Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 – high-dpi multi-monitor optimization regkey for alternate 3:2 aspect ratio resolutions


[Can’t decide what docking hardware to buy? Click for a comparison of many popular docking options.]


 

[Setting up a live Surface demo using the scaling tweak at the Seattle Maker Faire (EMP Museum)]

 

The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have 3:2 aspect ratio screens. Certain customers prefer to set the screen to a lower resolution rather than use the built-in scaling feature in Windows 10 especially when plugging in an external monitor or using legacy apps/games that don’t behave well with high-DPI screens. [To understand why this works so well, read last year’s article about the same approach on the Surface Pro 3.] But all the resolution options built-in from the factory are 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio like 1680×1050. When you select these options, you’ll see black bar letterboxing which means you’re not using the full screen! Get back your full 3:2 aspect ratio screen with this simple regkey modification.

A great side effect of this tweak is that with multiple monitors, your mouse pointer won’t get “stuck” between screens since effective resolutions can be matched to your liking rather than having Windows force you to map to its scaling profiles.

Remember, use at own risk – modifying the registry can have side effects and precautions such as backing up your data should be taken before modifying your PC.

 

Instructions:

  • Backup your system
  • Download .reg file: http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-components-postattachments/00-10-65-02-47/SP4_2D00_SB_2D00_custom_2D00_resolutions5.reg
  • Double-click the .reg file and click OK to import it into your registry
    • Having trouble importing a .reg file when downloading via the MS Edge browser in Windows 10? That’s probably because it is auto-renaming to .txt for safety. You can rename it back to .reg or import the .txt file from within regedit.exe. Or just download with Internet Explorer or FireFox instead.
  • Reboot OR follow these steps to reset the Intel display driver
    • Open Device Manager
    • Open the Display Adapters
    • Right-click “Intel HD Graphics…” GPU and click “disable”
    • Click “Yes”
    • After the monitors stop flashing, right-click the Intel GPU again and click “enable”
  • Open System – Display – Advanced display settings in control panel and choose your preferred resolution
  • If new resolutions are not available, it is most likely because of auto-installed Windows Update drivers changing around the regkeys. Just use the manual method below.

 

Resolutions added:

  • 2704×1800 (* not quite 3:2 – limited by TCON)
  • 2400×1600
  • 2304×1536
  • 2160×1440
  • 2056×1368
  • 2040×1360
  • 1920×1280
  • 1800×1200
  • 1728×1152
  • 1600×1066
  • 1536×1024
  • 1504×1000 (* not quite 3:2 – limited by TCON)
  • 1496×1000 (* not quite 3:2 – limited by TCON)
  • 1440×960
  • 1368×912
  • 1200×800
  • 1152×768
  • 1080×720

Some resolutions are only applicable to the Surface Book.

 

Manual method:

If you’d rather add resolutions manually you can follow the Surface Pro 3 guide. Grab the .zip version of the Intel HD drivers and hop on over to the guide.

 

References:

 

Back to the main blog https://aka.ms/danchar

SP4-SB-custom-resolutions5.reg

Comments (60)

  1. tf1x1 says:

    This is super cool. Really awesome! Thank you 🙂

    Is it possible to use a Surface 2 Pro as the secondary monitor?

  2. Danchar4 says:

    @tf1x1

    Thanks for the kind words. For the Surface Pro models (not Surface RT/Surface 2), you can absolutely use them as additional monitors just like any full Windows laptop. But its all in software over the network so you'll need to install software on both the primary PC and the one you want to be used as a secondary monitor. Try some of these tools: alternativeto.net/…/maxivista

    If you get it working please post a pic of your setup.

  3. tf1x1 says:

    thanks for the link. I have tried the various software and they don't work when network isolation is enabled on the wifi hotspot, because then the surface and the PC can't see each other. So now I will try to get an mini displayport to HDMI adapter as I can plugin a HDMI cable in my laptop.

