One of the eternal debates among PC gamers is the choice of using vertical synchronization. I won’t go into the details, as there are many articles out there (like this one) that perfectly explain how this whole process renders the visuals you see on your display. All you really need to know is the trade off. Enabling V-Sync provides a progressive, smoother, more natural motion in all your games, but this often leads to a feeling of lag in the controls, especially the mouse. This can even make some kinds of games unplayable, like online first person shooters, where your response time is critical to surviving. This is why most people opt to disabling V-sync, and suffering the choppy screen tearing that occurs.
Very few titles have developed a solution to this issue. Battlefield 3 and the Call of Duty series are quite excellent with V-sync on. They seem to suffer a very minimal lag. Just about every other title I’ve come across however, leads to much frustration. Dead Space is so bad that you’ll find yourself unable to even land your mouse cursor accurately on the New Game button from the main menu. How any developer deems this satisfactory, is beyond me.
I’ve tried many workarounds to this timeless issue, involving Raw Input options, “Max Frames to Render Ahead = 0″, and others, but this rarely seems to be a proper solution.
Then last week I come across a new concept. Frame Rate Limiters. I honestly don’t know why this works so much better than simply telling your video card to render zero frames ahead, but it absolutely makes all the difference. I’m suddenly playing Counter Strike of all things, with V-Sync on and not ending up with a miserable score. I’ve since tested this setting across a couple dozen games and the results are outstanding in all cases, with no side effects like crashes or performance drops.
Now most people like to use Dxtory to perform this change, but I find that to be silly. Why keep shareware running in the background at all times, nagging you for money, when you can just change and save the setting in your driver itself? I can’t speak for ATI owners, but if you have an Nvidia card, simply install the always useful Nvidia Inspector. Run it, click the Driver Profile Settings button, Make sure you have the Global Profile selected unless you only want to apply this certain games. Then scroll down to Frame Rate Limiter, click it and select 58fps if you use a 60hz monitor (you’d likely know if you had anything higher). It even shows hints on the choices for which ones are ideal for curing input lag for each refresh rate. Finally hit the apply changes button. Take a look at the images attached below for reference!
Remember this is only useful when running with V-Sync enabled, so for simplicity’s sake, I’d also suggest forcing V-Sync on in the Global Profile. It’s a few spaces below the Frame Rate Limiter option. You may want to individually check the games you run and make sure they have V-Sync disabled where possible. Your video card will be forcing it regardless at all times, and in some cases, it can cause issues if a game is already forcing V-Sync. This is just my preference.
I hope this setting leads to as much of an improvement to your gaming enjoyment as it has for me. It’s as if my PC has been given a free hardware upgrade.