Adaptive v sync: What is Adaptive Sync? — ViewSonic Library

What is Adaptive Sync? — ViewSonic Library

Enter the world of gaming and you will hear the terms refresh rates and frame rates thrown about frequently. To explore brand new alien landscapes and capture enemy lines in smooth, seamless movements, gamers seek out equipment that delivers ultra-fast refresh rates and super-high frame rates.

Continue reading to learn about how Adaptive Sync prevents screen tearing and game stuttering for the smoothest gameplay possible. Or discover ViewSonic ELITE’s range of professional gaming monitors equipped with the latest sync capabilities.

However, no matter how advanced the specifications are, the monitor’s refresh rate and the graphics card’s frame rate need to be synced. Without the synchronization, gamers will experience a poor gaming experience marred with tears and judders. Manufacturers such as NVIDIA, AMD, and VESA have developed different display technologies that help sync frame rates and refresh rates to eliminate screen tearing and minimize game stuttering. And one such technology is Adaptive Sync.

To understand what Adaptive Sync is, we need to first understand what causes screen tearing, game stuttering, and input lag, and how Adaptive Sync resolves them.

What Causes Screen Tearing or Game Stuttering?

Traditional monitors tend to refresh their images at a fixed rate. However, when a game requires higher frame rates outside of the set range, especially during fast-motion scenes, the monitor might not be able to keep up with the dramatic increase. The monitor will then show a part of one frame and the next frame at the same time.

As an example, imagine that your game is going at 90 FPS (Frames Per Second), but your monitor’s refresh rate is 60Hz, this means your graphics card is doing 90 updates per second with the display only doing 60. This overlap leads to split images – almost like a tear across the screen. These lines will take the beautiful viewing experience away and hamper any gameplay.

Game stuttering or micro-stuttering is when frames are being repeated, skipped, or frozen. This usually happens when there is input delay between the GPU and your display. Games, especially fast-paced and graphics-intensive types, will feel slow and laggy and players will experience delayed action and sudden screen hiccups.

Input lags are often caused by a decrease in FPS when the GPU renders images at a slower rate as compared to the monitor. A drop in frame rates below your display’s refresh rate will lead to game stuttering and input delays – and this can be caused by V-Sync.

You can also learn more about how your video card affects performance here: How to Choose an Esports Graphics Card

What is V-Sync?

V-Sync, also known as Vertical Sync, is the original GPU technology that synchronizes the game’s frame rate to the monitor’s refresh rate and is featured in most modern graphics cards. It was developed primarily to combat screen tears.

When V-Sync is enabled on a monitor, it helps limit the frame rate output of the graphics card to the monitor’s refresh rate. This allows the monitor to avoid handling a higher FPS that it can manage and hence, eliminates screen tearing. However, if the game’s required framerate drops below the refresh rate of the monitor, having V-Sync enabled will cause the FPS to drop even further to match the monitor. This brings added latency which will impede performance and increase input delays.

To combat this problem, Adaptive Sync was created to banish screen tearing and reduce lags and stuttering simultaneously.

What is Adaptive Sync?

In every gameplay, different scenes demand varying levels of framerates. The more effects and details the scene has (such as explosions and smoke), the longer it takes to render the variance in framerate. Instead of consistently rendering the same framerate across all scenes, whether they are graphics-intensive or not, it makes more sense to sync the refresh rate accordingly.

Developed by VESA, Adaptive Sync adjusts the display’s refresh rate to match the GPU’s outputting frames on the fly. Every single frame is displayed as soon as possible to prevent input lag and not repeated, thus avoiding game stuttering and screen tearing.

Outside of gaming, Adaptive Sync can also be used to enable seamless video playback at various framerates, whether from 23.98 to 60 fps. It changes the monitor’s refresh rate to match with the framerate of the video content, thus banishing video stutters and even reducing power consumption.

V-Sync VS Adaptive Sync: What’s the Difference?

Unlike V-Sync which caps your GPU’s frame rate to match with your display’s refresh rate, Adaptive Sync dynamically changes the monitor’s refresh rate in response to the game’s required framerates to render. This means it does not only annihilate screen tearing but also addresses the juddering effect that V-Sync causes when the FPS falls.

