The following are the ones I've seen so far that could affect color display:

  1. GPU and Windows settings - I'm using a Nvidia GTX 1060
  2. Monitor calibrators - I have a Spyder5Elite
  3. The monitor settings - I have an ASUS PA279Q monitor that has its own settings.
  4. The application itself - Photoshop for example.

I'm using my PC setup to edit photos, mainly. My goal is to have as accurate colors as possible, so I need to calibrate my monitor in order to achieve that.

My problem is that with so many things that could affect the color, as mentioned above, I'm not sure which one I should be focusing on or should I tweak all 4?

Also, in the Nvidia control panel, there is an option to use either the Nvidia or default color settings. What does the default even referring to?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You forgot to include yourself and the room where all this is going to happen. Do a Web search for proper Viewing Conditions for colour judgement. Everything in your environment will affect your colour judgement including what you're wearing—That's why serious colour technicians wear black and work in a neutral coloured environment with fixed D50 illumination level without windows. Don't forget to let your equipment stabilize while on for a half-hour before you calibrate. Changing the position of your monitor with respect to the earth's magnetic pole will also affect its response. Big subject. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


The computer (with its GPU) is the primary control for everything. It uses a package of settings (a profile) that influence the video signals that go from your programs to your screen. On the way to your eye, additional processing of your video signal is done by your video-card and by your monitor.

Calibrating your monitor is to ensure that the colors that you eventually see on your screen are the same as the original colors of for instance a photo.

To do this, a calibration program (aka profiling program) takes you through a number of steps.

The first step prepares the monitor for the rest of the process. The program usually asks a couple of questions (for instance if monitor settings are software driven or not) and takes it from there. Alternatively it may (also) ask you to change monitor settings for brightness and hues by hand. (it will guide you to get your settings correct).

Step two: when your monitor is set, the program will generate a bunch of different colors while an optical device measures how your screen reproduces these colors. That device is your Spider Elite; it feeds the measured values back to the program so the program can compare values and decide if the colors on your screen need any correction.

When it is done, the program puts all the corrections in one neat package (you now have a new profile for your pc). You can save this profile and tell the computer to use it. I think my program automatically applies the new profile.
You have now finished 'calibrating your monitor', if it floats your boat, see the extra note below about the use of that term.

If you change settings of your video card or change monitor settings that alter what you see on screen, you have to do the process again because those changes mean that you created a new difference between original color values and screen color values. So its a good idea to tweak some stuff before you go through the steps:

Tweaking Photoshop can be done before or after calibrating; My advice is to copy the settings from this video with Vincent Versace

Start at 27:10 he ends about the settings at about 47:00. --Fyi: the video is a bit older; I found some settings under other sub menus then what you see in the video. I deliberately give no pictures here, see my note below.

Photoshop and Nvidia card: Set your Nvidia card to your liking before you calibrate. If you are not sure on how to optimize Photoshop's processing speed, check Google to see what Photoshop settings go best with your GTX 1060 card and your computer's capacity. It payed me well to read up on that stuff.

Regarding the Nvidia panel, if I am not mistaken, default means the color settings are managed by your computer itself.

Monitor: (If your program does not guide you to adjust monitor settings: set colors to neutral or default and lower your brightness, it is often too high. A program usually takes care of your monitor as a first step of the process as I have described above.

Spider Elite: You don't need to tweak this device, it is just the measuring tool for calibrating.

I hope this helps you, I may have covered a lot you already know but color management is key to consistent results and I wanted to be complete for others too.

Note about the term monitor calibration

One can rightly argue that 'monitor calibration' is technically not a correct term for the entire process; it is just the first of these steps:

  • adjusting monitor settings, (the only direct adjustment of the monitor itself)
  • measuring, comparing values and creating a new profile that you can save,
  • applying the new profile (profile implementation)

Personally I am okay with a practical use of the term 'Monitor Calibration' for the steps you need to do to have a calibrated monitor output . I trust people know what I mean, which keeps things simple.

