If you've ever experienced tearing the screen in a PC game, you know how annoying it can be. An otherwise perfectly rendered title totally ruined by thick horizontal lines and stuttering. You can activate V-Sync, but if you don't have a high-end system, it can greatly affect your performance.
Both Nvidia and AMD have stepped up to try to solve the problem while preserving frame rate. , and both manufacturers have turned to adaptive update technology for the solution. But let's divide it to show which is a better option for you.
G-Sync and FreeSync are designed to smooth the game, reduce entry delay and prevent screen tearing. They have different methods to achieve these goals, but what really distinguishes them is that one is closely protected and the other is shared openly. While Nvidia's Gvid Sync is enabled by including a chip in the monitor's build, FreeSync uses the functionality of the video card to manage the monitor's refresh rate using the Adaptive Sync standard built into the DisplayPort standard: the result is a difference in performance.
Users have noticed that although tearing and stuttering are reduced with FreeSync enabled, some monitors present another problem: Ghosting. As the objects move on the screen, they leave a bit of the image of their last position as a shadow. It is an artifact that some people don't notice at all, and it really bothers others.
There are many fingers pointing to what might be causing it, but the physical reason for this is energy management. If you don't apply enough power to the pixels, your image will have gaps, too much power and you'll see ghost images. Balancing adaptive update technology with adequate power distribution is difficult.
Both FreeSync and G-Sync also begin to suffer when the frame rate is not constantly synchronized within the monitor's update range. G-Sync can show problems with flickering at very low frame rates, and although technology generally compensates for repair, there are exceptions. FreeSync, meanwhile, has stuttering problems if the frame rate falls below the minimum refresh rate set by the monitor. Some FreeSync monitors have an extremely narrow adaptive update range, and if your video card cannot deliver frames within that range, problems arise.
Most reviewers who compared the two in parallel seem to prefer the quality of G-Sync, which shows no stuttering problems at low frame rates and is therefore more uniform in real-world situations.
One of the first differences that people will hear about adaptive update technology, In addition to the general rivalry between AMD and Nvidia, is the difference between a closed and an open standard. While G-Sync is Nvidia's proprietary technology and requires the permission and cooperation of the company to use, FreeSync is free to use, and its implementation is an objective of the program, not a way to earn money. Therefore, there are more monitors available with FreeSync support.
On the other hand, G-Sync has been around for a longer time and is also managed by Nvidia, the current leader in GPU manufacturing. That may prevent AMD lead on compatible monitors from spreading, but at this time it still has the advantage.
In most cases, you cannot mix and match the two technologies. While the monitors themselves will work regardless of the brand of the graphics card, the FreeSync and G-Sync functions specifically require an AMD and Nvidia GPU, respectively. You must choose whether you want to use Nvidia or AMD, and then buy a monitor accordingly.
If you are on the Nvidia route, the module on the monitor will handle much of the heavy work involved in adjusting the refresh rate. That will be reflected in the price you pay for the monitor, since each manufacturer has to pay Nvidia for the hardware. The good thing is that the technology has been available since early 2014, so it is available on monitors as cheap as $ 350, such as the.
The G-Sync module also makes most of the heavy lifting, so that while your monitor is compatible, you can use low-end cards. Nvidia lists the compatible options, ranging from Titan X and 1080 Ti to 1050, which sells for just $ 150.
You won't end up paying much more for a FreeSync monitor. There is no premium for the manufacturer to include it, unlike G-Sync. As such, FreeSync in the mid-hundreds often comes with a 1440p display and a 144Hz refresh rate (where there are no G-Sync counterparts), and monitors without those features can work as low as $ 160.  You also need a card that supports FreeSync, which has traditionally been just AMD and APU graphics cards and consoles such as the Xbox One, which uses an AMD APU. But that traditional separation between G-Sync and FreeSync has now become more blurred with Nvidia cards capable of supporting FreeSync. This is thanks to a driver update that allows GeForce GTX 10 series, GeForce GTX 16 series and GeForce RTX 20 series graphics cards to work with FreeSync monitors. It usually works, but there is one drawback: it is only guaranteed to work correctly on FreeSync monitors that are certified as "Nvidia G-Sync Compatible". This means that the cards have been rigorously tested and approved by Nvidia to ensure that FreeSync runs smoothly across the entire card range. Here is a current list of certified monitors.
Without any other components, you should expect to spend at least $ 450 on a G-Sync 1080p monitor and a GTX 1050 graphics card; much more if you want a configuration that can really handle 4K games. However, for a little less than $ 300, you can enter the FreeSync base compatibility level, with the VG245H mentioned above and a card like the Radeon RX 550 that will squeeze 1080p games with decent performance. The good news with AMD is that, up to the RX 580 (which is a great card for 1440p games), the price points are comparable to Nvidia cards. That means you can get an equally powerful GPU without the G-Sync premium.
Given the price gap, you may wonder why someone would prefer G-Sync. The answer is simple: it is superior. Nvidia's adaptive update technology only offers more consistent overall performance. It is also worth noting that, when it comes to high performance and 4K games, Nvidia video cards are currently the king of performance. Opting for FreeSync and, therefore, buying an AMD Radeon card, could mean buying hardware that offers less for your money.
Fortunately, the new G-Sync-compatible program offers buyers many new options. If you already have a Geforce GTX 10-series and higher card, you can buy a cheaper FreeSync monitor that is certified to work with your Nvidia card. After that, simply use this handy guide to activate G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor.
Ultimately, both technologies largely meet their objectives and offer a superior experience to V-Sync. Your choice will depend on whether you prefer the value or the first level gaming experience.