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Guide [UPDATED] Eliminate Motion Blur While Gaming With NVIDIA LightBoost!
All LCD monitors show significant motion blur, even my new Asus VG278HE monitor which supports a 144Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 LightBoost, since it's inherent in LCD technology. At 144Hz the motion blur is much reduced though. This of course looks rubbish when playing any kind of animated game, especially a fast moving FPS game, which is why it's such a crying shame for gamers that CRT's became obsolete, since they didn't suffer motion blur. Even if you can't obviously see the blur due to the fast pace of the typical FPS game, the effect is still there, degrading the picture and your enjoyment of the game.
Note that this works only with NVIDIA graphics cards however, since it uses the LightBoost feature introduced in 3D Vision 2, which is proprietary.
I've discovered that there's a very simple way to eliminate motion blur:
- Ensure that the monitor is connected with a dual link DVI cable
- Connect the USB IR emitter and let the driver install complete if necessary
- Set the monitor refresh to 120Hz (3D Vision doesn't support the 144Hz that my monitor can display, unfortunately). Note that setting the monitor to 60, 100 or 110Hz refresh doesn't work. LightBoost will be on, but cause terrible motion artefacts, even worse than with it off
- Set the NVIDIA driver to always put the display in 3D mode (red highlight) in the screenshot below and click Apply:
- To stop the driver displaying an unwanted 3D Vision 2 picture, simply untick Enable Stereoscopic 3D. Leave it enabled for 3D use, obviously
Note that the IR emitter can be disconnected, but the setting can't be changed without it, since NVIDIA saw fit to remove the above option when it's not connected, for some reason.
The monitor is now locked in 3D mode with LightBoost permanently on. This has the following benefits:
- All games display zero motion blur. Sideways scrolling (worst case acid test) is perfect at all speeds
- Doesn't introduce lag
- No need to use the 3D Vision glasses and 3D mode. 3D Vision has always eliminated motion blur due to the strobing effect of the shutter lenses
- It improves the desktop too, with a perfectly clear mouse during movement (especially sideways) and much clearer windows while being dragged. This is never perfectly clear, because the mouse motion always contains a lot of jitter. It's just the way the blessed things work
- Overall picture quality appears that little bit sharper
So here's a good reason to go NVIDIA as you can't get this fantastic improvement with AMD graphics cards. If someone comes up with a small utility to set the monitor to 3D mode independently of the NVIDIA driver, then this benefit could also be enjoyed using other brands of graphics card too eg AMD and Intel integrated graphics. However, as LightBoost is an NVIDIA proprietary feature, they're unlikely to release the API, forcing this to be reverse engineered.
One side effect of enabling it is that many settings are locked on the monitor. On my Asus, locked settings include brightness, saturation, colour temperature, Trace Free, sharpness and many others. However, the brightness can be adjusted by the changing the amount of LightBoost required and the contrast setting isn't locked out in 3D mode, so the picture can still be viewed comfortably.
Bottom line: if you're a serious gamer, have an NVIDIA graphics card and care about your picture quality, then buying a LightBoost monitor is worth the price premium, hands down.
We have had some excellent responses to this LightBoost guide in the forum, so I'd like to update this article to reflect these useful contributions.
Mark Rejhon runs the http://www.blurbusters.com blog which is all about enabling and modding LCD monitors to use strobing backlights to eliminate motion blur and is well worth a read.
He has now joined tng as user mdrejhon to give us some very useful hints and tips. First up is a registry tweak to enable LightBoost mode independent of NVIDIA's graphics driver and crucially, the presence of the emitter, saving significant money. Click here to download it, but Windows 8 users may see issues - see his post about this first.
Then we have a great video demonstration by Mark using high speed photography to clearly show the benefits of strobing the backlight:
There's more useful hints and tips in the forum thread below, so check it out below!