Windows chooses the best display settings, including screen resolution, refresh rate, and color, based on your monitor. These settings differ depending on whether you have an LCD or a CRT monitor. If you want to adjust your display settings or, if these settings were changed and you want to restore default settings, use the following recommendations.

For both type of monitors, it's typical that the higher the dots per inch (DPI), the better the fonts will look. For more information, see Make the text on your screen larger or smaller.

Picture of the difference between high DPI and low DPI
The difference between high DPI and low DPI

The best display for an LCD monitor

If you have an LCD monitor, check your screen resolution, which helps to determine the clarity of on-screen images and objects. It's a good practice to set LCD monitors to the native resolution—the resolution a monitor was designed to display best, based on its size. The monitor manufacturer or reseller should be able to provide the native resolution. If you can't get this information, you can try setting the monitor to the highest available resolution, which is usually the native resolution. See Change screen resolution.

Picture of the Display Settings menu
If you don't know what your monitor's native resolution is, set it to the highest possible resolution

LCD monitors can technically support lower resolutions than their native resolution, but the image might be small, centered on the screen, and edged with black; or the image will look stretched.

Correct monitor flicker

Another consideration in getting the best possible display from your monitor is the screen refresh rate. If the refresh rate is too low, the monitor can flicker, which can cause eye strain and headaches. You should select a refresh rate of at least 75 Hertz. For more information about reducing or eliminating flicker, see Correct monitor flicker (refresh rate).

Picture of the screen refresh rate
Make sure the screen refresh rate is high enough to prevent monitor flicker

Set the color for an LCD monitor

LCD monitors display vivid color. To get the best color display from your monitor, make sure the color is set to at least 32 bit.

  1. Open Display Settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Display Settings.

  2. Under Colors, select Highest (32 bit), and then click OK.

The best display for a CRT monitor

For a CRT monitor, it's important to change the screen resolution to the highest resolution available that gives 32-bit color and at least a 72-Hertz refresh rate. For more information, see Change screen resolution. If the screen is flickering, or viewing the screen is uncomfortable, increase the refresh rate until you are comfortable with it. For more information, see Correct monitor flicker (refresh rate).

Resolution based on monitor size

Monitor size Recommended resolution
Monitor size

15-inch monitor

Recommended resolution

1024 × 768

Monitor size

17- to 19-inch monitor

Recommended resolution

1280 × 1024

Monitor size

20-inch and larger monitor

Recommended resolution

1600 × 1200

Set the color for a CRT monitor

Windows colors and themes work best when you have your monitor set to 32-bit color. You can set your monitor to 24-bit color, but you won't see all the visual effects. If you set your monitor to 16-bit color, images that should be smooth might not appear correctly.

Set the color for a CRT monitor

  1. Open Display Settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Display Settings.

  2. Under Colors, select Highest (32 bit), and then click OK. (If you can't select 32 bit, check that your resolution is as high as possible, and then try again.)