To illustrate Adaptive Sync with a diagram explained by VESA, you will see that Display A will wait till Render B is completed and ready before updating to Display B. This ensures that each frame is displayed as soon as possible, thus reducing the possibility of input lag. Frames will not be repeated within the display’s refresh rate set to avoid game stuttering. It will adapt the refresh rate to the rendering framerate to avoid any screen tearing.

AMD FreeSync VS NVIDIA G-Sync: What’s the Difference?

AMD FreeSync is no different from VESA Adaptive Sync. It utilizes VESA’s royalty-free technology to sync the refresh rate to the FPS. It also works on most monitors, which keeps the prices down. However, AMD has left the framerate range in the hands of the manufacturers which reduces the usefulness of the sync technology.

NVIDIA G-Sync uses the same principle as Adaptive Sync. But it relies on proprietary hardware that must be built into the display. With the additional hardware and strict regulations enforced by NVIDIA, monitors supporting G-Sync have tighter quality control and are more premium in price.

Both solutions are also hardware bound. If you own a monitor equipped with G-Sync, you will need to get an NVIDIA graphics card. Likewise, a FreeSync display will require an AMD graphics card. However, AMD has also released the technology for open use as part of the DisplayPort interface. This allows anyone can enjoy FreeSync on competing devices. There are also G-Sync Compatible monitors available in the market to pair with an NVIDIA GPU.

You can also learn more about FreeSync vs G-Sync here.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a sync technology depends on your needs and preferences. If you seek a smoother gaming experience, it is ideal for your gaming monitor to have Adaptive Sync on top of V-Sync capabilities. Especially if you play a lot of fighting or shooting games that require precise clicks and lightning reflexes, then a few frames of difference can lead to victory or defeat.

If you need a refresher on the differences between refresh rate and frame rate, you can check our guide here. Or you can browse through ViewSonic ELITE’s professional gaming monitors for a tear-and-stutter-free gaming experience.


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What Is Adaptive Sync? | How Does It Ensure Smooth Gaming?

Adaptive Sync is one feature that any gaming enthusiast should consider while looking for a gaming monitor. When looking for a gaming monitor, people look for various features, including fast refresh rate, high frame rates, and low input lag.

Key Takeaways

  • Adaptive Sync ensures smooth gaming by improving the performance of your monitor
  • G-sync and FreeSync are both forms of Adaptive Sync, though Nvidia cards only support G-Sync, while AMD cards only support FreeSync
  • You need a monitor that supports the same technology as the card to use either form of Adaptive Sync.
  • Adaptive Sync does a better job at eliminating both screen tearing and stuttering than V-Sync

One of the most annoying issues you can experience with a gaming monitor is screen tearing. The issue happens if your screen’s refresh rate doesn’t Sync with the frame rate. Without synchronization, you will not enjoy a smooth gaming experience. Various monitor brands have developed various technologies to help sync the frame rate of your graphics card and the monitor’s refresh rate. One of the technologies is known as Adaptive Sync. So, if you are looking forward to knowing what Adaptive Sync is at an in-depth level, keep reading our brief.

What Is Adaptive-Sync and How Does it Affect Your Gaming?

Adaptive Sync by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) is a technology that syncs the monitor’s refresh rate with the outputting frame rates of the GPU to ensure smooth gaming. The adaptive sync technology ensures that every frame is displayed as soon as possible, preventing screen tearing and game stuttering.

Besides gaming, adaptive Sync also enables seamless movies playback at different frame rates. It changes your screen’s refresh rate to match the video content, reducing power consumption and getting rid of video stutters.

Do You Require Adaptive Sync On?

Adaptive Sync is a feature that ensures smooth gaming by syncing the refresh rate and frame rate. Gaming enthusiasts won’t have smooth gaming without the VESA adaptive sync technology, as the process will be marred by screen tearing. Therefore, it is vital that your adaptive Sync is on to prevent the issues.

Is Adaptive Sync Similar to G-Sync?

If you buy a gaming monitor today, you’ll come across the AMD FreeSync technology or the NVIDIA G-Sync technology. The two are popular adaptive sync technologies.

Timing is the most significant issue that affects your screen. Your monitor’s GPU can render frames at a rate faster than the screen can update. Thus, the screen compiles strips of varying frames. The ripping effect is evident when the view moves horizontally. At the same time, if the monitor’s GPU can’t output at the screen’s refresh rate, you’ll experience a stuttering effect.