  4. Danchar4 says:

    Tf1x1,

    You can't just plug an HDMI/displayport cable in. Both machines have outputs, not inputs. You'd need to add an HDMI capture device which is rather expensive.

    Perhaps a USB powered portable screen would be a better option for you?

    What are you trying to accomplish here and why?

  5. mammalmanimal says:

    Would you please add a 1500×1000 option? Would make for a perfect 1/4 resolution for gaming on the SB! Thanks!

  6. mammalmanimal says:

    How are the resolution strings encoded in the reg file? When viewed they are in hex but are nonsensical when converted to ascii. Also how is the syntax set up? Thanks

  7. Danchar4 says:

    Mammalmanimal,

    Sure I'll add 1500×1000 when I get a chance – need to borrow an SB to test it…

    I have no idea what the strings are in the regkey. That is all handled by the Intel driver. If you want to figure out the pattern, force-install the intel.com driver over the Surface driver and use the custom resolution tool to reverse-engineer it. I wasn't curious enough to bother with all that – I just wanted to get the resolutions options.

  8. tf1x1 says:

    My job allows me to travel and work remote from where ever I chooses to be 🙂 I always carry my laptop and my surface with me in my back pack. So often I work while being connected to a hotel, café, public Wi-Fi hotspot. They all (most) have network isolation enabled.

    As I more productive when I have a 2 monitor setup I am looking into extending one of those device and use it as an secondary. I could get a usb powered monitor as you said, but then I would have to carry 3 "heavy" devices. The optimal solution would be to utilize the 2 devices I am already have with me.

    So, I guess, you could say, that I am attempting to create a two monitor office setup I can throw into a back pack and that takes up a little space a possible and don't weight too much.  

    PS: Replacing my current devices with a Surface 4 pro and an USB powered monitor is an option if there is no work around that would allow me to use my current devices for this.

  9. tf1x1 says:

    Correction: Replacing my current devices with a Surface 4 pro and an USB powered monitor is not really an optimal option. I need one device configured for work (win 10 enterprise, direct access, etc) and one for private use.

    The ideal scenario would be having 2 surface devices and having one of them to be able to act as a secondary monitor.

  10. Danchar4 says:

    tf1x1, OK this is getting a little beyond the scope of this blog post…. maybe I should do a new post on this cause its a really neat idea: How to use old laptop as extra screen without tearing the laptop apart and without using the local network 🙂

    Anyway, this is a crazy idea, but it might work for you.

    Get an HDMI->composite video converter (should be under $20)

    Then get a USB powered composite frame grabber (anywhere from $25-$100)

    So once you have all this plug it in as follows:

    Surface Pro 3 -> miniDP/HDMI adapter -> HDMI/composite adapter -> composite/USB frame grabber -> other laptop

    You'll need to run a software tool that will preview the incoming video stream on the USB device in real time. Most devices will come with their own software package that will do this.

    If you want to use VGA or DVI/HDMI instead of composite for better quality it will be more expensive – like $300.

    Another option is to add a second USB wifi device to each laptop and setup a private hosted network so that you can use the network SW solution even when your wifi hotspot is locked down. You can get cheap wifi dongles for about $10-$15 each. It will be a hassle to set this up since most of the SW solutions probably are not smart enough to deal with multiple networks unless you edit config files/registry etc. But worth looking into that too.

  11. Derek says:

    Any way you could add a resolution that is exactly half the rez of the surface pro 4? I think it'd be good for gaming:

    1368 x 912

  12. benpye says:

    I am interested in testing the 3-in-1 dock for the SP3. I use the device heavily for my university studies and limited desk space in my room is certainly an issue. Additionally as an MSP I think I would be in a good position to show other people the device and get feedback. I feel it would fit well with my MSP responsibilities.

  13. diablo900t says:

    This is awesome! Is there any way you could add a 1/2 Surface Pro 4 resolution? It'd be 1368 x 912

  14. Mark says:

    Couldn't get this working for the SB

  15. Zmeu22 says:

    Thanks for this! Another vote to add 1368 x 912, half of SP4 native res, if possible.

