Full RGB v.s. Limited RGB: A Comparison and Guide

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Karspankey

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SUPER CLARIFICATION: PC MONITOR USERS WILL MOSTLY BENEFIT FROM THIS GUIDE AND AS A RESULT, THE GUIDE IS STEERED MORE TOWARDS THOSE PEOPLE. Sorry!


Hey everyone! Recently, I learned of the full RGB setting on consoles and the benefits it could bring if you can use it! I will briefly explain what difference there is to what most of you have defaulted to, limited RGB, and give you a simple way to check if you should change to full! I'll also link a video I made with The Division on PS4 that shows you what you can achieve with a little bit of tweaking! And before anyone asks, I received permission from Y2Kev to post the video from my channel! All right, let's begin!

Info!: What Difference is There Between Full and Limited?

The simplest answer to that question is that while limited RGB is on, the range of colors you can receive (with each number representing a color) is 16-235. With Full RGB, you receive all colors, 0-255. That means that with limited, you are not receiving 15 colors on the lower side of the range and 20 on the high side! Instead of explaining what colors are missing, instead understand that with limited enabled, all 16 of those colors in the lower range will be treated as black, and the 20 in the high end will appear as white! That's a lot of missing color! So there is a difference? Yes! Now, let's move on to the next section!

What Does the Difference Look Like In-Game:

EDIT AND CLARIFICATION: I am using a PC monitor that is full RGB at all times!

Now, to find out if you can actually use this setting, but first, I will post that comparison I mentioned before so you can actually see the difference yourself!

Do note: In the video, I compared The Division not only by doing full RGB vs limited RGB, but also by tweaking the brightness settings! In this case on the full RGB side, the brightness was set using the in-game help (most games have an image that they ask for you to turn down the brightness of until it is barely visible.). The reason this was done is because you will also want to adjust the brightness in your games according to the usual in game help! So basically, this video is Full RGB with Adjusted Brightness vs Limited RGB and Default Brightness (a default PS4).

Now, here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocn6Pf-EqzY

Alright, now that you've watched the video, you may have noticed a few things, but the main difference I want to point out is the amount of white and washed out image quality the limited (or default PS4 setup) has. It is quite amazing to know that those two videos are the exact same time of day, only seconds away from each other in realtime. To me, the full RGB + adjusted brightness actually looks like proper night time, especially compared to the limited version. Ok! Before we actually go ahead and do this, I want to clarify that I realize that you can actually make your games look better if you cannot use or don't care for full RGB by just correctly adjusting the in-game brightness! It will however, look better with full RGB, which was the brunt of the difference you saw, bearing in mind it can be used with your setup! Onwards!

Let's Do This!:

The very, very, first thing we need to do is determine what type of display you are using to play games on. Is it a TV or a PC monitor? Unfortunately, one of these options work pretty much 100% of the time and that is an HD PC monitor! Many TV's do not support full RGB and the image will actually make the black in your games appear overtly dark and even "crushed" as some of you might have heard before. You can lookup the model of TV you own and do research yourself.

EDITED NOTE: If you are using limited on your TV and limited on your console, and can only set your TV to limited, then you will not likely see a change and should leave your settings as is! Explained better by user Khaz:

Setting the display as "limited" makes it expand the 16-235 range back to 0-255 on your screen. If the source was 16-235 it's fine, but if the source was already 0-255, everything 0-16 will be pushed to 0, same for whites. Conversely, if the display is set for full range, displaying a 0-255 image looks fine but displaying a 16-235 image makes it look more dull, not quite black and not quite white.

Limited range is a compression format, part of NTSC. It's lossy so it's not so cool, but when expanded back to 0-255 you still get back most of it. A limited source on a Limited TV should look almost exactly the same as a full source on a full TV.

Most TVs are by default set to Limited range, because NTSC is broadcast as limited, to give a good picture to the viewer. Problems arise when using sources that are full range and the TV is still in Limited mode.
So if you are using a limited only display, then switching to full will not be beneficial to you!


If the edited above does not apply to you, what I suggest is this:

Open this thread up on your console of choice with full RGB turned on, and look at this picture:


thanks to nicolaspeople.com


This picture, if your display supports full, will have the first box in the top left be barely visible with the following squares becoming lighter and lighter! The entire image should be a gradient that goes from the darkest square all the way to the lightest square, getting lighter and lighter. See it? Great! If you see a harsh black for most of the image, you can try and tweak your displays brightness a bit in case it is far away from it's default. If not, then you should not use the full RGB setting.

