What Is V-SYNC And Is It Worth It?

As Fast As Possible

V-SYNC (Vertical Synchronization) synchronizes your GPU’s frame rate to the monitor’s maximum refresh rate. You should enable it if you notice prominent screen tearing in video games, and if you can maintain a higher or equal FPS rate to your monitor’s maximum refresh rate.

For competitive FPS games, it’s best to disable it because V-SYNC limits your frame rate and increases input lag. In the end, it comes down to personal preference as well as to what PC rig you have and what game you are playing.

You’ve probably seen the V-SYNC option in your graphics card’s drivers or video game’s settings menu and wondered whether you should turn it on or off and what exactly it does. 

In short, V-SYNC synchronizes your graphic’s card frame rate with the monitor’s refresh rate to eliminate screen tearing, which occurs when your FPS (Frames Per Second) rate exceeds your monitor’s maximum refresh rate.

If your FPS rate is mostly below your monitor’s maximum refresh rate anyway, you should disable it as V-SYNC increases input lag and can further lower your FPS rate.

How Does V-SYNC Work?

Once you enable V-SYNC, your GPU will only send frames to your monitor when it is ready to display them instead of sending as many frames as it can.

Therefore, if you have a 60Hz monitor, you will get 60FPS max, but no screen tearing.

While this eliminates screen tearing, it introduces input lag because your graphics card is being limited and forced to wait by your monitor.

Moreover, if your GPU isn’t powerful enough to render all the required frames in time, it will display the last full frame, which causes screen stutter.

The higher the refresh rate of your monitor is, the less noticeable screen tearing will be.

That’s why most competitive FPS gamers with 144Hz and 240Hz monitors don’t enable V-SYNC – since screen tearing is generally less of an issue than the added input lag.

On balance, some people are more sensitive to input lag while others to screen tearing.

Try playing with both V-SYNC On and V-SYNC Off and see for yourself what works best for you.

You can significantly reduce the added input lag of V-SYNC by using RTSS (Rivatuner Statistics Server) to cap your frame rate to your monitor’s maximum refresh rate subtracted by 0.01.

You will need to know the exact fractional refresh rate of your monitor, which you can find out by using this website.

Then, if your monitor’s refresh rate is 143.992Hz, for instance, limit the FPS rate in RTSS to 143.982 (143.992 – 0.01).

What Is NVIDIA Adaptive V-SYNC And How To Turn It On?

vsync vs no vsync

Some NVIDIA graphics cards feature Adaptive VSync, which can be enabled in the NVIDIA driver settings if your card supports it (GTX 650 or newer cards).

NVIDIA Adaptive V-SYNC (not to be confused with Adaptive-Sync) will automatically enable V-SYNC when your FPS rate is equal to or higher than the monitor’s max refresh rate and disable it once it falls below it.

Newer graphics cards (NVIDIA GTX 900-series and AMD HD 7000, or newer) support Fast Sync and Enhanced Sync as well.

These two technologies allow for an uncapped frame rate and display the most recently completed full frame thus preventing tearing, but with a lower input lag penalty than V-SYNC. However, the input lag is still increased.

That’s why if you want to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering without noticeable input lag penalty, you should use a gaming monitor with a variable refresh rate technology, such as AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC

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Joseph Moore
Joseph Moore

Joseph has probably spent thousands of hours learning about displays in his free time and prior work experience at HP. He now writes and manages DisplayNinja to ensure it stays as the people's favorite resource.