HDR Washed Out In Windows 10: How to Fix It

Upgrading to a new monitor and enabling HDR only to find the desktop looks washed out can be discouraging. This article will explore why this happens and provide practical solutions to improve your display quality without constantly toggling HDR settings.

Understanding the Washed-Out Effect

When HDR is enabled, the issue often relates to insufficient luminance rather than chrominance, meaning the problem lies in brightness or gamma adjustments rather than color intensity. Ensure that night mode is turned off as it can also contribute to a washed-out appearance by reducing blue light.

Adjusting HDR Brightness in Windows 10

Begin by accessing the HDR settings:

Where to adjust the HDR brightness slider.
  • Right-click on the desktop and select ‘Display Settings’.
  • Click on ‘Windows HD Color Settings’.
  • Under ‘HDR/SDR brightness balance’, adjust the slider to the right (100) to enhance brightness initially, although further adjustments may be necessary to match your display’s capabilities before enabling HDR.

Installing a Color Profile for Your Monitor

To counteract the HDR wash-out effect, installing a monitor-specific color profile can be beneficial:

Applying an ICC color management profile to a monitor in Windows.
  1. Visit resources like TFT Central, your monitor manufacturer’s website, or Adobe to find the appropriate ICC color profile.
  2. Install the profile via Windows Settings:
    • Search for ‘color profile’ and select ‘Color Management’.
    • Choose your monitor and click ‘Add’, then ‘Browse’ to select and set the downloaded profile as default.
    • Restart your computer to ensure changes take effect.

Fixing the Washed-Out Mouse Pointer or Cursor

If your cursor lacks contrast against the HDR background:

  • Change the mouse pointer color scheme through Control Panel > Mouse > Pointers, or replace the text select cursor with a high-contrast one, such as ‘beam_r.cur’, from the cursor list.

Optional Desktop Color Adjustments

If specific profiles do not resolve the issue:

  • Manually adjust brightness and gamma via your graphics control panel (NVidia, AMD, Intel) to closely match non-HDR settings.
  • Use a calibration chart to guide your adjustments when HDR is toggled off and on.

GPU-Specific Color Adjustments

NVidia GPU Adjustments

  • Open NVidia Control Panel, go to ‘Adjust desktop color settings’, and tweak brightness, contrast, gamma, and other settings as needed.

AMD GPU Adjustments

  • Access AMD Radeon Settings > Display > Color to adjust brightness, hue, contrast, and saturation.

Intel GPU Adjustments

  • In Intel Graphics Command Center, navigate to Display > Color for similar adjustments.

Checking Other Settings for Optimal Display

Output Color Format and Dynamic Range

  • Ensure the output color format is set to RGB and the RGB dynamic range is full to receive the full spectrum of colors.
  • If color representation issues persist, switch the dynamic range back to limited.

Output Color Depth

  • Set this to the highest available setting to maximize color channel display capabilities.

Why Microsoft’s Monitor Calibration Tool Isn’t Recommended

While it might seem convenient, Microsoft’s tool often yields unreliable results, especially after running graphically intensive applications like games. It’s better to stick with hardware-specific color profiles or professional calibration tools.

Conclusion

Adjusting settings for HDR on Windows 10 can seem daunting, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, you can significantly improve your display’s appearance without resorting to constant toggling of HDR settings.