What Is Ghosting In Gaming and How To Fix It

When you move your mouse very quickly or scroll up and down quickly while browsing a website you’ll notice an effect where the previous image frame stays for a few seconds.

monitor ghosting while moving mouse

This also occurs in fast paced competitive First Person or Third Person Shooting games and RPG games.

Whenever you change the position of your gun quickly by moving your mouse you will sometimes notice shadowy or blurry images of the previous positions of the gun(image frames) which stays there for a few seconds.

This leads to the blurriness of current images and color distortions. It becomes difficult to see what’s happening in your surroundings while playing the game.

You cannot focus on your enemies and become a sitting target. Your enemies will destroy you and always have an edge over you.

Ghosting happens in both Monitor Displays as well as Laptop Displays and it is a real problem. If you want to fix this problem then you need to find the root cause.

In this article I’ll explain what causes ghosting in gaming and how to fix it.

What Is Monitor Ghosting or Screen Ghosting In Gaming

Monitor Ghosting or Screen Ghosting is the phenomenon where you see previous image frames accompany you even when you have moved to the next image frame. These previously displayed images appear blurry and distorted and the screen appears besmirched.

When the previous image frames accompany you in the current image frame it feels as if a Ghost is following you hence the phenomenon is called Ghosting and these previous images are called Ghost Images.

screen ghosting in gaming

These previous image frames or Ghost images can cause a lot of problems while gaming. You can’t locate enemies in the surrounding areas. You can’t fix your aim on enemies. You are basically a sitting duck waiting to get killed in these games.

Also, the new image frames appear distorted and blurry due to the presence of these Ghost images. All in all the games become unplayable.

Ghosting can also occur while browsing the internet, watching movies, and doing other tasks. It can also occur when you’re not basically running any programs and just moving your mouse quickly.

Ghosting isn’t a CPU, GPU or RAM issue. It is the issue of the Laptop Display or Monitor Display.

The two main causes of Monitor or Screen Ghosting are Screen Refresh Rate and Response Time.

What Causes Ghosting?

Ghosting is caused by two main factors Screen Refresh Rate and Response Time. Let us tackle each factor one by one in-depth.

Screen Refresh Rate is the number of times the display of a Monitor or Laptop refreshes its screen and displays the new update image in one second. The Screen Refresh rate is measured in Hertz(Hz).

Every time the laptop or monitor display refreshes its screen a new updated image is displayed on the screen.

Most displays have a Screen Refresh Rate of 60 Hz. This means that the screen displays a new updated image 60 times every second. Displays also come with a screen refresh rate of 75 Hz, 120 Hz, and 144 Hz.

A monitor or laptop display with higher screen refresh rate is better than displays with lower refresh rate.

A display with a higher screen refresh rate displays a new updated image faster than a display with a lower screen refresh rate.

Response Time is the time taken by the monitor or laptop display to change a pixel from one color to another.

Images are produced by the CPU and GPU which is then sent to the Display. The time taken by the display to produce that image on the screen after it has been sent by the CPU and GPU is called Response Time of the Display.

Response time is measured in milliseconds(ms). Response time of 5 ms means that the display takes 5 ms to update the image on the screen after it has been sent by the CPU and GPU.

A Monitor or Laptop Display with lower Response Times is better than a display with higher Response Times.

A display with higher response time takes more time to update a new image on the screen whereas a display with lower response time takes less time to update a new image on the screen.

Ghosting happens on your Display when the Screen Refresh Rate is LOW and the Response Time is HIGH. This means the display is not fast enough to display new updated images on the screen.

Let me help you understand the situation better with an example.

Whenever you open a program or a game the CPU and GPU processes the data and convert this data in the form of Pixels. These pixels are combined to display the entire image on the screen.

If the Response time of the Display is high and the Screen refresh rate is low then there will be a delay in updating the new image.

This delay means that the screen will show parts of the previous image frame along with the new updated image because the screen cannot refresh quickly enough. These previous image frames are called Ghost images and the phenomenon is Ghosting.

Therefore, a low screen refresh rate along with high response time causes Ghosting of the display.

Sometimes, monitor or laptop displays with high screen refresh rate and low response times can also cause ghosting due to various reasons.

One reason for monitor ghosting is the damaged cable of your monitor. If your monitor cable is damaged then the response time will increase and this can cause ghosting of the monitor.

If your cable is coiled or tangled with other wires then also the response time can increase and cause ghosting. Monitor cable wires with bad shielding can also cause Ghosting.

Another reason for ghosting is the current Software Settings of the Display. There are some settings on the display software which can increase the display response time and cause ghosting.

How To Fix Ghosting On Monitors and Laptop Displays

If your monitor or laptop display is showing signs of ghosting then you can fix it by following these five methods.

