What Is G-Sync And Is It Worth It?

Synchronization problems were a serious issue at one point in time. Thanks to Nvidia’s G-Sync, we are finally moving away from it, even if at a slow pace. Of course, the usage of G-Sync doesn’t come without its issues. Is the hassle worth it? Let’s find out.

First, we’re going to look at the crux of the issue – screen tearing.

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Screen Tearing

Screen tearing examplee
Example of screen tearing

This issue originated somewhere in the late 2000s and reached a boiling point in the early 2010s, when everyone began scrambling to find the best possible solution. The reason why screen tearing wasn’t a thing before that is because both graphics cards and display devices were perfectly optimized and synchronized for the best performance.

However, as video game graphics sought to become more realistic, GPU manufacturers wished to maintain their cards as the best tool to render those realistic images.

The best example would be a game like Crysis. When it came out, it was a technological wonder, and there weren’t many PCs that could run it at the highest resolution and details level despite their top-of-the-line hardware components.

This high hardware requirement even became a meme in the gaming community. This just goes to show that graphics card manufacturers had a very good incentive to make GPUs with the ever-increasing performance boosts.

However, this left monitors behind as far as performance was concerned, and they took a bit to catch up. Meanwhile, GPUs kept getting exponentially more powerful and able to produce a crazy number of frames.

Monitors with a 60Hz refresh rate were left in the dust when graphics cards became more than capable of producing more than 100 frames per second. The unfortunate side effect of the enhancement of GPUs was the monitors’ inability to actually display those extra frames, which resulted in issues like stuttering and screen tearing.

Screen tearing
Screen tearing will negatively impact your gaming experience

Screen tearing happens when the monitor tries to output more than one frame at the same time, and this is the direct consequence of the graphics card producing those extra frames and sending them to the monitor.

This is a particularly annoying immersion-breaking experience. Fortunately, Nvidia came out with a pretty good solution.

What Is G-Sync?


The Predecessor – VSync

Before the release of G-Sync, the go-to solution for screen tearing was VSync. Even though it was far from being perfect, it served its purpose and helped along with the development of more advanced technologies like G-Sync and also FreeSync.

Related:FreeSync vs FreeSync Premium vs FreeSync Premium Pro – Which Is Best For You?

VSync would prevent the GPU from outputting more frames than the monitor can handle. For example, if the monitor’s refresh rate is 60Hz, VSync would set the frame production to a maximum of 60 FPS.

However, this wasn’t the full solution, as there was no option to synchronize the FPS and monitor refresh rate when the GPU is not able to produce enough frames to match the monitor.

Enter G-Sync

This revolutionary Nvidia technology was released in 2013, and it stood the test of time and probably will continue to do so for a long while. With G-Sync, screen tearing appears to be a thing of the past that we won’t even be discussing in a few years. It will most likely go the way of the floppy disk – forgotten.

Nvidia pretty much borrowed the idea from VSync in terms of limiting the FPS but also expanded it, turning it into its own thing.

The reason for their enormous success is that they also released a monitor module which is sold to monitor manufacturers, offering a G-Sync certification. This is required because the module communicates with the GPU and takes the information about the frames being produced, adjusting the monitor’s refresh rate on the fly to have them match.

Likewise, it will relay to the graphics card the maximum amount of frames that the monitor can display, so the GPU will not produce excess frames. If this sounds really cool, it’s because it is.

gsync on vs off
G-Sync makes a world of difference

G-Sync is the perfect solution for screen tearing. But (and why does there always need to be a ‘but’), this excellent fix comes at a price.

As we stated earlier, Nvidia requires monitor makers to have a G-Sync certification to verify that G-Sync will work on their monitors. This isn’t free, as you might’ve guessed by now. To compensate the cost of the G-Sync certification, monitor manufacturers have increased the prices of their monitors.

G-Sync Ultimate

An additional option to G-Sync, Ultimate does bring an increase in price, but also a lot of really cool features.

Probably the best thing about G-Sync Ultimate is that Nvidia managed to stuff 1152 backlight zones. The fact that there are so many of these means that the IPS panel is capable of producing high dynamic resolution (HDR) images with way more precision.

Another thing that makes G-Sync Ultimate stand out is the impressive 1400 nits, which enable those HDR images to be extra crispy and rendered with much better lighting.

G-Sync Compatible

This is a different side of G-Sync. Although the whole concept was touted as an Nvidia exclusive, with G-Sync Compatible, they managed to alter the certification standards and enable other monitors with a variable refresh rate (VRR) and even FreeSync certified to run G-Sync.

Admittedly, there is only a handful of monitors that are certified G-Sync Compatible, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Is Nvidia G-Sync Worth It?

G Sync vs G Sync Ultimate vs G Sync Compatible
A table showing the differences between normal G-Sync, G-Sync Ultimate and G-Sync Compatible displays. Image credit: Nvidia

Although philosophers would argue that worth is based on individual experience, the technology world is different. We have clear and precise numbers that can factually determine if a given technology is worth the money or not.

However, since numbers are measured in milliseconds, it would be really hard to notice the difference with a naked eye. Where we can make a comparison is between Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync.

Related:FreeSync vs G-Sync – Which Is Best?

What we need to know here is that both are their respective companies’ solutions to screen tearing, and both require a special monitor certification for one to enjoy gaming on their cards to the fullest.

What sets these two technologies apart is that AMD doesn’t require for monitor manufacturers to pay for that FreeSync certification. Therefore, there is no additional cost. So, it’s definitely cheaper to own a FreeSync certified monitor.

freesync on vs off
FreeSync is a perfect solution for AMD graphics cards

Finally, what this argument should come down to is performance. Nvidia handily outperforms AMD in almost every category, so if you’re looking to get a buttery smooth, high-detail gameplay, Nvidia’s G-Sync should be your choice.

Of course, if you’re satisfied with a stable frame rate and are willing to sacrifice some details for experience, and especially if you’re on a tighter budget, then AMD’s FreeSync should be a no-brainer.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is impossible. That is why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements.