What is G-Sync? If you’re a gaming fan, you’ll want to know

best gaming monitors

So you just got the latest PC title and are excited to fire up your machine to give it a go. You start the game but notice that the image sometimes seems to skip a bit. The smoothness you expected to see with all your new gear is being ruined.

Don’t worry: This is a common issue, and Nvidia has developed a tool to eliminate this problem. It’s called G-Sync, and with the right GPU and the monitor, choppy displays are a thing of the past.

A solution to a problem

Few computing programs require more system resources than games, and game developers are known to always push graphics hardware to their limits. Because of that, sometimes your graphics card and monitor can get out of sync, meaning the the graphics card sends a frame in the middle of a monitor’s refresh rate.

The monitor then ends up drawing parts of multiple frames on the display at the same time. 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 V-sync, 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 V-sync eliminates tearing, it can introduce yet another artifact called “stuttering,” as well as input lag.

G-Sync is a hardware-based tech that manipulates the display panel’s VBI (vertical blanking interval). VBI 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

Because it is a hardware solution, individual monitors need to have the technology implemented. Fortunately, most of the major monitor manufacturers, including Asus, Philips, BenQ, AOC, Samsung, and LG have deployed G-Sync on some of their displays.

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 3,840×2,160. Prices range from about $100 to well over a $1,000. For example, Asus’ ROG Swift PG279Q 27-inch monitor, lists for $698.

However, it’s important to note that you’ll also need a G-Sync-enabled Nvidia graphics card to take advantage of this new technology. Most newer Nvidia cards, like the GTX 10 series, as well as more powerful cards, like the GTX Titan Black, are all G-Sync-ready. You can check out the full list of supported cards and GPUs here.

A couple downsides

That’s not to say the technology is without its drawbacks. First is the price. Whether you’re looking at a laptop or desktop setup, G-Sync requires both a capable monitor and graphics card.  Purchasing each separately for a desktop costs about $500, and laptops that incorporate both components all retail at over $1,000.

In addition, users have noted a lack of compatibility with Nvidia’s Optimus technology. Optimus, implemented in many laptops, adjusts graphics performance on the fly to provide necessary power to graphics-intensive programs and optimize battery life. Because the technology relies on an integrated graphics system, frames are passed to the screen at a set interval, not as they are created in the case of G-Sync. One can purchase an Optimus-capable device or a G-Sync-capable device, but there exists no laptop that can do both.

Alternatives to G-Sync

best ultra-wide monitors
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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

Because FreeSync operates using the existing DisplayPort interface present on most monitors, the tech doesn’t require additional AMD hardware (aside from the AMD GPU, that is) to enable variable VBI. In fact, according to AMD, its GPUs have supported variable refresh rates for a few generations.

As a result, there are more monitors that support FreeSync than G-Sync. Furthermore, because these monitors don’t require the manufacturer to install additional hardware, they may run cheaper than their G-Sync capable counterparts. For example, Asus’ MG279Q is about $100 less than the aforementioned ROG Swift monitor.

Each technology has its own strengths, but there is a plethora of graphics card and monitor combinations that support these features. If you’re tired of the graphical glitches caused by your monitor and GPU being out of sync, help has arrived.

Computing

Asus claims ‘world’s thinnest’ title with its new Zephyrus S gaming laptop

The Republic of Gamers arm at Asus is claiming “world’s thinnest” with the introduction of its new Zephyrus S gaming laptop measuring just 0.58 inches at its thinnest point. The company also revealed the Strix SCAR II.
Computing

Nvidia’s Turing chip reinvents computer graphics (but not for gaming)

Nvidia revealed its new graphics chip design called “Turing” during SIGGRAPH 2018. Rumored to be the foundation of Nvidia’s next family of GeForce cards, the company instead showcased Turing in Quadro RTX-branded cards for pros.
Computing

Turn your desk into a command center with the best ultrawide monitors

Top of the line ultrawide monitors have the deepest curves, the sharpest colors, and the biggest screens on the market today. You’re going to want one, sooner or later. So why not sooner? These are the best ultrawide monitors you can buy…
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Deals

Save hundreds with the best MacBook deals for August 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

Lost without 'Print Screen'? Here's how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook

Chrome OS has a number of built-in screenshot options, and can also be used with Chrome screenshot extensions for added flexibility. You have a lot of options, but learning how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook is easy.
Computing

Intel teases new dedicated graphics card slated for 2020 release

Intel has confirmed plans to launch a dedicated graphics card in 2020. Although precious few details exist for the card at this time, it was silhouetted in a recent Intel video showcased at Siggraph 2018.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

AMD Threadripper 2990WX hits 6GHz under liquid nitrogen overclock

AMD's Threadripper 2990WX was already powerful when it debuted with 32 cores and 64 threads, but one overclocker has used liquid nitrogen to push a single core up to 6GHz for a new world record.
Computing

Arm’s future CPU designs may finally catch up with Intel in laptops by 2020

Arm publicly revealed its CPU road map for the first time, covering designs to be released through 2020. Typically disclosed under an NDA, Arm revealed its plans to show how its CPU designs will advance the always-on laptop.
Photography

Color grading pushes Pinnacle Studio 22 toward more pro video editing features

Designed for videographers that aren't pros but aren't basic users either, Pinnacle Studio 22 expands its advanced tools with color grading and four-point editing. The updates bring more advanced tools to the platform.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Computing

Australian student hacks into Apple, steals 90GB of data because he’s a ‘fan’

A 16-year-old student in Australia broke into Apple’s network multiple times for an entire year to download 90GB of “secure” data and access customer accounts. He did this because he was a "fan."