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I am gamer/programmer on Windows 10 64 bit Pro edition who plays/works at 1920 x 1080 resolution with the need to minimize my game to get to windows which is running at the same resolution. I am using 2 insignia monitors in 'Duplicate' mode with a GTX 970 Nvidia Graphics GPU

The issue I am having is that my monitors are receiving a resolution switch signal each time I make the switch from game to desktop or vice versa, despite that the game is played in 1080p and that the desktop resolution is also 1080p.

To understand this further you should understand that when I normally change resolutions in Windows, my TV produces an OSD showing which resolution is in effect. While this is considered normal behavior for the TVs that I am using while switching resolutions are waking from sleep, it is not normal when the resolution is not actually changing and that the devices are already on. Here is a shot of the OSD that pops up when I switch to game in the same resolution as the desktop:

enter image description here

After doing some testing I came to realize that the issue does not happen on either monitor when only one monitor is selected in the display settings (either when PC screen Only or Secondary screen only are selected). If Duplicate mode is enabled the issue is persistent.

enter image description here

So what I would like to understand (and correct if possible), is how Windows 10 and my GPU are handling the different monitor setups. There must be some technical explanation for why my hardware (monitors) are behaving differently in these different Windows monitor modes. I would like to keep Duplicate mode enabled so I dont have to constantly switch between setups to accommodate this issue.

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  • Full-screen games often change some display settings. This might be happening to you, although the parameter that you can see displayed is only the resolution which didn't change. Does this also happen when the game is running in windowed mode (if possible)?
    – harrymc
    May 20 '20 at 13:32
  • no doesn't happen in widowed mode. May 20 '20 at 19:37
  • @KalamalkaKid Do you see this behavior in extended display mode? Also how many graphics cards doe your system have (any integrated ones?)
    – Sam Thomas
    May 26 '20 at 20:47
  • I have one GPU with both monitors attached to separate outputs of the card. Not sure about extended. May 27 '20 at 3:05
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    Well the reason I asked is because when there is an integrated card involved, the desktop and associated elements run on it, but your game runs on the nvidia card so it is expected to see this switching when your game runs on full screen mode.
    – Sam Thomas
    May 27 '20 at 18:03
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Games often change some display settings in full-screen mode, but don't do that in windowed mode. They may change the resolution, but also other parameters of the display that may interfere with their handling of it. When the screens are in Duplicate mode, the changes propagate to both of them.

I believe that this is what is happening in your case. Although the resolution didn't change, other parameters did, and the monitor reacted by displaying the new settings. Unfortunately the on-screen display is limited to only the resolution, so you have no way of knowing which parameter the game changed that triggered the OSD.

When you minimized the game, it returned to windowed mode, so it reset the screen to the previous settings, so triggering the OSD display.

The game might have some settings that may influence this behavior. Or you may be able to right-click its .exe, select Properties and change some of the settings in the Compatibility tab, perhaps fooling it into behaving otherwise.

If you can't find anything, I don't know of any way of preventing the game from changing the display parameters in this way.

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  • This doesnt really give me any information to work with. May 21 '20 at 1:31
  • This explains what is happening, since you asked to understand. If by "work with" you mean "avoid", then my answer lists the steps that you can take from inside Windows. Reprogramming the monitor's firmware is out of the question.
    – harrymc
    May 21 '20 at 6:05
  • Changing the settings of the game exe in the compatibility mode settings had no effect on the problem (I tried all combinations of settings). I suspect this is not a game related issue, but more about how windows handles full screen games in the duplicate mode. May 25 '20 at 7:14
  • That's exactly the problem : monitor changes propagate from one to the other in this mode. Some games I used did pretty strong changes in full-screen mode, like changing color-depth and display theme, which had to be undone manually when the game crashed. They can't do that in windowed mode, where they need to conform to the current display mode, even if they then have some difficulties.
    – harrymc
    May 25 '20 at 7:28
  • If the game for example changed the color mode of Windows from 32-bit to 24-bit, that would trigger the OSD, but you wouldn't see it in the message.
    – harrymc
    May 25 '20 at 8:38

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