5.(v) How come the display won't stretch to the full screen in games?
This section is primarily concerned with the widescreen model laptops, being the i8600 series (and Latitude, Precision equivalents) and i9100 series with ATI based graphics cards.
Sometimes you may find that games or other applications will not fill up the entire LCD panel when they are not running in the normal native widescreen resolution of your display. Instead they will "letterbox", that is, play within a black box with bars on the sides and/or top and bottom. There are several steps that must be taken to remedy this:
-> Firstly is to ensure scaling is enabled in the BIOS. To do that follow these steps:
(i) Reboot the laptop;
(ii) Press F2 on the Dell splash screen, and you will enter the BIOS;
(iii) Scroll to the Basic Device Configuration page;
(iv) You will see an option Video Expansion, make sure this is enabled;
(v) Exit whilst saving changes, and the system will reboot, this time let it go into windows.
-> Now we make sure scaling is activated within the drivers. Follow these steps:
(i) Right-click desktop and select Properties;
(ii) Go to the Settings tab and click Advanced;
(iii) Go to the Displays tab and click Panel;
(iv) In here, make sure Scale Image is ticked.
After this you have two options->
1. Select the Expand to full panel size radio button if you want all resolutions to stretch and fill the entire LCD screen.
2. Select the Expand while maintaining aspect ratio radio button if you want the resolutions to expand as far as possible but not get distorted out of their ratio (ie: in most cases this will mean that the game/ image will fill the entire Vertical span of the panel with a black bar on either side to keep it in aspect).
And there you go, that should set you up well to be viewing that widescreen in all of its magnificence. Once you've had "fat", you'll never go back
Note: The WUXGA screen + ATI video card combo cannot scale some resolutions to the full panel, regardless of whether you apply the settings mentioned above. The following is the reason that I have been able to ascertain thus far.
ATI uses an on-chip solution for scaling images from one resolution to another. It uses technology which is generally better than the comparable nVIDIA cards, but because it is scaling via a hardware solution there is a limitation.
Any image that is at or below 1280x1024 pixels in size will scale to the full size of the panel as it is supposed to. However, that max resolution clearly excludes 1680x1050 (WSXGA native resolution) and 1600x1200 (popular high-res game option). Basically all that will happen is the scaler will start and subsequently fail, and will then just display the image/ game as normal, except with black borders around so it only takes up the exact amount of pixels as its resolution needs.
This limitation will only show on a system with a WUXGA screen, any other screen (WXGA, WSXGA) it won't because obviously their resolutions don't go up that far anyway. This problem exists in every ATI video card thus far and will affect any laptop with an ATI card and WUXGA screen... from the i8500 w/ M9 to the XPS w/ M11.
This is unfortunate firstly because there is no known fix for the issue, and secondly because Inspiron XPS owners can only order with the WUXGA LCD option which means that they are stuck with it. However whilst it is a major annoyance in the desktop where users want to rest their eyes and work in the comfort of 1680 x 1050 but cannot, in games it makes little difference as the current video cards offered in the i9100 and XPS cannot play most new games at resolutions this high smoothly anyway (at least not on high detail....).