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When I run a full screen application at say 800x600 on my 1024x768 CRT monitor, the monitor makes some sort of clicking noise, turns black for a couple of seconds, and then somehow magically changes the resolution to 800x600. Isn't the resolution of a monitor part of the hardware specifications? It can't actually physically modify itself, right?

Do LCDs also behave the same way?

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CRT's are very "special" "lasers" that emit electrons to a phosphorous film that then emits photons (similar in concept on how a fluorescent bulb works). Some physical configuration is needed since the cathode ray tube works according to electromagnetism. LCD's, on the other hand, are pure electronic, and they adjust automatically without any physical phenomena, according to the display signal. – Doktoro Reichard Sep 21 '13 at 14:17
CRTs can be adjusted, but LCDs can not. – cybernard Sep 22 '13 at 0:56

It does not physically change itself, all that happens is a change in the scan and, sometimes, the frame rate. The click you here is most likely the phosphor protect circuit disabling the display while the frequencies change.

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