As a passionate gamer, when in the middle of your gaming, nothing is as frustrating as screen tearing where your screen glitches and looks like a puzzle in the wrong order. If this has happened to you at one point or another, you might be interested to know there is a technology called VSync that combats it.

So, what is VSync in games? First, let's dive and understand the basics of VSync, what VSync aims at, whether you need it and how to enable Vsync.


What is VSync Technology?

Vsync is the short form for vertical synchronization, and it is the graphics technology responsible for a game's frame rate to a monitor's refresh rate. The synchronization gives a smooth yet interrupted gameplay for the graphics-heavy 3D games.

Vertical Sync was first engineered by developers looking to reduce the issue of screen tearing, but Vsync had an aim to eliminate screen tearing altogether. The screen tearing occurs when two different screens of an image clash or shatter, and it will look like two frames are being shown together in a single frame, giving a jarring torn effect.


What Does Vsync Do in Games?

To understand how VSync works, we will need to know how graphics are processed in a computer. Your computer follows a way and renders graphics on your screen, either through integrated graphics in the processor or with a separate graphics card installed on your computer. The graphics processor aims to display visuals on your computer screen, and when your graphics processor gets a command, it processes the frames as fast as possible.

Vsync synchronizes your game's frame rate used by your monitor and GPU, which will help prevent the monitor from getting overwhelmed by instructions it cannot handle. With VSync, the overwhelming that causes distortions such as screen tearing will not appear on your screen during your games. This means if you are using a 60Hz monitor, your game will be capped at 60 frames per second (fps).

However, VSync is not strictly for enjoying gaming, but it helps to solve such problems from occurring. Restricting the frame rate ensures both the monitor and the GPU match, and this helps to ensure you get a smooth picture. This might mean you will need to slightly reduce your game's frame rate, but it should generally improve your experience.

The vertical Sync is especially helpful for gamers who often play fast-paced games such as first-person shooters, as an out-of-sync frame rate can cause a huge amount of strain on the monitor. Enable VSync in your manufacturer's settings menu to prevent this from happening.

If enabling VSync might not be worth it in fast-paced games, you can try another set known as triple buffering. Even though triple buffering doesn't have guarantees, it significantly helps to reduce some VSync enabled issues.


What are the Main Types of VSync Technology?

The descriptions above refer to the default VSync that has been on the gaming PC for years. However, in recent times, hardware manufacturers in the gaming industry have developed new and improved forms of VSync that neutralize some of the problems. They include:

a). Nvidia G-Sync

Nvidia's G-Sync technology came out several years ago, and it works by adapting your gaming monitor's refresh rate to your gaming framerate. This results in a super-smooth gaming experience if your GPU can handle it without stutters, latency, screen tearing, or sharp FPS drops accompanying the standard VSync. The only catch is you will need an Nvidia GPU and a G-Sync-capable monitor to use it.

b). AMD FreeSync

AMD was developed as the answer to the predicament with Nvidia G-Sync. However, while it produces great results, users need a FreeSync-capable monitor and an AMD GPU to benefit from FreeSync.

When you get to an intense moment in your game where the frame rate goes below your refresh rate, VSync will try to match the changes, and this may result in a visual or performance lag.


Should You Turn on Vsync or Keep it Off While Gaming?

This is the million-dollar question. Turning VSync on or off will depend on different variables, depending on preference or the specific case.

a). When to Turn VSync On

If screen tearing often distracts you while playing casual games, then you should turn on VSync. This is because your graphics processor generates more frames than your monitor can display, which causes excess heat and tearing.

However, if your game's frame rate is less than your monitor's refresh rate, then there is no need to have the VSync on.

b). When to Turn VSync Off

If your game reaches a graphically intense moment and the frame rate drops below your monitor's refresh rate, the VSync will automatically try to match the sudden change. Consequently, this will give an unsightly performance and visual lag where in this case, you should turn off the VSync settings.


How to Enable VSync?

To enable or disable VSync technology is a simple process, and you will need to follow some easy instructions to master your control buttons.

1. Access the Nvidia control panel by typing NVIDIA control panel in your Windows search bar

2. Select the Manage 3D settings option

3. Below the Global setting tab, you should find some features where you can scroll down to find Vertical Sync

4. Using the drop-down menu on the right, select Force On

Notably, these graphics processor's settings may differ depending on your specific graphics processor, but the four-step procedure is a universal method to access Vsync.


