You may want to look at alternate resolutions that match the aspect ratio of your display panel. It's probably 16:9 or 16:10. You may have tried other resolutions that don't match the ratio of your panel, which would explain the unused regions.
LCDs work best when you use their native resolution, which is generally given in the specifications for your laptop. It's also likely that your Windows resolution is set to the native resolution of the panel; you can look at your display settings to check and see what this resolution is. (Here's how you'd do that on Windows 7)
Common resolutions for 16:9 are (source):
640x360, 854x480, 960x540, 1024×576, 1280×720, 1366×768, 1600×900, 1920×1080, 2048x1152, 2560×1440, 3840×2160 and 4096x2304.
Common resolutions for 16:10 are (source):
1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600
The best idea is to use the native resolution given in your laptop's specifications, but trying one from each list will at least identify your panel as 16:10 or 16:9.