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Scrambled or Distorted Display

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The Display is Scrambled or Distorted

Display problems in Windows 95/98 are less common, since Windows 95/98 automatically detects what type of video card you have and will only use drivers that are compatible. However, most monitors cannot be automatically detected, so you may experience distortion at higher desktop areas.

The first thing you should do is check your monitor settings. Click the right mouse button on the desktop, then choose Properties from the menu, then click on the Settings tab, and finally click on Change Display Type.

Display Properties

Change Display Type

The lower box should show the model of monitor you have (or a compatible monitor with the same resolutions and frequencies.) If not, click on Change, then find the manufacturer and model of your monitor. If it isn't listed, consult your monitor's manual (or call the monitor manufacturer) for a compatible configuration.

After the monitor is correctly set up, see if you need to change the refresh rates your display adapter is using. Again, consult your video card's manual for directions.

Why it didn't work

When you go into Windows Setup and look at the display setting, you will notice that there are dozens of lines that have different names and resolutions. Most of these names are brand names for different types of video cards, and those will only work with a specific card and no others. The VGA driver is the only one that will work with all VGA-compatible video cards, and if you have Windows for Workgroups, the Super VGA driver will work with all SVGA-compatible video cards. If you try any other driver that does not match your video card, it will fail.

Another reason it might not work (more common for distortion problems) is if the video card is not configured correctly for your monitor. When you have a resolution of 640x480 (standard VGA), all monitors will display it properly at 60MHz, so no adjustments need to be made. At higher resolutions, however, you need to make sure your video card is using a frequency your monitor can handle. Most modern video cards will have a utility program you will need to run to specify the frequencies for each possible resolution. You will need to consult your monitor's manual for the proper frequencies.

Next time you want to change the display settings for Windows, refer to the manual for your video card for instructions.


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