Traditional monitors operate at a fixed refresh rate, commonly 60Hz, 120Hz or 144Hz. In games, frame rate (amount of generated frames per second) fluctuates accordingly to the intensity of the work required by the graphics card. This introduces a dilemma for gamers in particular. They can usually choose one of two main options that determine how the graphics card passes frames to the monitor: “VSync OFF” or “VSync ON”.
VSYNC OFF: The GPU sends frames to the monitor as soon as they are rendered, whether or not the monitor has finished its refresh and is ready to move on to the next frame.
This will cause screen tearing (picture below) if things become unsynchronized, even on a 120Hz or 144Hz display.
VSYNC ON: The GPU holds the frame until the monitor is ready to display it. This will eliminate screen tearing but will increase input lag. This even happens on 120Hz and 144Hz monitors, but the input lag penalty is much shorter on these displays. If you have a great GPU, then input lag with this option will not be a significant problem.
The solution: NVIDIA G-SYNC
The clever heads at NVIDIA have come up with a solution to the input lag problem with the “VSYNC ON” option: G-SYNC. It is possible to get the monitor to adopt a variable refresh rate by integrating a so-called G-SYNC chip into specific monitors. The monitors refresh rate will then adjust in real-time to the frame rate of the game, up to the maximum refresh rate of the monitor, making it perfectly synchronized with the GPU. You will not get screen tearing or visual latency, you typically know from having VSYNC disabled. You won’t get the stuttering and input lag associated with VSYNC enabled either. This is why we think the best gaming monitor should feature this technology or another Adaptive-Sync technology.
G-SYNC only works via DisplayPort and to use it, you need a compatible monitor and GPU (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost or higher). This will not work with an AMD GPU, but AMD has their own version labeled FreeSync.
Major monitor manufacturers are extremely excited about this innovating technology. AOC, ACER, ASUS, BenQ, Philips and ViewSonic all plan to release PC monitors with G-SYNC or they already have. We will see a lot more of this kind of displays in the future, I promise you that! Some models will even have QHD (2560 x 1440) and UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution. G-SYNC is not limited to TN panels, so we will also see monitors with IPS panels with this technology built in them.
G-SYNC and motion blur
While G-SYNC will provide a smoother gameplay experience by eliminating screen tearing, reducing stuttering and decreasing input lag, it does not affect motion blur. Many gamers already use LightBoost, if they have a compatible monitor, but it is meant for 3D Vision and requires forced activation for 2D. It gives you CRT-like motion clarity but reduces brightness.
The good news is that all G-SYNC monitors will have a mode, which is superior to LightBoost, called ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) available. However, it can not be activated at the same time as G-SYNC.
Confirmed G-SYNC monitors
This is a list of monitors, which have or will have the G-SYNC technology as of October 2017.
Disclaimer: Clicking on a product name will redirect you to amazon.com (.co.uk, .ca, .de, .it, .fr, .es) depending on your location.
For various purposes, we’ve made a dedicated page to the list of G-SYNC monitors. Feel free to link to our G-SYNC monitor list from anywhere you would like. The list gets updated every week with new additions.