What Is Ghosting In Gaming And How To Fix It – A Simple Explanation

You are playing a fast-paced shooter or RPG game and you notice after-images here and there on your display. This then quickly gets out of hand and turns your gaming experience into a complete nightmare.

Colours become distorted. Images are blurred and have some kind of smearing effect. You can’t make out your surroundings well.

And worst of all, because of this you are getting owned by your enemies which shouldn’t happen even if you had a headache.

What you just experienced is called ghosting.

Ghosting on monitors or laptop displays is a real problem. But, what is ghosting in gaming, why does it happen and how can fix this technical phenomenon called ghosting.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Screen Ghosting In Gaming?

Ghosting is a technical phenomenon is displays. Ghosting occurs when your eyes are able to register a previously display imaged.

The previously displayed image might be blurred and cause a smearing effect on the new image hence producing a “ghost” image.

It is akin to seeing a ghost standing behind or following someone.

ghost image
A Ghost Image

Ghosting can seriously affect your gaming experience and in extreme cases make games unplayable. This interferes and distorts newly produced images resulting in subpar gameplay.

Funny enough ghosting not only occurs in games but in other areas. It can happen when you watching a movie or doing a task on your laptop.


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Ghosting happens because of two things – refresh rates and response times.

Let’s find out what really causes ghosting when you playing games.

How Causes Ghosting?

To understand what causes ghosting, you have to understand what Refresh Rate and Response Times are.

Refresh rate which is measured in Hertz (Hz) is the number of times a screen, monitor or laptop display refreshes its screen. For every refresh that occurs a new image/screen is drawn.

Most displays have a 60Hz refresh rate. Meaning the display shows a new image or the same image 60 times per second. Others have 75Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and so on and so forth.

Related: Does RAM Affect Gaming And How Much Do You Need For Gaming

Response time is the time taken for an image produced by the CPU or GPU to be drawn on the display or updated.

It is how quickly a pixel can change from one colour to another when an image is sent from the CPU/GPU to the display. High response times means it takes a longer time for a new image to be drawn.

Or a pixel to change from one colour to another. The lower the response time the faster a new image/screen is able to show up on the display. A 3ms response time means it takes 3 milliseconds for your display to receive or update an image.

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Now that you have understood what refresh rates and response times are

Ghosting happens when your refresh rate and response times are slow – the display is not fast enough to show or update images.

Let’s dig a bit deeper…

When you are playing a game the GPU and CPU processes data and transforms that data into an image.

This image is then displayed on your screen. The display at the same time refreshes itself X times per second depending on the refresh rate. When this new image is not drawn quickly enough.

The display refresh itself and you see remnants of the previous image. Slow response times and refresh rate together cause ghosting.

Related: 10 Ways To Increase FPS In Gaming

There are also cases where monitors with high refresh rates and fast response times experience ghosting. This might be due to certain factors.

Factors such as your monitor cable which has sustained damage, coiled around a lot of wires or has poor cable shielding.

Or

Software settings that your monitor or laptop has. Certain software settings can cause ghosting because they increase the response time of your display.

How To Fix Ghosting On A Monitor Or Laptop Display

Ghosting can sour your gaming experience if not dealt with. It makes things hard to see and it’s frustrating. Here are four ways that might help fix your ghosting problem.

Check Your Monitor Cables

If you are using a monitor, checking your monitor cables might help solve the problem. Your cables might be tangled up and that might cause the problem.

Sometimes having cables tangled up and near to each other can cause interference, especially if the cable’s shielding is not strong enough.

What you can do is to untangle the cables and try to keep them as far away as possible from each other. Also, check the monitor cable for any damages. If there are any replace the cable with one that has better shielding.

Check Your Monitor or Laptop Display Software Settings

As mentioned earlier, certain software settings might cause ghosting because they increase the response time of your monitor. There are also certain settings that can help eliminate ghosting.

Check your display settings or play around with it. Every monitor is different because they were made by different manufacturers. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution here.

There is also the NVIDIA control panel. You can tweak the settings to see if it will solve the problem. If your laptop or monitor has NVIDIA G-SYNC try enabling or disabling.

In addition to that, you have to enable or disable certain features in the control panel like ULMB.

The same applies to AMD. Check your Radeon settings. Try enabling or disabling AMD Freesync.

Keep Your Drivers Up-to-date

Download the latest drivers and always make sure your drivers are up-to-date.

Get A New Monitor

This is sort of a last resort when you are at your wit’s end. It might be that current monitor was faulty, to begin with, or your PC has so much power the monitor is not able to keep up.

Getting a new monitor with a high enough refresh rate and low response time will solve the problem.

What To Look Out For In Getting A New Display For Gaming

When looking for a new display or monitor, high refresh rates and fast response times are what you should be after. This becomes more important if you like playing fast-paced or are into competitive gaming.

The higher these are the less amount of ghosting you will experience. There is also a third you should consider – input lag.

gaming monitor
A Good Display Takes Your Gaming Experience To A Whole Other Level

Input lag is how quickly an action you performed is registered by the display.

This means that for a stellar gaming experience. Your display should have a high refresh rate, fast response time and low input lag.

In addition to that, make sure the display has NVIDIA G-SYNC or AMD Freesync. These features are not really deal breakers.

But, they will take your gaming experience a whole lot of pleasurable. Especially if you experience fluctuations in FPS a lot. Kind of like when you replace an HDD with an SSD.

To sum it all up, make sure your new display has:

  • High refresh rate
  • Fast response time
  • Low input lag

If you are able to get these three not only will your ghosting problem be solved but also screen tearing and stuttering.

Also avoid VA panels.

Final Thoughts

Screen ghosting is definitely annoying when it gets out of hand. Don’t let it take your gaming experience hostage. Fortunately, you now know what to do when it comes to getting rid of ghosting in games.

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