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Imagine I have a Thunderbolt Display (2560x1440) and a game I like runs better at Full HD (1920x1080).

I imagine that if I use the full screen, the upscaling will make the image worse than if the monitor native resolution was Full HD.

Is there any way to use only the pixels I need leaving a black border?

Is this an monitor dependent setting, or it will depend on the OS?

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You could try running the game in window. This wouldn't give a black border and you might have issues when the mouse leaves the window. – ChrisF Oct 10 '12 at 11:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This would usually be a monitor dependent setting. Some monitors have settings like this in their on-screen-menu, but since you are mentioning a thunderbolt display, I guess you have an apple monitor and these to the best of my knowledge don't have settings like these (nor an on-screen-menu in the first place).

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In full screen mode, the game will look it's best at the monitor's native resolution. The next best scenario would be running the game at a resolution that divides evenly into the native resolution i.e. 2560/2 x 1440/2 = 1280x720. In this resolution, each perceived pixel will be made of 4 of the monitor's actual pixels.

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This is actually a graphics setting although display devices may also provide this feature. I don't know what graphics card & associated tools Mr. Dias has or if he is still even interested in other solutions two years later, but I think this information is of use to others with this issue:

The NVIDIA Control Panel for my GTX 460 SE provides three options for scaling: full screen (which will stretch the display in either axis if necessary), aspect ratio (which will fill the screen on at least one axis and letterbox the other if the selected resolution doesn't match your display's aspect ratio), and no scaling (which will do exactly what you want, which is to use letterboxing in both axes if necessary, so as to not upscale the image at all). See also this screenshot and the How can I force letterboxing on my display? question.

My old Acer Aspire 3620 laptop ran Windows XP and the software for its Intel onboard graphics also provided the option to letterbox on both axes for lower resolutions, though I wouldn't be surprised if there are graphics settings tools that do not.

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