Two of the most common PC gaming problems are screen tearing and stuttering. Every time your GPU renders a frame, it is sent to the display, which updates the image at a certain interval depending on the refresh rate (for example, a 144 Hz display updates the image up to 144 times per second). Screen tearing or stuttering occurs when these two steps are misaligned, either when your GPU is holding a frame that your monitor is not ready for, or when your monitor is trying to update with a frame that is not there.
G-Sync solves this problem by aligning the refresh rate of your monitor with the frame rate of your GPU and a smooth gameplay is possible even with changing frame rates. For years, G-Sync was a proprietary Nvidia technology that only works with certain, very expensive displays with an Nvidia brand module. In 2019, however, Nvidia opened its G-Sync technology to some compatible FreeSync displays, offering an adaptive refresh rate for not only many more, but many cheaper displays as well.
Although ads with the G-Sync Compatible badge are now on the shelves, by default they are not set for use with G-Sync. Here's how to use G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor.
Before you start
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First of all, you need to make sure that your hardware setup supports G-Sync, otherwise this process won't work very well. Your monitor needs to be ready and that requires three important things.
The first thing you need is a compatible monitor. You should consult the GeForce list of G-Sync Compatible Gaming Monitors. These are monitors that don't have G-Sync built in, but they are expected to perform fairly well. Current displays from Dell, BenQ, Asus, Acer, LG, Samsung, and others are supported for the most part, although you will still need to consult Nvidia's list.
Second, you'll need a GTX 10 series graphics card or better. The RTX 20 series and its super variants work just like the RTX 30 series GPUs. The 1660 Super, 1660 Ti, and 1660 models work in a similar way too. Finally, most displays will require a DisplayPort connection from this graphics card to your monitor, although there are some LG models that require HDMI.
Finally, you need to update your GPU drivers. Driver 417.71 brought support for G-Sync in 2019, so you need at least this version. However, layer versions are preferable because of their improved overall performance and support.
If you have a compatible monitor available, go to your monitor settings and make sure FreeSync (or Adaptive Sync) is enabled. This is required for the following steps to work.
How to enable G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor
With your Nvidia graphics card plugged in and the latest drivers installed, you should have access to the Nvidia Control Panel app on your PC. Open it now. Once opened, look for the Display section in the left menu. Here, select the option to set up G-SYNC.
This opens a new window where you can activate various G-Sync functions. Here's what you need to do here:
- First, make sure that the Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible check box is selected
- Make sure Enable for full screen mode is selected. G-Sync may have problems trying to work with games with windows.
- Choose your ad. Probably only one ad needs to be selected here. So this is usually not a problem unless you have a strange display plan for multiple monitors and need to make sure the changes are for the correct monitor.
- Make sure the Enable settings for the selected display check box is selected
When you're done, select Apply to start G-Sync. Your monitor will go black for a few moments after applying the settings.
Confirm your compatibility
With a good, compatible monitor, you can find that G-Sync is already working fine. Congratulations! Run some graphics tests to make sure everything looks right, then go full speed ahead. However, other monitors may still not enable G-Sync properly. This is often the case and you may need to make additional adjustments to support your monitor.
Stay in the Nvidia Control Panel and look for the 3D Settings section in the left menu. From here, select Manage 3D Settings and switch to the Global tab. Find the "Monitor Technology" setting and make sure it is set to the G-Sync compatibility setting.
If you want to choose, game by game, whether or not to use G-Sync, you want to access Program Settings instead of Global. This allows for additional customization if you prefer certain games on G-Sync and certain games otherwise.