What Is Overdrive on a Monitor? (Complete Guide)

For those enthusiasts who want to get the best gaming experience, visually, it becomes important to know what overdrive on a monitor is! Knowing the display terms like response rate, ghosting and screen tearing is pivotal for a gamer or the PC users who are dealing with graphics and anticipates the smooth fluid like motion on screen. In this post we shall take a complete look at overdrive on a monitor and what role it has for you! Read on.

What Is Overdrive on a Monitor?

Basically the response time overdrive is what promotes monitor response time speed. It is mainly responsible to keep off the ghosting and trailing effects that you see while playing fast-paced games or in a fast moving media.

In simpler words, monitor overdrive is a function that boosts up the performance of moving media by pushing the pixel transition time (response time).  However it is important to note that if you overdrive the monitor too strongly, it can also make the pixel overshoot or inverse ghosting, depending on the refresh rate approach.

The overdrive settings of the monitor are in the on screen display menu. However the name varies and you can find it by the name of Overdrive (OD), Response Time, or TraceFree. It depends what name the company has set on default.

Response Time Speed to Overdrive on a Monitor

Although, you have read the answer to what is monitor overdrive, if you are still confused, let’s first know the response time speed to clear things out. The monitor response time speed is that particular time in which it determines how fast a pixel changes its state from one color to another. The time taken by the pixel is what matters for the human eye to pick information either right away or with delay.

If we take it by an example, a monitor that has 60Hz it would refresh an image 60 times in a single second. Hence if the monitor’s response time is lagging and slower than what it has, (like 60 Hz)  then the pixel on screen will take more time to change its color and the time will continue in the next frame. That is the reason why you see visible trailing behind moving objects.

Typically the monitor that has 144Hz refresh rate, it has a refresh cycle of 6.94 ms and it becomes obvious that the response time is supposed to be faster then it. The RTC (Response Time Compensation) is vital in this regard and it pushes forwards the pixel color shift with faster speed.

The Right Response Time Overdrive Option to Choose

what is response time

So the next question after knowing the overdrive approach to the monitor is which OD option you should choose. For that, first of all you need to get to the onscreen display menu (OSD) and find the overdrive option.

After finding the settings you will see quite many options to pick from. Like mentioned above the overdrive option name will vary and it depends on what model of monitor you are using. However one you get the OD settings you will see different levels such as Slow, Normal, Fast, Faster — Low, Medium, High, Highest.

In some displays, it can also be displayed by numbers and you can select the overdrive from 0 to 100 parameter by each 20 increment. If your display monitor functionality allows, you can also turn off the overdrive option altogether.

So, for a modish and high-end monitor with LED-backlit display and 60Hz or 75Hz refresh rate the response time is slow. Therefore, as a user of gamer you don’t necessarily pick the screen tearing, ghosting or trailing artifacts no matter if the overdrive feature is turned off, however for smoothest and fluid-like performance of the display, Medium to Normal overdrive settings let off recommended results.

Since excessive overdrive promotes inverse ghosting and pixel overshoot, you shouldn’t use the highest OD. But you can incorporate it if you see too much screen tearing. You can also use BlurBuster UFO test for ghosting to find out what is the best overdrive setting according to your display monitor.

Overdrive and Variable Refresh Rate

Overdrive and Variable Refresh Rate

Overdrive and the variable refresh rate is another important part that one needs to understand especially when it comes with using the AMD FreeSync or Nvidia’s G-sync monitor. Both of these technologies are liable to synchronize the monitor’s refresh rate with GPU’s frame rates to tackle screen tearing.

Most of the best gaming monitors with G-sync technology come with the variable overdrive for which it becomes practice to change the overdrive intensity (level) as per the refresh rate hence you pick the most adaptive and best-matched monitor frame rate or refresh rate performance in all respects.

And if you talk about the same case with a FreeSync compatible monitor, the FreeSync displays don’t come with this feature. But if you are playing a competitive game with 144 frames per seconds (with high OD) and the FPS drops to 60FPS, the overdrive will become intensely strong hence you will see pixel overshoot. But that is a rare case which is good news if you are using a FreeSync monitor.

Depending on the model of monitor that you have, some FreeSync monitors come with adaptive overdrive which auto set the OD as per refresh rate. However it’s less worthwhile if you compare it than that of G-sync monitor performance. But if your monitor cannot run Free Sync and the strongest overdrive option, it is recommended to disable FreeSync and use High overdrive at higher frame rates. You can also choose to pick Medium overdrive and FreeSync at lower frame rates!


Overdrive on the monitor needs to be handled carefully. Although it’s a privilege for gamers to receive the most suave and smooth quality for fast moving objects, too strong overdrive can also cause inverse ghosting or overshoot. Hopefully, this post has cleared many of your doubts about OD, its setting and the performance for playing competitive games.

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By James

I am James aka Jamie. I'm a computer software engineer and a passionate gamer. From affordable Full Desktop Setup to Hyper Class Gaming Desktop, Latest Updates to Tricks and Benchmarks and Reviews which you can trust, we have all for you.

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