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PC gaming: best method to eliminate screen tearing and reduce input lag?

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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For non-gsync/freesync monitors.

I've wrestled with various configurations over the years and can never decide one what works best for settings like vsync and fullscreen mode.

I like using fullscreen mode simply because more GPU power is devoted to the game, but I've read that using borderless fullscreen uses triple buffering, which reduces input lag when vsync is on.

Today my cousin was talking to me about the settings he uses for most games, and he argued that vsync should be off for borderless fullscreen. I came home and ran some tests with Battlefield 4. First, I played using fullscreen with vsync on. Input lag was evident, but the frame rate appeared smooth/matched my monitor's output. I then switched to borderless fullscreen with vsync disabled. Input lag was virtually non-existent, however I noticed the slightest difference with the frame rate. It wasn't as smooth as my previous setting, but it also wasn't jittery, either. I had the show fps feature on during these tests, and for the former it stayed locked at 60fps as expected, and jumped around in the mid 100s for the latter (also as expected). Is it because the frame rate wasn't staying at a constant that I was able to notice a difference between the two settings? Should vsync still be enabled with borderless fullscreen on, and if so, will input latency be less than when using regular fullscreen with vsync (due to triple buffering being active)?

What are the best ways to reduce input lag and keeps consistent frame rates when gaming on a PC? Hoping there's a definitive answer to this issue. The internet at large seems to have varying opinions on practically every solution imaginable.

Edit: I'm using two matching 60Hz monitors with a GTX 780.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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Borderless windowed forces triple buffering. Borderless windowed plus vsync off is the best you're going to get.
You're saying vsync off too, but I noticed a negative performance with this setting, at least in BF4. In Rocket League, borderless + no vsync was actually causing consistent stuttering.
 

Arulan

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Dec 14, 2010
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
 

Danny Dudekisser

Formerly 'Chacranajxy'
Oct 13, 2008
19,910
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The problem I keep running into with RTSS is that I'll set the cap at 60fps, and in a number of games, it'll just start dropping frames like crazy until I pause and unpause, or something like that... what's causing that?

Shit this necessary shouldn't be this complicated.
 

Zefah

Gold Member
Jan 7, 2007
38,593
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Beaten.

I hear "Free Sync" is just as good, too.

Besides installing an SSD, I think getting a G-sync monitor to go with my GTX 970 was easily the best quality of life upgrade to my PC I have done. It's really quite amazing to experience. Tearing is eliminated (as far as I can tell), and even going between say 40 fps and 60+ fps in performance-intensive games like Assassin's Creed Unity feels incredibly smooth.
 

epmode

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Jun 7, 2004
28,470
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G-Sync is a godsend. Completely eliminates screen tearing and minimizes input lag. It's worth every penny.
 

wowzors

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Nov 5, 2006
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Gsync, its not as amazing as gaf will have you believe but its pretty cool and does everything you are asking for.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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Edited post. Can't make the jump to gsync quite yet, so I'm looking for advice on standard, 60Hz monitors.
 

LQX

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Dec 18, 2008
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If vsync doesn't fix screen tearing there is a bigger issue with the game no? Why do you have to change from full screen to borders to solve screen tearing? Been PC gamer so long and I've never had issues with this.

And if you are having major input lag issues it is most likely your monitor no? What monitor are you using?
 

Gaogaogao

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Nov 6, 2007
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If vsync doesn't fix screen tearing there is a bigger issue with the game no? Why do you have to change from full screen to borders to solve screen tearing? Been PC gamer so long and I've never had issues with this.

And if you are having major input lag issues it is most likely your monitor no? What monitor are you using?
I think what hes getting at is that v sync introduces additional input lag, and thats not good. I generally prefer the v sync in sp and the tearing/ low input lag in mp.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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I think what hes getting at is that v sync introduces additional input lag, and thats not good. I generally prefer the v sync in sp and the tearing/ low input lag in mp.
Correct.

I would opt for the tearing in multi, but I just really can't stand it. So to reiterate, looking to have no tearing but with absolute minimal input lag.
 

shockdude

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May 17, 2014
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Arulan's method above with RivaTuner is just about the best you can get. I also suggest RadeonPro, which imo is easier to setup but may have slightly more input lag. RadeonPro also allows framerates between 30-60FPS with VSync enabled.
For each game, disable in-game VSync and create a RadeonPro profile with VSync = Always On and Dynamic Framerate Control = 60.
 

hlhbk

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Jun 9, 2009
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Gsync is the best thing to happen to PC gaming in years. This is certainly the answer.
 

Durante

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Oct 1, 2006
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peter.metaclassofnil.com
Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
Perfect reply, I have nothing to add.

Now if only someone would release a 1440p G-Sync monitor worth buying...
That's a strange thing to say considering the two best gaming monitors currently available are both 1440p G-sync monitors. Or are you talking about price?
 

