Picture this: You’re playing fast-paced games on your PC and your monitor begins to show pixelated trails that travel across the screen and impact your gameplay. If you’ve seen this happen before, you may have a case of a ghosting monitor on your hands.
Monitor ghosting isn’t as scary as it sounds, and can happen not only to your external monitor but to the monitor of your laptops and 2-in-1 laptops too! If you want to solve this issue then you’ve come to the right place – we’re here to catch you up with everything you need to know how to fix monitor ghosting.
What is Monitor Ghosting Anyway?
A ghosting monitor, sometimes referred to as screen ghosting, is the technical phenomenon where you experience motion blur and strange trails across your laptop monitor screen. Monitor ghosting can most often be seen when you’re playing high-intensity games with a lot of fluid motion – think FPS games, action games, or similar titles.
To put it more technically, monitor ghosting is the production of an image artifact, visual glitch, or tear when your monitor panel is struggling to update the physical pixels. As we mentioned, it can most often be seen when playing very fast-paced games, but you may find that slower games can also experience screen ghosting – even when you’re scrolling through a webpage if it’s a more severe case.
This annoying effect can impact all LCD monitors, even television screens. What’s more, a ghosting monitor can induce eye strain over long periods. It can be very frustrating, but rest assured that it is fixable – so put on your data science cap and let’s dive into why it happens anyway!
Why Monitor Ghosting occurs?
The reason why monitor ghosting occurs is fairly simple to answer: it has everything to do with your monitor’s pixel response time. The pixels aren’t updating quickly enough to show the current image your monitor is supposed to show, so they remain the same color that they were before. You’ll see this occur more frequently with fast-paced games, as the pixels can’t keep up.
Now, the question of what causes monitor ghosting on your screen is the real dilemma as monitor ghosting can happen for a variety of reasons. In most cases, it’s due to a hardware failure of your laptop like a faulty monitor cable but that’s not always the case. Let’s cover the things that you can do to fix your monitor ghosting and motion blur.
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6 Ways to Fix Monitor Ghosting
There are extensive resources that you can use to fix monitor ghosting, so don’t worry about buying a new 4K monitor just yet. In most cases, you won’t have to take your monitor to a technician to fix it – but if you are experiencing other issues like image retention, inverse ghosting, or a burnt-in monitor, then we recommend you do.
Here are our best 6 ways to fix your gaming monitor and stop monitor ghosting:
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Try a Monitor Ghosting Test
Before we go fix monitor ghosting, it’s always best to run a diagnostic test to see the issue. Running a monitor ghosting test is easy, and the best place to do so is the Blur Busters UFO Monitor Test.
This fun website puts your monitor’s refresh rate to the test by using moving objects to determine if your LCD panels are having any issues. The aliens that fly across your screen are adorable and sure to entertain any preteens you are with! You’re more than welcome to change settings, such as increasing the frame rate, changing the number of pixels per second, and so much more.
If your image retention is struggling, the site will highlight the issue in orange with a likely reason as to why it is happening. If you receive a green “Ready” instead on your laptop or Chromebook, then your issue may be more minimal than you thought.
Try Turning on Your Overdrive Settings
Turning on the overdrive function of your laptop and monitor is one of the first steps you should take to fix monitor ghosting. Here’s how you do it!
- Open the on-screen display menu of your monitor and activate the overdrive setting.
- Once activated, you can set the level of the overdrive option to the refresh rate of your monitor. If they are not equal, it can cause monitor ghosting issues.
Certain monitors, like gaming monitors that come with Nvidia or AMD syncing technology, will automatically turn on your overdrive function.
Change your Monitor Settings
Several settings within your monitor can impact your monitor ghosting problem. The monitor settings that you need to look out for are the following:
Perfect Clear is meant to ensure that your computer screen or external monitor remains in focus and isn’t blurry. We recommend turning this setting on and off to see if it impacts your monitor ghosting.
If you value your eyes and want to reduce eyestrain, then you’ll likely have dynamic contrast turned on. While its ability to smooth images and reduce strain is useful, it can also cause monitor ghosting.
Motion smoothing is usually found in TVs and reduces motion blur to offer you smoother motion and video. It can cause monitor issues and possibly monitor ghosting, so feel free to turn this off and see if your monitor’s blurry trail is removed.
The final setting we recommend is noise reduction. This isn’t referring to reducing sound on your Zoom call, but rather cleaning up block noise and mosquito noise of your monitor’s background. Switch this one off and see if you still notice ghosting.
Check Your Connected Devices
A prominent cause of monitor ghosting is faulty cables and interrupted connected devices. Start by looking over your cables and USBs and see if any of them seem broken or faulty – frayed monitor cables are more common than you think.
Once you’ve checked your connected devices, open your devices connected wirelessly and reconnect them to your laptop. Surprisingly, even wireless printers, speakers, and Wi-Fi can cause a monitor to have a slow response time. If you use a gaming laptop with a monitor, then this may be your issue.
Update your Graphics Drivers
If you have a laptop or PC with an outdated graphics card driver, we recommend you see if they need to be updated. Unless you’ve set your graphics driver to automatically update it won’t and your gaming monitor may begin to present problems, including monitor ghosting.
Ensuring that updating your drivers becomes routine will not only avoid monitor ghosting issues but also improves the performance of your monitor.
Double-check your Monitor Video Port
Your final option is the monitor video port, which means that your slower response times are due to a hardware issue rather than a software one. There’s not a lot you can change if your port is damaged, so if you still experience monitor ghosting after completing our tips then it’s best to take your monitor to a service center.
Inexpensive IPS monitors are cheaper to service and repair but if the cost of your monitor repairs is too great then it may be best to start searching for a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have some questions about monitor ghosting? We’ve scoured the internet for the most frequently asked questions about fixing your monitor and answered them here for you.
How do I fix ghosting on my monitor?
We’ve highlighted quite a few ways to fix your monitor ghosting and stop a trail of pixels when you’re playing or watching fast-paced scenes. The most consistent ways of fixing your monitor problems are checking with online testing tools, enabling overdrive, and checking your graphic card drivers for updates.
What graphics setting causes ghosting?
One of the most common causes of ghosting is motion blur, especially for gaming monitors. The easiest way to alleviate your monitor of ghosting is to switch it off and see if your image quality improves at all.
Can a GPU cause ghosting?
While a CPU or GPU is unlikely to cause ghosting as it is a monitor issue, it is still worth checking and updating your graphics card drivers to see if it alleviates the problem you’re having. It may be a compatibility issue between your graphics card and your monitor that is leading to your monitor ghosting.
There’s hardly anything more frustrating than a monitor that is ghosting, and while your problem will have a likely chance of being fixed by employing our methods we also recommend taking your monitor to a service technician if the problem is not solved.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.