How to get rid of the capped resolution problem

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In this tutorial, we will see why the resolution can be sometimes capped, even though your screen supports a much higher resolution. We will learn how to troubleshoot this problem and how to check if everything works fine. It is not as difficult as is sounds. All you need to do is follow this tutorial and your problems will be solved in no time!

Perhaps your games are running slow or not running at all! Perhaps your windows open and close with a slight delay. Perhaps you see some strange behaviors when you drag a window on your desktop. Or, perhaps, the overall video performance is low. All of these problems will be solved with what you learn here!

Please note that, for this tutorial, we will be talking about an Nvidia 8600GT video card and about Nvidia drivers. However, these techniques apply to all video cards, regardless of manufacturer or chipset. So don't worry about this and read the whole tutorial!

How does the problem manifest itself

First of all, in order to troubleshoot a problem, we must see how it manifests itself and where could it come from. The first sign is, obviously, the capped resolution. For example, I have a Samsung SyncMaster 2032 BW. It is a 20 inch widescreen that supports resolutions of up to 1680 x 1050. However, I am unable to go to that resolution from Windows. Instead of 1680 x 1050, I can reach only 800 x 600. Here is how my desktop looks like:

Low 800 x 600 resolution

Not a very pleasant sight… Let's take a look in the Device Manager to see what is wrong with the computer. The Device Manager contains info about all hardware components in your computer. To get to it, go to Start and click Control Panel. Go to System (under Performance and Maintenance if applicable) and click the Hardware tab. Click Device Manager, and you have reached your destination!

You will see all your hardware components listed here. Look for an yellow question mark – it always indicates an error with a device. I found my yellow question mark right away. Besides it is the text “Other devices". After expanding the category, it shows “Video Controller (VGA compatible)" – a clear sign of a problem in the video part of the system. Here is how the Device Manager looks like:

Problem in the device manager

If you double click on the Video Controller, you will see info and details about it. And you find another clear answer to your problems. Here is how my info window looks like:

Video controller General tab

Go to the Driver tab and you will see the exact cause of your problem. Here is how it will look like:

Video controller Driver tab

As you can see from the screenshot above, the Driver tab does not contain any info. Driver Provider, Driver Date, Driver Version, and Digital Signer are all empty. This can only mean one thing: You don't have a hardware driver installed! Without the driver, nothing works and nothing will EVER work.

Solving the problem – finding and downloading drivers

How do you solve the problem? Simple – you just need to install the hardware driver! So, search for the original CD (the one that came with your video card) and install the drivers from it. You have lost it, didn't you? You don't even have the documentation anymore. Is there hope? Sure it is – the World Wide Web! The Internet is a like a giant database of drivers (and other things also). The best place to find hardware drivers that are safe and virus free is the chipset manufacturer's website.

There is a common mistake here. The chipset manufacturer is not the same as the manufacturer (in most cases). For example, my video card is produced by Asus. But I know (from the box) that the chipset is produced by Nvidia. So I must go to Nvidia's website to find something useful!

Usually, their website is quite easy to find. Its name is always (replace “name-of-manufacturer"). I just entered the URL and I was redirected to the page I was looking for. Some manufacturers might have a different URL, so just go to Google and type something like “name-of-manufacturer official website". The first result will surely be the page you are looking for.

Now that we have found the website, let's see how it looks like (I must make sure you are at the right place):

Nvidia main page

Notice the Download Driver section? Nvidia has a very clean and stylish website. Very easy to understand and navigate. Before you go to the drivers section, you can take 5 minutes to see what Nvidia has to offer. Browse through the page, look at some offers, make your Christmas wishlist, etc. Now, back to our main objective! You need the drivers, so go ahead and click on the Download Drivers link. You will reach the next page, which looks like to one below:

Nvidia download page

As you see from the screenshot above, I already chose my video card type – Nvidia 8600 GT. Go ahead and choose your type. After you are finished, click on Search. You will reach the main download page (if the search return any results). Nvidia has drivers for almost all of its video cards, both new and old. You should be able to find the hardware drivers you need right away. Here is how the download page looks like:

Nvidia download page

First, agree to the terms and conditions. If you don't agree, you won't be able to download the driver. Next, click the Download Now link. The download will begin. Save the file in a folder and burn the folder on a CD so you can have access to it whenever you need. If you install another version of Windows, or just reinstall it, you will need to reinstall all drivers. It is always better to have all the drivers at hand!

Solving the problem – installing the hardware drivers

Now that we have the drivers, let's install them. Go to the folder where you saved them and double click on the file. The file is called “178.24_geforce_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe". A security warning should appear. You can see it right below:

Nvidia security warning

We know that the file is secure because it was downloaded from Nvidia's official website. You can see Nvidia as the Publisher. Click Run. The setup will ask you where to extract the files. Choose a location on your hard drive. Make sure you have at least 200 MB of free space:

choose a location on your hard drive

After the process is finished, the setup will continue all by itself. One main advantage of the setup is that it is completely automated (not like some other drivers I know of). You will enter the main setup phase and will be presented with a screen just like the one below:

The first setup window

Click Next. In the following screen, you will be asked if you agree with Nvidia's terms and conditions. You need the driver, so the options are limited. Clicking No will terminate the installation and you will have to start all over again. The installation will begin automatically. Click Yes to agree. Here is how it should look like:

Actual installation

After it finishes, you will be asked if you want to restart your computer. You have the option of restarting the system at a later time, but it is highly advised that you do it right away. Save everything you are working on and click Finish to restart it:

Restart your computer

Windows will restart and everything should be OK. Remember the Device Manager? If you don't, go to the top of the tutorial and read about it. If you do, go to it, and you will see some major differences. Here are the differences:

The differences

You must agree with me – NICE! We have the device working properly and the Driver Provider, Date, Version, and Digital Signer filled with info. You are now able to see the producer of the video card, the date in which the drivers were created, and the driver version. This means that our video card is working properly and that the drivers were installed successfully! Congratulations! Don't forget to update the drivers frequently – once a month or so.

Now let's see if the problem with the capped resolution is solved. Go to your desktop, click anywhere on it (not on an icon) and click Properties. Go to Settings. Try to adjust the bar to the resolution you want.

Monitor settings

It seems to be solved isn't it? It really is!

Now go play a game, start dragging windows all over the screen, minimize and maximize windows – have a window party! No problems should ever occur! Everything should be working smoothly and you should be able to enjoy your computer's full performance.

Congratulations! You have just installed the correct hardware drivers for your video card and have fixed a delicate problem with your display adaptor. All you needed was a little patience and some research skills. We hope this tutorial helped you and we also hope you have had a pleasant lecture!