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V-Sync vs Fast Sync: Differences + Pros & Cons

Wondering what the real difference is between V-Sync and Fast Sync? We’ve got you covered!

Both V-Sync and Fast Sync are tools that work to synchronize your GPU’s frame output to your monitor’s refresh rate in order to reduce screen tearing. Each of these options accomplishes this in a different way, but Fast Sync has much lower input lag.

Lower input lag means that Fast Sync is the obvious choice for fast-paced eSports games (think first-person-shooters), but only under the correct circumstances.

This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about how V-Sync and Fast Sync work. We’ll help you determine exactly which option works best or if you should altogether avoid them both.

What is V-Sync?

V-Sync, which stands for “vertical sync”, synchronizes a game’s frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor. This ensures that neither the game nor the monitor will have issues by capping FPS of each and locking them at 60 FPS.

60 frames per second might be a bit low for the fastest-twitch eSports games (think CS:GO, Overwatch, etc), but it is generally a perfect number to get a great experience out of most single player games.

The best time to implement V-Sync is when you begin seeing screen tearing occur. This is an ugly effect that you will usually see when manipulating the camera quickly within a game. The result is the screen looking like it is literally tearing, due to the game image and monitor’s display becoming out of sync.

If you are playing games that need quick reflexes and no graphic distractions whatsoever, screen tearing makes things very tough to see clearly. It can even strain your eyes after a while from the varying degrees of frame rates you are viewing at the same time.

If you’re experiencing screen tearing, stuttering, or any other FPS syncing issue, the locked 60 FPS may be a worthy compromise, even for first person shooters.

Note: It’s also common for there to be lots of confusion around how V-Sync compares to G-Sync. We have a guide specifically on V-Sync vs G-Sync. We definitely recommend getting up to speed on that too!

Should I Use V-Sync?

Generally, if you have a good GPU and a powerful monitor capable of a 144+ Hz refresh rate, your system should handle things and there is little reason to use V-Sync. If you have a good GPU but a lackluster monitor, V-Sync can be a significant help solving the disconnect.

It comes down to this: if your equipment is awesome, then don’t worry about V-Sync. If you are a budget PC gamer, then V-Sync should definitely help you run things on higher settings while preventing screen tearing from causing any major graphical issues.

The Pros of V-Sync

While playing, the ability to make sure the game screen won’t look like it is tearing apart is a great benefit. V-sync’s natural 60 FPS cap will also help you run games at higher settings.

Arguably, the biggest benefit of V-Sync is when you have a less-than-elite monitor to play with. Sometimes, a monitor is not equipped to run a game at its base settings and that is where screen tearing can be at its worst.

When playing such games that require a base of 60 FPS, you can use V-Sync to make the game’s graphical image far more stable.

V-sync can be extremely useful if you are using a TV for your computer gaming. TV’s almost always have different refresh rates than what the top-of-the-line PC’s produce and, in our experience, screen tearing has always been at its worst in this scenario.

The last benefit of V-Sync is that your system will get a nice rest from being pushed to its limits. While things like 100 frames per second in videogames is incredible to witness, you can also find it turning your system into one hot piece of equipment, literally.

Turning on V-sync and putting a governor on your frames per second will keep your graphics card healthier in the long run if the rest of your system (especially cooling) isn’t quite up to the task.

The Cons of V-Sync

One of the most important things when playing competitive, fast-paced games is input response time. Unfortunately, with V-Sync on, you will find that your input response becomes slightly slower.

In games that demand instant results from click to screen, this can be an unacceptable compromise.

V-sync can actually even cause more instability in games with uber-fast action. This can happen when there are quick graphical spikes on screen and V-Sync can’t process fast enough to change the frames in time. The result is your frame rate dropping even more with far worse problems than the screen tearing initially was.

How to Turn on V-Sync

While you can turn on V-Sync in many games’ graphics settings, sometimes there is not option and screen tearing might be happening regardless. If this is the case, you can manually turn V-Sync in on the Nvidia settings.

Go to your Nvidia control panel, select Manage 3D Settings and go to Global Setting tab. Under these features you will see V-Sync and from here you can select Force On. Once you do this, any game you run will be locked at 60 frames per second, so don’t bother toying with the in-game V-Sync settings as they will not do much.

What is Fast Sync?

Fast Sync is essentially Nvidia’s take on an improved V-sync. It’s best used in situations where a GPU is producing more frames than a monitor’s framerate can handle. Fast Sync has much lower input lag than V-sync, making it the superior option for eSports games and first person shooters.

Basically, Fast Sync instructs your system not to send each individual frame to the monitor if the monitor’s refresh rate is lower than the GPU’s frame output. This allows input to be scanned at a higher rate than rate frames are displayed, reducing screen tearing without much lag.

Like V-sync, Fast Sync’s ultimate goal is the reduction or elimination of graphical issues that result from discrepancies in GPU frame rates and monitor refresh rates. It’s best used when a game’s frames-per-second are higher than the refresh rate of the monitor displaying them.

An example of an ideal scenario for the optimal use of Fast Sync’s capabilities would be a 60Hz monitor trying to keep up with a GPU producing 120 FPS in a game.

Fast Sync was introduced in the past few years and is only usable on cards 9-Series and above. What it does is keep all the screen tearing issues and input lag issues and does its best to keep them nearly unnoticeable.

That means while it is not eliminating these types of problems, it does minimize them so that they are barely even noticeable.

Fast Sync is one of the most common settings that makes use of triple buffering. We have a whole guide to how triple buffering works, including its benefits and drawbacks.

Should I Use Fast Sync?

There is no reason you shouldn’t use fast sync if you’re playing fast-twitch eSports games and your GPU is pushing more frames than your monitor can handle, especially if screen tearing is occurring.

If your monitor is capable of keeping up with your GPU’s frame output, Fast Sync becomes much less useful.

An example of an unideal scenario for Fast Sync use would be a 144Hz monitor displaying an in-game GPU frame output of 100 FPS. You really need your GPU’s frame output to be constantly above your monitor’s maximum refresh rate for Fast Sync to function optimally.

Again, Fast Sync is only available with Nvidia GPUs. If you happen to have an AMD card for example, you will be unable to use it and instead will have to work with Enhanced Sync (a similar tool).

Enhanced Sync isn’t quite as good as Fast Sync, so if AMD is the card you use, you will be out of luck unless you change graphics cards.

In Conclusion

V-Sync is undoubtedly one of the best graphical inventions for modern gaming. For a lot of budget gamers, it can be a game changer when trying to run high quality titles on less-than-elite machines.

If you are an Nvidia user, the choice is easy: Fast Sync is the superior product in almost every way. It’s also flexible, as regardless of whether a game gives you the option or not, you can always cap your monitor’s frames per second to 60 to deal with screen tearing.

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