One important setting can drastically affect your computer monitor’s accuracy. It’s important to check, but is almost hidden in the menus.
On Windows, both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards can cause diminished color and luminance accuracy if configured incorrectly. The setting in question has a different name for Nvidia and AMD utilities, but has to do with how the driver treats the signal over HDMI. Though this problem isn’t limited to just HDMI connections, as it can also affect DisplayPort users. Nvidia calls it output dynamic range, while on AMD, it is controlled by the pixel format option. In both cases, the card is outputting a degraded or less compatible signal to the monitor, as a result of the card defaulting to a format better suited for HDTVs.
On Nvidia cards, HDMI and DisplayPort connections can both default to limited dynamic range mode. This truncated set of RGB values washes out color and luminance. Since the driver considers the monitor to be an HDTV, even if it isn’t, it attempts to send a signal appropriate for that device. This behavior is not only the default for many installations, but can also revert after driver and software updates.
The problem is easy to correct, however. With Nvidia drivers installed, right-click on the desktop and select NVIDIA Control Panel. With the panel open, select Change resolution on the left side, and scroll down until you see Output dynamic range (changing to Nvidia color settings may be necessary). In this box, you can use the dropdown to change from limited to full dynamic range.
The same problem can also affect AMD cards, but to a lesser extent. On AMD, the card may default to YCbCr instead of RGB pixel formats. This has a more subtle impact on the colors displayed by the monitor, as compared to the Nvidia issue.
In newer drivers, open AMD Radeon Settings, and then change pixel format under the Display setting to “RGB 4:4:4… Full RGB.”
I’ve seen this setting revert after driver updates and Windows updates, so make sure to check it periodically. It’s a quick problem to fix, but I find the very existence of it frustrating. Most users have their PCs hooked up to monitors, so having the software default to a TV-oriented setting seems foolish. Have you been affected by this bug?
Lead image by rawkkim via Unsplash.