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V-Sync, FreeSync, G-Sync: How does the technology work?

V-Sync, FreeSync, G-Sync: How does the technology work?

November 7, 2023 at 4:40 pm |
Reading time: 5 minutes

Anyone who deals with graphics cards or computer monitors is bound to stumble across a lot of technical jargon. The important term here is V-Sync or FreeSync and G-Sync. But what is it anyway and does it mean the same thing?

While playing, the image may suddenly appear torn and streaked. Not only does this look ugly, but in a worst-case scenario it can significantly disrupt the gaming experience. This effect is called “screen tearing”, which translates to “screen tearing” – a very pithy term. V-Sync, like FreeSync and G-Sync, is a technology that can prevent this effect. But how exactly does it work? TECHBOOK explains the terminology and the technology behind them.

Explain the effect of screen tearing

The graphics processing unit (GPU) limits the refresh rate to what is called FPS, which is frames per second. For example, if this value is 60, it means that 60 images per second can be calculated. The higher the FPS value, the smoother the image becomes. The display, on the other hand, refers to the so-called refresh rate in Hz.

However, if the GPU sends, for example, 90 images per second, and the monitor can only display 60 of them, some of the sent images cannot be generated correctly. Because while the monitor is still busy loading the image correctly, the GPU is already sending the next sentence.

Then what is known as screen tearing occurs. The bar effect that occurs next can be visible both horizontally and vertically. However, the horizontal variant is common. It is also typical for the GPU to have a higher FPS than the monitor’s Hz rate. The opposite condition is much rarer and does not lead to such major problems. Only if the FPS rate is much lower than the monitor’s Hz number can the image appear slightly jerky.

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How V-Sync and Co. Help with screen tearing

But what should you do if ugly lines appear in the picture while watching videos or games? Of course, you can also buy a new monitor whose refresh rate is adapted to the GPU. Or you can pay attention to devices that have the so-called V-Sync technology.

How does V-Sync work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

V-Sync stands for “Vertical Synchronization” and refers to the graphics technology used to prevent the phenomenon of “screen tearing” during gameplay. V-Sync, or vertical sync, aims to match the GPU’s image output to the screen’s refresh rate. Incidentally, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync are two different implementations of this technology.

To do this, V-Sync limits the GPU’s frame rate to match the monitor’s refresh rate. It is then regulated downwards. The so-called Adaptive V-Sync can also prevent the opposite effect. If the FPS rate drops below the screen refresh rate due to V-Sync, the calculation will be adjusted in the same way.

To compensate for the effect of screen tearing, V-Sync technology uses a so-called image buffer. For this purpose, the images that the screen is supposed to eventually output are, so to speak, pre-produced. This is not a problem in single player games. However, if you want to play multiplayer titles, you should expect minimal image playback lag when V-Sync is turned on.

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AMD FreeSync

Both major graphics card manufacturers AMD and Nvidia use V-Sync, but in an individual form. AMD FreeSync uses the Adaptive Sync standard and creates a dynamic connection between your GPU and a FreeSync-enabled display.

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When the GPU frame rate fluctuates, FreeSync technology dynamically adjusts the screen refresh rate to prevent screen tearing. FreeSync technology is cost-effective because it does not require specialized hardware modules in displays, making it accessible to a wider range of users.

G-Sync from Nvidia

G-Sync is Nvidia’s proprietary technology and requires specialized hardware on both the display and GPU. Similar to FreeSync, G-Sync dynamically synchronizes the GPU frame rate and monitor refresh rate. In contrast to AMD’s technology, G-Sync is more precise and completely eliminates screen tearing and stuttering.

AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync improve your gaming experience by preventing screen tearing with adaptive sync. FreeSync is an open standard and can be found in many modern monitors and TVs. However, unlike proprietary G-Sync technology, FreeSync only reduces screen tearing – it doesn’t prevent it completely.

When do devices with V-Sync become worthwhile?

Obviously, whether you should invest in devices with the right technology depends largely on your individual needs. In the video sector, reasonably modern monitors should be able to handle most content. The biggest problem lies in the gaming sector. New games also demand higher performance than ever from the graphics card and this is usually accompanied by a continuous increase in the necessary FPS.

So, if you want the most unrestricted gaming experience possible with a smooth, streak-free image, you’re going to have to upgrade your hardware at some point. Hence a device that supports V-Sync can be cheaper than a monitor with a lot of hertz. However, if you play a lot of online games, you should take into account the minimum time lag that can occur and, if necessary, use a monitor with appropriate Hertz values.

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