EdLin

Neo Member
May 28, 2013
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Is there any way to add gsync to a big TV or projector? I use my PC for big picture gaming and racing
Nope, Gsync needs to be supported by the monitor, an additional nvidia-provided module the video monitor maker must make available or include, and video card. Freesync also, but at least Freesync is based on a VESA Displayport standard so maybe some day... (Though most TVs and projectors don't offer displayport anyway.)
 

Vintage

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May 29, 2013
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A bit off-topic: why are g-sync monitors so expensive? Like 5 times as expensive as normal ones. Is there something hardware-wise that costs a lot, or is it just because it's new and exciting?
 

Sutton Dagger

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Feb 22, 2010
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.

Listen to this advice.
 

Vash63

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May 7, 2009
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So it's licensing cost? Or that hardware is expensive (and why)?
It's closer to 20-30% more if you compare like for like monitors. Most highly ranked Gsync displays are 144-165Hz which is huge for input latency and smoothness which also means a very high quality panel and supporting hardware are necessary.

That and they don't come from imported Korean knockoff brands with no warranties.
 

Darkwater

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Aug 9, 2009
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Go with FreeSync (AMD) over G-Sync (Nvidia) if you don't want Nvidia to achieve a monopoly and start highway robbing everyone.
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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I've been using Nvidia's Adaptive VSync and I am very pleased by the results. VSync is only engaged when your framerate exceeds 60 fps (or 30 fps if you use the option for half refresh rate).
 

Dictator93

Member
Jun 29, 2011
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The problem I keep running into with RTSS is that I'll set the cap at 60fps, and in a number of games, it'll just start dropping frames like crazy until I pause and unpause, or something like that... what's causing that?

Shit this necessary shouldn't be this complicated.
I have never heard of that problem with RTSS, at all.
Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
This is the best advice for your desires OP.
 

Guffers

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Nov 29, 2012
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
Awesome post. Thank you! I'm curious as to why people use RTSS to limit frame rate when Nvidia Inspector can do the same thing? I have a 780 as well and have taken to maxing games and locking them to 30 using Inspector. It seems to produce a very smooth 30fps image along with 1/2 refresh.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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Awesome post. Thank you! I'm curious as to why people use RTSS to limit frame rate when Nvidia Inspector can do the same thing? I have a 780 as well and have taken to maxing games and locking them to 30 using Inspector. It seems to produce a very smooth 30fps image along with 1/2 refresh.
I'm curious about this as well. I have Nvidia Inspector installed and would prefer to just use it as it does have a frame rate limiter, but obviously if RTSS does a better job I will go with it.
 

Possumowner

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Jun 10, 2015
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
Post nails it basically.Nice job
 
Nov 23, 2011
4,231
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Yeah, G-sync or Freesync is the only real option, but the problem with these is that the monitors are incredibly expensive. €849 for the Asus XB270HU is WAY too expensive for me, it costs more than my damn 980 Ti did!
 

SapientWolf

Trucker Sexologist
Jul 4, 2004
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I usually just cap the framerate if I need to reduce input lag. It can still tear, but it's not as bad as uncapped. But I am really sensitive to input lag on the PC. I have returned monitors to the store due to input lag. And of course I have a gsync monitor now.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
Thanks for the response! Two questions:

1) Is there a reason for using Inspector's vsync vs setting it in Nvidia's control panel? Not that I'm averse to using it as I already have it installed, but I'm just curious.

2) Your point about using half-refresh is a bit confusing to me. Was this just a pointer for if I'm not able to achieve a stable 60fps on my 60Hz monitor, and need to go down to say 30 fps (where half-refresh would be used), or is there something else?

I looked on some other forums and most people agree that RTSS has a more stable frame limiter than Inspector, so I will be looking into that tonight. Thanks again!
 

Durante

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Oct 1, 2006
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peter.metaclassofnil.com
RTSS is distributed as part of a few packages, people usually get it as part of e.g. MSI Afterburner. But you can also get the standalone.

Generally, you can also use the dirver-level frame limiter for the same purpose. In some games, it might act a bit differently though (be more or less stable or induce slightly more or less lag). So it's good to have an alternative tool at your disposal.
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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RTSS is distributed as part of a few packages, people usually get it as part of e.g. MSI Afterburner. But you can also get the standalone.

Generally, you can also use the dirver-level frame limiter for the same purpose. In some games, it might act a bit differently though (be more or less stable or induce slightly more or less lag). So it's good to have an alternative tool at your disposal.
I actually have MSI Afterburner just to overclock my card, but I think I unchecked any additional features when I installed it. Guess I'll reinstall tonight!

I tried using Nvidia Inspector's frame limiter but found performance to be very inconsistent - very jittery. I don't know if Nvidia's control panel has a frame limiter, but I don't recall seeing one. I'm certainly willing to give RTSS a shot.