I say should not like that because in the end, no one is stopping you from using the setting and you may end up liking it even with the black crush (just turn up the in-game brightness!!) The colors may even be more saturated and "crisp" to your eyes, but again be warned, if you did not pass the test, you may have a tough time seeing dark areas of games.

Wrap-Up!:

I hope this explanation a tutorial helped some of you out! Many games look completely different, and in my opinion better (Watch Dogs is a game I wanted to get to. Wow), following these steps. I do want to mention that in the end, visuals in games to an individual are mostly subjective! I played games with limited and default brightness all my life and they still looked great, so don't think any different about what settings your screen are at. Enjoy the games and take beautiful screenshots forever!
 

Skux

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Been wanting to make a thread like this, thanks.

If you enjoy games (and movies and TV shows), the least you can do is set your monitor/TV settings to ensure you're playing them the way the director and designers wanted them to look.

It gets tricky when some older TVs don't support full RGB, or have their own settings for it (separate to the console or PC). The best course of action is to use a few test screens.
 

iMax

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The key with RGB is just to make sure that the source and output match. Both consoles have bugs which often prevent correct handshaking for this, so manual verification with the checkerboard OP posted is a great idea.

What you want to avoid, though, is black crush, which is what you get when there's a mismatch. For example, in the video in OP, go to around 1:12 and look at the trousers. There's a lot of lost shadow detail going on because of crushed blacks.

Honestly, your panel will remap everything so the difference is completely negligible. Your best bet is to just leave it on normal/16-235, as that's the broadcast/media standard. If everything is set correctly, you won't notice a difference between either option.
 

DJ_Lae

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I've found the simplest way to deal with it is to keep everything on Limited, especially for systems that don't deal with it well (I think the WiiU is stuck that way?). As long as my monitor/TV is limited and the console is limited we're all good.
 

A.D. Skinner

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Thing is, however I set my Xbox 1, 360 always looks dark and gross. Since I use an amp, they all use the same output on the TV otherwise I could just adjust each input. B/C games on X1 have the same issue. They're too dark.
 

DeepEnigma

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This is the most simplest explanation (easiest to understand) I read on this. Thanks for the thread.

Luckily the 4K Sony set handshakes perfectly for 'Full' with both the PS4 and TV set to 'Auto'.

I had to set the PS3/PS4 to 'Full' manually when it was hooked up to my HD gaming monitor prior to the TV due to it 'washing out'.
 

AlanOC91

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Took me ages to realize I had to turn this on for my 4k Samsung TV. Even my desktop looked 10 times better at full rgb. Annoyingly it keeps resetting after a graphics driver update.

Looks fantastic though!
 
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I've always thought that as long as your settings match, it's fine. I always use limited on everything and I don't have a washed out image like in that video. Are you OP really sure that you know what you are talking about here?
 

Karspankey

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Been wanting to make a thread like this, thanks.

If you enjoy games (and movies and TV shows), the least you can do is set your monitor/TV settings to ensure you're playing them the way the director and designers wanted them to look.
No problem and yep! The in-game brightness settings are at least in place and should be used to get as close as what developers designed!

The key with RGB is just to make sure that the source and output match. Both consoles have bugs which often prevent correct handshaking for this, so manual verification with the checkerboard OP posted is a great idea.

What you want to avoid, though, is black crush, which is what you get when there's a mismatch. For example, in the video in OP, go to around 1:12 and look at the trousers. There's a lot of lost shadow detail going on because of crushed blacks.

Honestly, your panel will remap everything so the difference is completely negligible. Your best bet is to just leave it on normal/16-235, as that's the broadcast/media standard. If everything is set correctly, you won't notice a difference between either option.
I can see what you mean at the time you posted. It's arguable that maybe those details should be hard(ish) to see considering the time of day and where the sources of lights are coming from! It's certainly not as visible as it is with everything defaulted!
 
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Took me ages to realize I had to turn this on for my 4k Samsung TV. Even my desktop looked 10 times better at full rgb.
Of course your desktop will look better since computers tend to send a full rgb image by default. So if your tv was set to limited it would have looked like crap.

But I'm not buying that PS4 will look better with full rgb compared to limited, provided that the settings match between the PS4 and the TV/display.
 

Karspankey

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I've always thought that as long as your settings match, it's fine. I always use limited on everything and I don't have a washed out image like in that video. Are you OP really sure that you know what you are talking about here?
Haha, yes I know what I am talking about! I use a PC monitor which is only full RGB, so anything limited is super obvious and washed out! You are right though! If your TV is limited, and the console is limited, it should give you near or exactly the same look as my setup. The issue is there are so many displays in this world, with all kinds of settings, so things like RGB become up to the user to tool with and figure out!
 

