RGB vs BGR Subpixel Layout – What’s The Difference?

If you’re buying a new monitor for productivity work or anything else that involves a lot of reading and typing, it’s important that you pick a display with an RGB (Red, Green, Blue) subpixel layout for the sharpest and clearest text!

As manufacturers don’t specify the type of the subpixel layout used by the display, you will have to rely on monitor reviews for this information.

Luckily, it’s mostly the 43″ 4K monitors and very old models that use the BGR (Blue, Green, Red) subpixel layout that’s responsible for making text appear blurry, mainly in Windows.

Here’s what you need to know about different display subpixel layouts, and what you can do to improve text clarity if you have a BGR-layout monitor.

BGR vs RGB Subpixel Layout

BGR-layout monitors have an inverse subpixel arrangement in comparison to the standard RGB pixel structure.

This causes text to appear blurry on BGR monitors (particularly those with low pixel density) as Windows handles subpixel anti-aliasing according to the more common RGB layout by default.

As a result, you get something like this:

bgr vs rgb subpixel

This is mostly noticeable with small text, and it’s not an issue for video games, movies, and other multimedia use.

How To Improve Text Clarity On BGR-Layout Monitors

In Windows, there are several ways to improve text clarity if you have a monitor with a BGR subpixel layout.

Method 1: Scaling

If you have a monitor with relatively low pixel density, such as the popular 43″ 4K monitors with ~103 PPI (pixels per inch), you can simply apply scaling which will make text larger and sharper.

You will have to sacrifice screen real estate in the process though, as text and other items will take more screen space.

Method 2: Disable ClearType

Alternatively, you can try disabling Window’s ClearType subpixel rendering. This feature is supposed to make font appear sharper, but because it’s assuming that the monitor uses an RGB layout, it actually makes it worse.

Method 3: Edit ClearType Registry Settings

You can, however, edit the registry so that ClearType recognizes the pixel structure as BGR instead of RGB.

To do so, you’ll need to open Registry Editor (Start + R, type ‘regedit’ and press enter) and change the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\FontSmoothingOrientation value to ‘2’.

Next, adjust the ClearType settings, and font should be a lot clearer!

Unfortunately, this won’t work if you have a multi-monitor setup where one display has an RGB-layout and the other a BGR-layout since the pixel structure part of the ClearType settings applies to all connected displays.

Method 4: Flip The Screen

The last method you can try is a bit less conventional as it includes mounting the monitor upside-down and flipping the picture by 180° in your display settings.

This way, you get the RGB subpixel layout and you can use ClearType with a multi-monitor setup.

However, besides the aesthetic issue here, you’ll also have to consider cable management, OSD hotkeys/joystick access, and expensive mounting arm that can reliably hold the screen.

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Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.