For anyone who is new in the PC gaming, it is safe to say that you might be confused as well as overwhelmed by all the graphical options that you have available in the settings of any game you are playing.
I will be honest, I was confused too when I fired up Max Payne for the first time and was taken aback with by so many options.
While the good thing is that most options were pretty self-explanatory, the one option that managed to stick out the most was V-sync. So, what exactly is V-Sync? Well, understanding the technology is not all that difficult, but I am going to do people one up, and explain everything in detail.
What Does V-Sync Do?
V-Sync or vertical synchronization is basically a feature that serves the purpose of reducing the screen tearing that happens when you move your mouse on your screen.
In case you are wondering why the screen tearing happens, or when it happens, it only happens when the FPS in your game end up going higher than the refresh rate of your monitor. To further simplify it, imagine a scenario where you are playing a game and you are getting a 100 frames per second, but your monitor’s max refresh rate is 60 Hertz.
This means that your monitor can only display 60 frames per second. Since you are going higher than the set limit, the screen tearing will start being introduced in the game, and trust me, it does not look good.
Yes, there are monitor with higher refresh rate all the way up to 240 Hz. Many people think that the screen tearing issues don’t happen on those monitors, but in fact, they do, as long as your graphics card is pushing more frames than the refresh rate itself, the screen tearing is going to happen.
However, if you turn on the v-sync, then option will cap the maximum frame rate and allow it to match the frame rate of the monitor.
For instance, if you cap the frame rate in the game that runs at 100 frames per second, it will match the refresh rate of your monitor, and come down to 60. Many people think that this slows down the performance of the game, where in fact it does not. It just caps the maximum frame rate of your game.
Now the drawback to this is that if you are used to playing games at higher refresh rate, the 60 frame cap might be a bit painful for you to get used to.
What’s the Alternative?
This is when things start getting interesting.
If look at your stock monitors, there are no solutions.
However, the good thing is that the industry has matured enough to provide us with alternatives that can handle the screen tearing that is caused by v-sync being off. If you are not familiar with it, I am talking about G-Sync, as well as FreeSync.
The G-Sync technology is hardware based and is used by Nvidia – the company provides G-Sync modules to monitor manufacturers, and they put these modules into their monitors, ultimately causing the price to go up.
Alternatively, FreeSync is free and will run over DisplayPort cable, all you need is an AMD graphics card and a monitor that supports FreeSync. Now as you would expect, both technologies are not cross compatible, which means that a Nvidia card must be paired with a G-Sync enabled monitor, and an AMD card must be paired with a FreeSync enabled monitor, because otherwise, these features won’t work.
So, what exactly does both these features do? Well, to put it in layman terms; the both of these features change the refresh rate of the monitor to match the frame-rate you are getting in the game.
So, if you are playing CS: Go for instance, and you’re getting 70 frames per second, your monitor’s refresh rate will be tuned down to 70 frames per second; this will make the game smooth, and there will be no tearing.
If you go higher, the frame rate will change to the higher value, as long as the monitor supports it. However, the drawbacks here are that powerful cards like Vega 64, 1080, and 1080Ti might not benefit from G-Sync or FreeSync because the can push the same frames, and people who own these graphic cards normally have monitors with higher refresh rate as well.
However, if you are talking about achieving smooth gameplay on 4K, these features can really shine because if you dip below 60, your monitor will too, and this would effectively remove that jittering you would get.
However, is it all worth it?
Well, as far as eliminating the tearing is concerned, it certainly is. However, the price is something you are going to have to bear. The G-Sync monitors specifically cost more because of the implementation being hardware, and the FreeSync ones are cheaper because of the implementation being open source, and software based.
So now that you are aware of what the V-sync is and how it works, the question about whether or not it will remain in the gaming industry for long remains.
In all honesty, as long as the FreeSync and G-Sync monitors are expensive, the concept of v-sync will remain present in the market. In addition to that, it is not that these synchronization features are immune to tearing. To explain how that works – if you are playing Counter-Strike: GO on a G-Sync enabled monitor that offers you 100 Hz response time, and the frames of the game go above 100, then the tearing will be introduced despite the monitor being G-Sync.
However, turning on the V-Sync will cap the frame rate to a 100, and there will be no tearing.
However, at the same time, you also need to keep in mind that there are monitors that are running at 240Hz, and while they are certainly a more expensive than you might think they are, the good thing is that they will solve the issue for you.
As far as the V-Sync is concerned, the simplest thing here is to know that the technology is going to stay for a long time. With that said though, it is not entirely a bad thing either because it certainly means that people who are not able to spend a lot of money on the expensive monitors can actually be able to buy something that is a lot more affordable for them.
Concluding this article, I can only say that both G-Sync and FreeSync monitors need to come to the mainstream to successfully eliminate the V-Sync from future games.
However, at the same time, this is something that is going to take its fair share of time, and it will be long before we see that happen.
– William Johnson