What Is Adaptive Sync On A Monitor?

What Is Adaptive Sync On A Monitor?

What Is Adaptive Sync On A Monitor?

Adaptive Sync is a technology used in computer monitors to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering by dynamically adjusting the display's refresh rate to match the frame rate output by a graphics card. This synchronization between the monitor and the graphics card leads to smoother, more fluid visual performance, particularly during fast-paced video games or high-motion video playback.

Understanding Screen Tearing and Stuttering

  • Screen Tearing: This occurs when the monitor displays parts of multiple frames at once. It happens because the display, which operates at a fixed refresh rate, is out of sync with the graphics card. As a result, the monitor might show the top part of one frame and the bottom part of another frame at the same time, creating a noticeable split or "tear" across the screen.
  • Stuttering: This happens when frames are displayed unevenly, typically because the graphics card's frame rate is not in constant sync with the monitor's refresh rate. If the frame rate drops below the refresh rate of the monitor, the same frame may be shown multiple times, causing a stuttering effect.

How Adaptive Sync Works

Adaptive Sync technology addresses these issues by allowing the monitor’s refresh rate to vary dynamically to match the frame rate being output by the graphics card. Here’s how it works:

  1. Communication: The graphics card communicates the current frame rate it is capable of delivering to the monitor.
  2. Adjustment: The monitor continuously adjusts its refresh rate to match this frame rate, ensuring that each frame from the graphics card is synced with the refresh of the display.
  3. Result: This synchronization prevents screen tearing and reduces stuttering, resulting in a smoother viewing experience.

Types of Adaptive Sync Technologies

There are a few different implementations of Adaptive Sync technology:

  • VESA Adaptive-Sync: This is an open standard managed by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) as part of the DisplayPort specification. It's widely used and supported by multiple monitor manufacturers.
  • NVIDIA G-Sync: This is NVIDIA’s proprietary solution that requires specific hardware in the monitor, as well as an NVIDIA graphics card. G-Sync monitors include a module that helps manage the refresh rate more precisely.
  • AMD FreeSync: AMD’s version of Adaptive Sync, known as FreeSync, operates over both DisplayPort and HDMI, and does not require additional hardware in the monitor. FreeSync monitors tend to be less expensive than G-Sync models because they don’t require the additional proprietary module.

Benefits of Adaptive Sync

  • Enhanced Gaming Experience: Gamers benefit significantly from Adaptive Sync, as it provides a smoother, more immersive gameplay experience without distractions caused by tearing or stuttering.
  • Improved Video Quality: Video playback benefits from the smoother transition of images, especially noticeable in high-motion scenes in movies and videos.


  • Compatibility: To use Adaptive Sync, both the monitor and the graphics card must support the technology. Additionally, the specific type of Adaptive Sync technology (e.g., G-Sync, FreeSync) must be compatible between the device and the display.
  • Cost: Monitors equipped with Adaptive Sync technology, especially those with NVIDIA G-Sync, can be more expensive than those without it.

In summary, Adaptive Sync is a crucial feature for anyone looking for a smooth and visually pleasing experience, particularly in gaming and high-definition video applications. Its ability to synchronize the refresh rate of the monitor with the frame rate of the graphics card plays a vital role in enhancing the overall media consumption experience.

Does Adaptive Sync Work With Nvidia?

Yes, Adaptive Sync does work with NVIDIA graphics cards, but there are specific compatibility nuances to consider based on the type of Adaptive Sync technology:


NVIDIA has its proprietary version of Adaptive Sync known as G-Sync, which is specifically designed to work with NVIDIA GPUs. G-Sync monitors contain a specialized hardware module developed by NVIDIA that manages the synchronization between the display and the GPU. This technology provides a very smooth gaming experience by eliminating screen tearing, reducing stuttering, and minimizing input lag.

NVIDIA Support for VESA Adaptive-Sync (FreeSync)

In recent years, NVIDIA has expanded support to include VESA Adaptive-Sync, commonly known as FreeSync, which is AMD's brand for the Adaptive Sync technology. Initially, NVIDIA GPUs required monitors with the G-Sync module to utilize Adaptive Sync. However, starting from driver version 417.71, released in January 2019, NVIDIA began supporting Adaptive Sync with certain models of FreeSync monitors on GeForce GTX 10 series and newer graphics cards.

This compatibility with FreeSync monitors is marketed under the name "G-Sync Compatible." For a FreeSync monitor to be considered G-Sync Compatible, it must pass NVIDIA's validation process, which ensures it meets their standards for performance, including smooth variable refresh rate (VRR) functionality and absence of artifacts.

Considerations for Using Adaptive Sync with NVIDIA GPUs

  • Monitor Compatibility: If you have an NVIDIA GPU and are considering an Adaptive Sync monitor, check whether the monitor is labeled as "G-Sync Compatible." Many FreeSync monitors can function with NVIDIA GPUs under the Adaptive Sync protocol, but for the best results, using a G-Sync or G-Sync Compatible model is recommended.
  • Graphics Card Requirements: Adaptive Sync with NVIDIA GPUs is generally supported on GTX 10 series cards and newer. It's always a good idea to check the specific GPU model and ensure the latest NVIDIA drivers are installed to enable this feature.
  • Setup: To enable Adaptive Sync on a G-Sync Compatible (FreeSync) monitor with an NVIDIA GPU, you'll need to go through the NVIDIA Control Panel:

By expanding support to Adaptive Sync (FreeSync) monitors, NVIDIA has made it easier and more affordable for users to benefit from variable refresh rate technologies without being limited to monitors with the G-Sync module, which tend to be more expensive. However, for guaranteed compatibility and optimal performance, always check the specifics of both the GPU and monitor before setting up Adaptive Sync.

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