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What is VSync in Games and Should You Turn it On?

Written by, Mihajlo Trajcheski

Updated June, 3, 2022

VSync is a visual-enhancement technology that helps improve gaming experience, especially on games that run on heavy graphics. 

Despite new and more advanced options like G-Sync or FreeSync, VSync is still an essential feature for gamers everywhere.

Read through this guide as we answer some of your burning questions including ‘what is VSync in games; what does it do’ and ‘should I turn it on or off.’

VSync Explained

VSync, also known as vertical sync or vertical synchronisation, is a feature that attempts to sync your monitor’s refresh rate to the image frame rate of the game. It is used to provide a smooth gaming experience, particularly on 3D graphics-heavy games. 

V-Sync was originally developed to resolve the issue of screen tearing.

What is tearing in gaming?

Screen tearing, as the name suggests, is a glitch that occurs if your screen is out of sync with your GPU, i.e. when the game runs at a higher frame rate than the monitor itself can handle.  

This causes the screen to display a new image before the old one is rendered fully, giving a “tearing” effect as one image overlays the other. 

Screen tearing can ruin gameplay instantly and pull you out of the immersion experience. It can also cause you to compromise your strategy as you will get a distorted image instead of the full picture.   

What does VSync do?

The monitor’s refresh rate basically measures how many times ​​per second the display shows a new image. It is measured in Hz (hertz), so if your screen’s refresh rate is 60 Hz, then your monitor displays up to 60 frames per second (fps). In general, higher refresh rates deliver a better gaming experience.

However, if you have a game that runs at 114 fps on a 60HZ monitor (the refresh rate of most screens), you might experience screen tearing.  

Vertical-Sync eliminates this issue by syncing the refresh rate and frame rate of the monitor so that the screen shows each frame the GPU renders. It achieves this by limiting the GPU’s refresh rate to frame rate. 

Should I Turn VSync On or Off? 

Ultimately it’s up to you, your unique situation and your gaming needs.

VSync can work great if you use the tech as intended. As VSync technology aims to solve a particular problem, it doesn’t make any improvements on resolution, colours, or brightness level.

If your GPU is rendering more fps than your monitor can handle and you are experiencing screen tearing often, turning VSync on is a good idea. 

Some other advantages of VSync in games include: 

  • It reduces excessive strain on the GPU 
  • Prevents GPU from overheating
  • It is compatible with NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards
  • No additional costs, since VSync is a built-in your GPU

However, if the frame rate of the game you are playing is lower than your screen’s refresh rate, there is really no need to enable VSync. 

Also if you are seeing serious input lag (the amount of time your monitor needs to display the received signal) or dropped frames while VSync is on, you should disable it. 

This happens because VSync reduces the frame rate until it reaches the perfect balance, which could lead to input lag and game stuttering. While this effect is common in all types of games, fans of fighting and shooter titles will notice it more than others. This is also one of the reasons why serious gamers tend to disable VSync on their devices

Want to learn how to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming? Here is an article that will tell you everything you know

Alternatives to VSync

Adaptive Sync

Developed by NVIDIA, Adaptive VSync allows you to render frames by using the NVIDIA Control Panel software

Adaptive VSync works in the same way as traditional V-Sync. It limits the fps output and syncs it to the refresh rate. However, here performance lag caused by dropped refresh rates is reduced, so you get improved visual performance without tearing of game stuttering. 

The downside is that Adaptive Sync is only available on NVIDIA’s GT 600-series graphics cards or newer. 

Fast Sync

Fast sync is a more advanced version of Adaptive VSync. It is one of NVIDIA’s more recent developments and is only compatible with 10-series GPUs, GeForce 900 series or newer. Fast sync keeps latency at the lowest possible levels and is more reliable than VSync, making it a great alternative to VSync for FPS games. 

Enhanced Sync

As the name suggests, this is an enhanced version of VSync, developed by AMD. It doesn’t actually replace Vertical Sync but builds up on to reduce both lag and game stuttering when the fps drops below the refresh rates. If performance suffers, Enhanced Sync will turn off. It may not resolve all the issues of Vsync but it is more consistent and better at improving performance.

