Does Windows screw up your monitor resolution when your monitor sleeps (notably when a game is open?)

Have you ever been playing a game and gone away from your PC only to come back and find your monitor switched off? No problem right? Just move your mouse and it’s all back to norm….oh what on earth is this the game is now running at a weird smaller than desktop resolution! If you’ve had this issue, you’ll know what I’m talking about, particularly MMO players where the game GUI resizes based on the monitor resolution and so tends to screw up if it changes while the game is up and the game didn’t request the resolution change.

It turns out this happens because when your monitors take a few zzzz’s, Windows switches the display output to a “simulated” desktop, presumably this helps with power consumption somehow or is the way to deal with a monitor suddenly disappearing which could re-appear. Fortunately there is a relatively easy fix, if not a bit silly that it involves that good ol’ thing known as the Registry Editor.

  1. Fire up the registry editor by launching regedit.exe – Start->Run (or hold the Win key and press R) or if you use the Windows 8/8.1 screen, just start typing it.
  2. You’ll get a a UAC prompt if you have it enabled, so click Yes on that.
  3. Once in the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Configuration
  4. Under there you’ll see several keys, one that begins with SIMULATED_. Open that and there should be a folder called 00. Click it
  5. On the right hand side look for the keys PrimSurfSize.cx and PrimSurfSize.cy. Set these (using decimal!) to your monitor resolution, e.g. PrimSurfSize.cx to 1920 and PrimSurfSize.cy to 1080.
  6. Under the 00 key is another 00 key, go in to that.
  7. Set ActiveSize.cx and ActiveSize.cy to your resolution (again click decimal!) as above.
  8. Restart so Windows pays attention to your demands.

This is discussed all over the place once you know what you’re looking for. But without some ideas of what to search for, it can be a nightmare to find a solution.

Featured image CC Licensed – cortto.

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