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Nvidia’s new ultra-low motion blur tech lets PC gamers have high refresh rates, too

Nvidia’s new ultra-low motion blur tech lets PC gamers have high refresh rates, too

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ULMB 2 only works with two 360Hz monitors so far, but Nvidia claims it’s as smooth as a theoretical 1440Hz monitor would be. 

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An image showing monitors that support Nvidia’s ULMB 2 technology.
Image: Nvidia

Nvidia is updating its Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) technology, which could make gaming even smoother on high-end monitors. In an announcement on Sunday, Nvidia says its upgraded ULMB 2 feature is capable of providing over 1,000Hz of effective motion clarity with “practically zero” crosstalk — but only on 1440p 360Hz G-Sync monitors for now.

This means you no longer have to choose between having a more responsive refresh rate or reducing motion blur, both of which affect gameplay. Now Nvidia says the effective motion rate for a 360Hz monitor with ULMB 2 enabled is 1440Hz. “That means in order to obtain the same level of motion clarity without ULMB 2, gamers would need a classic panel capable of 1440 Hz,” Nvidia notes. You still can’t use it with variable refresh rate, though.

If you’re curious about how this all works, HotHardware has a great write-up detailing some of the technical aspects behind motion blurring and ULMB 2. Basically, since LCD and OLED monitors are “sample and hold” displays that only show static images until it refreshes, this leads your brain to see a blur attached to whatever your eyes are tracking across your screen, similar to the way that fast-moving objects appear blurry in real life.

There are already a couple of methods LCD and OLED monitors use to reduce motion blur, but neither does a perfect job. Some monitors quickly flash a backlight at the same time it refreshes an image, mimicking good ol’ CRT monitors, while other displays build upon this by adding a completely black image between each frame to help reduce blur. Both of these methods can cause unpleasant side effects, however, as they can make images appear dimmer and can cause a flickering effect.

But with ULMB 2, Nvidia is hoping to improve on these issues with full refresh rate backlight strobing and improved brightness. Instead of using the backlight to show how each pixel transitions from one color to the next, Nvidia says monitors with ULMB 2 will only shine the backlight on a pixel when it has fully completed the transition to its new color.

The company adds that the upgraded ULMB 2 ensures that the “pixels throughout the panel are at the right level at precisely the right time for the backlight to be flashed,” mitigating something called crosstalk, an issue that creates double images on a display when an object is in motion. It can also deliver 250 nits of brightness, which Nvidia says almost doubles the amount of brightness offered by the original ULMB.

You can see ULMB 2 in action in the video embedded above, and it’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the feature isn’t available for a wide range of G-Sync monitors just yet, as you can only use the feature after applying a firmware update to the Acer Predator XB273U F or ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQN, both of which are 1440p displays that run at 360Hz.

The upcoming 540Hz ASUS ROG Swift Pro PG248QP and the 360Hz AOC AGON AG276QSG will also add support for ULMB 2, but there’s no word on whether it will come to the world’s first 500Hz monitor from Alienware. Of course, if you want to take advantage of these high refresh rates, you’ll need a PC that can actually run games at a high enough frames-per-second.