Today, we are here to explain refresh rate, demystify v-sync and talk about free sync and g-sync technology that has changed the world of PC hardware. And we can’t have this discussion without having dipped into no one factor; frame rate. So let us get you in sync with these terms.
First of refresh rate is the maximum no of times in a second that a monitor or a TV draws the frame data it’s being sent measured in hertz.
The 60Hz is the standard refresh rate of modern displays, which can project a maximum of 60 frames per second. But 144Hz monitors are getting increasingly popular. We are even seeing 240Hz refresh in super high-end monitors.
So while 60FPS is the gold standard for in-game performance, there is a noticeable difference as refresh rate and framerate go up in conjunction.
Not only does motion look and feel smoother, you literally receiving more frames. It’s a competitive advantage for first-person shooters where split-second reaction and input tracking of your controls can determine who loses.
Admittedly there are diminishing returns as we get higher and higher.
I would say as we jump from 30FPS to 60FPS is more impactful than going from 144Hz to 240Hz.
But the biggest catch with any display is that your PC must be powerful enough to produce those high frame rates for you to reap the benefits of the monitor’s refresh rate.
A monitor can not show what it does not receive, which can also lead to screen tearing.
It happens when the frame rate output of your PC doesn’t match the refresh rate of your monitor.
When these two are out of sync, the monitor can show data from two or more different frames at a given moment. Since the image update vertically, the frame discrepancy will result in a horizontal tear-effect when in-game objects or the camera moves left to right.
To mitigate the effect of screen tearing, you have the option of vertical synchronization or v-Sync.
It limits the frame output of your hardware to your monitor. But the many drawbacks that come along with v-sync, and many of us prefer to leave it off.
The input lag is the no one deal-breaker, and you will feel the delay with button presses and camera movement showing up on the screen when V-sync is on.
That’s where G-Sync from Nvidia and FreeSync from AMD comes into play.
G-Sync and FreeSync
These are adaptive frame syncing technologies built into specific monitors instead of putting the onus on your graphics card to match the display refresh rate. The script is flipped.
G-Sync and FreeSync work to match its refresh rate with the frame rate your PC produces up to the maximum refresh rate.
This comes without any compromises in terms of any in-game performance since monitors with this technology have a built-in processor to execute the adaptive synchronization, thus eliminating screen tearing.
Understandably, free-sync and g-sync are only seen in higher refresh rate monitors since it’s almost guaranteed the frame rate will fluctuate when the bar set high.
But this means you have to shell out the dough for these premium monitors. Although the prices are lower than they ever been for this tech.
Another catch is that since the G-sync and free-sync are proprietary technologies, you will also need a video card from the corresponding manufacturer to work, limiting your hardware options.
Over to you
Here’s a quick recap of everything we have gone over. Frame rate – the number of the frame a game is running depends on your PC hardware and in-game graphics setting.
Refresh rate is the upper limit of how many frames a monitor can project. Screen tearing is the horizontal mismatch of frames when frame rate and refresh rate are out of sync, apparent when objects move left to the right.
V-Sync is an option to limit the games frame rate to match the monitors refresh rate but results in input lag. Gsync and Freesync are proprietary technologies from NVIDIA and AMD built into the specific monitor that makes the monitor adapt its refresh rate to games frame rate.