Thanks for the response! I feel like I'm getting closer to finding a good compromise. Can't wait to try out all this stuff tonight.
 

Durante

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Oct 1, 2006
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peter.metaclassofnil.com
Nvidia inspector is just a UI for the nvidia driver, that's what's actually implementing its features (including frame limiting).

I've previously measured better results in terms of framerate consistency with RTSS than anything else, so do give it a try. Of course, YMMV with each game and on different HW.
 

Arulan

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Dec 14, 2010
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Thanks for the response! Two questions:

1) Is there a reason for using Inspector's vsync vs setting it in Nvidia's control panel? Not that I'm averse to using it as I already have it installed, but I'm just curious.

2) Your point about using half-refresh is a bit confusing to me. Was this just a pointer for if I'm not able to achieve a stable 60fps on my 60Hz monitor, and need to go down to say 30 fps (where half-refresh would be used), or is there something else?

I looked on some other forums and most people agree that RTSS has a more stable frame limiter than Inspector, so I will be looking into that tonight. Thanks again!
Nvidia Inspector is the same as the Nvidia control panel, but it gives you access to a lot more. I also believe half-refresh Vsync is limited to Adaptive through the normal control panel, while Inspector allows you to use normal behavior.

Yes, only use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) if you're aiming for a frame rate interval below your refresh rate. If you're targeting 60 on your 60Hz display, then ignore that.

I'm not entirely certain why RTSS is as good as it is, but in all my experience, and apparently that of others, it is by far the smoothest option. In addition, at least the last time I tried Nvidia's frame rate limiter, it would sometimes break or bug out.

To enable RTSS with Afterburner you just have to turn some of the monitoring option under setting to show "OSD", and then in RTSS you can turn off the OSD so you don't have to see it.
 

belmonkey

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Apr 25, 2013
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Gsync is the best option, but failing that:

If you can achieve a stable frame rate interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) then use double-buffered Vsync, ideally through Nvidia Inspector. Use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) to match the stable frame rate you desire. In addition use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the number you chose previously.

If you can't achieve a stable frame rate, and do not want to drop down to the next nearest frame rate interval, then the best option is usually Borderless Windowed-Mode with Windows Aero ON, and then use RivaTuner Statistics Server to limit your frame rate to the nearest interval (60, 30, etc. on a 60Hz display, or 120, 60, 40, etc. on 120Hz) based on your average.
So if I want to play Skyrim at 30 fps with both no tearing and minimal input, this is what to do? Is double buffered V-sync just V-sync activated in the control panel and triple buffering disabled?
 

Iced

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Mar 3, 2015
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Nvidia Inspector is the same as the Nvidia control panel, but it gives you access to a lot more. I also believe half-refresh Vsync is limited to Adaptive through the normal control panel, while Inspector allows you to use normal behavior.

Yes, only use half-refresh (or 1/3, 1/4, etc.) if you're aiming for a frame rate interval below your refresh rate. If you're targeting 60 on your 60Hz display, then ignore that.

I'm not entirely certain why RTSS is as good as it is, but in all my experience, and apparently that of others, it is by far the smoothest option. In addition, at least the last time I tried Nvidia's frame rate limiter, it would sometimes break or bug out.

To enable RTSS with Afterburner you just have to turn some of the monitoring option under setting to show "OSD", and then in RTSS you can turn off the OSD so you don't have to see it.
Thanks again! I just tried out your recommendation in BF4, and...my god. It's glorious. Frame rate is smooth as silk, and it feels like I don't have vsync on!

Thank you SO much for helping me out with this, and thanks to everyone else for backing his comments. I know it's not quite g-sync level of quality, but it's a damn fine alternative!
 

PnCIa

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Nov 26, 2005
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RTSS is distributed as part of a few packages, people usually get it as part of e.g. MSI Afterburner. But you can also get the standalone.

Generally, you can also use the dirver-level frame limiter for the same purpose. In some games, it might act a bit differently though (be more or less stable or induce slightly more or less lag). So it's good to have an alternative tool at your disposal.
Last time i checked the limiter accessed through nvidia inspector is not as precise as RTSS. If you limited the framerate to say 120 and did not use vsync the actual limit was somwhere around 127 as measured with rtss for example. It was like this for ages, maybe they fixed it in recent releases.

Bottom line, use rtss since you virtualy cant go wrong with it.
 

tokkun

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Jan 29, 2007
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That's a strange thing to say considering the two best gaming monitors currently available are both 1440p G-sync monitors. Or are you talking about price?
Lots of people on enthusiast forums are unhappy about the IPS glow and other quality control issues on those panels.
 

PtKid

Banned
Dec 16, 2014
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United Kingdom
G-Sync is the best method for screen tearing but can be expensive.

I have the Asus ROG Swift monitor and the difference is incredible.

Personally i never had great results with borderless window mode and other tricks.