Just to be sure of that assumption I googled 'what is a calibrated monitor' and I got links to descriptions of all the steps. FYI: check this well done description, that I just got as a top search result.

note about getting the settings for Photoshop through viewing a video

I know- 20 minutes for some settings seems like a stretch but Vincent Versace explains many a WHY of his choices and he does so very well. Imho understanding as in knowing what you do instead of blindly selecting check boxes radically improves your end results because it gives you more control over what you do. In this case it also deepens your understanding of color management in general not just your photoshop knowlegde; something that will benefit everything you do with your photography.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, but you misspelled Nvidia several times. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Eric- I will correct it \$\endgroup\$
    – Michiel M
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ The trouble with linking to a video is it will take 20 minutes to pick up information that could be imparted in text & pictures inside 3. One other point is that you need to set your monitor first to whatever the calibration software tells you to whilst it's running, including brightness, contrast & individual RGB levels, so it has a good start point to make its measurements. [idk the Spyder specifically, I use X-Rite] \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, most of what you call "calibrating" is part of the "profiling" process that corrects for the remaining differences left after calibration. Calibration is generally what one does when one adjusts the controls of the monitor to get as close as possible to accurate reproduction before a customized profile is applied. After the monitor is adjusted (calibrated) as closely as possible, then the output of the monitor is measured at various hues and brightness levels and a profile that instructs the GPU to apply compensation to the signal sent to the montor is generated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Tetsuji and Michael C- I read your ideas and suggestions and made some changes. ; \$\endgroup\$
    – Michiel M
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:59

Your worries are well founded, in the sense that there are many things that can be tweaked (often unwittingly) and spoil everything.

The rule #1 is that after you calibrate your system, you must not touch anything in your monitor system: display settings (including brightness), graphics card settings (those related to the output: colour adjustments, LUTs, even resolution), OS colour settings, and ideally even the room lighting (but this is unachievable for home use, and not as important). Moreover, you must not let any software to manipulate them, which may be hard to ensure.

It follows that any adjustments that are related to your 'liking' (such as brightness) must be done before calibration.

  1. Set your monitor to the desired brightness and 'native' (or custom) colour settings and leave it there.
  2. Reset any NVIDIA colour settings in their control panel, if anything is not at the default. Set the correct resolution, refresh rate, etc. Never touch all this again.
  3. Launch your Spyder 5 Elite application and just follow its instructions. It will do most of the job for you, but it will likely ask you to adjust specific colour settings on your display manually. Just do what it says.

The Spyder software should install the generated ICC profile in Windows, load the appropriate LUT changes into the video card, and moreover, to defeat other software modifying it (and to load it at start-up), it will install a resident program that will periodically reload LUTs.

(The process is slightly different for professional monitors that have their own adjustable LUTs, but it doesn't look like your ASUS can do that).

90% of the job is done. What remains is to make sure all your photo software use the correct settings. Most of the modern software (including Photoshop) will use the OS profile, but you may want to fine-tune some other parameters. This is a topic in itself, but

  • For Photoshop, you may want to set this:


  • If you are using Firefox, set gfx.color_management.mode = 1 and gfx.color_management.enablev4 = true.

  • Make sure your image viewer supports colour management and has correct settings.

One further note, very important:

  • Yours is a wide-gamut display. You must use a fully colour-managed workflow, take care of the attached image profiles, etc. Otherwise your results may be worse than on a cheap standard monitor. It doesn't necessarily mean that you must rigorously re-calibrate your monitor every 2 weeks or paint your walls 18% grey. But you need to ensure that all the above job is done, saved and takes effect. (Also, have a look at my other related answer).
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, @Zeus! Just to confirm - the spyder app only affects Windows and the video card, right? That is, even if I mess up the whole Spyder calibration/profiling, the monitor itself won't be changed (assuming, of course, that I didn't touch anythibg in the OSD)? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 13:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. It doesn't even know how to do that; this is why it asks you to manipulate the monitor controls (if necessary). Professional monitors that can be automatically adjusted usually require specialised (often proprietary) calibration software, even when using off-the-shelf sensors like Spyder. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeus
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 2:03

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