MCD

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What if I put my Xbox to Standard and TV to HDMI black level low? Isn't it the same as Full RGB?
 

OdysseusVA

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What you want to avoid, though, is black crush, which is what you get when there's a mismatch. For example, in the video in OP, go to around 1:12 and look at the trousers. There's a lot of lost shadow detail going on because of crushed blacks.
First thing I noticed was the black crush. No need to adjust your brightness in-game, adjust your display.

Honestly, your panel will remap everything so the difference is completely negligible.
Mmm what? If that was true we wouldn't get washed out images or black crush.


Your best bet is to just leave it on normal/16-235, as that's the broadcast/media standard. If everything is set correctly, you won't notice a difference between either option.
Standard for broadcast/media, yes, but not for games.
 

Karspankey

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Thing is, however I set my Xbox 1, 360 always looks dark and gross. Since I use an amp, they all use the same output on the TV otherwise I could just adjust each input. B/C games on X1 have the same issue. They're too dark.
Hmmm, I wouldn't know much about going through an amp, but the Xbox One is known for having a black crush issue. That could be the issue.
 

Khaz

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Setting the display as "limited" makes it expand the 16-235 range back to 0-255 on your screen. If the source was 16-235 it's fine, but if the source was already 0-255, everything 0-16 will be pushed to 0, same for whites. Conversely, if the display is set for full range, displaying a 0-255 image looks fine but displaying a 16-235 image makes it look more dull, not quite black and not quite white.

Limited range is a compression format, part of NTSC. It's lossy so it's not so cool, but when expanded back to 0-255 you still get back most of it. A limited source on a Limited TV should look almost exactly the same as a full source on a full TV.

Most TVs are by default set to Limited range, because NTSC is broadcast as limited, to give a good picture to the viewer. Problems arise when using sources that are full range and the TV is still in Limited mode.
 

Wishmaster92

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I dedicated a lot of time on this for years. The basic rule is ever since ps3 era till now, the games run at full rgb 0-255, limited rgb 16-235 is mostly for videos since they have reduced color depth due to video bitrate and size probably. In conclusion, yes there is a slight difference when you switch the ps4 from rgb limited to full if your tv supports it. The difference is a little added contrast and shadow depth, to me it's noticeable. I have to increase the brightness setting on my tv about two clicks higher when switching from limited to full so i can see the first square.

0-255 rgb, 4:4:4 chroma they all go hand in hand when speaking about computer graphics.
 

Karspankey

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A limited source on a Limited TV should look almost exactly the same as a full source on a full TV.

Most TVs are by default set to Limited range, because NTSC is broadcast as limited, to give a good picture to the viewer. Problems arise when using sources that are full range and the TV is still in Limited mode.
Thanks for the info! You are completely right about a limited source on a limited tv! I explained that, although not as well, to Sebastian Suola above! I don't have any experience with TVs and RGB because I don't own one, haha! I appreciate your explanation!

I have to increase the brightness setting on my tv about two clicks higher when switching from limited to full so i can see the first square.
Yep! That and the in-game settings are crucial to making games look right!
 
Aug 27, 2015
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Haha, yes I know what I am talking about! I use a PC monitor which is only full RGB, so anything limited is super obvious and washed out! You are right though! If your TV is limited, and the console is limited, it should give you near or exactly the same look as my setup. The issue is there are so many displays in this world, with all kinds of settings, so things like RGB become up to the user to tool with and figure out!
I think you should have mentioned that you are using an rgb full only monitor in your OP. As it stands, your OP is not much of a guide I'm sorry.

I think the most confusing thing about this is the fact that many times those settings have weird and different names with different tv's. And consoles like Wii U will only output limited! So if you only have a full rgb monitor you are out of luck!
 

Khaz

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Your video is unclear if you're switching the range of the source or the display, and whether the corresponding source/display is locked in limited or full.
 

Karspankey

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I think you should have mentioned that you are using an rgb full only monitor in your OP. As it stands, your OP is not much of a guide I'm sorry.

I think the most confusing thing about this is the fact that many times those settings have weird and different names with different tv's. And consoles like Wii U will only output limited! So if you only have a full rgb monitor you are out of luck!
I mentioned the monitor in the video, but not the post! I'm sorry! As for different names for settings, it would be a long task to find all of those, and plus, this was more of a simple and general guide! Will add info about my screen to the OP.

