If blurred movements ruin your PC gaming experience, tweak these settings in Windows, on your monitor, or in your game to reduce the blur.
There’s something very satisfying about modern games that run at high resolution with sharp and sharp graphics. But if the scene turns into a dirty stain every time you move your character, you experience a phenomenon called motion blur.
Motion blur comes from a number of different sources, and if you are lucky, your monitor may have several options to reduce it. Although one or two tweaking software might help you reduce motion blur, many options depend on your appearance – the better your monitor, the more blur-reduction options that all have. Gaming monitors usually have more of these tweaks than office-oriented displays, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
If you are not sure how to enter the monitor screen (OSD), check the manual. You can usually press the buttons on the side or bottom of the monitor to navigate the onboard settings. Here are some options that you might find.
Increase Refresh Rate
The refresh rate of the LCD monitor determines the number of times the display refreshes the screen image. Most standard computer monitors refresh at 60Hz, or 60 times per second. However, many monitors – especially those focused on games – can run at 90Hz, 144Hz, or even higher.
This is why this is important: on sample-and-hold displays like LCDs, moving objects on the screen don’t really move as your eyes expect. They stay in one place for 1/60 second, then appear in another place for 1/60 second, and so on. As your eyes trace objects on the screen, expecting subtle movements, your brain injects some blurring into motion. (Blur Busters has an extraordinary explorer of this oddity, if you want to dive deeper.)
If you can increase the number of frames displayed every second, you can reduce this blur (although it might not eliminate it completely). With a higher refresh rate, each image remains on the screen for a shorter time before moving on to the next position. To do this, you need a monitor with a higher refresh rate, and you actually need to enable that refresh rate in Windows.
This might seem obvious, but every week I hear about other gamers who buy 144Hz monitors and don’t see the difference because they forget to really enable the refresh rate in Windows. So if you have a high refresh game display, go to Settings> System> Display, scroll down and click Advanced Display Settings, then select Display Adapter Properties for [your monitor].
On the Monitor tab, click the Screen Refresh Rate drop-down and crank as high as possible. (If your monitor can’t be higher than 60Hz, you might be able to overclock a bit – but it’s a separate topic overall.)
Increase your Game Frame Rate
Just because your screen can be refreshed at 144Hz doesn’t mean you see 144 frames per second; that just means your monitor is able to show lots of different frames. The other half of the equation concerns your PC and its ability to produce frames at that speed. More modern games require a more powerful CPU and GPU to run smoothly, especially at higher resolutions such as 1440p or 4K.
So open your current game of choice and track how many frames per second you get. If you only get 67 frames per second on a 144Hz monitor – or worse, 30fps on a 60Hz monitor – you might still be blurred, and you will have to reject some of your game’s graphic settings so that it cranks out more frames.
The high settings can still look great, while it’s much less punishing than Ultra, allowing for high frame level gameplay that looks more clearly. (Just try not to adjust the resolution too low because it can make your game blurry for completely different reasons.)
Ideally, you want your game frame rate to be as high or higher than your monitor’s refresh rate, for the smoothest possible movement on the display. So aim for 60fps or more on a 60Hz screen, 144fps on a 144Hz screen, and so on.
Turn off your Motion Blur Game Settings
When you are in your game settings checking the frame rate, you should also look for the game’s Motion Blur settings. Many games add this to compensate for a low frame rate, or to make the game more “cinematic.”
However, depending on how it is implemented, this feature can actually make things look worse. If you don’t like how blurring looks in your game, try lowering or turning it off from the settings and see if it looks better.
Certain games might also offer further settings that you might want to adjust. Play around with the settings of Depth of Field, Bloom, Film Grain, and Chromatic Aberration, which can produce equally annoying effects if you like clear images.
Turn on Overdrive and Motion Blur Reduction
There is another reason why movement may be blurry on your monitor: response time. Don’t be confused with input lag (the delay between pressing a button and the action that appears on the screen), the monitor’s response time, measured in milliseconds, determines how fast the pixels can move from one color to another. If the transition is too slow, the moving image will have a trace of smudging, called ghosting. This can happen even if your monitor has a high refresh rate.
Certain panel types are more susceptible to ghosting and slow response times than others. TN panels tend to have faster response times than IPS and VA, although in any category, you will find that some panels are better than others.
Even more confusing, the response time values that you see on the monitor specifications page may be misleading – so even though the monitor claims a response time of 1ms, it might show a bad amount of ghosting. Don’t put too much stock in the numbers in the box, read monitor reviews from experts like us to see how well the display handles movement.
Often, gaming monitors will come with Overdrive or Response Time settings to reduce ghosting. Check the display on your screen to see what is available. Changing this feature to the top can reduce the amount of ghosting, but changing it too high can cause pixel transitions to exceed the desired shadow, causing reverse ghosting artifacts.
I usually find the second highest setting is a good balance, but it depends on the monitor. If you are not sure, the Blur Busters ghosting test can help you find out which settings. Try each setting to see which works best for you.
Next to the overdrive’s settings, you can also find separate motion blur reduction settings. This is known by many names, including LightBoost, Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB), Dynamic Accuracy (DyAc), Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB), or Motion Pixel Response Time (MPRT), to name a few. These features illuminate the backlight in a way that reduces or eliminates blurred motion, although some implementations are better than others.
On many monitors, this can cause terrible artifacts and image duplication, so again, try it yourself to see if you like the way your monitor handles it.
Again, these features tend to be available on monitors that focus on the game – you might not find them on screens that focus on offices at a low price. So when it comes time to upgrade your monitor, be sure to look for features such as high refresh rates and blur reduction if you care about subtle and clear movements.