If you’re shopping for a new gaming monitor, you would’ve most likely seen Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Radeon FreeSync listed on a monitor’s list of specifications. Both of these are different adaptive sync technologies meant to eliminate screen tearing, and depending on your budget – and the GPU that you’ll pair it with, of course – you’d want one over the other.
We’ll take a closer look at both of these technologies. Even though G-Sync and FreeSync aim to solve the same problem, how they work under the hood is fundamentally different.
Let’s start with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology. Compared to FreeSync, G-Sync is the more expensive option. Unlike AMD’s implementation, G-Sync requires a specific “scaler” module from Nvidia. On top of that, manufacturers that want to add G-Sync technology to their monitors will have to meet Nvidia’s strict certification process too.
All of these, in turn, raise the price of G-Sync monitors by quite a bit. But the high cost is somewhat justified: you have the assurance of a good gaming experience. Regardless of which G-Sync monitor you buy, you will get more or less the same feature set, though more expensive ones will come with extra perks.
That’s not the case with FreeSync monitors, but we’ll get to that later.
Aside from that, G-Sync has no minimum frame rate requirement to function either. Whether your GPU is pushing over 100, or only 30 frames per second, G-Sync will work. Of course, FreeSync monitors can accomplish the same feat too, but this is reserved only for selected models.
Not too long ago – and with the advent of HDR monitors – Nvidia introduced G-Sync HDR, which is currently available on the highest-end gaming monitors. For monitors to carry the HDR badge, a few requirements have to met, including up to 1000 nits brightness, high refresh rate, and of course, HDR capability.
Basically, G-Sync HDR monitors will be very good gaming monitors, and needless to say, they will cost substantially more than “regular” G-Sync displays.
AMD Radeon FreeSync
Based on VESA’s Adaptive Sync technology – which is a part of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard – Radeon FreeSync is available on a wide range of gaming monitors at various price points. This makes FreeSync monitors much more accessible to consumers, and this fact alone is a huge selling point.
But the affordable nature of FreeSync monitors does have a couple of downsides. As mentioned, the feature set of these monitors vary widely from one model to another. AMD’s Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) feature, for one, is only available on selected monitors. More often than not, these models are more costly too.
LFC is a pretty important feature, given the fact that FreeSync only works within certain frame rate range. This range is different from one monitor to another, and some have very restrictive range. That’s what makes LFC an important feature: it allows for FreeSync to work outside of the specified range. It does this by duplicating frames to raise the frame rate to enter the FreeSync range of any given monitor.
This disparity in feature makes it much more difficult to shop for FreeSync monitors, and you’ll have to pay close attention to their specifications. To somewhat address this, AMD introduced FreeSync 2. In order for monitors to be FreeSync 2-certified, they have to include LFC, and meet AMD’s minimum brightness level and colour coverage.
In short, FreeSync 2-certified monitors will be more costly than your standard FreeSync display. It’s a given: FreeSync 2 monitors (for the most part) will perform better.
Should You Get Them?
Definitely. Adaptive sync monitors will positively impact your gaming experience by quite a margin, and even if you’re working with a tight budget, there are a wide range of affordable FreeSync monitors to choose from.
If you’re willing to drop the cash for it, G-Sync monitors will deliver a more consistent gaming experience. That is not to say FreeSync monitors are bad; it’s just a much more fragmented market than G-Sync monitors. It’s entirely possible to find for excellent FreeSync monitors, but you’ll have to really do your research to find for the right one – our buyer’s guide should prove to be helpful.
And finally, this goes without saying, but make sure that you’re pairing the correct GPU with your gaming monitor. If you plan to get a G-Sync monitor, get an Nvidia GPU. Bought a FreeSync monitor? Use a Radeon GPU. Obviously, an Nvidia GPU cannot take advantage of FreeSync technology, and vice versa.