I believe you have been wondering so far, playing some 3D games, even the older ones; what is VSync?
You’ve seen the VSync option exist in your graphics card driver settings, but you’re unsure what that option is and what it’s. Some experienced gamers believe that you shouldn’t touch this option, leaving VSync off.
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What is VSync?
We need to consider how the monitor and graphics card work together for this answer. The monitor tries to keep up with the graphics card, i.e., the number of frames. The maximum number of frames from GPU depends on the monitor refresh rate. A monitor with a max 75 Hz refresh rate can support a maximum of 75 FPS, although a graphics card can generate much more FPS.
So, the problem occurs when the graphics card starts sending the monitor many more frames than the monitor can handle. Suppose your monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz, and the graphics card generates over 100 FPS. In this case, there is a deformation of the image on the screen called screen tearing.
As seen in the image, screen tearing means that the image is incorrectly displayed and broken. Then it’s time for VSync to come to the fore. VSync synchronizes the graphics card and monitor, especially when running an older, less demanding 3D game.
For example, you run the older game Borderlands on the NVIDIA GTX 1080. The game is pretty graphically undemanding compared to a powerful graphics card, so the number of FPS will exceed the monitor’s refresh rate.
Advantages of Vsync
- excellent in case the number of FPS exceeds the screen refresh rate,
- software solution that doesn’t require additional costs for new hardware,
- compatible with Nvidia and AMD graphics cards,
- suitable for older 3D games and gaming via emulators on PC,
- reduces GPU load
Disadvantages of Vsync
- increases the input delay,
- FPS can drop sharply.
The disadvantages of VSync are that everything starts to look like slow motion for gamers who are used to fast action and fast mouse and keyboard response. The keyboard and mouse react with a delay, which can be very inconvenient with fast gaming titles where literally seconds can judge victory or defeat.
As we can see, VSync slows down the screen display (due to image synchronization) and also the reaction of the mouse and keyboard when gaming. However, it is up to the user to turn VSync on or off. Despite problems with VSync-off, many players don’t like turning on this option.
However, AMD and NVidia jump into the game, offering improvements in VSync technology, each in their way.
AMD has developed its own VSync enhancement technology that is FreeSync. On the other hand, NVidia has its vision of VSync in G-Sync technology. Although both technologies are similar in function, there are specific differences that you should pay attention to when buying a monitor or graphics card of a more recent date.
AMD FreeSync is a dynamic screen refresh technology that allows monitors to match the refresh rate to the FPS that the graphics card can support. This AMD solution should result in a fluid display on the monitor screen, advancing the old VSync technology. If you have an AMD graphics card, you must also have a FreeSync-capable monitor.
The AMD FreeSync concept doesn’t require expensive hardware and runs on cheaper monitors; this is an advantage over G-Sync. In practice, the implementation of FreeSync depends a lot on the monitor manufacturer. Specific monitor models can support synchronization in a limited frequency range, reducing its function, so consider the specification before buying.
NVidia was the first to propose a hardware solution for monitors to solve the synchronization problem with G-Sync, which only works with NVidia graphics and compatible monitors. If you already have an NVidia graphics card, you need to get a monitor that supports G-Sync. All G-Sync monitors have a minimal input lag because they use the same Nvidia hardware specifically designed to focus on gaming support.
NVidia Adaptive VSync is an exclusive feature of NVIDIA that you can find in the driver settings. This option allows VSync when the graphics card’s FPS speed exceeds the monitor’s refresh rate but will turn off sync when the FPS falls below the monitor’s refresh rate.
FreeSync vs. G-Sync
AMD envisioned FreeSync to be a simple and affordable synchronization method. At the same time, G-Sync strives to be a unique niche for top gamers by offering them the best gaming experience on specialized hardware.
G-SYNC monitors are designed explicitly for Nvidia graphics cards only. On the other hand, AMD FreeSync monitors generally don’t have a more significant input lag than G-Sync models. Using generic hardware has advantages, but take a good look at the FreeSync monitor specification before purchasing.
FreeSync monitors have many ports (VGA, DVI, HDMI, Display Port), while G-Sync supports one or two inputs. You should know that FreeSync only works with HDMI or DisplayPort inputs and G-Sync only with DisplayPort.
AMD has released the FreeSync protocol for open use through the VESA consortium as an official part of the DisplayPort interface. That means that competitors can also use the open Adaptive-Sync standard for their devices.
FreeSync is a name for marketing and requires licensing and certification by AMD for use. AMD has extended this standard in its Radeon graphics integrated solutions – APU.
NVidia has enabled Adaptive-Sync support for Display Port through its newer drivers. Anyone with an NVidia GTX 10-, 20- or 30-series graphics card can allow G-Sync if they have a compatible FreeSync monitor (via DisplayPort).
One of Nvidia’s exclusives is the ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) feature, which stroboscopes the monitor’s backlight to remove motion blur and further reduce input latency. This useful G-Sync feature isn’t yet available on all FreeSync monitors, so check the specifications before purchasing.
Variable Overdrive is another exciting feature found on every G-Sync monitor. The task of this function is to adjust the speed of response to reduce the blurring of movement (the appearance of ghosts behind fast-moving objects).
AMD and Nvidia constantly improve their technologies, so we have FreeSync 2, FreeSync Premium, and Premium Pro. On the other hand, we have G-Sync Ultimate HDR.
G-Sync Ultimate is a certification process for high-end HDR monitors. At the same time, FreeSync 2 allows graphics cards to take on some of the tasks typically performed on a monitor screen to reduce input latency.
You are wondering whether to turn VSync on or off. In addition to the listed advantages, we see that there are also disadvantages, such as input delays or a sudden drop in frame rate. Whether you will use VSync depends on your specific case or running game.
If the FPS is below your monitor’s refresh rate, turn off VSync. Also, keep it off if there’s no tearing of the image. If the GPU generates many FPS from the maximum monitor refresh rate, turn on VSync.
On the other hand, we also have hardware solutions for VSync by AMD and Nvidia. Each technology, FreeSync, and G-Sync has advantages and disadvantages, so we cannot say who the winner is. One thing is clear: if you have an Nvidia graphics card take a G-Sync monitor and enjoy. Select FreeSync monitor if you have an AMD graphics card.
Anyway, do you looking for a new PC monitor? Read what you need to pay special attention to when choosing a pc monitor. Also, check out my recommendations for gaming monitors under $ 200 and under $ 300 that support FreeSync and are compatible with G-Sync.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.