Windows 10 display driver headaches

Some notes on upgrading a not-very-new laptop to Windows 10. Only even potentially interesting to people with a computer that has a Radeon 4xxx GPU.

Over the weekend I finally upgraded my laptop, a Toshiba Satellite L505-144, to Windows 10. I bought it about five years ago and, with just a 8GB memory upgrade, it still does everything I need – and reasonably speedily. Nevertheless, this is legacy hardware. The Windows 10 upgrade assistant said that it was compatible, but I anticipated problems. I still remember upgrading to NT4.0.

My suspicion was almost misplaced. The upgrade process itself was very smooth and I fairly soon had a machine running Windows 10. Smart looking too. Fairly quickly, though, I realised that there was a black border around the visible display area, which wasn’t using the full surface of the HDMI monitor (a 1920×1080 Iiyama). In this case the graphics hardware was an AMD Mobility Radeon 4500. Some quick googling revealed that this is a relatively common problem with some GPUs, which default to an underscan mode which is visible as a black border around the screen, and a poor quality image. The easiest way to change the underscan is to use AMD’s Catalyst Control Center software to tweak the GPU. Unfortunately, Catalyst Control Center doesn’t work on Widows 10. It just doesn’t. Believe me, I tried everything.

In the best Windows tradition, the solution turned out to involve hacking the registry as described here in the AMD forums. I found a whole lot of maybe solutions, almost solutions, and just plain wrong solutions before I found that forum post – and so this blog post is mostly just an attempt to give it a bit more Google juice for those Radeon 4xxx users who come after me. And some notes for myself in case I ever have to do this again.

Also, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 I would strongly advise using the Display Driver Uninstaller to revert to using the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter. Then download and install 4xxx drivers for Windows 8 (which has a similar enough driver model to work on Windows 8). I used this one for x64. And if you read the release notes you may be amused to learn that AMD doesn’t even support the Radeon 4xxx on Windows 10. So no new drivers for you. Ever. Someone should tell Microsoft.