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What Is VSync? Should I enable VSync?

VSync makes sure the refresh rate of your GPU or video output matches that of your display. While increasing input latency and lowering your FPS, VSync also gets rid of screen tearing and some types of stutter. VSync is a graphic toggle that is frequently found in video games. What does VSync do, though, and should it be turned on? To assist you in determining when VSync technology is the best choice, we’ll examine its benefits and drawbacks.

What Is VSync?

VSync (vertical synchronization) is a technology that synchronizes the refresh rate of the display with the frame rate of the graphics card in displays and graphics cards. With no tearing or stuttering, every video frame will be shown on the screen at the appropriate time thanks to this.

The display may display portions of one frame and another frame concurrently when the refresh rate and frame rate are out of sync, resulting in a torn image. This can occur when the refresh rate is higher than the frame rate, which causes the display to skip frames, or when the frame rate is higher than the refresh rate, which causes the display to show numerous frames at once.

Multiple memory “buffers” on a GPU are used to process and store graphics data. Two of these buffers are employed in the “double buffering” method, the front and back buffers. The portion of the GPU memory that is visible on the display is the front buffer. It includes the visual information that is currently shown on the screen. The back buffer, which isn’t visible on the screen, is where the data is stored by the GPU when it displays a new frame. When the buffer “flips” midway through a screen refresh cycle, screen tearing occurs. When VSync is turned on, the GPU delays delivering the contents of the back buffer to the display until the subsequent screen refresh begins.

When Should You Turn VSync On?

Depending on your preferences, you should decide when to enable VSync. Although it can offer a seamless and immersive experience, vertical synchronization can also have certain disadvantages. While turning off VSync might increase frame rate and responsiveness, it can also result in tearing and other visual abnormalities. It’s up to you to decide if you can tolerate the level of apparent tearing, and it’s simple enough to play each game with and without the feature.

When playing first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, or eSports games, which demand perfect timing and coordination, some gamers might prefer to turn VSync off.

It’s typically advisable to enable VSync in single-player games that don’t rely on low levels of input lag. However, unless there is no other choice, we never advise utilizing double-buffered VSync. A superior alternative is triple-buffered VSync, and where practical, adaptive VSync is even better. Even though it isn’t explicitly stated, triple-buffered VSync is present in the majority of contemporary games.

The disadvantages of conventional VSync are almost entirely eliminated by emerging technologies like VRR, adaptive sync, and improved versions of VSync. So don’t be afraid to use these more modern gadgets if you have access to them.

Does VSync Lower FPS?

You should be aware that there are a few different ways in which VSync might reduce frame rates. The main method is vertical syncronization, which stops your GPU from producing more frames than the refresh rate of the screen. To put it another way, a 60Hz monitor will only display up to 60 frames per second. Double-buffered VSync also has a significant flaw. The FPS will drop to half the refresh rate if the device connected to the display is unable to produce frames at a pace that is sufficient for two refreshes.

Similar to double buffering, triple buffering adds a third buffer. While the front buffer is being displayed on the screen and the rear buffer is holding onto the previous frame, the third buffer is utilized to store an interim frame that is being generated by the GPU.

At the beginning of the display refresh, whatever most recent frame is prepared to be flipped to the front buffer is sent there. Since a new frame is almost always available, this lessens how severe the frame rate reduction is when your GPU can’t always keep up with the display’s refresh rate.

VSync and Variable Refresh Rate Displays

Variable refresh rate (VRR) technologies can enhance your gaming experience in addition to the VSync technologies we’ve already covered. The refresh rate of a VRR display that supports AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA G-Sync, or HDMI VRR can adjust dynamically to match the GPU’s frame rate.

This completely eliminates input latency issues and frame rate lowering issues that other types of VSync have. However, you might still want to turn on VSync in addition to VRR technology if your GPU is capable of producing more frames than the display’s maximum frame rate.

You should always have an LFC (Low Frame Compensation) function available in case your frame rate drops below the minimum refresh rate of your VRR-enabled display. When buying a VRR display, keep an eye out for it because not all of them have it.