How To Fix Border Problems In Media Center

I’ve found a fix for an occasional problem when the new Media Center in Windows 7 or Vista will display annoying thick borders (not use the full resolution) in full screen (normal TV viewing) mode.

The cause of the problem is hidden overscan options inside the “Configure Your TV Or Monitor” wizard. This wizard must be run to select the output resolution used by Media Center in full screen mode, the rest of the “options” do nothing (just help you position and scale an old CRT monitor) so are pretty useless as most people have LCD TV or monitors now.

If you follow the instructions to the letter you will select “TV” or “Monitor” display type. That is where the problem occurs. In this mode it seems that with some graphics cards and monitor configurations (e.g. I have an Intel with a custom resolution to achieve true 1360×768 native resolution on my “720p” LCD screen / effectively 768p). I have seen many internet posts from other people with similar problems, affecting ATI and NVidia combinations too. Seems like the problem occurs with custom resolutions.

The solution that worked for me was to choose the “Flat Panel” display type. Not the obvious choice when you have a TV or monitor and those options also exist but don’t work properly! Also none of this is documented or able to configure manually (i.e. whether to use borders / option to set the non-viewable area).

I hope Microsoft expose these options in the wizard sometime in the future. I think the simplest solution would be to add “non-viewable area” (border) configuration to the wizard, perhaps that replaces the need to select the display type. I wonder how many parameters there are different with each type, and why they hide them behind this general selection.

This is the general procedure to get Media Center working properly with custom resolutions:-

  1. Upgrade/reinstall the display driver, reboot.
  2. Search for a customer monitor INF file if the monitor is not plug and play or not directly detected by windows. Configure the monitor and resolution.
  3. If that is not available or you have an Intel driver use tools like “DTD Calculator” to create the exact resolution for your display.
  4. Set the Windows resolution and reboot.
  5. Start Media Center then run the display configuration in full screen, selecting the same resolution as windows and the “Flat Panel” type.
  6. Start a full screen Media Center application to check for borders, or hover your mouse over the top right of the screen and see if the close box appears near the edge or before a larger solid blue border (with no background waves like in the middle of the screen).
  7. If that doesn’t work, change between “TV”, “Monitor” and “Flat Panel”, rebooting between each attempt, until it works.

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