 it is 24 bit.

    Only the 1152 x 864 resolution can be seen in full 32 bit colors. This limitation is because this video card only has 4 MB RAM installed.

    QuickRes is smart, because you can change resolution "on the fly". Normally Windows has to be re started, but here, the screen image just blinks a couple of seconds, then the new resolution is in place.

    In some versions of Windows, you may install Quickres from the screen properties box, Settins, Advanced. Choose as here (Danish dump - I am sorry):

    After clicking OK the little icon is in the Systray.

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    To learn more

    Read about video basics in Module 7a.

    Read about digital sound and music in Module 7d .

    Read about FPU work in 3D graphics.

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