FreeSync vs G-Sync: Full Comparison

FreeSync vs G-Sync: The Key Differences Explained

As display technology continues to advance and monitors having refresh rates of 100Hz or more are becoming more common, consumers are looking for peak performance. Furthermore, users want to avoid problems with synchronizing their monitor refresh rates with the number of frames rendered by their video cards.

This is where Adaptive-Sync technology comes in. The two mainstream solutions on the market that provide this are G-Sync from Nvidia and AMD’s FreeSync. Both technologies perform the same essential function, but there are some notable differences between the two. This comparison guide will provide details about both of these technologies to help you decide which one is best for you.

FreeSync vs G-Sync: Side by Side Comparison

FreeSyncG-Sync
Product launch date20142013
Permission requirementFreeSync is an open standard, meaning that any company can use the technology to develop products without permission.Companies need permission from Nvidia to use G-Sync to develop products.
Maximum refresh rate support120 Hz refresh rate or higher with FreeSync Premium Pro144 Hz refresh rate or higher with G-Sync Ultimate
Proprietary hardwareMonitors with FreeSync do not require proprietary hardware components to run the technology.G-Sync monitors require a proprietary component to support the technology.
HDR supportFreeSync certification does not guarantee HDR high dynamic range color supportG-Sync monitors are required to have HDR to be certified by Nvidia
Minimum refresh rate support60 Hz30 Hz
FreeSync vs G-Sync
Samsung and AMD Announce FreeSync UHD Monitor Partnership

FreeSync vs G-Sync: 5 Must Know Facts

  • G-Sync monitors tend to cost more than their FreeSync counterparts due to the need for proprietary components in the display to enable the technology.
  • Most G-Sync monitors can run FreeSync technology, but FreeSync monitors don’t support G-Sync proprietary hardware.
  • All monitors certified for G-Sync support High Dynamic Range (HDR) color. The same is not always true for FreeSync monitors.
  • The open-source nature of FreeSync and its implementation via DisplayPort and HDMI 1.4 enables most new monitors to support Adaptive-Sync technology.
  • FreeSync monitors are more common and tend to be less expensive, but G-Sync certification has higher quality standards that could be more attractive for consumers looking for high-end displays.

Distinct Features of G-Sync

Monitors that support G-Sync require a proprietary hardware component, which increases the cost of these monitors compared to similar ones that support FreeSync. However, G-Sync monitors are also compatible with FreeSync. Many FreeSync monitors are certified to perform within Nvidia’s standards, and customers can find models of certified monitors on the Nvidia website.

One distinctive feature with G-Sync is a blur reduction technology called ULMB that uses a backlight strobe. This feature can be enabled in place of Adaptive-Sync, but, at frame rates over 100Hz, blur doesn’t usually cause any issues. When monitors are running at 30Hz or lower, G-Sync doubles the number of frames that are rendered by the video card to maintain compatibility with the technology.

Distinct Features of FreeSync

The open-source nature of FreeSync usually provides a more attractive price compared to monitors that support G-Sync. One reason for this is that FreeSync uses the VESA standard that enables Adaptive-Sync on DisplayPort or HDMI 1.4 interfaces. One possible downside to this is that, with so many monitors capable of using FreeSync, the quality standards are less rigorous, which means that some of these monitors could have lower refresh rates that are not ideal for certain types of gaming.

Performance

Both technologies are capable of making gameplay render more smoothly, preventing screen tearing and decreasing reaction time between controller input and what is viewed on the screen. The main difference between the two is that Nvidia’s technology is proprietary and is implemented with a built-in chip. FreeSync uses the Adaptive-Sync technology that is included in the DisplayPort component, which is a connection port that most newer computer monitors provide.

Because of this difference, some consumers have noticed a greater tendency for FreeSync monitors to cause “ghosting,” which means that shadow images of objects remain on their original location of the screen after they have moved or gone away. When frame rendering drops below the monitor’s minimum refresh rate, both FreeSync and G-Sync sometimes have some problems with stuttering. In most side-by-side comparisons, consumers tend to notice less stuttering with G-Sync.

FreeSync vs G-Sync
Powerful Personal Computer Gamer Rig with First-Person Shooter Game on Screen. Gamers who want the most competitive edge at 144 Hz might feel the need for a G-Sync display.

Certification versions

FreeSync and G-Sync both have varying levels of performance certification that promise different performance specifications for refresh rate, color range, latency values and other factors. FreeSync has three certification categories for monitor performance labeled as “FreeSync,” “FreeSync Premium” and “FreeSync Premium Pro.” G-Sync monitor certifications come in “G-Sync” and “G-Sync Ultimate.”

Vanilla FreeSync certification supports a minimum of 60 Hz refresh rate and not all monitors with the certification have HDR. Monitors with FreeSync Premium certification can support refresh rates over 120 HZ. With FreeSync Premium Pro, HDR and extended color are supported, and low framerate compensation (LFC) helps prevent stuttering.

The base certification of G-Sync guarantees HDR, frame doubling at refresh rates below 30 HZ and “Ultra-low motion blur.” G-Sync Ultimate guarantees refresh rates of 144 Hz or higher, accurate calibrated color, lifelike HDR, optimized latency and variable LCD overdrive.

FreeSync vs G-Sync: Which one should you choose?

Both technologies perform similarly when gaming at common refresh rates. AMD FreeSync offers an advantage for budget-conscious consumers who don’t want to pay the extra price for proprietary Nvidia hardware components in monitors. At the high-end of product offerings, Nvidia G-Sync supports refresh rates higher than monitors using FreeSync. Gamers who want the most competitive edge at 144 Hz might feel the need for a G-Sync display. Most consumers will probably find a better value overall with FreeSync between the 60 to 100 refresh rate range.

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