G-SYNC 101: G-SYNC Fullscreen vs. Borderless/Windowed


DWM Woes?

Requested by swarna in the Blur Busters Forums, is a scenario that investigates the effects of the DWM (Desktop Windows Manager, “Aero” in Windows 7) on G-SYNC in borderless and windowed mode.

Unlike exclusive fullscreen, which bypasses the DWM composition entirely, borderless and windowed mode rely on the DWM, which, due to its framebuffer, adds 1 frame of delay. The DWM can’t be disabled in Windows 10, and uses it’s own form of triple buffer V-SYNC (very similar to Fast Sync) that overrides all standard syncing solutions when borderless or windowed mode are in use.

To make sure this was the case, all combinations of NVCP and in-game V-SYNC, as well as the Windows 10 “Game Mode” and “fullscreen optimization” settings were tested to see if DWM could be disabled, and tearing could be introduced; it could not be, so Game Mode and fullscreen optimizations were disabled once again, and NVCP V-SYNC was re-enabled across scenarios for consistency’s sake.

The question is, does DWM add 1 frame of delay with G-SYNC using borderless and windowed mode?

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

Overwatch, shows that, no, with G-SYNC enabled, both borderless and windowed mode do not add 1 frame of delay over exclusive fullscreen. Standalone “V-SYNC,” however, does show the expected 1 frame of delay.

CS:GO was also tested for corroboration, and ought to have the same results, as DWM behavior is at the OS-level and should remain unchanged, regardless of the game…

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

Sure enough, again, G-SYNC sees no added delay, and V-SYNC sees the expected 1 frame of delay.

Further testing may be required, but it appears on the latest public build of Windows 10 with out-of-the-box settings (with or without “Game Mode”), G-SYNC somehow bypasses the 1 frame of delay added by the DWM. That said, I still don’t suggest borderless or windowed mode over exclusive fullscreen due to the 3-5% decrease in performance, but if these findings are true across configurations, it great news for games that only offer a borderless windowed option, or for multitaskers with secondary monitors.



1360 Comments For “G-SYNC 101”

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andro92
Member
andro92

First of all thank you for your amazing work.

Now if i understand it all correctly, the optimum usage is this:

Nvcp vsync on, gsync on, frame cap -3/141fps (140 for me thanks to my ocd 🙂 i dont wanna bother with additional app rtss. The latest nvcp frame cap should be on par right ? So set and forget situation from nvcp.

Now my confusion comes from ullm. I have a good cpu. 9900k overclocked to fixed 4.9ghz at all times. Im using windows high perf power plan as well. Gpu is 2080s at 1440p. 32 gig 3733mhz cl16 ram, m2 ssd, clean windows 10 pro without bloatware (again thanks to my ocd). Also i have custom water loop so temps are all ok.

If i set ullm on or ultra all times(set & forget) will i see any negative effect ?

Sample1: game runs at 40-80 fps, gpu bound
Sample2: game runs at set fps cap 140, no gpu bound
Sample3: game runs at 60fps internal limit(mortal kombat 11, ds3, sekiro) no gpu bound.
Sample4: no sync, fixed refresh rate, gpu bound vs no gpu bound.
Note: cpu usage is always low, mostly below 30 but i understand system hiccups can happen even with the cleanest systems.

And what is the difference between on/ultra/ingame reflex ?

Effect of nvcp power management mode ? Should i leave it at default or choose maximum performance. Its ok if it consumes more power.

I’m fan of set&forget type of usage and i dont care if ullm ultra adds another fps limit below my fps limit for some specific game. But i dont want extra input lag or some bug.

My second question:

I was competitive Overwatch player, now i play Mortal Kombat 11 competitively. Motion blur, backlight strobing etc not as important in this but input lag is important. Even 1 frame matters in this game to take your turn. This game designed around 60 fps and it does not strain my gpu however it fluctates between 58-60. What settings are best for this specific game ? Can ullm on or ultra add more input lag if i set&forget ?

And the last topic sorry for wall of text:

Now gsync monitors are 30-144, gsync compatibles are 48-144. My question is how seamless is this this “lfc” or hz doubling/tripling. If my game runs between 40-60 fps is it better to just disable gsync for more fluid experience. What happens at the exact moment when the lfc kicks in ? What is the difference between adaptive sync and gsync module in this topic ?

blabliblu
Member
blabliblu

Thank you for this article.

The main reason I wanted to enable G-Sync (Freesync, in my case) was because playing AC: Valhalla on 4K on my RTX 3080 with V-Sync on causes heavy stuttering when the game drops below 60 FPS, while without V-Sync there’s massive tearing action going on (every 2-3 seconds, it’s horrible.)

Now, I might be missing something here, and I understand what’s written in the article, but if I enable G-Sync, and enable V-Sync on top of it in the Nvidia Control Panel, I still suffer from the same exact stuttering when the game drops below 60 FPS. And indeed, disabling V-Sync stopped the game from stuttering and fixed the issue, with the occasional and very rare tearing compared to a non-V-Sync experience, which is a trade-off I can live with.

So, what gives? Should I just keep V-Sync off, then? Or maybe set my V-Sync to “Fast” in the Nvidia Control Panel?

depatere
Member
depatere

First of all, thank you so much for this guide. This has been a lifesaver for me since getting my PG278Q a while ago.

I do have a question if you don’t mind. I recently upgraded my system to 5950X, 32gb 3600 CL16 RAM paired with a 2080 RTX and followed the guide in setting the best options for low latency G-Sync gaming.

My V-sync is on, I use ULLM on “Ultra”, “Performance mode” and use the Nvidia framelimiter for games that do not support ULLM to “141fps”.
However, with this capable system, I would assume I’d get the smoothest experience there is!

This unfortunately is not true. While in Rainbow Six Siege, I could be going around in circle with my mouse while moving, and you can see/feel some micro frame skips. Sometimes a bit longer. If I’d check my FPS counter, this goes from 138 FPS to maybe 136 or 120 or in some situations not lower than 138, but still I have the feeling it skips some frames, resulting in less smooth experience.

In DOOM after reloading a checkpoint, it takes a while to go to my refreshrate from 74 FPS during loading and then shooting upwards to 138 FPS again.

Is this caused by enabling G-Sync? Should I put ULLM to “On” instead of Ultra to avoid this?
Is this what frametime skips are called?

Hopefully, you’ll have the time to help me out, I’d certainly would donate as you guys are doing great work!

WonderGoliath
Member
WonderGoliath

Hi, when i’m playing certain games on a gsync 144hz monitor, i usually cap the frame rate for a more smoother experience. For instances, 60 fps capped on demanding games since my gpu couldn’t keep up. However, i noticed there’s framerate dip periodically (e.g. 60 to 57 etc). Only occur on 60 fps capped but not let’s say maybe higher? Like 70 or even 80 for some reason. What cause?

Scuggan
Member
Scuggan

Hey I’ve just add a second monitor (non gsync 60 Hz) and was wondering about global vsync. Will global vsync cause any problems with a dual monitor setup?
I know windows doesn’t handle dual monitor setups very well anyway but would it be better setting vsync on for each individual game and not global?

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