RGB vs BGR Subpixel Layout – What Is The Difference?

Displays using the BGR subpixel layout have blurrier text as Windows is intended to work with the standard RGB layout by default.

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

different monitor subpixel layouts

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: Adjust ClearType

In Windows, you can type in ‘Adjust ClearType text’ in your search bar, which will open an application that can make text appear sharper and clearer via anti-aliasing.

You will be given several text samples, and you just have to choose which one looks the best to you. After five examples, Windows will automatically apply ClearType and make text look a bit better.

In the first example, you should select the sample on the right if you have a BGR monitor for the best results.

This will make text appear sharper in some Windows’ applications, but sadly not all of your applications will respect your ClearType settings; this includes web browsers, video games, etc.

Method 3: 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 essentially get the RGB subpixel layout, but besides the aesthetic issue here, you’ll also have to consider cable management, OSD hotkeys/joystick access, and buying a mounting arm that can reliably hold the screen.

Additionally, with the flipped image, you won’t be able to use variable refresh rate and input lag would be a bit higher. This may not an issue for everyday use, but it definitely is for gaming.

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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.