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Windows 7: Poor graphics performance on one of two displays

11 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
Poor graphics performance on one of two displays

Hello everyone.

I've a strange problem, solution to which I couldn't find anywhere on the net, nor could I solve it myself to this point.

Short version: after messing with power saving options, my notebook's LCD is stuck in some kind of lower-performance graphics mode, whereas an external display works as usual.

Long version: I'm using two displays (separately): sometimes it's my notebook's LCD, sometimes I plug in an external one via HDMI. I've used this configuration for almost a year with no problems. But a few days ago I decided that I'd tweak power saving options. I did this on the notebook's display, and, AFAIR, unplugged to an external power source. Since then, I believe, even when the notebook's plugged in, the performance as for the graphics on the built-in display is poor, e.g. the Win7 logon screen looks like a highly compressed jpg - choppy, and DivX movies aren't playing smoothly. Also, transparency on Aero is disabled, though Win7 isn't able to detect any problems with that. As soon as I close the lid and the external display takes over, everything goes back to normal.

I've tried changing the power options back to the original, to no avail.

Any ideas as to how to make it work again?

If you need any more details, I'll be happy to provide them.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP


Run System Restore to before you made the changes.

Update the display driver in Device Manager, allowing it to connect Automatically to Windows Updates to search for newer driver.

If driver is current, uninstall it and reboot to reinstall it.

Run the Aero troubleshooter by typing aero in Start search box to open it.

You may need some help from Hardware forum to check the laptop monitor connection. Maybe someone here will know exactly how its done. The wire bundle can come unplugged.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2011   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64

Thank you for quick response!

Unfortunately I have the System Restore disabled. Nevertheless, and don't get me wrong here, I would find it way overkill to have to use System Restore after changing trivial OS options. I like to know why the OS behaves in the way it does, and to know how to persuade it to stop acting like a child.

The driver is up to date.

I've reinstalled the driver, no results.

As I've written before, the Aero troubleshooter thinks everything's just perfect. Double checked, just in case.

I am quite sure it isn't a problem with the hardware connection, as the graphics work normally under Linux.

I find the coincidence that all this occured right after I changed the power settings too striking to look for causes elsewhere. Maybe there is some way Win7 connects config to active display under which the changes were made, etc.?

EDIT: Ok, found the problem. Somehow the internal Intel Graphics bit depth setting got set to 16b instead of 32. So I guess I was wrong about the power settings. Strange. Perhaps changing those settings caused the intel driver to lower the depth for the display that was active at the time, and it never got set back.

Nevertheless, thanks for your help, gregrocker. Sorry to have posted somewhat stupid question

My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Oct 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP


Not stupid in the least- quite challenging and it seems you were up to the challenge. An interesting solution which may help someone in the future.

I wonder if this could have been avoided by not running Intel display software package and instead just the driver which is preferred method amongst many clean install enthusiasts for reasons just like this.

We fix problems here routinely using System Restore. There is really no reason to turn it off as it doesn't affect performance in the slightest. In fact I would increase the amount of HD space so more Restore points hang around longer: System Protection - Change Disk Space Usage

Be aware that we see cases here often where GRUB bootloader corrupts Win7, often beyond repair. Many Linux enthusiasts will argue with this even as they are forced to reinstall both OS's: Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu in Perfect Harmony
Dual boot Ubuntu-Win7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Oct 2011   #5

Windows 7 Professional x64

You're probably right. I guess I'll get rid of this Intel thing when I have a spare moment.

AFAIR I got used to the System Restore being turned off under WinXP, in the times when the insufficient disk space was an issue for me. I'll consider turning it on again.

I've always liked Ms's bootloader - it's simple, and it's what I've always used. That's why I've spent some good amount of time configuring it for dual boot for Win7 and Linux. So far it works flawlessly; hope that it won't break any of them.

Thank you for valuable advice!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Poor graphics performance on one of two displays

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