G-SYNC 101: G-SYNC vs. Fast Sync


The Limits of Single Frame Delivery

Okay, so what about Fast Sync? Unlike G-SYNC, it works with any display, and while it’s still a fixed refresh rate syncing solution, its third buffer allows the framerate to exceed the refresh rate, and it utilizes the excess frames to deliver them to the display as fast as possible. This avoids double buffer behavior both above and below the refresh rate, and eliminates the majority of V-SYNC input latency.

Sounds ideal, but how does it compare to G-SYNC?

Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings
Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings
Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings
Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings
Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings
Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Latency & Optimal Settings

Evident by the results, Fast Sync only begins to reduce input lag over FPS-limited double buffer V-SYNC when the framerate far exceeds the display’s refresh rate. Like G-SYNC and V-SYNC, it is limited to completing a single frame scan per scanout to prevent tearing, and as the 60Hz scenarios show, 300 FPS Fast Sync at 60Hz (5x ratio) is as low latency as G-SYNC is with a 58 FPS limit at 60Hz.

However, the less excess frames are available for the third buffer to sample from, the more the latency levels of Fast Sync begin to resemble double buffer V-SYNC with an FPS Limit. And if the third buffer is completely starved, as evident in the Fast Sync + FPS limit scenarios, it effectively reverts to FPS-limited V-SYNC latency, with an additional 1/2 to 1 frame of delay.

Unlike double buffer V-SYNC, however, Fast Sync won’t lock the framerate to half the maximum refresh rate if it falls below it, but like double buffer V-SYNC, Fast Sync will periodically repeat frames if the FPS is limited below the refresh rate, causing stutter. As such, an FPS limit below the refresh rate should be avoided when possible, and Fast Sync is best used when the framerate can exceed the refresh rate by at least 2x, 3x, or ideally, 5x times.

So, what about pairing Fast Sync with G-SYNC? Even Nvidia suggests it can be done, but doesn’t go so far as to recommend it. But while it can be paired, it shouldn’t be…

Say the system can maintain an average framerate just above the maximum refresh rate, and instead of an FPS limit being applied to avoid V-SYNC-level input lag, Fast Sync is enabled on top of G-SYNC. In this scenario, G-SYNC is disabled 99% of the time, and Fast Sync, with very few excess frames to work with, not only has more input lag than G-SYNC would at a lower framerate, but it can also introduce uneven frame pacing (due to dropped frames), causing recurring microstutter. Further, even if the framerate could be sustained 5x above the refresh rate, Fast Sync would (at best) only match G-SYNC latency levels, and the uneven frame pacing (while reduced) would still occur.

That’s not to say there aren’t any benefits to Fast Sync over V-SYNC on a standard display (60Hz at 300 FPS, for instance), but pairing Fast Sync with uncapped G-SYNC is effectively a waste of a G-SYNC monitor, and an appropriate FPS limit should always be opted for instead.

Which poses the next question: if uncapped G-SYNC shouldn’t be used with Fast Sync, is there any benefit to using G-SYNC + Fast Sync + FPS limit over G-SYNC + V-SYNC (NVCP) + FPS limit?

Blur Buster's G-SYNC 101: Input Lag & Optimal Settings

The answer is no. In fact, unlike G-SYNC + V-SYNC, Fast Sync remains active near the maximum refresh rate, even inside the G-SYNC range, reserving more frames for itself the higher the native refresh rate is. At 60Hz, it limits the framerate to 59, at 100Hz: 97 FPS, 120Hz: 116 FPS, 144Hz: 138 FPS, 200Hz: 189 FPS, and 240Hz: 224 FPS. This effectively means with G-SYNC + Fast Sync, Fast Sync remains active until it is limited at or below the aforementioned framerates, otherwise, it introduces up to a frame of delay, and causes recurring microstutter. And while G-SYNC + Fast Sync does appear to behave identically to G-SYNC + V-SYNC inside the Minimum Refresh Range (<36 FPS), it’s safe to say that, under regular usage, G-SYNC should not be paired with Fast Sync.



220 Comments For “G-SYNC 101”

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gen36
Member
gen36

Hi, I have a question about limiting frame rate at (refresh rate – 3).

My understanding is that if FPS > refresh rate, GSYNC defaults to VSYNC behavior (if VSYNC is enabled in Nvidia CP), which can result in additional input lag.

But I have some confusion on this. Example scenario:

– 144 Hz monitor.
– I’m playing an undemanding game, VSYNC OFF, and get 200 FPS.
– I turn on GSYNC + VSYNC, and get 144 FPS.
– With GSYNC + VSYNC on, is it defaulting to VSYNC ON behavior? Frame rate is not exceeding refresh rate but *would have* if vsync was off.

(My confusion is coming from the section in the FAQ saying if your frame rate exceeds refresh rate, to cap at a value lower than refresh rate, but if vsync is on, FPS doesn’t exceed refresh rate anyway)

Silver3
Member
Silver3

I was wondering if you could explain me a very persistent Frametime-Spiking-relating issue I’ve got recently with the console-emulator Cemu that I am tearing my hair out about at this time.

[… original comment modified here for length; view below comment reply for pertinent details w/follow-up…]

Sorry btw for that wall of text, but I am quite at my wit’s end by now on my way comprehending other/similar builds’ success although they probably don’t care half of that, pc-related, the way I do and I seemingly checked all of your mentioned points possibly causing frametime-spikes
and will continue with the hardware-part tomorrow.
If you have any suggestion that merely could hint in a direction I overlooked, PLEASE let me know.

Thank you for reading.

Skwuruhl
Member
Skwuruhl

On the topic of FPS limiters: Two tests have been done somewhat recently that found that RTSS provides more consistent frame times than in-game limiters do (at the expense of 1 frame of input lag)
https://youtu.be/xsXFUVYPIx4
https://www.reddit.com/r/Competitiveoverwatch/comments/9vcxz5/rtss_vs_ingame_fps_cap_or_frame_limit/
What’s your take on these?

rpate124
Member
rpate124

What value should the frame time limit be set to in rtss?

GITS_2501
Member
GITS_2501

Amazingly detailed, thanks for the guide. Is there a difference between having V-SYNC: ON versus VSYNC: Fast?

Thanks heaps.

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