What are the Pros and Cons of the VSync Technology?

Like any specs in the gaming world, any technology has advantages and disadvantages. Although enabling VSync has more benefits than harm, there are a few downsides.

  • Pros
  • It focuses on the gameplay with a reduced screen tearing
  • Emulator-friendly
  • Vsync is built on your GPU, and it comes at no additional cost
  • Reduces the excessive strain on the GPU
  • Compatible with both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards
  • Cons
  • Increase in input lag
  • The frame rate drops, and it spoils the gameplay

Advanced Forms of VSync

GPU manufacturers know of VSync's problems, and since it was first released, the GPU developers have been trying to make improved versions since. This is why when you get into your GPU control panel, you may find different syncing options.

What is Adaptive VSync?

NVIDIA's Adaptive Sync is a great alternative to VSync, and it allows a user to render frames using the NVIDIA Control Panel Software. Adaptive VSync is an NVIDIA improvement that watches the monitor's max refresh rate and is only available to users with GPUs running a GT 600-series NVIDIA graphics card or a newer version.

Adaptive sync technology is meant to function similarly to VSync, where it limits the frame rate output to match your monitor refresh rate capacity. Still, it works hard to eliminate performance lag caused by dipping refresh rates. At the top-end frame rates, VSynch eliminates screen tearing, and at low-end frame rates, it disables and minimizes stuttering, which effectively increases the input lag. Adaptive Sync does a good job streamlining visual performance without stuttering or tearing.

What is Fast VSync?

Fast Sync is among NVIDIA's new technologies that only work with the GTX 900 series graphics card, the 10-series GPU or a newer version. It performs an excellent job of eliminating all input lag and screen tearing while maintaining latency to a minimum. Thanks to the high technology, it performs more consistently and more impressively than VSync.

Gamers prefer to keep VSync disabled because its latency levels can skyrocket to over 1ooms. However, with Fast Sync enabled, the latency is reduced significantly, and it's even more comparable to gameplay when Vsync is disabled.

What is Enhanced Sync?

Enhanced Sync is an AMD's version of Fast Sync, and it disables Vsync when the frame rate drops below the monitor's refresh rate and prevents related issues. It is an enhanced VSync solution developed by AMD, and instead of replacing VSync, Enhanced Sync works together with it.

VSync and Enhanced sync work together and reduce stutter and the input lag experienced when the frames drop below your monitor refresh rate. However, it doesn't fully fix the issues associated with VSync, but it improves the consistency and performance capability.

Enhanced Sync should be turned off when performance drops, and it effectively stops your frame rate from serious fps dipping. Notably, it's important to remember that Enhanced Sync is usable only with AMD Radeon graphics cards.

What is Smooth VSync?

Smooth VSync was developed to minimize stutter when VSync is enabled, and the Scalable Link Interface (SLI) is active. SLI is defined as a parallel processing algorithm for GPUs to increase the processing power. SLI enables the four NVIDIA GPUs to work together to render your game at super-high frame rates when it is active.

Smooth VSync reduces stuttering by locking into your game's most sustainable frame rate and increasing the fps if the game transitions are above the monitor's maximum refresh rate. Although Smooth VSync lowers the average frame rate of your game. It also streamlines and improves the overall visual experience.


Frequently Asked Questions on What is Vsync in Games?

1. How does screen tearing happen?

Screen tearing happens when your GPU display appears split or shows multiple frames at a go, which may cause the display results to appear split over a horizontal line. It appears when the frame rate doesn't sync with the GPU's refresh rate, and although it can happen anytime, it's more visible in the vertical elements like trees and buildings.

2. Which is better between Borderless Windowed vs. Vsync (vertical Sync)?

There are several benefits of using the Borderless windowed mode in a game instead of the full screen. For instance, it's easier to jump between open windows and monitors and also it provides better compatibility for unconventional resolutions.

Borderless windowed also has an efficient built-in V-Sync that many users claim reduces tearing and input lag so if your game supports it, give it a shot.

Image Credit: digitaltrends.com

About the Author Jack

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