Is Nvidia G-Sync Worth It?

You may have heard of it and are wondering what all the fuss is about.  If you are in the market for a new monitor then you are probably wondering whether you should be buying one that is G-Sync ready.  

So is G-Sync worth it or is the price tag for the monitors that support it too expensive?

Is G-Sync worth it?

Before I get into that lets give a brief overview of what G-Sync is.

Nvidia G-sync is a small hardware module that is now commonly found in a lot of top-end monitors.  

A G-Sync module contains around 768MB of DDR3 memory which allows the monitor to store the previous frame so it can be analysed and compared to the next frame that is being sent.

This syncs up the frames between your monitor and graphics card so that your display does not produce any screen tearing or stuttering.  G-Sync provides the smoothest possible experience so that you are getting the most out of your graphics card.

What is Screen Tearing?

Screen tearing and jagged edges are where the image that is being rendered on your monitor is showing horizontal and misaligned shapes or lines.  The image may also look like it is stuttering slightly. To see it in action check out this short Youtube video that explains it visually.

If your graphics card is powerful enough to be providing you with a high frame rate but you are seeing screen tearing or weird jagged edges then this is what G-Sync aims to solve.

This is because your monitor is not capable of rendering the frames in time in relation to how fast your graphics card is producing the information.  It is almost like your monitor is playing catch-up.

V-Sync also tries to perform the same task however it does so with the added negative effect of input lag which I will discuss in more detail later.

How Does G-Sync Work?

The G-Sync module manipulates the display panels vertical blanking interval (VBLANK).  VBLANK just means the time between when a monitor is finished rendering the current frame and the start of the next frame.

During this tiny frame of time, no refresh data is being transmitted to the monitor.  With G-Sync the graphics card will wait until the monitor is ready to receive the next frame before sending it.  

This is what stops the screen tearing and jagged edges because the monitor is only receiving the information when it is ready.  Therefore, it renders the frame in sync.  No more of this!

From Asus Gaming

G-Sync allows monitors to support a wide array of refresh rates that might be redrawn at significantly different times.  Which provides the player with crisp, smooth frames.

In order for G-Sync to work your graphics card also has to be G-Sync ready.  However, nowadays the majority of NVIDIA cards are G-Sync ready unless you have an older card.  You can find a full list of supported cards here.

It is important to note that G-Sync is only effective for when your frame rate is lower than your monitors refresh rate.  For example, if your monitors refresh rate is 144hz then the technology can only prevent tearing for when your frame rate is below 144 fps.

In most games, there is a setting or frame rate limit.  Be careful if you are setting your frame rate to unlimited as this could cause tearing or stuttering.

Some say it is also beneficial to set your frame rate limit to be a couple of fps below your monitors refresh rate.  This stops the chance of any tearing whatsoever.

How is G-Sync Better Than V-Sync?

G-Sync was designed to improve upon what V-Sync was trying to do. V-Sync locks your frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor. If your monitor is a 60hz monitor but you have a fancy GTX1080 which is providing you with a frame rate of 200 then your frame rate will be locked to 60.

Obviously, this is a problem since you are not getting the full frame rate that your graphics card is capable of producing. Not only that but V-Sync can create awful input lag. If you are an FPS player or play any competitive games this is a huge problem.

Additionally, if your graphics card cannot produce the frame rate that matches your monitors refresh rate then V-Sync will knock your frame rate down BY HALF to ensure syncing of the frames. This is bad!

To take the example of 60hz again, if your graphics card was only producing 45 fps and couldn’t reach 60 then V-Sync would pull your frame rate down to 30 fps!

So not only are you going to experience input lag, you are also going to have your fps reduced if your graphics card can’t produce a frame rate to match your monitor refresh rate.

Input lag is where the player presses a button and it takes an abnormal amount of time for the button to be registered on screen. This can make a significant impact in any game.

G-Sync adapts to the frame rate your graphics card is producing (up to the maximum refresh rate of your monitor).

As an example, if your frames are fluctuating from 60-120fps all the time (as they tend to do in games), G-Sync will adapt to match that frame rate.  Therefore, your frames are rendered smoothly on your monitor and not restricted to a set amount due to V-Sync. G-Sync also does not produce nearly as much input lag.

Is G-Sync Noticeable?

This depends on your rig and what games you play. If you play fast action, high paced games such as FPS games or racing games then yes G-Sync is noticeable. However, if you are playing RTS games or turn-based games then you won’t really get the benefit of G-Sync.

G-Sync will reduce tearing and stuttering so if you are noticing that when playing then you will notice the difference. But remember that G-Sync only has an effect if you limit the frame rate to your monitors refresh rate.

If your average fps is quite low then you will benefit from G-Sync more since it won’t be capping your frame rate like V-Sync and will provide you with a smooth image.

If your FPS is averaging above your monitor’s refresh rate then G-Sync will be less noticeable.

How to Turn on G-Sync in 5 Easy Steps

Setting up G-Sync is really simple, follow these steps 5 easy steps.

1. Go to your control panel and find ‘NVIDIA Control Panel’ or do a windows search for it.  You can also right click your desktop and select ‘NVIDIA Control Panel’ from there.

2. Under the display heading select ‘Set up G-SYNC’.

3. Tick the Enable G-SYNC checkbox and select whether you want it enabled for full screen or full screen and windowed.

 
4. If you want to check if G-Sync is working go to the display toolbar at the top and select ‘G-SYNC Indicator. With this option enabled you will see an overlay in-game when G-Sync is enabled.
 

5. Turn off V-SYNC

What Is Nvidia Fast Sync and Should I Use It?

It is worth noting that Nvidia Fast Sync should also be considered when talking about G-Sync.  Both of these technologies actually go hand in hand.

Nvidia fast sync is similar to V-Sync in that it is only effective when your frame rate is higher than that of your monitors refresh rate. But unlike V-Sync, Fast Sync does not cap your frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor.

It does this by having an extra buffer where it can store your last rendered image.

This means there is always a ‘back buffer’ for your GPU to render the next frame to. The front buffer will always have a complete image ready to be scanned and sent to the monitor.

Nvidia Fast Sync works with any monitor but it does require an NVIDIA Pascal or Maxwell architecture GPU. It does slightly decrease the responsiveness of your game but not nearly as bad as V-Sync.

It is often recommended to turn on Fast Sync when you are using G-Sync.  This is because G-Sync will try and stop any tearing below your monitors refresh rate.  Free sync will try to stop any tearing above your monitors refresh rate.

Conclusion – Is G-Sync Worth It?

Now that you have a better understanding of what G-Sync actually is and what it does you might be wondering if G-Sync is worth it.

This comes down to a few important questions you have to ask yourself. If you are playing fast paced games such as FPS games or racing games then yes, G-Sync might be worth your time. However, if you prefer to have pure responsiveness and don’t care about minimal screen tearing and stuttering then G-Sync is probably not for you.

Remember that G-Sync only provides a benefit to you if you are capping your frame rate to match your monitors refresh rate. 

If your GPU is producing 200fps on Fortnite, but your monitor is only a 144hz monitor, then G-Sync isn’t going to stop all the tearing because your frame rate is above your monitors refresh rate.

So if you’re not bothered about having max fps and want the best image quality possible then G-Sync is for you and is probably worth it. You must also take into consideration the added cost of a G-Sync monitor as they are usually more expensive too.

For information on G-Sync and how it compares to V-Sync and Freesync you should check out this YouTube video by Battle(non)sense.

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