VSync is a well-known technology in the gaming market. The acronym stands for “Vertical Synchronization”. The graphics technology’s function is to synchronize the frame rate of a game with the monitor’s refresh rate. In this way, the user gets smoother gameplay, even in the most demanding games.
Although there are more advanced features on the market, VSync remains a good option for avoiding tearing in games. Understand better how the technology works in this complete guide.
Many gamers suffer from a problem called screen tearing. This failure occurs when the refresh rate of the computer monitor is not able to keep up with the frame rate (frame per second) of a game. This causes a tearing bug, which is usually displayed horizontally.
A 60 Hz monitor, for example, is capable of refreshing its frames every 16.6 ms (milliseconds). So it overloads when the refresh rate of the game being played is faster than it is. This causes the image to be “broken into two or more pieces” because two frames are shown within just one.
To avoid this glitch, VSync comes into play. The software is responsible for synchronizing the game frames with the refresh rate allowed by the PC monitor. This way, torn images do not appear during gameplay, even in fast-moving scenes – when these glitches are more common to appear.
But how does it work? VSync prevents the computer’s GPU from sending any graphics information to the monitor before the completion of a full-frame cycle. That is before the previous frame is completely rendered. After the cycle of a frame is finished, VSync allows another frame to be shown on the monitor. In this way, tearing does not become visible.
When to use VSync and how it helps in games
VSync is useful at times when your GPU is rendering more frames than your monitor’s maximum capacity. With VSync, your gameplay stays smooth and preserved within the game, even at times when the graphics are most demanding.
On the other hand, when the frame rate of the game is lower than the rate supported by your PC monitor, VSync is not so necessary. This is because the tearings (tearing glitches) will probably not happen. Some players tend to use VSync thinking that it can increase the resolution of the game. However, this is not the purpose of the technology. Also, in these cases, VSync can end up increasing the level of lags and hindering the competitive performance of the player in the game.
Does every computer support VSync?
You do not need a special monitor to use VSync. The important thing is to have a compatible graphics card in the machine, and most of the recent PC models are compatible. VSync has been around for a few years and was one of the first programs against screen tearing. Both Nvidia and AMD have also created their solutions against screen tearing. These are G-Sync and FreeSync.
In addition to working well on Windows, VSync can also be used on Apple’s macOS systems. However, Adaptive Sync is a more recommended program for the Apple operating system, making it perform better for the gamer than VSync.