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I like to play old games which naturally come in low resolutions like 1024x768. Playing them full-screen produces bad results because a 1920x1080 screen doesn't do any good to graphics designed for 1024x768. The problem is that I dislike playing them in windowed mode because of the icons, taskbar etc., and some of them have problems running in windowed mode or don't run altogether. So, I'd like to know if there is a way to either:

  1. Reserve a portion of my existing monitor in the required lower resolution and the area around it is not considered "monitor area" by the operating system. (Essentially my monitor will be an area of smaller resolution in my existing monitor)

  2. (If the above is impossible) play in window mode but whenever the game window is active everyting around it blacks-out.

Thanks in advance for any answers!

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Probably not a good solution, but you can auto-hide the taskbar and even create a theme for gaming to make it easily switchable with a dark wallpaper and stuff. That way you'll only see the window borders –  Ashtray Sep 3 '13 at 11:34

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Most graphics cards have an option to disable automatic image scaling. Usually, by default the graphics card / monitor will scale up a lower resolution so that it fills the screen. If you disable this, a game running at 1024x768 would display just a 1024x768 square on your monitor, with black around it just as you described. A lot of flat panel displays also have a built-in scaling option in the OSD settings.

Check your video card and monitor settings for this feature, and disable it or set it to "maintain aspect ratio" (whichever you prefer). If you have a laptop, sometimes this setting is in the BIOS. It will be called something like "display scaling" or "resolution expansion" etc...

If you set this with your video card, it is a lot easier to turn on or off as needed.

*note: changing this feature will not change the display for the native resolution

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That solved it perfectly. If only I knew this before. Thank you very very much. –  Marios Sep 4 '13 at 20:01

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