Your video is unclear if you're switching the range of the source or the display, and whether the corresponding source/display is locked in limited or full.
I'm sorry! I'm using a monitor, which I failed to mention in the thread, but in the video's description! The only changes are to the RGB of the actual console and ofc, the brightness of the games!
 

televator

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Hey everyone! Recently, I learned of the full RGB setting on consoles and the benefits it could bring if you can use it! I will briefly explain what difference there is to what most of you have defaulted to, limited RGB, and give you a simple way to check if you should change to full! I'll also link a video I made with The Division on PS4 that shows you what you can achieve with a little bit of tweaking! And before anyone asks, I received permission from Y2Kev to post the video from my channel! All right, let's begin!

Info!: What Difference is There Between Full and Limited?

The simplest answer to that question is that while limited RGB is on, the range of colors you can receive (with each number representing a color) is 16-235. With Full RGB, you receive all colors, 0-255. That means that with limited, you are not receiving 15 colors on the lower side of the range and 20 on the high side! Instead of explaining what colors are missing, instead understand that with limited enabled, all 16 of those colors in the lower range will be treated as black, and the 20 in the high end will appear as white! That's a lot of missing color! So there is a difference? Yes! Now, let's move on to the next section.
Ah... That doesn't sound right. If your source is already 16-235, then there is no missing colors. Those are all the colors your source has and your monitor should be set accordingly.

I mentioned the monitor in the video, but not the post! I'm sorry! As for different names for settings, it would be a long task to find all of those, and plus, this was more of a simple and general guide! Will add info about my screen to the OP.

I'm sorry! I'm using a monitor, which I failed to mention in the thread, but in the video's description! The only changes are to the RGB of the actual console and ofc, the brightness of the games!
What your video shows is how switching between limited and full behaves on your full range monitor/capture device and not the difference between full and limited range scales.

If a monitor is mismatched with the scale of the source, simply adjusting contrast and brightness won't bring back details.
 

Karspankey

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Ah... That doesn't sound right. If your source is already 16-235, then there is no missing colors. Those are all the colors your source has and you monitor should be set accordingly.

What your video shows is how switching between limited and full behaves on your full range monitor/capture device and not the difference between full and limited range scales.

If a monitor is mismatched with the scale of the source, simply adjusting contrast and brightness won't bring back details.
I have found that out, thanks for letting me know! Currently coming up with an edit to try and clarify that and possibly stress that the guide may be mainly for PC monitor users!

Edit: I have now edited the OP with more accurate information thanks to a few members! If there is anything you think should be improved, please let me know!!
 
Aug 24, 2012
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My TV has HDMI black level: low and normal. I assume normal is supposed to be full? I heard some TV makers name them differently.

edit:
Yep. I have my samsung set to normal and my PS4 set to full, and I can see all the gradient blocks (brightness set to 44). I guess I'm good to go. Thanks for the guide!
 

Karspankey

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My TV has HDMI black level: low and normal. I assume normal is supposed to be full? I heard some TV makers name them differently.
According to what I've researched, low = full and normal = limited. However, I've seen people say different things for different TVs. What is the model of yours?
 

televator

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My TV has HDMI black level: low and normal. I assume normal is supposed to be full? I heard some TV makers name them differently.
I'd check the manual as to what that refers to if I were you. My TV has separate controls for RGB range and black level. Black level simply controls how black 16/0 actually is. Naturally every shade there after is affected based on that choice. As long as both my source and TV settings match in RGB range, the low (called Dark on my set) black setting is no problem and looks best - on par with CRT.
 
Aug 24, 2012
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According to what I've researched, low = full and normal = limited. However, I've seen people say different things for different TVs. What is the model of yours?
UN32EH4003. I tried alternating between normal and low, and low gave me really crushed blacks.

Low + Limited = good
Normal + Full = good
 

3rdamention

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I think it should be added that jstevenson commented around the time of Sunset Overdrives release that Microsoft's recommended and supported standard for Xbox One is RGB Limited...
 

Karspankey

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UN32EH4003. I tried alternating between normal and low, and low gave me really crushed blacks.

Low + Limited = good
Normal + Full = good
As long as the test picture looks as explained, you'll be set! And do remember to also adjust the brightness in your games if you don't already!
 

TSM

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There is a lot of misinformation in this thread, but I'll have to wait until later when I'm not on my cell phone.
 

Chesskid1

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i bought a newer monitor with all the bells and whistles, including an HDMI port. My PC is hooked up to it via displayport.

i decided to hook up my PS4 to it. i'm pretty sure it doesn't support full RGB because the colors are really bad if i switch to full on the PS4. kinda weird displayport supports full RGB but not HDMI.
 

