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Monitor Color Banding (Causes and How to Fix)

As an avid photographer and videographer, I have always been passionate about capturing and displaying the vibrant colors of life. But recently, I have been frustrated by a phenomenon known as color banding. I would like to share my own experience and the solutions I have discovered on how to fix this issue. Color banding is a common issue faced by many display monitor owners, causing certain colors to be displayed in an unnatural or distorted way. In this blog post, I will discuss the causes of color banding and effective solutions to get rid of this problem.

Monitor color banding is an annoying problem that happens when the bit depth is noticeably low, which prevents the display from supporting enough shades of the same color to allow a smooth transition, which ends up showing those ugly bands.

Poorly Optimized Color Settings on the OSIncorrect gamma, brightness, and contrast settings in the operating system can cause color banding.1. Go to “Control Panel” and select “Color Management”.
2. Choose the “Advanced” tab, click on “Calibrate Display”, and follow the prompts to adjust settings.
3. Check NVIDIA or AMD control panels and set the “Dynamic Range” option to full.
Improper Monitor CalibrationMonitor settings not calibrated properly or adjusted to extreme levels can lead to color banding.1. Access the monitor’s settings menu and search for a “reset to default” option.
2. Refer to the monitor’s user manual for guidance.
3. Test various gamma, brightness, color, and contrast settings to minimize the banding effect.
Color Banding in Apps and SoftwareCertain videos, games, or images might have poor native gradation of shades due to rendering issues, causing color banding.1. Tweak gamma and brightness settings to match them as closely as possible.
2. Reduce contrast and color intensity to help darker shades blend more easily.
3. For edited images, consider exporting them as TIFF or JPEG instead of JPG.
Graphics Driver ProblemsColor banding can occur due to poor optimization of older or newer graphic driver versions.1. Update your graphics driver by visiting the GPU’s support website (NVIDIA or AMD) and downloading the latest driver for your Windows version.
2. If the problem started after a specific update, consider reverting back to the latest stable version that worked properly.
DisplayPort/HDMI Cable IssuesOld, damaged, or poor-quality DisplayPort or HDMI cables can cause color banding due to poor image and color transmission.1. Consider purchasing a higher-quality HDMI cable, such as Monoprice HDMI Cable or Tripp Lite HDMI Cable.
2. For DisplayPort cables, consider options like VESA Certified DisplayPort 2.0 Cable or KabelDirekt 8K DisplayPort.

1. Poorly Optimized Color Settings on the Operating System

Poor optimization of settings in your operating system is one of the main reasons why color banding shows. 

The main settings that cause color banding issues are “gamma” and “brightness”, especially when combined with very high contrast. You might also want to check the display settings in NVIDIA and AMD control panels

Solution: Re-Adjust the Settings on Your Computer

First, you’ll need to go to your computer’s “Control Panel”, and pick the “Color Management” Menu. 

There, pick the “Advanced” tab, click on “Calibrate Display”, and follow the screen prompts to readjust the settings.

Next, you’ll need to check your NVIDIA or AMD control panels to make sure that you have the “Dynamic Range” option set to full. To do this, select the “Adjust Video Color Settings” menu, then  “Advanced”, and set it to “Full”.

2. Your Monitor’s Settings Are Not Calibrated Properly

You might also want to calibrate the monitor itself to match your current settings. This happens when you’ve previously adjusted the monitor’s brightness or contrast to extreme levels.

Solution: Reset the Monitor’s Calibration

The easiest way to do this is to open the settings menu on the monitor itself and search for a “reset to default” option. 

This might vary from one monitor to another, so you might want to check your monitor’s user manual

While you’re there, you might want to test out various settings for the gamma, brightness, colors, and contrast to reduce the banding effect as much as possible.

3. Some Apps and Software Cause Color Banding

In some cases, your monitor and computer settings might not be the culprit behind color banding. 

For example, youtube videos and some games might have a poor native gradation of shades due to problems in rendering. 

If everything looks fine on your computer except certain videos and/or games, this is probably the case.

Solution: Adjust Your Gamma and Brightness

The best thing you can do here is to tweak your brightness and gamma to match them as possible, usually by tuning them down a bit.

You can also try reducing contrast and color intensity because darker shades blend in much easier digitally.

If you notice color banding on certain images that you’ve edited, you can also tune down these settings to reduce the problem. Also, you might want to export them as TIFF or JPEG instead of JPG.

4. Problems with the Graphics Drivers

Color banding can also occur due to issues with the graphic driver version you’re using. This happens due to poor optimization of older versions and even newer ones.

Solution: Update or Revert the Graphics Driver

Updating your graphics driver isn’t only a good measure to reduce graphics issues like color banding, but it can also improve the performance of certain games and apps significantly.

To update your graphics driver, all you have to do is visit the GPU’s support website, whether you’re using NVIDIA or AMD

There you’ll need to choose your GPU model and download the latest driver for your windows version.

Alternatively, if the problems only started after a certain update, you might want to revert back to the latest stable version that used to work just fine.

5. Problems with the DisplayPort/HDMI Cable

Color banding can also happen due to old and damaged DisplayPort or HDMI cable or if you’ve recently bought a new one with poor quality. 

While these cables might all look the same on the outside, some of them are built with lower-quality materials that cause poor image and color transmission, which leads to a variety of problems, including color banding.

Solution: Buy a Higher Quality Option

If you’re looking for a good quality HDMI cable that is relatively affordable, you might want to consider Monoprice HDMI Cable or Tripp Lite HDMI Cable

As for DisplayPort cables, you can go for options like VESA Certified DisplayPort 2.0 Cable or KabelDirekt 8K DisplayPort.

Final Thoughts

With that being said, our troubleshooting guide for monitor color banding comes to an end. As you can see, the problem can happen due to various causes, so you have to try out different approaches to solve it.

If all else fails, there might be a hardware problem in your monitor that is causing the color banding. 

In this case, you might want to take it to a professional service center or buy a new one with better color gradation.