Adaptive sync technology was first released in 2014 and has come a long way since its introduction. Both AMD and NVIDIA are in the market. Those who are into PC gaming will want to learn as much as they can about these two options to determine which one will be more intuitive and able to provide a seamless feel.
What Is Adaptive Sync?
The vertical refresh rate of a monitor can have a big impact on how well it is able to play a game. If the vertical refresh rate is too slow, there will be subtle lines running through the screen, causing interference.
While your graphics card is an important part of your gaming experience, it can only move images so fast. A traditional monitor is going to have a slow refresh rate. For instance, a 60Hz monitor will refresh every 1/60th of a second. Unfortunately, your graphics card may not be on the same rate which could end up causing multiple frames to be in the same window for a brief second or so. This is called screen tearing and it is something every PC gamer wants to avoid.
Both FreeSync and G-Sync eliminate tearing and stuttering, making your graphics flow like melted butter. Adaptive sync monitors make a huge difference in your gaming experience on the PC. It is amazing to put a traditional monitor and an adaptive sync monitor side-by-side and see how they perform.
Without adaptive sync monitors, there will be stuttering and tearing which can destroy your image play quality and lead to games being less enjoyable. Today’s gaming monitors must include adaptive sync to be labeled as a gaming monitor. There are two main types of adaptive sync technology and this guide will break them both down and help you understand how they are similar and how they are different. You will also learn how they are both used for gaming.
How Does FreeSync and G-Sync Work Monitors Work?
As mentioned above, sometimes your graphics card and monitor refresh rate are not perfectly synchronized which is when you start getting stuttering and tearing. Both FreeSync and G-Sync work with your graphics card to synchronize the refresh rate so there is no tearing or stuttering when your game is graphically intense. Whatever rate your graphics card is generating images at, the monitor will refresh at the exact same rate for a seamless play.
FreeSync Vs. G-Sync: Application
Although FreeSync and G-Sync perform much the same, there are some major differences. Application is one of the areas where these two differ greatly.
Out of the two, FreeSync is the one that is most easily used by monitors. It affixes over the VESA adaptive sync standard which is placed on DisplayPort 1.2a. Because AMD does not charge any royalties or fees for use, there is very little cost for manufacturers to include FreeSync with their monitors. If you are looking for a gaming monitor, you are likely to find this technology in a variety of models and brands, even those on the low end of the cost spectrum.
G-Sync, on the other hand, requires manufacturers to use Nvidia hardware modules and they remain in full control of quality, making it more expensive for manufacturers to use this technology in the production of their gaming monitors. Because of the added cost for manufacturers, you will likely never find a low-cost monitor that features G-Sync. Most manufacturers consider this to be a premium add-on and they charge more for it.
Everything You Need to Know About AMD FreeSync
Before you decide on any adaptive sync monitor, you need to know the pros and cons of each type. Being fully informed on the pros and cons of each type will help you to choose the one that will best meet your gaming needs and stop the screen tearing and stuttering that make you crazy.
Although AMD is not the first to develop a product that addresses screen tearing and stuttering, they are currently the most widely used by gamers and that could be due to cost and availability. As stated before, AMD does not charge royalties, leading to lower costs for manufacturers.
Pros of AMD FreeSync
One of the biggest things AMD Freesync has going for it is the cost. Monitors that feature AMD FreeSync are much more affordable than those with NVIDIA G-Sync technology. The lowered cost means this type of monitor is more widely available to gamers with a range of budgets.
Because it is a software solution, it is easier to obtain and does not cost a tremendous amount of money. You will find AMD FreeSync is available on budget monitors as well as high-end models.
Connectivity is another pro of AMD FreeSync. Monitors that feature FreeSync typically have more ports available. AMD has introduced its FreeSync in HDMI which allows this technology to be used by many more monitors than NVIDIA G-Sync.
Cons of AMD FreeSync
Although it would certainly seem AMD FreeSync is the perfect choice because of its performance and price, there is a con to consider. Unfortunately, AMD FreeSync only works with AMD graphics cards. If your computer has an NVIDIA graphics card, FreeSync will not be able to synchronize the refresh rate.
AMD also has less strict standards which could result in inconsistent experiences with different monitors. AMD does not retain control over their technology which means manufacturers can take liberty in creating their monitors with AMD FreeSync. If choosing a gaming monitor with FreeSync, it is wise to carefully research the manufacturer and read reviews to ensure the right sync level is achieved.
If you are searching for a monitor with AMD FreeSync, make sure you carefully check the specs. AMD has released a Low Framerate Compensation addition to FreeSync that allows it to run smoother when it is being run in monitors with lower than the minimum supported refresh rate.
Pros and Cons: Everything You Need to Know About NVIDIA G-Sync
Having balanced information about both types of adaptive sync manufacturers will help you to make the right decision. Both top manufacturers have their pros and cons, so it is not always easy to make a choice.