  16. TheArtiszan says:

    Has anyone been able to get this working on the SB. I have tried running the reg file a few times and it hasn't worked for me at all. I have not had one new resolution added yet. Do I need to be running the intel program to get this working? If so, where can I get it?

  17. Danchar4 says:

    Sorry it only seems to work on the SP4 right now. I'm investigating and hope to have it working for the SB soon.

  18. tf1x1 says:

    Thank you so much for those suggestions. I will try to obtain the items you mentions. It will take me a couple of weeks to get them as I am at a pretty remote location currently.  I will let you know of the outcome. It's gotta be possible to create a mobile office setup like this 🙂

  19. Brandon says:

    Looking forward to this on Surface Book!!

  20. Danchar4 says:

    Added 1368×912 for SP4

    Added all resolutions for Surface Book.

    Enjoy and let me know how else I can help 🙂

    1. Don Carlos says:

      I use custom resolution 1368×912 and it works great offsetting the trouble windows have in scaling apps UI.
      Recently I set 1920×1080 resolution in order to match an external monitor resolution (in Duplicate mode). But while this resolution works well on the external monitor, it fills up the entire surface pro 4 screen and so the aspect ratio on the surface display is not correct. And this happen for any non-3:2 resolution
      How can I fix this?

      1. Danchar4 says:

        Don, I believe you’ll need to install the full drivers from http://www.Intel.com and use their custom control panel to change the behavior. I think the setting is center vs stretch or something like that.

  21. Brandon says:

    Tried v4, imported into registry, then restarted… don't see new resolutions, also disabled/enabled GPU after restart, no avail. v4 is supposed to work w/ SB, correct?

  22. Brandon says:

    After no luck on the v4 registry file, I finally got this done by downloading the Intel driver (zip version, the .exe installer doesn't work), manually updating the Intel Graphics display driver by pointing it to the driver .inf downloaded in the zip, and then adding a custom resolution in the newly-appeared "Graphics Options" context menu when you right click the desktop after installing the driver.

    Hope it helps someone.

  23. Danchar4 says:

    Thanks for the feedback Brandon. That is the same method I used to add the resolutions. I don't yet understand why its not working on all SB models. Which model do you have? Can you use regedit and search for this string: C_MODES_LFP  and post the name of the key and its value after using the custom resolution  tool?

  24. Ali says:

    This is awesome!  Stupid scaling with multiple monitors is a pain, obviously for some legacy apps, but even with MS PowerPoint 2016!!!  Go Figure!

  25. Ali says:

    BTW, your dock looks like a stellar idea!  Can I sign up for email updates for when it's ready?  The link at the top of this post seems to be dead.

  26. Danchar4 says:

    Ali, certainly. Try the survey link again. or if you like you can post again as a guest and include your email address in the comment. The site requires admin (me) approval to post guest comments live, so I will not post your message to the site – don't want you to get spammed.

  27. Danchar4 says:

    C_MODES_LFP_bb regkey added to support more SurfaceBook models

  28. Mike Swinford says:

    This could be just the thing I need to use 3ds Max and AutoCad om my SB i7.

    Problem is that in 3ds the icons on the UI are so tiny and text in dialog boxes are unreadable. Have tried switching to lower res on native display options but then the dialogs and menus do not display properly.

    I had no problems on my Surface Pro 2.

    Looking at a dual monitor setup when I am on the road. Just ordered the Asus 169b+ to try

    Thank you very much. Which reg file is right for me?

  29. Paul Brason says:

    I'm not sure if this is the right article.  Have a SP4 with the new Surface Dock with two 24" CTL monitors connected.  The two monitors are 1920×1080.  When they were connect to my desktop box, Excel and other office apps looked great.  Now at the same resolution connected to SP4, the text looks fuzzy in both the ribbon, title bar and spreadsheet as well as on Outlook.  Windows explorer doesn't look as bad.  Meanwhile the SP4 is share and clean and looks great.  How do I get the external monitors to look like they should.  I tried disabling display scaling on high DPI settings in Excel properties but that just made everything in the ribbon and title bar very large which takes up too much screen real estate.