However, as is the case with NVIDIA’s tech, Enhanced Sync only works with AMD Radeon graphics cards.

Is Vsync Better Than G-Sync or Freesync?

Screen tearing has been an issue for gamers for years, so it’s only natural that manufacturers have tried to come up with their own solutions that would improve Vsync’s capabilities.

What is G-Sync?

G-Sync works by adapting the game’s framerate to the screen’s refresh rate, leading to a smooth gaming experience with zero latency, tearing, or stuttering. The only disadvantage is that you need to have NVIDIA hardware, like NVIDIA GPUs and G-sync-compatible monitors or TVs.

AMD FreeSync

This technology is similar to NVIDIA’s G-Sync. 

Instead of adjusting frame rates, it delivers dynamic refresh rates that sync the Radeon GPU frame rate with the monitor’s fps rate, thus reducing input lag and resolving the issue of screen tearing. It only works with an AMD GPU and FreeSync-enabled monitor, though. 

How to Turn VSync On and Off?

Turning VSync on and off is a straightforward procedure. Here are the steps to follow, depending on your GPU.

How to turn VSync on and off VSync in NVIDIA?

Enabling VSync in NVIDIA graphics cards is done by following these steps:

  1. Go to the ‘NVIDIA Control Panel’ in the menu.
  2. Choose ‘Manage 3D settings’ in the NVIDIA Control Panel, under 3D Settings.
  3. From the 3D Settings options, click on the ‘Global Settings’ tab and then the ‘Vertical sync’ option.
  1. Click in front of Vertical Sync on ‘On” or “Off” to enable or disable VSync. Here you will find Adaptive VSync and Fast Sync (if available on your device)
  2. Finally, click on the ‘Apply’ option to save the new settings.
  3. Restart the computer so that the changes take effect

How to turn VSync on and off in AMD?

In order to enable or disable AMD Enhanced Sync or AMD FreeSync (depending on which is available) on your computer, you need to use the AMD Radeon App. 

  1. Open the AMD Radeon settings app and choose the ‘Global Setting’ option. 
  2. Below the Global Graphics tab, choose the ‘Wait for Vertical Refresh’ option and then click on the ‘Down’ arrow in front of it. 
  3. In the drop-down list, you can click on ‘Always on’ if you want to enable VSync or ‘Always off’ if you want to turn VSync off, or choose ‘Enhanced Sync’ (if available) to turn it on.
  4. The final choice will be shown under the Wait for Vertical Refresh option. 
  1. Restart your device to apply the changes. 

Wrapping It Up

Vertical Sync or V-sync can be a great solution for resolving screen tearing. That said, it is not without disadvantages. Severe input lag and dropped frames could be a real issue, especially for competitive gamers in fighters and shooters. 

So, weigh out the pros and cons of VSync before you decide to turn it off or on, or maybe take a look at some of the alternatives offered by NVIDIA and AMD. 

                           

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

1. Does VSync help fps?

V Sync tech helps by coordinating the refresh rate with the frame rate, once your processor starts to output more frames than your monitor can handle, such as 100 fps on a 60Hz monitor

2. Does VSync limit fps?

Turning VSync on will cap the fts according to the screen’s refresh rate, thus preventing screen tearing as well as protecting the GPU from excessive strain. 

3. Does VSync use more GPU?

While VSync creates input lag, it eliminates unnecessary load off your GPU, so that your frame rate can match the monitor’s refresh rate

4. What is VSync in games and should I turn it off or on?

Vsync is tech that eliminates the issue of screen tearing. Turning it off or on is optional and depends on whether you are experiencing tearing during gaming or not. However, competitive gamers tend to disable VSync as it can lead to input lag and dropped frames, both of which can seriously impact the overall gaming experience.

As someone who grew up gaming and always had a love for random facts, being able to write about gaming and technology for a living has been an absolute treat. Whenever I’m not researching my next topic for Don’t Disappoint Me, I am deflecting the attacks of Bosses in Sekiro, investigating a murder in Disco Elysium, helping Zagreus escape the underworld in Hades, or flanking enemies in Call of Duty with my squad. Having studied English language and literature has helped me merge these two worlds of random facts and gaming into a fulfilling career.