AMD FreeSync monitors undergo a thorough certification process to ensure they offer low latency and tear-free experience. When you enable FreeSync, the monitor will refresh the screen in sync with the current game’s frame rate. If the refresh rate is 60 Hz, the monitor will refresh at 60 frames per second. If the GPU’s output increases, the refresh rate will also increase.

If you are playing a simple PC game, you may not require FreeSync technology (see post). The adaptive sync technology is unnecessary if the monitor GPU’s frame rate is high. On the other hand, if you are playing a graphically intensive game, like CS:GO or League of Legends, your desktop may only render 40 to 50 frames per second, which is below the required refresh rates.

A FreeSync monitor will scale the refresh rate to match the frame rate. Your monitor will not refresh in the middle of a frame, meaning you’ll never experience screen tearing. For FreeSync to work on your monitor, you require a compatible AMD graphics card. You also need to ensure that your TV or monitor supports VESA adaptive Sync (see VIZIO TV’s gaming settings).

NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology employs the same principle as VESA adaptive Sync. Gaming monitors using AMD’s FreeSync technology may be cheaper than their G-Sync counterparts. That’s because a G-Sync monitor requires you to use proprietary hardware by NVIDIA, while a FreeSync display doesn’t require additional hardware. The strict regulations enforced by NVIDIA make G-Sync monitors have strict quality control. Thus, G-Sync compatible monitors come at a premium price.

If you purchase a monitor equipped with G-Sync technology, you’ll require a compatible NVIDIA graphics card.

Therefore, VESA’s adaptive Sync is the same as NVIDIA G-Sync as they both help sync the refresh rates with the GPU’s outputting frames rate. The G-Sync adaptive sync prevents screen tearing when you play fast-paced games with higher frame rates.

V-Sync Vs. Adaptive-Sync technology Differences

V-Sync, also known as vertical Sync, is the original GPU technology that syncs the frame rate of your game with the monitor’s refresh rate. Its primary purpose was to deal with screen tearing, and it is found in most modern graphics cards.

If you enable V-Sync on your monitor, it caps the frame rate of the graphics card output to the display’s refresh rates. The monitor avoids handling higher frame rates than it can manage, eliminating screen tearing.

It offers dynamic adjusting that deals with screen tearing and juddering effect that arises when V-Sync causes the FPS to fall.

Adaptive Sync ensures that each frame is displayed as soon as possible, which minimizes the possibilities of input lag. It will also prevent game stuttering by ensuring no frame is repeated within the display’s refresh rate. You don’t have to implement adaptive Sync in every scenario because its main purpose is to stabilize the image. For instance, if you are playing a demanding game like Fortnite, with frame rates that change every second.

If you enable V-Sync on your monitor, it caps the frame rate of the graphics card output to the display’s refresh rates. The monitor avoids handling higher frame rates than it can manage, eliminating screen tearing.

Note, if the frame rate of your game is below the screen’s refresh rate, enabling vertical Sync will drop the FPS further to match the monitor. The drop causes added latency that will enhance input delays and impede performance.

Unlike V-Sync that limits the GPU’s frame rate to match the screen’s refresh rate, adaptive Sync adjusts the refresh rate to respond to the frame rates required to render the game.

If the game’s frame rate changes per second, you require adaptive Sync (G-Sync and Freesync) to keep the vertical refresh rate matching with the graphic’s output. If you are playing a simple game, for instance, at 144HZ and maintain the frame rate, you won’t require adaptive Sync, but it’ll be available as a backup. If the monitor has challenges maintaining the frames, adaptive Sync will help maintain a smooth gaming experience.

Advantages of Adaptive-Sync 

  • It limits the V-Sync limits of capping higher FPS

  • Improves the performance of your monitor

  • Provides a variable refresh rate that matches your GPU’s outputting frame rates, eliminating screen tearing and game stuttering

  • It improves your video playback and gaming experiences as the screen transmits a smooth frame-by-frame transition.