  30. Danchar4 says:

    Hi Paul,

    This is probably not the right spot and certainly not official guidance from Windows team, but perhaps I can help based on my experience.

    Try setting the external monitor as the "primary" monitor in display control panel. Goto Settings – System – Display and click on the representation of the external display. Then make sure that "make this my main display" is checked. Logoff and logon. Then setup the SP4 screen with the regkey to use a lower resolution to match your external monitors to eliminate the need for windows to do any on-the-fly scaling – 1080×720 is pretty close for your 24" monitors. Don't be scared by setting a low resolution on the SP4 – it really works and as soon as you undock, you'll be back in business with the full resolution again.

    Depending on the applications being used, some blurring in certain situations is unavoidable, but this should make things look better for a lot of cases. Let me know how it works out for you.

  31. Steve says:

    Didn't work for on SP4 I7 256 GB 16GB Ram Intel Iris 540?

    Double clicked reg file, it confirmed it was imported.

    Rebooted, none of the listed resolutions appear?

    Any advice?

    Thanks.

    Steve (UK)

  32. Danchar4 says:

    Steve thanks for the feedback. Its likely that the Iris GPU is picking up a different regkey than the non-Iris. I was not able to get my hands on all models to test. I believe one of my colleagues recently got one of the Iris models so I'll do some hacking and see if I can get it to work. If you want to do the legwork yourself, you can try force installing the intel.com driver per the comments above or the Surface Pro 3 article.

  33. ApexChris says:

    Wow, absolutely AWESOME !!!  Thanks so much for this, it's incredibly APPALLING how MS doesn't AUTOMATICALLY include these resolutions out of the box, rather than have it's loyal users search around the 'net for hacks on a premium, $2000 + machine.

    Anyway, thank god for nice folks like yourself who actually take the time to do this crap.. much appreciated bro. Keep at it!!

  34. Well Done Danchar4! says:

    Well Done Danchar4… well done!  We’ve been struggling with this issue for a long time.

    Kudos

  35. Corp Guy says:

    Well Done!! We’ve been struggling with this issue for a long time.

    Kudos

  36. HWM says:

    Thanks a million.  Works perfectly.

  37. xilex says:

    Thank you. Set it up as 1440×960, so I can actually use VMWare now. 🙂

  38. Seth says:

    Is there any way to turn off filtering in the display driver? I have my SP4 set at 1368×912, which should give crisp rendering but there’s a blurry filter being applied by the driver.

    1. jelbo says:

      Another vote for this. There really needs to be an option for CRISP, double (2×2 pixels) scaling of the half 1368×912 resolution. Now it looks blurry (bilinear filtering?).

      1. Danchar4 says:

        This may be a limitation of the driver. You can try using the intel.com driver and the Intel control panel to choose between the “maintain aspect ratio” and “scale full screen” scaling options. I didn’t see a difference either way.

        You can also try setting the regkey:
        [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}\0000]
        “Display1_DownScalingSupported”=dword:00000001

        The restarting the driver or rebooting. But I didn’t see any changes with this either 🙁

  39. Edward Lee says:

    Is there a way to set a custom refresh rate in addition to a custom resolution? I’m trying to run two displays from my Surface Book using the Surface Dock, one of which is 4k. Of course, the 4k display only offers 30Hz as an option. I find 30Hz unusable – cursor feels like its dragging through mud. I read somewhere 50Hz might be an option. But, I see no way to configure that.

    1. Danchar4 says:

      Edward, yes there is. You’ll need to head over to http://www.intel.com and force-install the generic drivers from there to get the full custom resolution tool. Then use my guide from the Surface Pro 3 article to add your own resolutions where you can specify the refresh rate. I recall some folks had good results with certain monitors using 50Hz.

