Surface 3 – Intel Atom x7 (Cherrytrail) multi-monitor tweaks

[skip to the bottom for the regkey file link – to learn more about the hack check out the Surface Pro 3 article]
I was excited to find the Surface 3 keeps the same 3:2 aspect ratio and high dpi of its big brother (Surface Pro 3)  and not the 16:9 ratio from its cousin (Surface 2 RT). The 1920×1280 resolution on the Surface 3 is far more practical than the 1920×1080 on the Surface 2 RT. Its wonderful to see more tablets and laptops breaking free of the 16:9 aspect ratio nonsense pushed by the movie industry and panel manufacturers.
By default, Windows 8.1 chooses 150% dpi scaling on the Surface 3 screen and depending on which external monitor is paired up, the on-screen sizes of objects might not match up exactly. Most folks don’t mind this and will love their Surface 3 out of the box. Others may want to tweak things a bit. Fortunately, you can use the same tweaks as the Surface Pro 3 to manually set a lower 3:2 aspect ratio resolution to better pair with certain monitors.

[photo courtesy]

For example if you have a 21.5″ 1920×1080 monitor at 103dpi, you can choose a screen resolution placing the effective Surface 3 pixel density at 107dpi to match very closely. As shown in the Surface Pro 3 tweak article, once the monitor is disconnected from the tablet, the tablet will magically spring back to full pixel density so you get the best of both worlds – hi-resolution /pixel density when using the tablet close up, and lower resolution to match your desktop monitors when docked.
If you use the built in lower resolution options to avoid dpi-scaling issues in certain applications, you’ll get black bars. So to avoid black bars, here are some 3:2 aspect ratio screen resolutions you can add with the regkey hack method to match your favorite monitor:
  • 1920×1280 213.7dpi 100% scaling native resolution at 10.8 inches diagonal
  • 1800×1200 200dpi 106% scaling
  • 1728×1152 192dpi 111% scaling
  • 1530×1020 170dpi 125% scaling (Intel driver may round to 1528×1020 which isn’t exactly 3:2 ratio)
  • 1440×960 160dpi 133% scaling
  • 1350×900 150dpi 142% scaling (Intel driver may round to 1352×900 which isn’t exactly 3:2 ratio)
  • 1278×852 142dpi 150% scaling (Intel driver may round to 1280×852 which isn’t exactly 3:2 ratio)
  • 1200×800 134dpi 160% scaling
  • 1152×768 128dpi 167% scaling
  • 1080×720 120dpi 178% scaling (can’t run modern apps on Surface screen)
  • 1020×680 114dpi 188% scaling (can’t run modern apps on Surface screen, Intel driver may round to 1024×680 which isn’t exactly 3:2 ratio)
  • 960×640 107dpi 200% scaling (can’t run modern apps on Surface screen)
Don’t be scared away by the lower resolution options. Read the full Surface Pro 3 article to understand why low-resolution in docked mode actually works better for many people. Curiously, I noticed that when attempting to add certain resolutions, the Intel control panel added a slightly different resolution that was off by 2 pixels. I’m not sure why that is but they look just fine. I shared my findings with the Surface team a while back and they grok why all of us enthusiasts are doing these tweaks, so don’t be surprised if some of these extra resolutions get baked into a future Intel driver update.


  • backup your system (use at own risk – modifying the registry can have side effects and precautions such as backing up your data should be taken before modifying your PC
  • download the .reg file
  • double-click the .reg file and click OK to import it into your registry
    • Having trouble importing a .reg file when downloading via the MS Edge browser in Windows 10? That’s probably because it is auto-renaming to .txt for safety. You can rename it back to .reg or import the .txt file from within regedit.exe. Or just download with Internet Explorer or FireFox instead.
  • Reboot OR follow these steps to reset the Intel display driver
    • open Device Manager
    • open the Display Adapters
    • right-click “Intel HD Graphics…” GPU and click “disable”
    • click “Yes”
    • after the monitors stop flashing, right-click the Intel GPU again and click “enable”
  • open System – Display – Advanced display settings in control panel and choose your preferred resolution


Manual method:

If the regkey option doesn’t work for you it may be that the latest Windows Updates have broken it.

Back to main blog:

2 thoughts on “Surface 3 – Intel Atom x7 (Cherrytrail) multi-monitor tweaks

  1. I tried merging the registry key and it doesn’t seem to have any affect after reboots or disabling re-enabling the video driver. I checked registry and the keys did actually merge, but I still don’t have the options in the drop-down resolutions.


    • Thanks for the feedback. Something must have changed in the latest drivers – try using the manual method and let us know how it works. I no longer have a Surface 3 to test on.

      On Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 9:39 AM, Dan S. Charlton wrote:



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