While RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) is most well-known for being bundled with MSI Afterburner and used for monitoring and overclocking GPUs, RTSS actually has some use separate from Afterburner. Here, we discuss those functions and teach you how to use them to cap your FPS (frame per second) or enable Scanline Sync.
What is RivaTuner?
RivaTuner Statistics Server (usually shortened to RTSS) is an application most known for being shipped with MSI Afterburner. The purpose it serves with MSI Afterburner is enabling an on-screen display of framerate and other performance metrics, including GPU utilization and temperatures.
With or without Afterburner, however, RivaTuner is capable of applying FPS caps and enabling Scanline Sync on any monitor.
What is an FPS cap?
FPS in this context refers to Frames Per Second, and on PCs where you have an FPS exceeding your refresh rate (such as 100 FPS on a 60 HZ panel), you’re much more prone to screen tearing and highly-variable FPS. Both of these can be visually disorienting and a competitive disadvantage, but the seemingly only way to fix it in most games is to enable some form of V-Sync, which is much more visually consistent but adds a lot more input latency.
Using an FPS cap, you can set your in-game framerate to just at or just under your screen refresh rate. If the game you’re playing offers an FPS cap, chances are high that you’ll want to use that cap instead of RivaTuner’s, but if you want to learn how to use RivaTuner’s for universal application, keep reading.
What is Scanline Sync?
Scanline Sync, like FreeSync and G-Sync, is another technology that looks to replace the V-Sync standard. FreeSync and G-Sync are both hardware-enabled features, though, whereas Scanline Sync is used in software to achieve a similar effect. Scanline Sync is particularly ideal for displays that don’t have FreeSync or G-Sync (e.g. your living room TV, should you want to game on it without horrific screen tearing or input lag).
Where Scanline Sync differs from other V-Sync alternatives is actually hinted at in its name. Unlike other techniques, which work with complete frames as much as possible, Scanline Sync actually allows you to choose a specific scanline, one where screen tearing is near-guaranteed but contained. With the right adjustments, this scanline can be moved nearly offscreen and provide a tear-free, lag-free alternative to V-Sync.
Should I use an FPS cap or Scanline Sync?
While RivaTuner offers both FPS capping and Scanline Sync, you can’t actually use both simultaneously.
The main way to decide between the two features is to take a look at your existing hardware.
FPS caps will work on the most systems with the fewest issues and is preferred to Scanline Sync if you already have a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor. In this case, Scanline Sync’s job is already being done by the monitor (and compatible GPU), so it’s unneeded.
Scanline Sync is best used to compensate for the lack of FreeSync and G-Sync, but it comes with a catch, too: high GPU utilization (~80%+) under Scanline Sync can introduce major screen tearing to an image. If you’re looking to run games on a 60 Hz display with Scanline Sync and have plenty of GPU power to spare, this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you experience any, we highly recommend turning down settings or using an FPS cap instead.
How to set an FPS cap in RivaTuner
First, open RivaTuner Statistics Server. If it doesn’t immediately appear, check for its icon in your start menu. Hovering over that icon should show you the RivaTuner version, and right-clicking will open a context menu that reveals “Show,” which will reveal the main window.
From the main window, click the “Global” profile and set a framerate limit of your choice, ideally matching your monitor’s framerate.
Make sure “Application detection level” is set to Low or higher, and you’re good to go: you’ve set a global FPS cap. Should you ever want to remove it, simply turning off RivaTuner will do the job.
You can also click the green “Add” button at the bottom-left corner of the application window to set per-app FPS limits. In the following screenshot, we’ve done this with hl2.exe to cap that particular application to 120 FPS, since a stable 144 is not easily achievable with this setup.
How to set up Scanline Sync in RivaTuner
In order to use Scanline Sync in RivaTuner, the framerate limit must first be set to 0, since the two functions are mutually exclusive. Don’t worry, as this won’t literally set your frames to 0 – it just disables the FPS capping function so Scanline Sync can be used.
Now that the Framerate limit is set to 0, it’s time to set the Scanline Sync. The number that you’ll be setting in this field is not a framerate limit but rather coordinates for the tearline. Your exact results will vary depending on the size and resolution of your display, and you will need to manually adjust this value in increments of 10 since there is no one-size-fits-all option.
The best place to start is to take your vertical resolution (for instance, 1080 pixels on a 1080p screen or 1440 pixels on a 1440p screen), and subtract that number by 150 to 200. For a standard 1080p display, we recommend starting at 930 as a baseline and reducing as needed until you’ve achieved the desired result.