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What is Nvidia G-Sync, and how does it make graphics look prettier?

Few computing programs require more system resources than games. Game developers consistently push graphics hardware to their limits. Because of this, the results are frequently less than desirable.

Sometimes, when your GPU/graphics card and monitor are out of sync, and the GPU sends a frame in the middle of a monitor’s refresh rate, the monitor ends up drawing parts of multiple frames on the display at the same time.

Nvidia’s G-Sync monitor technology eliminates the tear, stutter, and input lag phenomena that plagues many PCs.

This can result in visually discernable artifacts known as “tears,” or tearing; a form of distortion where objects on the screen appear to be out of alignment.

You can keep your GPU and monitor in sync by enabling vsync, which causes the GPU to send frames to the screen in sync with the monitor’s refresh rate (usually at 60Hz, or 60 times per second). However, while maintaining sync via vsync eliminates tearing, it can introduce yet another artifact called “stuttering,” as well as input lag.

The good news is that Nvidia’s G-Sync monitor technology eliminates the tear, stutter, and input lag phenomena that plagues many PCs.

So, what is Nvidia G-Sync exactly?

G-Sync is a hardware-based tech that manipulates the display panel’s vertical blanking interval (VBLANK). VBLANK represents the interval between the time when a monitor finishes drawing the current frame, and the beginning of the next frame.

During this interval, no screen refresh data is sent to the monitor. When G-Sync is active, the graphics card in your PC waits until the monitor is ready to receive another frame before sending it. This keeps everything in sync, and eliminates annoying and distracting visual artifacts.

A G-Sync board contains 768MB of DDR3 memory, which stores the previous frame so that it can be compared to the next incoming frame. It does this to decrease input lag.

G-Sync allows a monitor to support variable refresh rates, which are often redrawn at widely varying intervals. Syncing the GPU and monitor’s refresh rates helps make in-game animations appear smoother.

Manufacturers have jumped on board

Recently, several monitor makers, such as Asus, Philips, BenQ, AOC, and ViewSonic, have deployed G-Sync on a few of their displays. In addition, the Asus VG248QEmonitor can be upgraded via a $200 do-it-yourself kit. Alternatively, you can send your Asus display panel to a vendor, such as Overlord Computer, and have them install a G-Sync card in it.

If you’re tired of the graphical glitches caused by your monitor and GPU being out of sync, help has arrived.

As for the monitors themselves, they range in sizes between 20 and 30-inches, support 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rates, and they come in resolutions ranging from 1,920×1,080 to 2,560×1,440. Prices range from about $100 to $1,000. For example, Asus’ ROG Swift PG278Q 27-inch monitor, lists for $799.

However, it’s important to note that you’ll need a G-Sync-enabled Nvidia graphics card to take advantage of this new technology. Nvidia’s most powerful cards, like the GTX 780 Ti, GTX Titan Black, and GTX 880M, are all G-Sync-ready. You can check out the full list of supported cards and GPUs here.

G-Sync may have some potential competition

You should also be aware that AMD, Nvidia’s rival, has announced and demonstrated its own variable refresh rate technology, dubbed “FreeSync.”

FreeSync doesn’t require additional AMD hardware (aside from the AMD GPU, that is) to enable variable VBLANK, as long as the monitor connected to the gear supports it. In fact, according to AMD, its GPUs have supported variable refresh rates for a few generations.

However, currently only a handful of laptop monitors support FreeSync, and AMD hasn’t yet released any FreeSync products.

In any case, the only way to get variable refresh technology right now is by purchasing a G-Sync-ready monitor and GPU. If you’re tired of the graphical glitches caused by your monitor and GPU being out of sync, help has arrived.  

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