Pros of NVIDIA G-Sync
The biggest benefit of using NVIDIA G-Sync is consistent performance. Unlike AMD, NVIDIA retains complete control over quality. Every single monitor must pass NVIDIA’s stringent guidelines for extreme quality and performance. The certification process is so strict, NVIDIA has turned down many monitors.
As mentioned above, AMD has come out with their Low Framerate Compensation, but every single NVIDIA monitor offers the equivalent. Any monitors with G-Sync will also offer frequency dependent variable overdrive. This simply means these monitors will not experience ghosting. Ghosting is what occurs as the frame slowly changes, leaving behind a slightly blurred image that fades as the new frame comes in.
When you purchase an NVIDIA G-Sync monitor, you can rest assured the quality and performance will be consistent among different manufacturers because NVIDIA ensures it will. It does not matter which monitor you purchase, if it includes NVIDIA technology, it will have met the stringent certification standards of NVIDIA before being put on the market.
Cons of NVIDIA G-Sync
As with any product, there are some cons to consider with NVIDIA G-Sync. One of the biggest cons is the expense. On average, you are going to spend much more on an NVIDIA G-Sync monitor than an AMD FreeSync. This limits NVIDIA technology to mostly high-end gamers. NVIDIA requires all manufactures to use proprietary hardware modules, adding to the expense for manufacturers.
There is also the problem with limited ports available. If you have a lot of gaming gear to connect, you may not be happy with the limited ports that are offered. In addition to this problem, just like with AMD, NVIDIA G-Sync does not work with AMD graphics cards. If your computer uses an AMD card, you will be stuck with using AMD FreeSync.
AMD FreeSync Vs. NVIDIA G-Sync: Laptops
If you are looking for a gaming laptop, both AMD and NVIDIA have models that make gaming graphics smoother and more consistent than ever before. For the most part, AMD has been out of the mobile technology industry, so NVIDIA has the market when it comes to laptop availability.
You will be able to find NVIDIA G-Sync laptops from almost every major manufacturer. The new laptops can now handle framerates at close to 120Hz, where they were once limited to 75Hz or lower. This has made laptop gaming much more attractive to gamers who play high graphic-demanding PC games.
Although AMD is a little late to the party, ASUS recently released their ROG Strix GL702ZC which includes an AMD FreeSync display. It will be interesting to see how the competitive landscape changes as AMD FreeSync laptops begin being released in greater abundance.
AMD FreeSync Vs. NVIDIA G-Sync: What About HDR Monitors?
The demand for high-definition is increasing and manufacturers are taking note. With ultra-high-resolution now growing in depth, both AMD and NVIDIA seem to be responding. There are now new gaming monitors hitting retailers and they are bringing the highest resolution that has ever been seen with laptop gaming.
While this is exciting for gamers, it is likely going to be pricey. AMD has always remained rather lax about the use of their technology, but with AMD FreeSync 2, they are committed to remaining more in control. AMD will not give manufacturers the okay unless their monitors include Low Frame Rate Compensation. They have also put in certain standards for low latency and dynamic color displays which produce a double brightness and color richness than the standard sRGB. One of the coolest things about these AMD displays is they automatically switch over to FreeSync as long as it is supported by the game you are playing.
There are announced versions of NVIDIA G-Sync monitors in 4k and ultrawide models that rise as high as 200Hz. These displays offer amazing fluidity which cannot be matched by AMD, even though FreeSync is certainly at the precipice of greatness. Playing a game on one of these models will amaze you because it offers the highest level of brightness, color richness, and crispness of any gaming display you have ever seen.
It is clear these two are at in a battle for gamers’ loyalty. For most people, AMD FreeSync products are a more affordable option, but can they measure up if cost is not involved?
Here’s the Bottom Line
It is clear that screen tearing, ghosting, and stuttering are the biggest irritations for PC gamers. Playing PC games like Mass Effect can quickly send you over the edge if screen tearing is constantly occurring. Screen tearing takes a beautifully exquisite game and turns it into a boxed mess that does not flow as it should. If you’ve experienced this, you know how annoying it can be. Sometimes, the tearing is so consistent it makes the game unplayable. Many people think it is their graphics card alone that is to blame, but this is not always so.
Both AMD and NVIDIA have the same potential, but it seems NVIDIA, in most cases, holds to a higher standard with manufacturers using their technology. Now that AMD has created FreeSync 2, they may be giving NVIDIA more of a run for their money.
AMD FreeSync is featured in many more gaming displays than G-Sync simply because of availability and price. When manufacturers are not held to stringent certifications, they are able to produce more affordable products. With this freedom comes the price of inconsistency.
If you can afford it, NVIDIA G-Sync is likely going to be your best bet. Although it is not superior in concept, NVIDIA keeping close reigns on their products means consistency across the board with all manufacturers.
Just make sure to remember that the type of graphics card you have will determine which will work. Neither AMD nor NVIDIA allow their adaptive sync hardware or applications to work with competitors’ graphics cards. There are some reported workarounds with this problem, but they are not widely recommended. In the end, only you can make the choice based on your budget and needs.