This is a big deal for Mac users who love to play games, as Monterey gives all M1-equipped Macs (as well as many newer Intel-based models) the ability to dynamically adjust the refresh rates of their displays to match the frame rate of a game. Of course, the display must also support Adaptive-Sync, a feature of the VESA DisplayPort 1.2a standard.
That means this new feature has an important caveat: even though all M1-equipped Macs and many newer Intel-equipped Macs support variable refresh rates in macOS Monterey, you’ll still need to plug the computers into a compatible monitor to see the benefits.
The screens on iMacs and MacBooks are fixed-rate displays, so neither of them support this feature. To see it in action, you’ll need to connect your Monterey-equipped Mac to an external display that has Adaptive-Sync support, which is now the standard in many best gaming monitors.
How to enable Adaptive-Sync in macOS Monterey
Once you’ve achieved this pairing, you should be able to activate Adaptive-Sync mode, which tells the Mac to dynamically adjust the refresh rate of your display so that it only updates when a new frame is ready to be displayed and delivers buttery frame rates.
To enable Adaptive-Sync in macOS Monterey, you first need to make sure you have a compatible Mac: Apple representatives have only said that Apple Silicon Macs and “new Intel-based Macs” support Adaptive-Sync.
If you have a compatible device, you will see a new variable refresh rate option in the View section of your System Preferences menu. Just turn it on and you should see an instant improvement in game performance. Note, however, that games must be run in full screen mode to deliver variable refresh rates.
While the full release of macOS Monterey is not expected until the fall, a Developer beta is currently live and there will be a public beta in July giving you the chance to get your first look at this feature.