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Issue #592: November 25 – December 1, 2018

Q: My 21″ monitor only has a 19″ screen display. It’s an 8 year old HP Pavilion desktop running Windows 10 with an HP 2159m monitor. I noticed the problem several months ago but since the display is perfectly readable I have not been too concerned. I have tried all the manual settings on the monitor’s menu itself as well as the Windows 10 display settings to no avail. The display I get is the same aspect ratio as the screen, but is just slightly less than an inch smaller on all four sides. I’m using the recommended screen resolution of 1920×1080. I tried updating the display driver in Device Manager and it said I have the correct driver and it’s working properly. What do you suggest I try next? Squinting in Niceville…

– Bob P.
Niceville, Florida

A:  I can certainly see where you’d want this fixed, Bob.  After all, if I bought a 60” TV, I would want an image that fills the entire screen, not one with a black border all around it.  If I wanted that, I could buy a 55” TV instead.  No different with a 21” monitor.  So, let’s see if we can get you back your missing inch, shall we?

First, it’s important to remember that the image you see on the screen is not the exclusive domain of one single component.  It’s not just the monitor, and it’s not just the video card.  It’s an aggregation of these, plus their drivers, interface cables, settings within Windows itself, and adjustments that are possible through vendor-supplied software utilities.

I’m assuming that when you say that you updated the “display driver” that you meant the system’s video card.  Based on the model number you sent me in your contact information, your PC is equipped with an ATI Radeon HD 4200, so if that’s not the device for which you updated the driver, make sure you go get the latest version from the HP support website before doing anything else. 

Many people don’t realize it, but many monitors also have a driver.  If Windows can’t determine the exact make and model of the monitor by querying it, it will load a generic driver that may not fully support the device.  It will work, but might not fully utilize the monitor’s hardware, which could even include not using the full size of the screen.  To see which driver you have, right-click on the “This PC” icon in File Explorer (the one that used to be known as “My Computer”) and select “Manage”.  In the “Computer Management” box that comes up, click “Device Manager” and look under the “Monitors” category.  If the driver shown is not a specific match to your monitor’s model, see if you can find one online.  Remember that not all monitors have such drivers, so don’t fret if you can’t find one.

Finally, ATI provides a utility called the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) with the Radeon line of graphics boards.  This utility allows the user to tweak many settings of the video display, including color adjustment, use of multiple monitors, and the card’s 3D capabilities.  More relevant to your issue, CCC supports certain digital image controls including scaling the video output.  This is a feature intended to allow for a better display at resolutions that are smaller than the so-called default screen size, but if set improperly, it could certainly scale-down the image, resulting in empty, wasted space around the display.  So, while you’re checking for driver updates, make sure you have CCC installed, and have the latest version for your computer.  CCC is readily available online, but I would recommend starting at the HP Support website, on the page specific to your computer, so you can be sure you get the version HP intends for use with your model PC.  Once installed, CCC should be available on the desktop and in the notification area – that area near the clock on the right-hand side of the taskbar.  Click on “Graphics” and select “Desktop and Displays”.  Click “Detect Displays” and select your monitor.  Click on “Configure” and in the window that comes up, click on the “Scaling Options” tab.  You will find a slider to adjust the screen as you see fit.

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