If you’ve ever played around with the graphics settings of a game or program, you must’ve come across a term called Vsync or Vertical Sync. Now, as confusing graphics terms can get in modern games, this one’s actually quite simple.
However, before you get into whether or not you should keep Vsync on or off, let’s take a look at what Vsync does. When you’re playing a game, your GPU essentially renders a frame and sends it to the monitor. The monitor then displays these frames one by one resulting in the on-screen motion that you see.
Now obviously, the more frames your GPU can send your monitor, the more frames your monitor can display, meaning a smoother gaming experience. The problem arises when your GPU sends far too many frames for your monitor to display.
Every monitor has a refresh rate measured in Hertz (Hz). This refresh rate is the maximum number of frames your monitor can display in a second. Most monitors have a refresh rate of 60Hz, while gaming monitors have refresh rates of 120, 140 or even 160Hz or higher.
So when your monitor gets more frames it can display, you’ll start experiencing something called screen tearing. This will split the frame into two parts between the next and the previous frame giving your weird artefacts on the screen.
This is where Vsync comes in handy. All it does is that it tries to match up the number of frames put out by your GPU to your monitor’s refresh rate, eliminating screen tearing in the process.
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Types of Vsync: Advantages and Disadvantages
Now Vsync also is of two main types — Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync. Depending upon which GPU you have what your monitor supports, you’re going to have to think ahead.
G-Sync tries to adapt your monitor’s refresh rate to the FPS your PC can put out. However, the feature relies on built-in Nvidia hardware for functionality.
FreeSync, on the other hand, delivers dynamic refresh rates that help synchronise a monitor’s refresh rate to that of a Radeon GPU. This helps in reducing input lag and stuttering.
|Vsync Pros||Vsync Cons|
|Eliminates screen tearing.||Introduces input lag|
|Reduces excessive strain on the GPU.||Can cause sharp FPS drops in graphically intensive moments.|
|Prevents GPU overheating.||–|
|It can help run older games on modern systems.||–|
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Vsync: On or Off?
While Vsync takes care of screen tearing, sudden FPS drops, stops excessive strain on your GPU and can be helpful with older games where your GPU will efficiently pump out more frames than your monitor can handle, it all comes at a cost.
Since Vsync makes frames from your GPU wait before they hit the monitor, you’ll likely start experiencing some input lag. This can be incredibly annoying in games that require instant reflexes and responses, such as CSGO or Valorant.
Also, if your game arrives at a graphically intensive moment and the FPS drops, Vsync will drop it even further, causing a sharp overall drop in FPS. Things like triple buffering can help soften the effects, but the issue remains, and not everyone might have access to the setting.
So if your GPU is rendering more frames than your monitor can handle, you can give Vsync a shot. However, if the total FPS isn’t hitting your monitor’s refresh rate cap, you don’t need Gsync enabled.
Another point to keep in mind is that you will get a sharp FPS drop along with some input lag when you run into graphically intense moments. Keep this in mind while choosing to enable Vsync for a game.
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