Windows 11's color blindness filters no longer add latency or hurt performance in games

Windows 11's accessibility color filters in the Windows 11 settings.
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has added new colour filter settings to the latest Windows 11 Insider build, which should be of major benefit to PC gamers with colour blindness.

The main hook of the update are two new sliders: an intensity slider for the OS-wide colour filters and a colour boost slider. The intensity slider affects how much a filter impacts colours across your display, while colour boost will change how vivid those colours are. They're sort of two sides to the same coin, but the gist is you'll now be able to have much greater control over the colour filters already in the OS, which include those for deuteranopia, protanopia, and tritanopia, as well as grayscale.

Importantly, however, this update also makes better use of your GPU hardware so that these filters can be applied without any performance impact.

"We have also optimized how Color Filters are applied to the screen by taking advantage of dedicated color matrix hardware on your GPU," Microsoft says. "This allows fullscreen optimizations for games and videos to be used without any added latency or performance impact. Previously, color filters could add an extra frame of latency and prevented some fullscreen optimizations from taking effect. Most modern GPUs have this dedicated hardware and will receive the optimization."

Microsoft doesn't note which graphics cards support the feature, but it likely goes back a few generations at the very least. Nvidia has been offering its own colour filter software called Freestyle with wide support for older non-RTX cards since 2018.

The only downside today is that you need to be on the potentially wobbly Canary brand of Windows 11 to use these new and improved filters. That means signing up for the Insider Program if you haven't already and opting for the riskiest Windows 11 build. These filters will make it into a more stable build of Windows 11 at some point or another, though they were announced over a month ago and I've still not seen them appear in the more stable Beta build.

With the correct version of Windows, you can find the filters under the Accessibility tab of Settings.

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Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.