What Is Overdrive on a Monitor? | Tweaks You Can Make to Enhance Performance

Overdrive on a monitor is a feature that enables the gamer to tweak the monitor's response time speed to prevent ghosting or trailing of fast-moving objects. If you are playing fast-paced games, you may experience motion blurs that affect your gaming and deny you a smooth gaming experience.

Depending on your monitor's refresh rate, a powerful overdrive can lead to inverse ghosting or cause a pixel overshoot. If you are taking part in competitive gaming, it'll be best to adjust your overdrive settings on the gaming monitor to achieve a response time that'll ensure smooth graphics.

So, what does overdrive refer to in a monitor? Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Overdrive in a Monitor Setting?

Your monitor overdrive settings are in the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu. You can find the settings under various names on your display screen, including Response Time, Overdrive, or TraceFree. Besides the overdrive settings, you'll find other settings, including brightness and contrast settings.

You'll encounter various overdrive levels to adjust when you open the overdrive menu. Most of the time, the settings include slow, normal, fast, and faster. In other monitors, you'll find the settings in numbers. Some monitor brands allow you the chance of turning them on or off, while in different monitors, you'll find it in default, which is often normal.

Not all monitors come with overdrive settings. If your monitor doesn't have the overdrive feature, you cannot adjust the response time to enjoy lesser ghosting.

monitor with a yellow background behind

What Is a Monitor’s Response Time Speed?

The response time is the pixel transition time a screen uses to change from one response time to the other. For example, a 60 Hz refresh rate monitor will refresh an image 60 times per second. Thus, it features 16.67 milliseconds between two refresh cycles.

If the monitor has a slow response time, meaning the pixel takes longer to change, it will still change in the next frame, leaving visible trailing behind the pictures in motion on your screen.

The response time should be faster for a monitor with a refresh rate of 144 Hz that has a 6.94ms refresh cycle. The response time overdrive, also known as response time compensation (RTC), comes into play in such instances. It helps push the pixels to change from one color to the next faster.

Which Overdrive Settings Should You Use?

As mentioned earlier, monitor overdrive settings come in varying levels, including low, medium, and high. But, which overdrive setting should you choose to ensure you enjoy the best response time? If your overdrive doesn't have an on/off switch, you'll mostly find the pointer at normal or medium.

Racing game on a monitor

If you are experiencing ghosting on your screen, it'll be best to change the overdrive settings upwards to shorten the response time. You should shift the ticker to the high overdrive setting to achieve the shortest response time that your monitor can achieve. However, if you place the ticker too high, you're likely to experience a pixel overshoot, also known as inverse ghosting caused by too much overdrive.

A pixel overshoot is when the overdrive settings are so high that they affect the entire display. It'll be best to change the overdrive settings to the option between high and medium. If you can't adjust to the position, it'll be best to leave the ticker at the medium option.

Although the overdrive is an ideal adjustment for increasing the response time, you should avoid using it on games that don't have ghosting. If your monitor features poor overdrive optimization, you'll end up with poor display settings instead of a faster response time.

If you experience motion blur even after adjusting the overdrive, it'll be best to get a monitor that will offer you the response time you require for your movies and games. You can ask your monitor manufacturer for the response time since it is available on the specs. Also, ensure you inquire how to set the overdrive.

How Do You Turn Your Overdrive Settings On or Off or Adjust Them?

How you adjust your overdrive and turn it on or off depends on your display's settings. First, you should identify how the overdrive is named on your TV, laptop, or monitor. After that, you can look for it from the settings.

As mentioned earlier, if you want to adjust the overdrive settings, you should go to the on-Screen display, where you get the adjustments to your display screen. If your monitor doesn't have the overdrive settings, you cannot change the response time to reduce ghosting. When you open the overdrive menu, you'll get various options ranging from low overdrive settings to the highest.
Monitor list cartooned

How Does the Overdrive Work?

LCD monitors come with tiny crystals that allow light to pass through depending on the voltage applied. When light passes through the crystals, you see the color on the monitor. The crystals are physically present, and they take time to move from one place to the other.

When you use the overdrive setting, it applies a lot more voltage to the crystals. The crystals move from one place to the other faster, making the pixels change colors faster. The process is known as overvolting, and it demonstrates how your monitor's response time speeds up.

Overdrive vs. FreeSync/G-Sync Technologies

AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync are popular display refresh rate technologies. FreeSync is the cheaper option of the two as it doesn't require you to purchase additional hardware to use it. On the other hand, G-Sync requires you to purchase NVIDIA's proprietary hardware, making it more expensive. The two sync technologies help sync your monitor's refresh rate with the frame rate to ensure a smooth gaming and watching experience.

Most monitors with the G-Sync technology come with a variable overdrive setting. Thus, the variable overdrive setting will change with the computer's refresh rate. 

On the contrary, only a few monitors featuring the FreeSync technology have a variable overdrive setting.

Thus, if your monitor features a 144Hz refresh rate, and you enable the high overdrive settings and the FreeSync causes the refresh rate to drop to 75Hz, you'll experience an overshooting of the overdrive. 

G-Sync Nvidia

Additionally, some monitors cannot simultaneously run the highest overdrive settings and FreeSync. Only a few monitors can run both the G-Sync and FreeSync technologies and the overdrive settings together.

Which Is the Best Overdrive to Use on Your Monitor?

If yours is a 60Hz display panel or has an IPS panel, there are limited chances that your monitor's refresh rate is faster than the response time. Thus, you may not experience ghosting when playing your games, even when your overdrive setting is low or off. The best overdrive setting to use on your monitor is normal or medium.

If you choose a higher overdrive, you'll end up with a pixel overshoot. Excess overdrive creates coronas, which refers to overdrive artifacts.

What Is HDR on Your Monitor?

HDR is a color technology that enables your screen to display various colors. It is best to use an HDR monitor when watching HDR videos.

The monitor displays color tones and nuances and offers more black and light contrasts details. For instance, if you watch a movie, you can clearly view the enemy attacking the hero from the shadows.

Both the screen and your content should be ideal for HDR to display HDR images. The content guides your monitor on the best contrast levels and colors to offer the most realistic images. HDR content comes with all the information embedded in it, and you can use it on a game or video, as long as you have the right screen.

On the other hand, a Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) monitor has a slimmer color range for coloring the images.

Can Overdrive Damage Your Monitor?

The overdrive feature cannot damage your monitor. It helps to push your monitor's response time to prevent ghosting. It uses higher voltages on pixels to speed up the pixel responses. Although it uses high voltages on the pixels, the monitor still operates at its normal parameters, meaning the overdrive doesn't cause any damages to the monitor.

On the other hand, if you don't use the overdrive to push the performance of your monitor, you are likely to end up with ghost images on the screen. The ghost images will interfere with your watching or smooth game-playing experiences.

Conclusion 

The overdrive feature helps boost your monitor's response time to get rid of ghosting on your screen. Thus, you can enjoy a smooth gaming experience. The overdrive has various names depending on the manufacturer, including response time compensation and response overdrive. Most monitors come with the overdrive set at normal or medium. You can push the setting to high to increase the response time. However, excess overdrive leads to pixel overshoot. Also, some monitors don't have an overdrive setting, meaning you cannot eliminate ghosting if the frame rates are low.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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