Adjusting Or Changing Your Monitor Cables

If you use a monitor then adjusting or changing the monitor cables can prevent ghosting. Here are a few situations where you should adjust or change.

If the monitor cable is coiled and tangled with other wires then the response time of the monitor increases which can result in ghosting. In this case, you need to adjust your cable in such a way that it doesn’t coil or tangle with other wires.

If your monitor cable is damaged and the shielding is poor then you should replace the monitor cable with a new one. Monitor cables with poor shielding increases response time of the display and causes ghosting.

Check Display Settings of Monitor or Laptop Display

There are some software settings for the display which can increase the response time and cause Ghosting. Adjusting these settings can eliminate ghosting.

There is one setting in Acer and HP Monitors known as OD(OverDrive). This setting when turned ON can cause ghosting. If you turn this OFF then this will eliminate Ghosting. This setting is named differently for different monitors.

The OverDrive setting is also known as Advanced Motion Acceleration or AMA. AMA or OverDrive can found in the Picture Settings of Monitor. You can turn it to medium or low but the best option is to turn it off.

You need to fiddle around with the settings and find the perfect one for you. Every monitor and laptop display is different. You need to check tutorials on Reddit or YouTube to find the perfect settings for your monitor or laptop display.

If you have an NVIDIA GPU then you can check the NVIDIA G-Sync option. Try changing the setting by enabling or disabling. Closely watch if changing this setting has any effects on Ghosting.

If you have an AMD GPU then try enabling and disabling the AMD FreeSync. Closely check whether there is an effect of the setting on Ghosting.

You can also try changing the ULMB settings for Nvidia GPUs. ULMB is Ultra Low Motion Blur which can be found in the Nvidia Control Panel. Enabling or Disabling this option can remove Ghosting.

If you’re already using G-Sync in the monitor then you cannot use ULMB.

Update Your Drivers

Every hardware component has drivers which need to be updated for proper functioning. Make sure you keep all of your drivers up to date. You’ll get a notification to update your drivers when a new update is released.

Display drivers are the most important for controlling the monitor or laptop displays. Always update your display drivers to eliminate ghosting.

Overclocking the Monitor or Laptop Display

Overclocking the monitor or laptop display can increase the refresh rate and decrease the response time of your monitor. This overclocking can, therefore, eliminate Ghosting completely.

But remember, improper overclocking can damage the display. In severe cases, your monitor or laptop display may not turn on or sometimes you’ll get only a black screen.

Buy A New Monitor

If the above methods don’t work for you then this means your monitor has some kind of defect or fault. In this case, you have no other option but to buy a new monitor.

Make sure you buy a new monitor with high screen refresh rate of around 120 Hz or 144 Hz and low Response Time of around 1 ms or 2 ms.

What To Look For When Getting A New Monitor or Laptop Display

Whenever we shop for a monitor the two things we consider are the Screen Resolution and Display Panel. We are always on the lookout for beautiful IPS Displays with Screen Resolution of 1920×1080 and above.

two gaming monitors

Most people don’t look for the two most important factors in Monitor Ghosting which are Screen Refresh Rate and Response Time.

The next time you buy a new monitor or laptop display then you should buy one with high Screen Refresh Rate(120 Hz or above) and Low Response Time(3 ms or less) along with the IPS Display Panel of 1080p or above screen resolution.

Another factor to consider here is the Input Lag. Input Lag is the time taken by the display to register an input action from the User.

Example – Imagine you’re typing something on Google Search. When you press a key then the time taken to display the letter of that particular key on the screen is called Input Lag. Basically, it is the time taken for an input action to be displayed on the screen.

You should always buy a display with Low Input Lag(less than 1 ms).

If you love playing AAA Title games and you want to play them on the highest graphics quality without any lags or stuttering then you should buy a monitor or laptop display with Nvidia G-Sync. If you have an AMD GPU then the display should have AMD FreeSync.

Don’t buy monitor or laptops with Vertical Alignment(VA) Displays. You’re much better off with IPS Displays.

To summarize, you need a monitor or laptop display with the following characteristics to avoid ghosting. These will also make sure you don’t have any screen stuttering or screen tearing.

(A) High Screen Refresh Rate of 120 Hz or above.

(B) Low Response Time of 3 ms or less.

(C) Low Input Delay of less than 1 ms.

(D) No VA Display. Instead, go for an IPS Display.

(E) Supports Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync.

Conclusion

Monitor ghosting can ruin your gaming experience, especially while playing competitive fast-paced shooting or RPG Games. You should follow the fixes mentioned in this article to eliminate ghosting from your monitor or laptop display.

If the fixes don’t work then you have to purchase a new display that satisfies the three main factors of high screen refresh rate, low response time, and low input delay.

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