      1. Edward Lee says:

        Thanks. It took me a few tries. I kept getting it wrong until I found your instructions here: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/danchar/2014/11/01/hi-dpi-multi-mon-with-surface-pro-3-dpi-scaling-tweaks/. Very helpful. Thank you!!

        Another question… any recommendations for optimal settings to use with Surface Book and a 3440 x 1440 monitor? I dock and undock frequently, so signing out and in to apply different scaling settings is a pain. I’d like to get to a scaling setting that is the same for both. I do NOT use the surface book display when docked.

  40. David says:

    Hi everyone, has anyone had success with this on SB? Though I would check before I installed. Thanks!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Dan, working perfectly.

  41. BenHarding says:

    What does “TCON” stand for?
    Wondering why 1500×1000 is limited by this..

    1. I have exactly the same question!

      1. Danchar4 says:

        Sorry, T-CON= LCD Timing controller. I’m not sure why the 1500×1000 resolution cannot be synched with whatever T-CON chip the Surface Book uses.

  42. Chris says:

    Hi,

    I think the Anniversary Update broke this. At least I can not use this script anymore to add the resolutions. Whats wrong?

    1. Danchar4 says:

      Hi Chris. Yes unfortunately it seems the latest round of updates has broken custom resolutions for everyone. I don’t have any devices to test on at the moment, but I believe the workaround is to force install the Intel.com driver over the MS provided driver and re-add your custom resolutions back manually. Then you can check the registry to see what regkey was created.

      I believe MS pushed out the 4463 driver for the SP4 and Surface Book so you can grab the equivalent intel.com driver here:
      https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/26078/Intel-Graphics-Driver-for-Windows-10-and-Windows-7-8-1-15-40-?v=t

      You’ll want to get the .zip version, unzip it, and then use the “have disk” install method via device manager to force this one over top of the Intel one. Then use the Intel control panel to add those resolutions back. I step through the manual method in the SP3 article here:
      https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/danchar/2014/11/01/hi-dpi-multi-mon-with-surface-pro-3-dpi-scaling-tweaks/

      Good luck and please write back with your results!

      1. Richard Brand says:

        Thanks for all your work on this. The reg file worked fine on my SP4 running the anniversary update.

    2. bzwaagstra says:

      SB on anniversary update and it works for me. Kind of. The screen flashes strange black squares when using the custom resolutions. Clearly a driver issue. So perhaps changing to the Intel branded driver (rather then the default Windows driver) may solve it.

  43. Gleb says:

    Thanks a lot, it helped get Citrix running.
    But for me the text on low resolution mode is the opposite of crisp — very blurry. I’ve set to 1368×912 — should have been no fuzziness at all, as it’s exactly 4 original pixels per dot.
    Had you have such a problem?

  44. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Now if M$ can just figure out how to notify/trigger ALL applications to pickup “scaling” changes without requiring a logout/login and make the resolution/scaling changes go hand in hand when docking/undocking… I had super high expectations for my Surface. So far, I have been massively underwhelmed. Sure, it has lots of fancy features but for the most part I will never use them (my Surface is employer provided so it wasn’t MY choice.) I am sure that some people DO use the “fancy” features but unless you KNOW you need them and/or already have a similar machine, i.e. touch screen/tablet mode capable, you would be better off getting a “traditional” notebook/laptop and using the savings to make sure you have an SSD and more RAM. You would probably still have money left over.

    1. Danchar4 says:

      @Andrew,

      You’re right, the Surface is a premium device and most folks don’t need or use the advanced pen/touch features or the portability and fantastic color rendering of the screen. A $350″ laptop at 1366×768 resolution is great for most folks.

      The scaling issues are unfortunate. And while you could say its not Microsoft’s fault since so many legacy apps go against the developer guidance that has been posted on MSDN for years, it is the MS platform that allows this mess in the first place.

      It is getting a little better with each OS update though so hang in there.

  45. Stirdink says:

    Hi,

    Really awesome and the most useful adjustment in a long time.

    Thanks.

  46. Bill Thomer says:

    F I N A L L Y!!!!!
    THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!

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