What is V-synch?
Vertical sync or v-sync is a display option that synchronizes the frame rate of your graphics card with the refresh rate of your console or computer monitor. V-sync limits frames per second (FPS) to the refresh rate of your monitor. V-sync helps prevent screen tears – when the image your screen displays is a “torn” combination of two separate frames, but it also limits FPS.
Frame Rate vs. Refresh Rate
Frame rate is the number of still images your display flashes every second while you play a game. Your graphics card determines your maximum frame rate, although you can artificially decrease the maximum by changing your display resolution or game settings. The higher the frame rate, the more often your graphics will update and the smoother your game will appear.
Refresh rate, on the other hand, is how many times per second your monitor refreshes the image rendered by your graphics card – independent of the frame rate of your display. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), which is the standard unit of measurement for frequency. One Hz is equal to one cycle per second, so it’s just a more generic equivalent of FPS.
When your Frame Rate and Refresh Rate don’t Match
When your frame rate and refresh rate are different, the lower of the two specifications will determine how often your game actually refreshes. For example, if your display is operating at 120 FPS, but your monitor has a client update rate of 60 Hz, it will feel like you’re playing games with a frame rate of 60 FPS. On the other hand, if you have a 144 Hz monitor, but your frame rate is 60 FPS, your display will only show half the frames it receives from the graphics card.
When your frame rate and refresh rate aren’t in sync, you might also see screen tearing. A torn screen displays information from multiple frames at once, so the image on the screen looks like two images cut in half and pasted together. It occurs when your graphics card processes frames at a rate too quick for your monitor to handle, so the monitor combines data from two or more frames.
How to Enable or Disable V-synch
If you have screen tearing, v-synch will stabilize your frame rate so you only see data from one frame at a time. V-synch is also a useful setting if your graphics card is just way too powerful for the graphics of a particular game – like an older game, for example. V-synch prevents your processor from overheating as it attempts to refresh outdated graphics at an insane rate.
If you don’t have screen tears and your graphics card isn’t overheating, v-synch might be limiting your frame rate (and therefore reducing your game performance) for no reason. When you encounter especially complex graphics in a game, your frame rate will sometimes drop below your refresh rate. In these intense moments, v-synch can push your frame rate even lower – and a delay can occur between when you click and when the game responds.
To enable or disable v-synch, look for it in your game settings.
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