Nvidia G-Sync is a type of adaptive sync technology for displays, namely PC monitors and gaming laptop screens. The feature helps displays fight screen tearing, stuttering and juddering when you’re gaming, particularly at high framerates. G-Sync only works when the display is connected to a PC using a compatible Nvidia graphics card.
Screen tearing is an unwelcome effect on the image’s display when gaming (see photo above). It’s the result of the game’s framerate (the rate at which image frames are displayed) not matching the monitor’s refresh rate (the frequency at which a display’s image is refreshed). G-Sync fights this for refresh rates up to 240Hz, depending on the monitor; however, for displays with 4K resolution (aka UHD), that number drops to 144Hz (aka UHD). Tearing is a result of the graphics card outputting images at faster rate than the monitor.
G-Sync works by matching the display’s refresh rate to your Nvidia graphics card’s render rate, so you see images right when they’re rendered, while also fighting input lag. The feature also includes options for variable overdrive, which predicts when the next frame will come and adjusts the monitors overdrive to fight ghosting artifacts.
Check out Nvidia’s video below for an idea of what G-Sync looks like:
Nvidia G-Sync: How It Works
G-Sync vs FreeSync
FreeSync is AMD’s answer to G-Sync. So to use AMD’s take on adaptive sync, you’ll need to be running AMD graphics card.
Additionally, unlike AMD, Nvidia charges hardware vendors licensing fees to incorporate G-Sync into their products, which requires use of a proprietary Nvidia chip. AMD FreeSync is an open standard. As a result, G-Sync monitors generally cost more than FreeSync monitors. And when we checked out monitors at the CES tech show this January, we noticed more FreeSync monitors coming out this year than G-Sync. This is probably due to the cost implications G-Sync presents to both display makers and buyers.
Credit: Tom’s HardwareHowever, in January, Nvidia announced that it has approved 12 FreeSync monitors to run G-Sync (see picture above) with the proper driver. This could have impact on the future of FreeSync vs G-Sync with upcoming monitors, but we’ll have to wait and see.
When it comes to 4K, FreeSync maxes out at 60Hz, while G-Sync can go to 144Hz. However, AMD claims FreeSync has an advantage in that it ““does not need to poll or wait on the display in order to determine when it’s safe to send the next frame to the monitor.”
Finally, there are some FreeSync TVs on the market right now, but no G-Sync ones.
For a more detailed exploration of the performance differences between G-Sync and FreeSync, see our AMD FreeSync vs. Nvidia G-Sync article.
G-Sync monitors: What you’ll need
You can find a full list of G-Sync monitors here.
To use a G-Sync monitor, you must use a Windows PC with a GeForce GTX 650 Ti graphics card (it can be Nvidia or third-party branded) or higher, along with the proper driver. You can see the full list of GPUs G-Sync supports here. For help picking a graphics card, see our graphics card buying guide.
G-Sync gaming laptops
Some gaming laptops running Nvidia graphics have G-Sync built into the display. They’ll say so on their spec sheet. We’ve reviewed a few, including the Alienware area-51m.
This article is part of the Tom’s Hardware Glossary.