For an avid gamer, V-Sync shouldn’t be a new word out of the blue. Even if you are an occasional gamer, you might have come across vertical sync or V-Sync in your game settings.
As it is not immediately obvious what V-Sync is, here is a comprehensive guide that covers what is V-Sync to do you actually need it?
What is V-Sync Technology?
V-Sync abbreviated for Vertical Synchronization is a new technology related to graphics that synchronizes the frame rate of the game along with the refresh rate of the gaming monitor.
Screen tearing led to the introduction of this technology by GPU manufacturers. If the GPU keeps sending new frames, and the monitor can’t keep up with the rate, there’s a clash. This tearing effect can really annoy you!
This is most likely in systems or games which can go beyond the oldie ‘60Hz’ cap. If your monitor, however, has a refresh rate of 60Hz, there’s your problem. You’re sending your monitor pressure it can’t handle. Vsync jumps in and mediates this problem effectively.
The technology allows both the monitor and the GPU to work on the same rate (or synchronize). This gives you a smooth experience while gaming. Although this doesn’t solve other graphic issues you might have, you can bid your farewell to screen tearing!
How V-Sync Works?
To know how V-Sync actually works, we need to start a discussion with how are graphics processed in a computer.
Your computer follows a specific way to render graphics on the screen; it may either be through integrated graphics within the processor or a separate graphics card installed in your computer. This graphic’s processor’s essential job is to display visuals on the computer screen.
When your graphics processor is commanded to render a 3D image or scene, it will try to process frames as quickly as it can. Then these frames are passed to monitor for processing. This actually results in a flipbook effect, like a rapid slideshow of the frames.
There is a rate at which the graphics processor outputs frame known as frames per second or FPS. The higher this rate, the smoother your gaming experience!
Your monitor, or more precisely, your screen, have to keep up with the frames that are being produced by the graphics processor. This is usually measured as the refresh rate in the unit of “Hz.” The ratio of refresh rate to FPS is 1:1, meaning if a computer has a refresh rate of 60Hz, the monitor can display up to 60FPS.
Now that we know every tiny detail about the back story, here comes the actual problem. The issue arises when your graphics processor starts producing more frames than your monitor screen can manage, i.e., 100FPS on a 60Hz display.
Then the screen starts to struggle with the flow and results in synchronization disorder between two frames called “screen tearing.” Screen tearing makes an image look like as it is cut in half.
So, this is where the V-Sync comes into the play. To fix the syncing issues, the V-Sync tries to match the rate of frames to the monitor’s refresh rate. Are you wondering how does V-Sync does it? It is usually done by buffering the frames until the monitor is ready to output the next frame by freezing the game engine.
Advantages of V-Sync
If you are already experiencing screen tearing and you are annoyed by it, what’s a better option than trying V-Sync? V-sync will eliminate the screen tearing by balancing the graphic processor along with monitor’s refresh rate.
Furthermore, V-Sync can be of great benefit while playing old games. Certain applications such as old games, where the graphics processor outworks as compared to the graphical demand. Graphic processors work super fast, and when playing old games, it can result in a higher frame rate.
This heats up your graphic processor, as it is working at a very high rate. Thus, enabling V-Sync will manage this situation by unloading the excessive strain on the processor.
Disadvantages of V-Sync
V-sync is excellent when it comes to syncing frames. But, it also stops your GPU from sending in more frames to the monitor. Well, if you’re playing a game that’s based on faster frames, what do you imagine happens next? There’s a delay of keypresses and triggers!
This might be the most significant disadvantage of enabling V-sync in GPUs or game settings. There’s a short delay attached to it.
Another issue you might experience is the dropping of frame rates below the monitor’s refresh rate.
The problem we discussed was the excess frames from the GPU. But, if the frames drop below the monitor’s refresh rate, the GPU tries to improve the FPS to match the monitors. If you didn’t guess, this causes a more severe frame drops.
Though most of these issues can be dealt with to some extent, technology still presents them. Triple buffering is one of the solutions which has hit the market to deal with input lags and other stutters on the screen.
Should You Enable V-Sync or Not?
Well, this question is very generic, and it depends on case to case. If your graphics processor is out-powering your monitor display, and it ends up heating and screen tearing, then you should enable V-Sync.
To calm things down, try enabling V-Sync through the software or your graphics processor’s settings.
However, if it is vice versa, your Graphics processor is slower than the monitor refresh rate, V-Sync will only end up worsening things such as input lag. Therefore, it is better to avoid the V-Sync in such situations and keep it off.
What Do I Need To Enable V-Sync Technology?
The good news is, you don’t need any specific monitor for V-Sync to work. It is compatible with almost all kinds of monitors. You will need a sound graphics card, but we don’t think that should be an issue for gaming monitors, even the older ones.
As V-Sync has been around for quite some time now, so both NVidia and AMD allow you to enable it through settings. As long as you have NVidia or AMD GPU that is not a decade older, you are good to go!
Games don’t have V-Sync option enabled by default. Therefore, you need to go in settings and turn it on manually. Most of the well-known games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, GTA V have options for v-sync, so do make sure you go and enable it.
Different Types of V-Sync
All that we have been talking about till now was traditional V-Sync that has existed since long for PCs. But, technology doesn’t end in one iteration. There have been quite some work done for launching improved and new forms of V-Sync.
The newer types of V-Sync are mentioned below.
Nvidia worked a lot to improve the V-Sync problems. Therefore, after the Nvidia Adaptive V-Sync and Nvidia Smooth V-Sync, Nvidia decided to change the game by launching Nvidia G-Sync.
Nvidia G-Sync made its entry a couple of years ago, and it’s safe to say it is here to stay! This adapts your monitor refresh rate to your gaming framerate.
Doing so results in something far better. It completely smoothens the gaming experience with no screen tearing, stutters, FPS drops or latency, that was experienced before with the traditional v-sync.
However, for G-Sync to work, you might be needing G-Sync capable monitor and Nvidia GPU.
FreeSync was a direct hit to NVidia as an answer to G-Sync. However, you’ll still be needing FreeSync capable monitor along with AMD GPU to make it work. However, the enhanced version makes things easier.
So, Is V-Sync Worth it?
After all the discussion above, this shouldn’t be the right question to ask. However, what you should be worried about is, Is V-Sync safe?
If V-Sync is appropriately utilized in the right situations, it can make your gaming experience more pleasurable. If it is otherwise, then it is no less than a headache.
However, you can only whether it is suitable for you or not by experimenting. You can try comparing by turning it on and then off to see the difference and if you are comfortable with it or not.
If you experience a smooth game without tearing, then leave it on. And, if it causes your PC to overheat and slow down, it is suggested to turn it off immediately.
To conclude the article, we are pretty sure we have departed enough information to help you make your decision about V-Sync.
If you are looking to go beyond the V-Sync such as G-Sync and triple buffering features, they can be a bit helpful. However, many enthusiastic gamers have pointed out that synchronization is more of a luxury than a necessity.