OdysseusVA

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i bought a newer monitor with all the bells and whistles, including an HDMI port. My PC is hooked up to it via displayport.

i decided to hook up my PS4 to it. i'm pretty sure it doesn't support full RGB because the colors are really bad if i switch to full on the PS4. kinda weird displayport supports full RGB but not HDMI.
Bad how? Too dark or washed out?

Not even to what the game suggests?
No, you should adjust your display and leave game settings at default.
 

Karspankey

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Bad how? Too dark or washed out?



No, you should adjust your display and leave game settings at default.
I don't agree, yet that doesn't really matter at all! It's ultimately up for people to decide what looks right to them. I hope you can sort of agree!

All I really wanted for this thread was to inform people that there may be something they could do to enhance their experience with their games!

I should also mention the brightness level in the video I posted for the full side was set at 0%, which was what appeared to be barely visible to me. The default is 50%, so a lot of room to make it brighter! I bet that if I put it up more, it'd look a lot better to most people!
 

televator

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That's the thing though. Once you have your TV properly calibrated or "looking right to you" you'll hardly have the need to mess with settings for most other games after. Messing with game settings makes things more complicated than it needs to be.
 

Karspankey

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That's the thing though. Once you have your TV properly calibrated or "looking right to you" you'll hardly have the need to mess with settings for most other games after. Messing with game settings makes things more complicated than it needs to be.
Interesting, I will try that! Also, if I could get some opinions on the state of the OP, that'd be wonderful! IDK if I am doing more harm than good!

In the meantime, I found more pictures on my HDD that compare some games without touching the brightness at all. Order is limited and then full.

GTA V:

The Order 1886 (maybe needs a bit of adjustment):

Watch_Dogs:

The Division:

Bonus with same settings as video:
 

OdysseusVA

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I don't agree, yet that doesn't really matter at all! It's ultimately up for people to decide what looks right to them. I hope you can sort of agree!

All I really wanted for this thread was to inform people that there may be something they could do to enhance their experience with their games!

I should also mention the brightness level in the video I posted for the full side was set at 0%, which was what appeared to be barely visible to me. The default is 50%, so a lot of room to make it brighter! I bet that if I put it up more, it'd look a lot better to most people!
Oh, dear.

I'm sure you had good intentions but this "guide" made no progress, and may have added confusion, in properly setting up Limited or Full RGB.
 

Izuna

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I am scared of these threads:

Like the images above, the limited vs. full pictures are not supposed to have different brightnesses. Full colour space is supposed to give you more in between. If you're seeing a difference in what's your darkest black, you're likely crushing them.

Only choose Full/PC Mode if you know both your device and TV/Monitor are set to it.

If you're not playing on a PC Monitor, set everything to Limited.

--

^^^ I agree with above,
 

Izuna

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What if I put my Xbox to Standard and TV to HDMI black level low? Isn't it the same as Full RGB?
=(

Not at all

---

If you type Full RGB vs. Limited on Google Images, people keep showing images of Full RGB crushing blacks. *sigh* I don't know the best way to explain this as it seems to be too complicated to grasp.

Nah, that's more about removing horrible filters and shit that TVs put on by default. Ideally you should disable every effect your TV has unless it's something that reduces image blur.
 

Karspankey

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Oh, dear.

I'm sure you had good intentions but this "guide" made no progress, and may have added confusion, in properly setting up Limited or Full RGB.
I am scared of these threads:

Like the images above, the limited vs. full pictures are not supposed to have different brightnesses. Full colour space is supposed to give you more in between. If you're seeing a difference in what's your darkest black, you're likely crushing them.

Only choose Full/PC Mode if you know both your device and TV/Monitor are set to it.

If you're not playing on a PC Monitor, set everything to Limited.

--

^^^ I agree with above,
Okay you guys! I think I'll have this thread shut down then. Thanks for your help! I guess that I wasn't the person cut out to manage this thread. I guess I was just excited by what I found!
 

shockdude

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No, you should adjust your display and leave game settings at default.
I disagree. From my experience, many games are set to be too bright by default, probably to compensate for many HDTVs having crap color calibration out of the box, coupled with the Xbox 360's wonky gamma curve.
Burnout Paradise and Black Ops 1 on PS3 come to mind for having too-bright default brightness.

While I do use Full Range on computer monitors, on TVs I tend to stick with Limited for compatibility and simplicity reasons.
 
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