Synchronization problems were a serious issue at one point in time, but due to Nvidia’s G-Sync, we are slowly moving away from it. Of course, the usage of G-Sync doesn’t come without its own issues but is the hassle worth it? Let’s find out.
First, let’s take a look at the crux of the issue – screen tearing.
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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, the GPU manufacturers desired to maintain their cards as the best tool to render those realistic images. At the time, probably the best example would be a game like Crysis. When it came out, it was a technological wonder, and there weren’t many PCs at the time that could run it at the highest resolution and details level.
This high hardware requirement even became a meme in the gaming community, and that 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 the performance was concerned, and they took a bit to catch up. Meanwhile, the GPUs kept getting exponentially more and more powerful and able to produce a ridiculous number of frames.
So those 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 GPUs getting better was the monitors’ inability to actually display those extra frames, and we got issues like stuttering and screen tearing.
The 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 bad immersion-breaking experience but fortunately, Nvidia came out with a pretty good solution.
What Is G-Sync?
Before the release of G-Sync, the go-to solution for screen tearing was using VSync. Although not a perfect solution to this problem, it served its purpose and helped along with the development of more advanced technologies like G-Sync, but also FreeSync.
VSync would limit the GPU from outputting more frames than the monitor can handle. So, 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.
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 and will go the way of the floppy disk – forgotten.
Nvidia pretty much took the idea from VSync in the limiting the FPS but then expanded it and turned it into its own thing.
The reason why they were much more successful is that they also released a monitor module that they sell to monitor manufacturers to have G-Sync certification. This is required because the module communicates with the GPU and takes the information about the frames being produced and adjusts the monitor’s refresh rate on the fly to have those two things match.
Likewise, it will relay to the graphics card the maximum amount of frames that the monitor can display so the GPU will know now to produce excess frames. This sounds very cool and that’s because it is.
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 the monitor makers to have a G-Sync certification to verify that G-Sync will work with their monitors. This isn’t free either, and to justify the cost of the G-Sync certification, the monitor manufacturers have increased the prices of their monitors.
An additional option to G-Sync, Ultimate does bring a price increase, 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 there are so many of these zones mean that the IPS panel is capable of producing high dynamic resolution (HDR) images with way more precision.
Another thing that also makes G-Sync Ultimate stand out is the impressive 1400 nits which enables those HDR images to be rendered with much better lighting and make them appear extra crispy.
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?
Although philosophers would argue that worth is based on the individual experience and how much value a person can extract from the object, the technology world is different. Here, we have clear and precise numbers that can factually determine if something is worth the money or not.
However, since the numbers here 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.
What we need to know here is that both are their respective companies’ solutions to screen tearing, and both require a special monitor certification in order to have the best experience with their cards.
What sets these two technologies apart is that AMD doesn’t require that the monitor manufacturer’s pay for that FreeSync certification and therefore, the additional cost is non-existent so it’s definitely cheaper to own a FreeSync certified monitor.
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 and G-Sync should be your choice.
Of course, if you’re satisfied with a stable frame rate and are willing to sacrifice some detail for experience while staying conscious of the cost, then AMD’s FreeSync should be a no-brainer.