Me, my life, my interests

XP Hint:Screen refresh rate

This is a big one for me: Flickering monitors. I personally find them very annoying, but others seem to tolerate them much more than I do, but complain that their eyes are tired. Whenever I help someone out at their PC I fix their monitor refresh rate. Why is this a problem? On CRT monitors, they need to constantly refresh the screen to display the image, otherwise it fades away. If the refresh rate is too slow, under certain conditions the flicker (fade then refresh) becomes noticeable. This is particularly relevant for larger screens, and irrelevant for LCD monitors which don't have the same fade issues - if a pixel is on, it is on.

What can be done to fix it? In XP the default refresh rate is 60Hz (times per second). For high resolution GUIs something above 72Hz. But you need to make sure that your monitor can handle the higher refresh rates. XP has some neat protection to help ensure that you don't end up with a blank screen, by allowing the setting to be confirmed (or not) before it times out and reverts to the previous setting. If your monitor is correctly detected by XP then you should be pretty right.

  1. You can make the refresh rate change by going to Start > Control Panel > Display to bring up the Display Properties dialog box
  2. Select the Settings tab, and click the Advanced button - the Plug and Play Monitor Dialog box will be displayed.
  3. Depending on your video card in your PC, you may see five or six tabs on the dialog box, or there may be more than 10.
  4. In the Plug and Play Monitor dialog box, click the Monitor tab.
  5. In the Monitor Settings area, ensure that the Hide modes that this monitor cannot display checkbox is checked. This will help ensure that we don't select a refresh rate that is too high.
  6. In the Monitor Settings area, from the Screen Refresh Rate drop down list, select a refresh rate higher of 72Hz or higher.
  7. Click Apply. XP will now test the setting. If the display looks ok, click Yes to keep the settings. Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate the better.
  8. Click OK on the Plug and Play Monitor dialog box, and the Display Properties dialog box and close the Control Panel.
  9. Finally, you may need to adjust the monitor to optimise the display height, width and positioning on the screen as the refresh rate can sometime affect these. Use the controls on the front of your monitor to make these adjustments.

You can also get information from XP help by searching for screen refresh frequency in XP's Help and Support tool available off the Start menu.

By the way, the same flicker is present in most fluorescent lights in office buildings. If you can get some natural light in, this can help ease the load on your eyes, or alternatively get an incandescent desk lamp.