You can change the monitor settings by using the Settings tab of the Display Properties dialog box. After you apply changes, you get a confirmation dialog box. This is because when changing settings, you can sometimes configure a resolution, color depth, or refresh rate that your graphics card supports but that your monitor does not support. This won't exactly break the computer, but you won't exactly be thrilled with the result, either. You'll probably get a blank screen. But as long as you don't click anything, the settings will revert after 15 seconds.
Higher resolutions require more graphics processing power. It's the same with colors: the more colors, the more processing capability is required. Although most modern graphics cards support very high resolutions and the highest color quality, yours might not. As you slide the resolution bar to the right, the Color Quality setting might decrease if your graphics processor cannot handle the additional workload.
There's another way to change display settings that can affect graphics performance. If you notice a slowdown when bumping up display settings (increasing the refresh rate, screen resolution, etc.), you can tone down some of XP's "eye candy" in an effort to combat the degraded performance.
You don't make these changes under Display Settings, though. Instead, you configure them with the System Properties dialog box, which can be launched either through the Control Panel or simply by right-clicking My Computer and choosing Properties.
From the System Properties dialog box, select the Advanced tab and then click the Settings button under the Performance area. The Performance Options dialog box appears. Choose the Visual Effects tab, as shown in Figure 5-8.
Figure 5-8. Adjusting XP's Visual Effects.
The Performance Options dialog box contains a list of XP's visual splendor. As you might suspect, the more options you disable, the better the graphics performance. The default is that Windows selects the Performance Options for you.
If you just want a quick shot in the old graphics-performance arm, choose the "Adjust for best performance" option.