VSync was the first synchronization technology for graphics processing units or GPUs, video games and monitors. Although there are new options, such as G-Sync or FreeSync, it is still an important alternative for many gamers. Do you want to know exactly what VSync is? We will delve into what VSync is, why it is so important, what are the problems that its use may eventually generate, how you can activate it and the alternatives that you have available.
What is VSync technology?
In simple terms, VSync, or vertical synchronization, is a graphic technology that synchronizes the frame rate of a game and the refresh rate of a monitor.
This technology was developed by GPU manufacturers as a way to deal with the visual failure known as screen tearing o split screen. This problem occurs when two different “screens” of an image collide, because the frames per second (FPS) of the game deliver information that the monitor refresh rate is not able to follow. The results are images with failures, where the objects appear fragmented or part of the screen is dislocated.
Generally this phenomenon occurs when you have games with 60 FPS or more, added to monitors that do not exceed an update rate of 60Hz. Anyway, you can register even if you have higher rates, but your video game is particularly demanding or you are performing more complex tasks.
That's when VSync appears, imposing a strict limit on the FPS of the game. He says something to the game: “Hey, this looks like a 60Hz monitor that's struggling to keep up, so you're not going to get over 60 FPS, okay? Synchronize refresh rate and image data". The result is a smoother gaming experience, which has no problems screen tearing or at least that is the objective.
It makes a big difference?
VSync only helps with the screen tearingand achieves this by limiting the SPF when necessary. If your monitor cannot keep up with the FPS of a particular game, VSync can make a big difference.
However, VSync cannot improve resolution, colors, brightness levels or anything like HDR. It is a technology that focuses on preventing a specific problem, rather than making improvements.
What do I need to enable VSync technology?
You don't need any particular monitor to use VSync. It is designed to work with all types of screens. You need a graphics card that supports it, but this should not be a problem for most gaming monitors, even the oldest ones: VSync has been around for several years, and both Nvidia and AMD have options to enable this setting. Whenever you have an Nvidia or AMD GPU that is not larger than a decade, you should be able to use VSync.
However, games do not have VSync options automatically activated. You must enter the game settings and make sure they are enabled: it is not guaranteed to make a big difference, but it is good to verify and make sure. The most popular titles have this option, such as Fortnite, GTA V, Minecraft, Overwatch, among others.
VSync generates some problem?
It can generate problems. For example, if a monitor and a game really have trouble synchronizing, then VSync can reduce the SPF even to 30 SPF. This happens when the SPF of the game suddenly changes due to processing problems and similar causes. The lower the SPF for which the game is designed, you will begin to notice delays in the entries, which are especially annoying in those that require quick reflexes, such as shooting or fighting games.
Therefore, if you are serious about this type of games, enabling VSync may not be worth it. There is another configuration called “triple buffering“, Which can help you reduce some of the problems of VSync, although this also has no guarantee.
What are Adaptative VSync and FastSync?
The GPU manufacturers were aware of the possible problems of VSync when it was launched and, since then, have been trying to present improved versions. That is why, when you enter the control panel of your GPU, you can see different synchronization options. The most advanced forms of VSync include:
- AdaptiveSync: is an enhancement of Nvidia that monitors the maximum refresh rate of the monitor. If the FPS of the game is equal to or greater than the update, VSync is enabled. If the SPF falls below, it is deactivated, which prevents some entry delay problems.
- FastSync: FastSync is a more advanced form of Nvidia enhanced synchronization that enables VSync when necessary and adds an automatic triple bfer to always choose the best possible frame data. It requires a lot of energy, but it helps solve many problems with VSync.
- Enhanced Sync (Enhanced Sync): Enhanced synchronization is the AMD version to correct VSync problems. Like AdaptiveSync, it deactivates VSync when the frame rate drops below the refresh rate of a monitor to avoid related problems.
Is VSync better than G-Sync or FreeSync?
We come to the last ways to prevent screen tearing: G-Sync, from Nvidia, and FreeSync, from AMD, are GPU technologies that carefully synchronize update rates and other image data directly with your graphics card, to provide a sharper image, without the potential problems of VSync. See them as the definitive form of VSync. Without a doubt, it is worth enabling.
The "trick" is that you need a graphics card with G-Sync or FreeSync and a monitor that supports this technology. Currently you can find many monitors that have compatibility with G-Sync or FreeSync, but very few that have both, since they are patented and competitive technologies. That means you should make sure you get a monitor that matches your GPU technology and vice versa.
VSync, on the other hand, works best with older monitors that do not have G-Sync or FreeSync, but still need to handle games in the best possible way. It is also a good alternative if your GPU is limited and you are saving for an upgrade.