Updated Last 8 August 2021
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Calibrating Your Screen – What to Know
There are two steps to these forms of calibration:
1) Obtaining the optimum starting point at a hardware level – this involves setting the OSD settings to the recommended levels for brightness, contrast, RGB, gamma, colour temperature etc. During a calibration process the device/software will often guide you to reaching this optimum starting point before more finite corrections are made through the creation of the profile at the graphics card level. Getting to the best hardware setting first can help ensure the profiling needs to do “less work” to correct your settings, and ensure tonal values are preserved. Use the recommended OSD settings as a starting point which will be a good start.
2) Profiling the screen at a graphics card level – after the optimum hardware starting point has been achieved, the rest of the process is usually automated, while the device makes more accurate corrections to improve the gamma, white point and colour accuracy of the screen. These corrections are made through the creation of the ICC profile at a graphics card level. Once finished, the profile is activated and combined with the OSD settings in step 1, should give you a good set-up. You can use the ICC profiles available to offer that extra level of correction and they can be easily activated, or removed if you do not see benefit or they do not work on your screen.
Recommended OSD Settings and ICC Profiles Database Caveats
This section contains information and profiles to help calibrate your monitor and hopefully get things looking better. In the table above you will find some recommended OSD settings for various models, along with an ICC profile which has been produced, and saved, using a hardware calibration device. These have been collated from our various reviews, as well as any which have been gathered from various sources and those sent to us by readers.
There are some very important things to consider however, so please take the following as some caveats
- OSD settings are recommended and related to the calibration process which produces the ICC profile. You may or may not find them useful on their own. Combining them with the attached ICC profile is recommended
- ICC profiles are created using various colorimeter devices, and so quality and accuracy will vary. The device and software used is provided where possible
- You need to have the same version screen as the one which generated the profile. Manufacturers sometimes switch the panels in their screens, so bear this in mind. Revisions of the screen may also cause differences
- Bear in mind all these settings are related to the individual’s screen, software, operating system and PC hardware. Their relevance and effectiveness on your system may vary
- These are only designed to hopefully help you get your screen looking and feeling better. They may or may not improve actual colour rendering ability in real terms, this will vary depending on setup and reasons listed above
- Colour accuracy, gamma, luminance and colour temperature may be improved when using these settings and/or ICC profiles. Do not be alarmed if they do not work on your screen and system. If they do not work, just remove the ICC profile and restore your settings. It is totally reversible!
- To achieve truly accurate results, you would need to use a calibration device on your own screen and system and profile the screen with it yourself.
Basically, don’t rely on these settings and profiles working magic on your screen! They should hopefully help improve things for many users, but performance will vary as explained above.
Install and Activate an ICC Profile
Please follow the below steps which should guide you through setting your ICC profile in various operating systems. If needed, this DisplayProfile tool might be useful. It is a small program which allows you to quickly and easily switch between saved profiles, or activate a profile if it is not loaded.
With Windows 7
Save your ICC profile in the following location: \Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color
You can change your computer’s color management settings by opening “Color Management” in Control Panel.
- Tick the “use my settings for this device” check box
- Press “add” at the bottom and locate the relevant profile. You may need to choose “browse” from the profiles pop-up to find the profiles you have added in the relevant folder.
- The profile will appear in the middle pane. If more than one is visible you can select the default using the “set as default” button
- You will also need to enable the profiles gamma correction.
- Go into the advanced tab. You need to select “use Windows display calibration” but it is greyed out initially.
- Click “change system defaults” and a new window pops up which looks the same as the previous one
- Click on “advanced” tab and you should be able to tick “use Windows display calibration” from there. You should see a change in the screens gamma as the corrections from the profile are loaded.
The following Microsoft FAQ might also be useful
If needed, this DisplayProfile tool might be useful. It is a small program which allows you to quickly and easily switch between saved profiles, or activate a profile if it is not loaded.
With Windows XP
- Download and install the Microsoft utility for color management WinColor
- Download and save one of our ICC profiles from above table
- Paste it into the following folder: C:\windows\system32\spool\drivers\color\
- Go into control panel where you should see a program for WinColor
- Open the ‘profiles’ tab and load the saved ICC profile
- Go into ‘Devices’ tab and select ‘Displays’ in the scroll down menu
- Click ‘Add’ and the saved profile
- Click ‘Set as Default’
- Place the saved ICC profile in: C:\windows\system32\spool\drivers\color\
- Right click your desktop
- Chose ‘Personalize > display parameters > advanced parameters > color management tab
- Check ‘use my parameters for this peripheral’
- Chose ‘Add’, select the saved ICC profile, and set it to default.
- Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab in the peripheral profile, select the saved ICC profile, click ‘OK’
> Location of ICC Profiles on Other Operating Systems
Windows 2000 and NT
Windows ME and 98:
Mac OS X
/Library/Colorsync/Profiles (System wide)
~/Library/Colorsync/Profiles (User folder)
ICC Profiles with Games and Movies
Calibrated profiles are generally used to provide you with accurate gamma, white point and colours for your normal every day uses, viewing photos and colour critical applications. However many users prefer other settings when playing games or watching movies and often prefer more saturated colours which look bright and vivid, not to mention a generally brighter display. These may not be accurate as such, but it’s more about getting an image which looks and feels more attractive for those uses. Obviously this is without going to the extremes of producing unrealistic colours, skin tones etc. In fact this is one area where some users prefer wide gamut screens for their more vivid and saturated native colours.
In general when you load up a game or movie your graphics card will abandon the calibrated ICC profile anyway and revert to some default settings, gamma ramps and the likes. Not a problem for most people for the aforementioned reasons, but a pain for those who actually want to retain the calibrated profile and settings from their colorimeter / ICC profile. One way around this is to have a screen where you are able to calibrate the hardware LUT itself (within the monitor). In such cases the profile is stored in the monitor and so is retained no matter what the use is. These screens are generally expensive and hardware calibration is reserved for high end displays so isn’t a viable option for most. There have been other methods explored to try and retain ICC profiles for games and movies at a graphics card level. You may wish to read here for more information.
Send Us Your Settings and Profiles!
Please contact us to share your ICC profiles and OSD settings and I will add them to the database! Please include the settings you’ve used on the monitor as well as the calibration device/software used to create the profile.