  • Improves your monitor’s image quality

  • Most monitors come with adaptive Sync to enhance display performance


  • You require a compatible graphics card and monitor to use adaptive Sync

  • Peak refresh rates and frames per second depending on how powerful your monitor’s GPU is

  • Expensive. FreeSync is cheaper than G-Sync that requires NVIDIA proprietary hardware. However, they are both costly as you need a corresponding graphics card and monitors to enjoy peak performance

  • Your monitor must satisfy the standard necessary to use adaptive Sync. Premium versions of Freesync and G-Sync should come with 120 Hz and 144 Hz refresh rates

How to Use Adaptive Sync

You can enable Adaptive Sync on your device by heading over to the GPU’s control center and changing the display settings. All Windows PCs with compatible hardware and newer Macs support Adaptive-Sync.

Should You Turn the Adaptive-Sync On or Off?

If you are a gaming enthusiast and use competitive GPU frames per second, enabling adaptive Sync on your monitor enhances its performance. It also maximizes your gaming experience. It helps to minimize latency and input lag and eliminates distracting stuttering and annoying screen tearing.

G-Sync and FreeSync monitors are enabled automatically. Go to your GPU app to find out the type of adaptive Sync enabled on your device.

How Do You Turn On/Off Adaptive Sync on Your Computer? 

  • Open your windows and go to the NVIDIA/AMD control panel

  • On the control panel, click on «Display» to open the drop-down option

  • Next, go to «Setup FreeSync» or «G-Sync»

  • Select the model of your computer

  • Check «Enable settings for the selected model»

  • Finally, click on «apply» settings

How Do You Turn On/Off Variable Refresh Rate on Your Monitor?

Variable refresh rate (VRR) changes the refresh rate on your display to avoid screen tearing. It changes the refresh rate from low to high as your video playback or gameplay is in progress. Turning the VRR on or off doesn’t affect your G-Sync or adaptive sync setups in the control panel.

The VRR feature is disabled by default, but you can activate it to get rid of display issues as you enjoy your game. But how do you turn the VRR feature on?

  • First, open your Windows search bar and enter Settings. Next, click on the settings app that opens.
  • When the settings app is open, go to «Display» to open the selection
  • Next, go to the MULTIPLE DISPLAYS bar and click on the «GRAPHICS SETTINGS»
  • If your monitor is adaptive Sync enabled, it’ll show you a «VARIABLE REFRESH RATE» button. Select ON/OFF
  • Close the window. You can consider restarting your game to apply the changes

Final Word on Adaptive Sync

When looking for a gaming monitor, gamers consider various features, including low input lag, high resolution, low input lag, and size. Adaptive Sync is another vital feature that you should look out for. Adaptive Sync by VESA syncs your display’s refresh rate with the Graphics Processing Unit’s output frame rate, thereby preventing screen tearing and game stuttering.


1. Is Adaptive Sync supported on laptops?

Yes, Adaptive Sync is supported on laptops that have a compatible display. Almost all displays will be configured to use AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync from the factory. However, not all laptops’ displays with AMD or Nvidia graphics are equipped with an Adaptive Sync support. Even some gaming laptops don’t have this feature, so you should always check the specifications.

2. How important is Adaptive Sync?

Adaptive Sync is very important for easing the eyestrain which is commonly caused by screen tearing. This is where Adaptive-Sync excels thanks to AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology. Adaptive-Sync eliminates screen tearing, stuttering, and latency simultaneously and does so with minimal input lag.

3. How to spot screen tearing?

The most common situation where screen tearing occurs is when the image moves horizontally, such as in games where players scan their eyes around a room. This scrolling movement amplifies the visual impact of any screen tearing effects.

4. Is Adaptive Sync same as variable refresh rate?

Yes, it is. Variable refresh rate (VRR), also referred to as adaptive sync, allows the monitor to adjust it to the output signal. This allows for games to eliminate screen tearing with less of the usual downsides of Vsync (such as stuttering).

5. Does Adaptive Sync work with HDMI?

Yes, FreeSync technology has supported HDMI since its inception.

VRR — what is «adaptive frame rate synchronization»

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Article author: Sergey Koval
([email protected] ru)

Published: 26 August 2021

We understand what frame synchronization technologies exist and how the new VRR differs

How many users, so many opinions. For some, the dynamics of the picture and response are important, for others, the quality of the content. But there is not a single player who would calmly perceive frame breaks.

Why do image gaps appear?

