Gamers who are shopping for a new gaming monitor but don’t know much about monitor specifications can easily be misled by certain advertisements with complicated information. When considering any big investment, it pays off to take the time to learn about what you’re shopping for to aid you in your decision-making.
If your budget allows, G-Sync is worth it at 144hz due to the quality of hardware. While G-Sync is more expensive than Freesync monitors, it provides smoother gameplay at higher resolutions with low framerates. At high framerates, you’ll notice minimal tearing, but it likely won’t be noticeable. Expect a price difference of at least $200 when going with G-Sync.
There are a few different types of G-Sync options commonly available to most gamers, so in this article, I’ll go over what G-Sync is, what it does, and why the price of G-Sync isn’t worth it for most gamers.
Let’s get into it.
G-Sync is Nvidia’s proprietary variable refresh rate technology, rivaled by AMD’s Freesync, which both piggyback off of VESA’s Adaptive-Sync protocols, making them effectively indistinguishable.
G-Sync specifically only works with compatible Nvidia graphics cards and can come either integrated into an Nvidia monitor or as a standalone device that you can apply to your current, G-Sync Compatible monitor.
In short, G-Sync serves to adjust your monitor’s refresh rate to align with your GPU to avoid screen tearing and stuttering, but that’s only a cursory glance at the depth of the technology. I’ll get into specifics and the effects that G-Sync has on the gaming experience below.
Now that you know what G-Sync is, you can start to understand the full effect that it has on your monitor and the games you play. G-Sync does a few different, important things to address certain issues commonly found in monitors not equipped to handle their system’s output.
First and foremost, G-Sync enables a variable refresh rate in your monitor, which allows the monitor to increase or decrease its refresh rate according to the needs of the GPU.
This technology can also have an effect on the colors and visual effects of the game you’re playing, as the variable refresh rate optimizes your monitor for the specific game you’re playing at any given time.
With a variable refresh rate, you can play more demanding games than you could with a 144Hz monitor without G-Sync, because the G-Sync is designed to match your monitor refresh rate to your GPU, which reduces the common graphics issues gamers experience below.
Screen tearing occurs when your monitor’s refresh rate is higher or lower than your GPU’s refresh rate. Your monitor, without G-Sync, maintains the same refresh rate constantly, but your GPU’s refresh rate changes depending on the game’s environment and how difficult it is to render the 3D visuals.
For example, at 144Hz, your monitor is constantly refreshing at 144 frames per second. If your GPU is only outputting an average of 100 or so frames per second, your monitor is refreshing about 1.5 times as frequently as your GPU is.
This causes a “tear” to appear on your screen; your monitor is displaying a visual sent from your GPU at two different intervals at the same time, which is visible as a line of imagery that changes halfway or so through the screen.
With G-Sync, your monitor will adjust its refresh rate to match the output of your GPU, which erases the screen tearing problem entirely.
Screen stuttering is caused by irregular refresh delays between your GPU and your gaming monitor, which manifests as lagging, choppy gameplay. This can cause your character to move around seconds after you’ve pressed a movement key, which causes serious issues for professional gamers and streamers.
Stuttering is similar to tearing, in that it occurs when your monitor’s refresh rate is faster than your GPU. This irregularity creates a gap in time between your actions in the game, the environment rendering, and all of that displaying on your monitor.
With G-Sync and other variable refresh rate hardware, you can reduce that delay to a negligible amount and eliminate screen stuttering to enhance your gaming experience.
Since G-Sync’s inception, competition has grown fierce, and to stay relevant and competitive, Nvidia has invented and released a couple of G-Sync alternatives to reach a wider audience.
The differences between these variations of G-Sync are important, as they are related to the overall functionality of the hardware and the display on your screen. Understanding the differences between the different types of G-Sync is crucial for making a decision on what gaming monitor to buy.
There are three versions of G-Sync available to gamers today:
This version, as described above, primarily serves to synchronize the refresh rates of both your monitor and your GPU to avoid screen tearing and stuttering. Beyond that, the benefits are subtle, but this can make a huge difference to people playing demanding games on a 144Hz monitor without G-Sync.
With the base level G-Sync you get ultra-low motion blur, factory color calibration, and a low input lag. This type of G-Sync is exclusively available in G-Sync monitors, which can be a bit more expensive than comparable monitors without G-Sync.
G-Sync Ultimate gives you all the same benefits of G-Sync, but in addition, you get 4k resolution support. This makes G-Sync Ultimate the best choice for professional gamers or affluent casual gamers operating outside a budget.
Note that G-Sync Ultimate enables onboard HDR support, but you can also buy a GPU for 4k to supplement a 4k monitor, which sometimes is a better option, depending on your budget.
With the increased resolution also comes enhanced in-game lighting adaptation, as well as a broader color spectrum to bring out the full depth of your game’s environment. You also cut down latency to virtually zero with this more expensive alternative to G-Sync.
G-Sync Compatible monitors are an option for gamers with an Nvidia graphics card who don’t want to shell out for the expensive G-Sync monitors. It comes as a standalone device, and you must have a compatible Nvidia graphics card to support it.
The primary differences here are the lack of color calibration, and that this G-Sync option only operates within the factor refresh rate range your monitor was designed with. It will still do its job, so long as you’re not playing any games that require a higher FPS than your monitor can handle.
Keep in mind that you can overclock a monitor with or without G-Sync, but you lose the variable refresh rate in a G-Sync compatible monitor when you exceed factory settings. Overclocking also can cause damage to the monitor over time, so only get a G-Sync Compatible monitor if it’s capable of handling your favorite games.
Overall, not really. G-Sync monitors tend to go for a lot of money compared to regular monitors without G-Sync. It’s a great integration to have if you are consistently playing a variety of demanding games with different minimum specification requirements, but for most, the improvement is unnecessary.
For example, you could buy a 240Hz gaming monitor without G-Sync for about the same price as a 144Hz monitor with G-Sync. At a higher refresh rate, you likely aren’t going to experience the big problems that G-Sync is intended to solve if your GPU is capable of keeping up.
For this reason, G-Sync is worth it at 144Hz for some, but the higher your monitor’s refresh rate gets, the less necessary G-Sync (or competing alternatives) gets.
The main downside to G-Sync monitors is their price. They’re often marked up a bit from other monitors of their class, and the benefits of a G-Sync monitor aren’t applicable to all.
Beyond that, if you opt for a G-Sync monitor, you’re automatically roped into the Nvidia lifestyle; you’ll need an Nvidia graphics card and, if you want to upgrade your graphics card at some point, it will have to be another Nvidia to utilize the G-Sync.
G-Sync monitors don’t operate with non-Nvidia GPUs, and they likely never will, for the same reasons that iPhones no longer include 3.5mm headphone jacks: there’s more money in monopoly.
G-Sync is great for competitive gaming environments. The variable refresh rate keeps your gameplay stable, which eliminates any disadvantages one might have due to graphics.
In addition to that, G-Sync Ultimate includes a host of functionality improvements, which can help deliver an entirely clean, crisp, and vibrant display, which is extremely helpful for competitive gamers.
Ultimately, G-Sync is a decent option for compatible 144Hz monitors, but it is by no means necessary to enjoy the games you play. 144Hz is already a relatively high refresh rate, so if your GPU is up to snuff and you are amenable to the occasional graphics error, you don’t need G-Sync.