What resolution should I set my monitor to?

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

Different screen resolutionsAs with many hardware components, computer monitors come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When you're trying to determine what resolution your monitor should be set to, there are a few things to consider. The following sections explain these considerations; we recommend you read both of them.

What is the monitor's native resolution?

Native resolution refers to the maximum number of pixels that your monitor can display. In fact, all liquid crystal displays (LCD) have a set number of pixels, which means they cannot change for a different incoming signal; the must use scaling techniques to make an image with a non-native resolution fit the screen. When an image is scaled, there is no longer one-to-one pixel mapping, and the image is less clear. For this reason, we recommend running your display at the appropriate resolution.

How to set your monitor to its native resolution in Windows

  1. Press the Windows key, type Change the screen resolution, and then press Enter.
  2. A window should appear similar to the one below.

Windows 7 video resolution settings

  1. Locate the Resolution section.
  2. Click the down arrow next to the box and select the resolution at the top of the drop-down menu.

Performance demand

Many of today's monitors have very high resolutions. If you are a computer gamer, these resolutions can be very demanding. For instance, if you have recently purchased a 4k display, but have an older video card, you may need to scale your monitor's resolution down to get decent frame rates. If you decide to do so, we recommend that you choose a resolution that has the same aspect ratio as your monitor's native resolution. Otherwise, you'll get black bars on the top or the bottom of the screen. Use the steps in the previous section and try out a few lower resolutions to see which one works best for you.