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An older Windows 10 laptop max resolution is 2560X1600. If it is connected to a monitor of higher resolution, should I expect only an area of 2560X1600 to be active?

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The monitor should automatically scale the video card's output to the fill the maximum width or height, whichever scales highest (typically this is width).

Depending on your monitor's options, you might be to scale the output in different methods, such as fill the entire screen (stretching the output), or letterbox (black bars) the output. Again, this is entirely up to the monitor and its built in options, usually found in it's built-in menu system.

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