Experiencing screen tearing in a game can be one of the most annoying things to an otherwise perfectly rendered frame. Those horizontal lines and stuttering can really kill your experience in a second.
Now, most games do give you an option to enable VSync but that can be detrimental to the game’s performance depending on your system. GPU manufacturers have, however, stepped up their game to help resolve this issue, turning to adaptive refresh rate tech to help find a solution.
In this article, we’re going over Nvidia’s GSync and AMD’s FreeSync and comparing both to help you figure out which is the better fit for your setup.
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While both GSync and FreeSync are designed to eliminate screen tearing and smooth out gameplay, they use very different technologies to achieve this. This can result in quite a significant performance impact.
Nvidia’s GSync uses a dedicated chip inside the monitor to help sync the refresh rate with the framerate coming out of your GPU. The downside of this is that you need a GSync supported monitor along with a compatible Nvidia GPU.
FreeSync on the other hand uses the GPU’s ability to manage monitor refresh rate using the Adaptive Sync tech built into the DisplayPort standard. While this does give you more freedom when deciding peripherals for your setup, FreeSync suffers from screen ghosting more often than GSync.
The reason behind this is power. If you’re using too little power to power your monitor, there will be gaps in between pixels, on the other hand, too much power can result in ghosting. Balancing power with adaptive refresh rates can be difficult.
Both technologies also suffer if the sync between the monitor’s refresh rate and GPU output framerate isn’t consistent. GSync shows flickering in such cases and FreeSync suffers from frame stuttering. However, GSync narrowly comes on top here.
The difference here lies in the open and closed standard approach used by the two manufacturers. Nvidia’s tech is proprietary, meaning manufacturers need Nvidia’s permission and cooperation to be able to make their monitors GSync compatible making them fewer in number and a tad bit more expensive.
FreeSync, as the name suggests is an open standard meaning any manufacturer can is free to use the tech in their monitors eventually leading to more monitors with FreeSync support.
In most cases, you can’t use one with the other, meaning that if you have an Nvidia GPU, you’re pretty much locked to GSync compatible monitors if you want to use the feature. The same applies to AMD GPUs and FreeSync. There are monitors that support both technologies and there are Nvidia GPUs that do support FreeSync, but that’s a very small range compared to the overall product line from both manufacturers.
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FreeSync and GSync are more than just features, they’re also specifications that monitor makers must make before they can put the label on their products.
This means that there are tiers of offerings for both technologies. Here are the FreeSync offerings.
- FreeSync Premium: Requires monitors to have a minimum 120Hz refresh rate and native 1080p. It also adds low framerate compensation.
- FreeSync Premium Pro: This version of FreeSync is designed specifically for HDR supports. Monitors must have a minimum of 400 nits brightness and HDR support along with FreeSync Premium support.
In the Nvidia camp, there’s GSync Ultimate which requires monitors to have HDR and low latency with VESA HDR400 compatibility (400 nits brightness).
Here’s an outright comparison between the two technologies and their tiers.
|Features||FreeSync||FreeSync Premium||FreeSync Premium Pro||GSync||GSync Premium|
|Price Premium||No price premium||No price premium||No price premium||HDR and Extended Colour Support||144Hz or higher refresh rates|
|Refresh rates||60Hz+ refresh rate||120Hz+ refresh rate||120Hz+ refresh rate||Framedoubling under 30Hz||Factory calibrated SDR|
HDR Colour Gamut support
|Additional tech||–||Low Frame Compensation||HDR and Extended Colour Support||Ultra-low motion blur||Variable LCD overdrive|
|HDR Support||May or may not have HDR support||May or may not have HDR support||HDR Support||–||HDR Support|
In hindsight, both technologies offer gameplay improvements provided you have a decent enough GPU. However, Nvidia’s GSync wins out this comparison narrowly.
That’s not to say FreeSync is bad. For the price, you can get pretty much the same experience. GSync however, is a little bit more refined, and you’ll pay the price for the refinement. It’s worth pointing out that Xbox Series X supports FreeSync with support on the PS5 arriving soon. Both consoles, however, do not support GSync.
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