FreeSync vs. G-Sync

FreeSync vs. G-Sync 2022: Which Variable Refresh Tech Is Best?

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

For the past few years, the best gaming monitors (opens in new tab) have enjoyed something of a renaissance. Before Adaptive-Sync technology appeared in the form of Nvidia G-Sync (opens in new tab) and AMD FreeSync (opens in new tab), the only thing performance-seeking gamers could hope for was higher resolutions or a refresh rate above 60 Hz. Today, not only do we have monitors routinely operating at 144 Hz and higher, Nvidia and AMD have both been updating their respective technologies. In this age of gaming displays, which Adaptive-Sync tech reigns supreme in the battle between FreeSync vs. G-Sync?

We’ve also got next-generation graphics cards arriving, like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 and Ada Lovelace GPUs with DLSS 3 technology that can potentially double framerates, even at 4K. AMD’s RDNA 3 and Radeon RX 7000-series GPUs are also slated to arrive shortly, and should also boost performance and make higher quality displays more useful.

FreeSync vs. G-Sync

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

For the uninitiated, Adaptive-Sync means that the monitor’s refresh cycle is synced with the rate at which the connected PC’s graphics card (opens in new tab) renders each frame of video, even if that rate changes. Games render each frame sequentially, and the rate can vary widely depending on the complexity of the scene being rendered. With a fixed monitor refresh rate, the screen updates at a specific cadence, like 60 times per second for a 60 Hz display. What happens if a new frame is ready before the scheduled update?

There are a few options. One is to have the GPU and monitor wait to send the new frame to the display, which increases system latency and can make games feel less responsive. Another option is for the GPU to send the new frame to the monitor and let it immediately start drawing it onto the screen — this is called tearing and the result is shown in the above image.

G-Sync (for Nvidia-based GPUs) and FreeSync (AMD GPUs and potentially Intel GPUs as well) aim to solve the above problems, providing maximum performance, minimal latency, and no tearing. The GPU sends a “frame ready” signal to a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor, which draws the new frame and then awaits the next “frame ready” signal, thereby eliminating any tearing artifacts.

Today, you’ll find countless monitors — even non-gaming ones — boasting some flavor of G-Sync, FreeSync, or even both. If you haven’t committed to a graphics card technology yet or have the option to use either, you might be wondering which is best when considering FreeSync vs. G-Sync. And if you have the option of using either, will one offer a greater gaming advantage than the other? 

FreeSync vs. G-Sync

FreeSync FreeSync Premium FreeSync Premium Pro G-Sync G-Sync Ultimate G-Sync Compatibility 
No price premium No price premium No price premium HDR and extended color support Refresh rates of 144 Hz and higher Validated for artifact-free performance
Refresh rates of 60 Hz and higher Refresh rates of 120 Hz and higher Refresh rates of 120 Hz and higher Frame-doubling below 30 Hz to ensure Adaptive-Sync at all frame rates Factory-calibrated accurate SDR (sRGB) and HDR color (P3) gamut support G-Sync Compatible monitors also run FreeSync
Many FreeSync monitors can also run G-Sync Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) HDR and extended color support Ultra-low motion blur “Lifelike” HDR support
May have HDR support May have HDR support Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) Variable LCD overdrive
Many FreeSync Premium monitors can also run G-Sync with HDR No specified peak output, but most will deliver at least 600 nits Optimized latency
Many FreeSync Premium Pro monitors can also run G-Sync with HDR

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