VSync, or vertical sync, is actually a graphics technology that synchronizes the frame rate of a game and the refresh rate of a gaming monitor as well. First developed by GPU companies, then this tech was a way to deal with screen tearing, which is when your screen displays portions of multiple frames in one go. Tearing occurs when the refresh rate of the monitor (how many times it updates per second) is not in sync along with the frames per second. In this article, we are going to talk about How to Turn VSync On or Off and What is it. Let’s begin!
Screen tearing can occur at any time, however, it is most prevalent during fast motion and particularly when a game is running at a higher frame rate. Then the monitor can even handle or where the frame rate changes dramatically, and the monitor cannot keep up. It is particularly noticeable during fast-paced games along with vertical image elements, such as trees, entrances, or buildings as well. Whenever this happens, those lines will quite clearly not line up correctly, which can break immersion and make a beautiful game look instead ugly.
What can VSync Does
In order to start, let’s look at how graphics are processed on your computer. Your computer or laptop has a way of providing graphics to a screen. This may either be integrated graphics within your processor or an independent graphics card as well. The graphics processor’s main job is actually to “paint” visuals onto the screen. The reason you can read this article is because of a graphics processor telling your screen to draw it!
When you tell your graphics processor to render a 3D scene, then it will process full drawings, or “frames,” as quickly as possible. It then gives these frames to the monitor to process that. The result is a slideshow-like effect of rapid-fire frames that give the appearance of animation, such as a flipbook. The rate at which the graphics processor can output frames is called “frames per second,” or FPS for short as well. So, the more frames your graphics processor can output, the smoother your games will look.
Your screen is always trying to keep up with the frames that your graphics processor is producing. The maximum amount of frames that it can display is depicted in its refresh rate, which is mostly defined in frequency or “Hz.” The ratio is 1:1, so a monitor at 60Hz can show up to 60FPS as well. The refresh rate is said in a product listing like the following image.
When They Conflict
The problems actually begin when your graphics processor begins to output more frames than your monitor can handle, such as 100FPS on a 60Hz monitor. Your monitor may struggle to keep up with the flow and end up out of sync between the two frames actually. This is called “screen tearing,” where a picture seems to be “cut in half.”
Well, this is where VSync comes in. VSync goals to match the graphics processor’s frames with the refresh rate of the monitor in order to fix any syncing issues. This is typically done through freezing the game engine or buffering frames until the monitor is ready to output the next frame.
Benefits of VSync
As said, VSync is worth a try if you’re experiencing screen tears. This will bring your graphics processor down to the same level as your monitor and will permit them to work better in unison. Hence deleting screen tearing when done right.
It can also be useful in applications (like very old games) where your graphics processor really overpowers the graphical demand. Because graphic processors go as fast as they can, so, rendering old scenes may result in exceedingly high frame rates. This can cause your graphics processor to overheat because it outputs frames at an incredibly fast rate. Enabling VSync will cap the FPS to the monitor’s refresh rate and also stop the excessive strain on the graphics processor.
Disadvantages of VSync
Because VSync makes frames wait for when the monitor is ready, this can actually cause problems. You may find that your inputs, like key-presses and mouse clicks, are slightly delayed. This can be fatal in games that need reflex and snap reactions to play. There are some technologies developed for VSync in order to help reduce this lag. But it’s worth keeping in mind if you enable VSync and also notice your actions are less responsive than before.
VSync is great whenever the frame rate exceeds the monitor’s refresh rate. But, if you come to a graphically intense moment, and the frame rate drops below the refresh rate, then the graphics card will drop it down further to best match the monitor’s preferences. The result is an even bigger drop in frame rate during intense moments as well. Technologies like triple buffering can help avoid this, but it may not be an option everyone has access to.
Types Of VSync
The above descriptions actually refer to the default Vsync function that has existed for years on PC. But, more recently, the hardware powerhouses of the games industry have begun coming up with new and also improved forms of Vsync. That negates some of those problems. Let’s see what you have to know about them:
Nvidia Adaptive VSync
Adaptive sync is actually a feature exclusive to Nvidia (it can be found in the Nvidia Settings app). It uses Vsync whenever your frame rate exceeds your monitor refresh rate, however, then quickly switches it off each time your fps drops below your monitor refresh rate. This means you do not suffer stutters from the super-fast, however, super-steep, FPS drops caused by standard vsync, which is vital, particularly when online gaming.
Nvidia Smooth Vsync
Smooth Vsync is another Nvidia exclusive, this time along with minimal stuttering in mind. This feature works out what frame rate your game can stably run at, then maintains the frame rate there, bumping it up only when it knows that your GPU can sustain the higher frame rate without dropping.
This groundbreaking tech actually came out a couple of years ago and does the ingenious work of adapting your monitor refresh rate to your gaming framerate. The result is a completely smooth gaming experience (if your GPU can handle it, that is), along with no screen tearing, stutters, latency, or sharp FPS drops. That accompanies standard vsync. The catch is that you need a G-Sync-capable monitor and also Nvidia GPU to use it.
This is AMD’s direct answer to Nvidia G-Sync actually. However, the results are great, you will need a FreeSync-capable monitor and AMD GPU to take advantage of FreeSync.
AMD Enhanced Sync
Use some of the FreeSync technology and also apply it to monitors that are not FreeSync-capable. Enhanced Sync prioritizes a smooth game experience and will permit for the occasional screen tear to avoid the stutters that can result from regular VSync. So there is a little more tearing than Vsync however, less stuttering. It all depends on your priorities actually!
Turn It On or Off?
So, should you guys turn VSync on or off? As you can see, it’s actually very much a case-by-case basis. In general, if your graphics processor is also rendering more frames than the monitor can display. It may cause excess heat and screen tearing as well. Try to enable VSync either through the software or your graphics processor’s settings to calm things down.
But, if the frame rate is below your monitor’s refresh rate, there’s little reason to have it on. There’s no tearing or over-processing to fix. So the only effect VSync will have is potentially worsening your frame rate and also causing input lag. In this case, it is best to keep it off.
Of course, given how easy it can be to switch VSync on and off, it is worth to try both. Now that you know more about how VSync actually works. You can make a more educated decision on if you want to enable it or not. It’s also worth checking to see if your graphics package comes along with additional enhancements. Such as, Nvidia’s Adaptive VSync goals to achieve the best of both worlds.
Sync or Not to Sync
When used correctly, VSync can help smooth out issues and also keep your graphics processor from running red-hot. When used incorrectly, it can then needlessly harm your FPS and cause input lag without benefit. Now you know what VSync does and when to enable it as well.
Does VSync have any problems?
VSync is far from a perfect solution and also can negatively affect your gaming experience, even if it is useful and working as intended. If a monitor and also a game are having trouble syncing up, then VSync can lower your frame rate significantly to try to find a point where they can. That can also lead to input lag and stuttering increases, which further worsens the gaming experience as well. Screen tearing is most noticeable in fast-paced games such as shooters and fighters, but it can affect all sorts of games, regardless of genre.
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