Monitor not XP compatible?

I purchased a used computer this weekend, which was installed with Windows XP. When I took it home and plugged everything in, it doesn’t seem to be XP compatible. Is this something that’s common? The monitor is quite old (~6 years). When I plugged it in, it would show the Dell start-up, the Windows start-up, and then would go blank where it would normally go to desktop.

Any insight from SDMBland?

What kind of monitor?
Have you tried booting to safe mode?

I knew that was going to be on the test. I ran out of the apartment in a rush this morning, and didn’t get a chance to write it down. The brand-name is “Komodo”. Haven’t done safe mode. I did ask the guy in a different used computer shop if that was common (to double check), and he said I may have something set up as high res in the startup that the monitor can’t handle, but I couldn’t find anything.

The computer store guy is correct.

1: Force a safe mode start but tapping the F8 key at startup and then choosiing the safe mode option

2: Go to the display control applet in XP (right click on the desktop and choose properties > settings> advanced>adapter>list all mode) and set the resolution to 640x480 and the refresh frequency to 60HZ or the closest approximation your system lists.

3: Restart the system and go back to the display applet. Experiment with various settings. If the settting is wrong XP will default back to the previous one in 15 seconds. Choose the best refresh / resolution setting the monitor can handle.

Thanks, astro. I’m printing this out now, and I’ll report back tomorrow.

No dice.

I started it up in safe mode, and it gave me three options per astro’s directions:

800x640, 256 colors
640x480, 256 colors
640x480, 16 colors

Each option also had “default” for the refresh rate.

Sounds more like the operating system is broken, rather than anything to do with the monitor. It’s just getting so far into the boot and hanging.

As it’s doing the same in safe mode it must be pretty fundamental. Probably a re-install needed.

So the monitor is dispaying in safe mode (which is typically 640x480 @16 colors or 800x600x16 on some XP setups), you choose the (let’s say) 640x480x16 mode and tell the system to “apply” it . Shut down and when you restart windows again the monitor will not display in the newly applied mode?

Try (in safe mode) changing the monitor definition to “generic VGA” off of whatever monitor is currently the set choice. You may also want to double check that the video driver is installed correctly for the video cards chipset. If this is machine that you picked up used, sometimes people will pull, change or swap video cards before dumping a machine and not bother to change the drivers.


The where now?

  1. I can’t seem to find the drivers here at work (brainfart). Where do I go again?
  2. If it’s not installed correctly, how would I reinstall?

Again, thanks for all of your help - this is fantastic.

To get into the device manager…
Right click on My Computer
Choose properties.
Click on the hardware tab.
Click on the Device manager button

Do you see any yellow exclamation marks?

Wow, it never ends.


I uninstalled the video driver, so that it would reinstall upon restart. Worked like a charm. And by “charm” I mean “it came up in 16 colors, but everything was visible”. Then I restarted again, and the problem persisted.

Monitor specs:
Komodo (1997)
PN: H40
47-63Hz 1.3A
100-240 VAC

So what we have here is a 7 year old monitor, made before Windows 98. Prolly time for a new one?

Firstly, the monitor has absolutely nothing to do with the operating system itself and could not be ‘made for Windows 98’. Monitors are made for certain output modes, and they receive that output signal from the video adapter. (I once had a tech tell me that a monitor that was ‘made for Windows 95’ could not be used on Windows NT 4.0. Shocked me, because it was the same video adapter, same resolution, same color depth, same refresh rate, and it worked perfectly fine.)

Monitors are rather like television sets in that all they do is display the picture the cable in the back tells them to. If your monitor has SXGA capability, it’s compatible with the video adpater in your computer’s SXGA signal.

The video adapter itself (which you do communicate with through the OS) is probably capable of putting out a higher resolution, color depth, and refresh rate than your monitor can display.

If your monitor can’t use a mode as high as Windows XP’s preferred video adapter settings, it’s time for a new monitor. I’m taking a guess here that your video adapter is using an SXGA output mode, and your monitor’s expecting possibly XGA type input, where WinXP’s preferance for a default resolution is 1024x768 pixels at 16 million colors, the XGA monitor will only want 16,536 colors at 1024X768.

In other words, when the monitor should be switching modes to use the video adapter’s SXGA settings, it can’t. You could tell set it to VGA, but the picture won’t display properly because the OS now gives the video card a lot more colors than it did in 1997.

Updated monitor with a capability of 32 bit color, 75 Hz refresh rate at a resolution of 1024x768 would probably work nicely.