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What is VSync, and Should I Enable or Disable it?

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What is VSync? Vertical synchronization or VSync is a graphics technology that synchronizes the frame rate of a game with a gaming monitor’s refresh rate.

If you use 3D applications or play games on your computer, you may be familiar with VSync. It was the original syncing technology for GPUs, video games, and monitors. VSync was the original syncing technology for GPUs, video games, and monitors.

What Does VSync do?

To fully understand what VSync does, you have to know how graphics are processed on your computer. Your computer or laptop has a way of rendering graphics to a screen. This may be integrated graphics within your processor or an independent graphics card. The graphics processor’s main job is to “paint” visuals onto the screen.

Screen tearing can occur at any time, though it is most prevalent during fast motion, particularly when a game runs at a higher frame rate than the monitor can handle or when the frame rate changes dramatically and the monitor can’t keep up. When this happens, those lines will not line up correctly, breaking immersion and making a beautiful game look ugly.

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VSync does a few things to help alleviate this. First, it limits the frame rate output by the graphics card to the monitor’s refresh rate (60Hz, unless you have a high-refresh-rate monitor), making it easier to avoid higher FPS than the monitor can handle.

Advantages of VSync

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 allow them to work better in unison, thus eliminating screen tearing.

It can also be useful in applications (such as very old games) where your graphics processor severely overpowers the graphical demand. Because graphics processors go as fast as possible, rendering old scenes may result in exceedingly high frame rates. This can cause your graphics processor to overheat, as it outputs frames at a high-speed rate. Enabling it will cap the FPS to the monitor’s refresh rate and stop the excessive strain on the graphics processor.

Disadvantages of VSync

Because Vertical synchronization makes frames wait for when the monitor is ready, this can cause problems. You may find that your inputs, such as key-presses and mouse clicks, are slightly delayed. This can be fatal in games requiring reflex and snap reactions. Some technologies are developed for VSync to help reduce this lag, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you enable VSync and notice your actions are less responsive than before.

VSync is excellent when the frame rate exceeds the monitor’s refresh rate. However, if you come to a graphically intense moment and the frame rate drops below the refresh rate, the graphics card will drop it further to match the monitor’s preferences. The result is an even bigger drop in frame rate during intense moments. Technologies such as triple buffering can help prevent this, but it may not be an option everyone has access to.

What do I need to enable VSync technology?

You don’t need a particular monitor to use VSync — it’s designed to work with all kinds of displays. You need a graphics card that supports it, but most recent generations support it throughout the product lineup. VSync has been around for many years, and both Nvidia and AMD have options to enable the setting in their drivers for all games.

However, if you’d prefer to do it on an individual game basis, most games offer it as a toggle option in their graphics settings menu.

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Daniel Barrett

Daniel Barrett

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