A computer monitor displays a fixed number of frames per minute. Depending on the technical characteristics, this can be 60, 75 frames and so on up to 240 frames and above. This indicator is called frequency and is measured in hertz. The higher the frequency, the smoother and more consistent the game content appears to the user.

At the same time, the video card can create images at a different speed than the monitor’s capabilities. Moreover, depending on the complexity and detail of individual pictures, different time is spent on creating each.

It is the inconsistency between the operation of the graphics adapter and the video card that leads to the formation of a gap in frames, which is called tearing. This phenomenon looks as if fragments of two images appeared on the screen at the same time, differing in brightness or content. Actually, the way it is. 2 frames are displayed on the screen, which are superimposed on each other, most often the gap occurs in the horizontal plane.

If the video card produces more images than the monitor has time to demonstrate, two new frames are superimposed on each other. If the graphics adapter slows down, a part of the incomplete new frame and the previous frame may overlap.

These phenomena greatly interfere with the players, distract from the gameplay and sometimes become the cause of defeat.

Synchronization technologies

It is impossible to force the video card to generate images in the mode required by the monitor. Therefore, in order to coordinate the work of the video card and the monitor, software developers have come up with several methods, which are called synchronization technologies.

There are several such technologies:

V-Sync — vertical synchronization, which regulates the speed of the video card at the software level. This feature allows you to remove the gaps in the gameplay and reduce the load on the GPU. However, this same technology can cause input lag and stuttering, which interferes with the gameplay more than frame tears. The frame output time is always fixed.

G-Sync is a similar technology from NVIDIA. Its difference from the previous one: it is the video card that controls the synchronization, and the monitor displays the image only when it is completely ready. In this case, the output time may differ, that is, the synchronization becomes dynamic. This technology allows you to make the image smooth without jerks and artifacts. But G-Sync synchronization is available only if both the video card and the monitor support it, which is not always the same in custom builds. At the same time, sometimes it is required that the monitor be equipped with a hardware module from NVIDIA, which results in a hardware increase in the cost of the solution, in addition to the mandatory license fees.

FreeSync is AMD’s synchronization technology. It provides the same functionality as NVIDIA’s G-Sync, but is free without a license. It even works with video cards of competitors.

Adaptive timing

Variable refresh rate or simpler VRR is the newest synchronization technology that is part of the HDMI standard for information transfer. Therefore, you can often find the extended and more correct name HDMI Forum VRR.

The main feature of the new adaptive sync technology is its binding to the connector.

In simple terms, VRR technology allows modern TVs and monitors to independently recognize the type and quality of content, and adjust the display in accordance with its requirements.

VRR is somewhat similar to existing technologies. But at the same time it has additional features:

  • VRR supports HDMI 2.1 up to 120 fps and HDMI 2.0 up to 60 fps.
  • Manufacturers of game consoles, TVs and monitors no longer need to equip their devices with additional software to implement one of the previous technologies. Now the HDMI standard, which has long been present in various models of modern technology, is responsible for synchronization.
  • VRR does not interfere with other useful features such as HDR mode. When connecting a game console or system unit to a TV that supports FreeSync, it automatically turned off.

What can VRR technology work on?

Since VRR is standard bound, it is present in all devices equipped with HDMI ports. Manufacturers of monitors and video cards do not have the right to interfere in this area and “cut out” the technology at their discretion.

Despite the fact that the technology is new, it is supported by last year’s video cards. To activate, you just need to update the software. Also, VRR support is guaranteed by the manufacturers of the Xbox and PlayStation game consoles.

If we talk about a PC, then to implement VRR you will need:

  • G-Sync or FreeSync compatible screen.
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1000 or AMD Radeon RX 500 or higher graphics cards.
  • HDMI cable with HDMI 2.0 or later.

How to enable VRR

The new technology is implemented not only at the hardware level, but also at the software level. Windows 10 got it with the May 19 Update03. Microsoft experts say that the new technology will not affect the previous synchronization functions, but will harmoniously complement them.

To enable VRR, go to the system settings, section «Display». The bottom line is the «Graphics Settings» function, select it. In the window that opens, move the slider to the «On» mode in the «Variable Refresh Rate» field.

Now you can launch the game and enjoy a smooth dynamic game without gaps and freezes.

The new VRR technology did not become another breakthrough or sensation, but it harmoniously complemented the range of tools that allow the user to significantly improve the quality of content.

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