If you are into gaming, you might have come across V-Sync toggle in the video or graphics settings. Moreover, if you have gone out for shopping gaming monitors you might have come across the term G-Sync or FreeSync. While these features enhance the overall gaming experience, we cannot deny, these terms are confusing as well. So, here we are breaking it down for you.
What Is V-Sync?
V-Sync also is known as vertical synchronization was designed primarily to address an issue in the display technology viz screen tearing. What is screen tearing? it a visual artifact where the display gets divided into half and the visual tear apart (illustrated in the below picture).
Why does tearing happen? it happens as a result of a mismatch between the frames your hardware is outputting and refresh rate of your display. Let me illustrate with an example, assume that your gaming PC is sending 100 fps and your monitor (display) support only 60Hz refresh rate, tearing occurs as the graphics card send a new frame while the current frame is being displayed. Now, you get the point.
V-Sync attempts to reduce or probably stop tearing by forcing your graphics hardware to match with the refresh rate of your display. So, when the frame rendered and displayed are the same, tearing is much less or probably zero. However, there are few issues V-Sync comes with;
- Frame rates will be limited to the refresh rate of your display, stopping you from reaching the performance ceiling of your GPU.
- There’s a slight input lag, which could be bad if you need a high-level precision.
- There could a juddering effect if the video or movies filmed at significantly slower frame rates.
What Is FreeSync?
AMD’s FreeSync technology, unlike Vsync, attempts to dynamically adjust the display’s refresh rate to match the rate at which graphics hardware is outputting frames. As the refresh rate is dynamic, FreeSync can keep up with the changes in FPS during rendering on the fly, apparently, demanding sections of a game that cause the frame rate to drop drastically won’t affect syncing.
The FreeSync just forces the monitor to continue displaying the current frame until a new one is received from the graphics hardware, so it is always displaying images at the same rate as they’re being outputted, but as long as the refresh rate falls between 9-240 FPS, the supported refresh range for FreeSync displays.
Because it’s a hardware solution on the display side, there’s no performance penalty for enabling FreeSync. However, there’s one major downside to FreeSync, it requires an AMD GPU to work, which means if you’re using Nvidia’s GPU, you’re out of luck, which means you might need a G-sync display instead.
What Is G-Sync?
G-Sync is no different, it works on a pretty similar principle to FreeSync by adapting the monitors refresh rate to the frame rate your hardware is outputting. Unlike FreeSync, which uses VESA’s DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols also works over HDMI. The G-Sync relies on a proprietary Nvidia module that must be built into a display for the tech to function.
Much like FreeSync, G-Sync requires a GPU from the manufacturer to function, so you’ll need at least an Nvidia card, specifically a GTX 650 Ti or higher. FreeSync monitors are largely more affordable than their G-Sync counterparts. So, there’s that.
V-Sync, FreeSync, And G-Sync: Important?
V-Sync is extremely important for gaming, not just for avoiding tearing but also for ensuring an overall smoother experience. While a G-Sync or FreeSync equipped display is going to cost you more than an equivalent display that doesn’t support either technology. This is especially true for G-Sync, largely because of the cost of including Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync module.
If you play a lot of games which requires precision, playing with V-Sync enabled makes a display feel slightly more sluggish, while G-Sync and FreeSync feel like a cleaner, smoother solutions. Mind you, the difference in input lag is going to be of a few milliseconds, so if you are not a hardcore gamer, there’s a good chance you may never notice.