HomeFreeSync vs G-Sync: What’s the difference?

FreeSync vs G-Sync: What’s the difference?

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If you’re buying a monitor or TV for gaming, you’ll probably see labels like FreeSync or G-SYNC on the box or marketing materials. Learn what it means and how the two technologies come together before you buy.

Different names, same purpose

FreeSync and G-SYNC are both variable refresh rate (VRR) technologies. This is exactly what they do and try to solve the same problem in the gaming space: tearing the screen.

Screen tearing occurs when there is no match between the monitor’s refresh rate and the GPU’s retention capacity. Under load, the GPU may not be able to produce a full frame so a partial frame is sent instead. This results in the new frame being mounted on top of the old frame, resulting in ugly “tearing” patterns.

Variable refresh rate technology such as FreeSync, G-SYNC, and VESA solves the problem by opening the dialog line between Adaptive-Sync Monitor and GPU. By instructing the monitor to wait or frame buffer, partial frames are not sent.

The result is that the monitor only refreshes to display a new frame when that frame is ready. This makes games look better and the movement smoother, and it’s common to find these technologies on most modern monitors and televisions.

Related: What is the monitor’s refresh rate and how do I change it?

FreeSync is an AMD technology.

FreeSync is the implementation of AMD’s variable refresh rate. This monitor is free to implement for manufacturers and does not require any special hardware inside the monitor to work.

There are three levels of FreeSync to choose from, with the basic implementation being just FreeSync title. It works on HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2a and supports 60Hz refresh rate. It is found everywhere, even on official bargaining monitors.

FreeSync Premium offers 120Hz gaming and incorporates low framing charge (LFC) into the mix. This can help smooth out the gameplay stats caused by the reduction in frame rate. Lastly, FreeSync Premium Pro adds additional HDR capabilities, but should also support the game you’re playing.

While FreeSync can operate at 30Hz or less (according to AMD), many FreeSync displays have a lower limit of 48Hz to be effective.

Related: How do frame rates affect the gaming experience?

G-SYNC is NVIDIA technology.

NVIDIA’s variable refresh rate technology is called G-SYNC, and it also has several levels to choose from. The G-SYNC typically requires a display port connection, but some televisions are adding support for technology over HDMI (especially LG’s OLEDs).

Below are G-SYNC synchronized displays, which NVIDIA has confirmed to be tear-free without any visible pattern. Many FreeSync displays are included in this list, as G-SYNC compatible monitors do not require additional hardware.

NVIDIA G-SYNC
NVIDIA

The standard G-SYNC display has a dedicated chip inside, which can add value to the monitor. This allows NVIDIA to offer to double the frame below 30Hz on most models, which is a huge advantage if you are experiencing cut gameplay. G-SYNC also works better in removing fading than less viable alternatives.

At the top is the G-SYNC Ultimate, which supports frame rates of 144Hz and higher for high-end PC gaming and competitive online play. This level includes strong support for HDR, low latency gameplay, and calibrated sRGB and P3 support.

Related: How to enable Ultra Low Latency mode for NVIDIA graphics.

Variable refresh rate is the real benefit.

While the implementation of VRR has advanced benefits, tear-free gaming is the real draw here. You no longer need to limit your frame rate to 60 frames per second, as is the case with the old V-Sync implementation, which means you can take advantage of the real potential of your hardware.

Even the latest consoles have VRR – learn more about how the Xbox and PlayStation use this technology.