Computer monitor problems

Elmira, my old computer, recently bit the dust. After the strippers, pimps, and hootchie girls departed my apartment following the wake, I ordered a new computer from Dell - a nice mid-level jobbie, PIII, etc.,etc. To save a couple hundred bucks, I decided not to upgrade my monitor, instead reusing Elmira’s old 17" monitor.

But everything’s blurry. It get’s better and worse, but I have to squint to read text almost all of the time.

  1. Is there some ridiculously easy way I can adjust the focus on my monitor (the monitor controls themselves do not appear to have a “focus” function, but is there a Control Panel function);
  2. Is this the revenge of Dell for cheating them of a few hundred bucks?
  3. Am I going to have to give in and beg Dell for a nice, new, expensive monitor?

All help appreciated.


a.Please offer more information on your Monitor. Make/Model etc. Just knowing that it was part of ol’ Elmira don’t really help much. My sincere sympathies nonetheless.

b. Was the monitor in proper working condition at the time your comp “bit the dust” ? If so, i suspect a simple monitor and adapter driver/refresh rate setting problem. If not i suspect a wiring or internal IC problem.

c. i think your problem can be fixed using inexpensive means, but i need more data. a driver/setting fix is free, rewiring is a few bucks , a blown IC is a few more bucks.

Being handy, I just find the button on the back of the monitor that says ‘FOCUS’, guess what happens when I turn it? Yep, thats the button to use. Some monitors have it outside & some inside. Being the sort of guy who likes to do things himself, I have opened numerous monitors to adjust it however, you might find that a tad risky for yourself. When its on the inside of the monitor, the focus adjuster is right in the back of the monitor, real easy to find, its usually a black knob you put your screwdriver into. It should have another knob by it that adjust the picture brightness. Often is is well protected from other electronic parts, which is nice. Your monitor may have a little door on the back to get to it easily.

When back there, check the date on the monitor & let me know what it is.

You can turn down the brightness of the monitor until then as that should make it less fuzzy.

Most monitors made in the past 5 years or so are digitally controlled and do not have external analog style focus knobs. Some higher end, fairly sophisticated ones can adjust focus to a degree via on screen menu adjustments but I’ll wager yours does not have these options.

Adjusting the internal focus control will sometimes help but in many cases the blurriness is related to other issues simply related to the monitor components wearing out. In cases where the problem comes and goes per your description, it’s likely to be component related and even if you tweak it the blurriness will come back.

New 17" monitors are not that expensive at around 120 to 250 depending on features and quality. I personally, would never buy a used monitor having had a fairly poor success rate with them over time. Just get a new monitor.

Sua, did you install the OS and drivers yourself or did they come preinstalled? It may be that your video drivers were installed for some generic monitor and you should d/l and install the latest drivers applicable from either the monitor vendor’s or the OS vendor’s site. If this does not resolve your problems and your monitor doesn’t have manual controls , you can just buy a new 17" monitor relatively cheap. I bought one for my wife recently for $180 and everything’s nice and sharp. She just uses it for web browsing and email so it’s plenty for her.

Ummm… all changing the monitors “definition” does in Windows is tell the OS the resolution and frequency limits the monitor can handle. With some very old fixed frequency monitors this might possibly have made a difference but the default, generic monitor definitions in windows should be clearly and easily displyed by any 17" monitor made in the last 10 years.

A quick word of caution: Be extremely careful when “poking around” the inside of a monitor. There is a very real danger of getting zapped, even if the device is unplugged!

From your mouth to Google’s ear.

Paragraph 1 of about 6. More tech stuff than you probably wanted to know, but I bet there’s an answer in there somewhere. Happy hunting!

(what’s a “focus pot”?)

“Pot” is short for potentiometer. This is what you are adjusting when you fiddle with almost any kind of rotary control. Both the high voltage & focus voltage pots will probably be miniature pots mounted to the circuit board, unless you are lucky enough that the adjustment is accessible from the back of the cabinet.

Caution: High voltage points in monitors can exceed 10KV, and can appear at unexpected points. Focus voltage is usually about 2-4KV, still quite a shock. Do not use metal tools to adjust high voltage potentiometers, even if their handles are insulated!

Thanks, all. I’ll check the monitor’s make/model at home tonight and report. I will also definitely check your link, DDG.

As astro correctly guessed, my monitor is digitally controlled and does not have a focus option.


I never saw a monitor that didn’t have an internal focus knob.

Whats the date on it Sua?

ALso, under display properties did you select your exact monitor type? Cause youll get fuzzy if that computer has another monitor brand listed.

Handy this is extraordinarily unlikely unless SS has an old fixed focus monitor. Practically any digitally controlled 17" monitor made in last 6-7 years or so can typically handle up to 75 @ 1024x768 or 85 @ 800x600 khz refresh rates which is about the max that any windows monitor definition will default to.

If the monitor is older than 5 years and is not Plug and Play compatible so that the OS cannot ID it’s frequency parameters windows will give a generic monitor definition with baseline frequency parameters that any properly functioning monitor should be able to display properly.

If you force (and you would have to do this deliberately) a monitor definition with frequency specs that are beyond the
actual attached monitors parameters and then force that out of spec refresh and resolution setting you will typically see a lot more picture distortion than simple blurriness.

astro, I haven’t seen that happen (generic display type) on any of the monitors I have used. But at any rate, if you make sure your monitor is listed as the display type, it should be right, you can also get a flicker if it isnt.

Is there a “DeGauss” button on your monitor?

(Everything you wanted to know about DeGaussing. But were afraid to ask.)


One thing I do with monitors is first bang the table they are on, if the picture changes a little, its probably not securely connected to the computer. Then I bang the monitor slightly & if the picture changes, it might be a loose solder connection inside. If Wiggling the connector makes the picture change, tighten it.