Isn’t it upsetting to see the effect of screen tearing while gaming? So, what to choose to stop it, Nvidia’s G-Sync vs AMD’s Free-Sync? Let’s figure that out in this guide. F

The screen tearing occurs when the monitor’s refresh rate isn’t in sync with the GPU’s frames per second(fps). It is like a horizontal line making one part of the screen ahead of the other. We usually use V-sync to avoid this effect. 

V-sync and the problems with it:

V-sync or Vertical sync is a software syncing technology for GPUs, monitors, etc. When the system is out of sync, it limits the fps until the monitor’s new refreshing rate is updated. This works well only in systems with or below a 60Hz refreshing rate. Besides, V-sync cannot improve your system’s resolution, HDR effect, or colors. In some monitors, it even creates input lag and stuttering.

So, considering the potential of V-sync, both Nvidia and AMD have come up with a new solution to this problem. They created G-sync and Free-sync based on adaptive refreshing technology. And the general word goes like this:- If you have an AMD GPU, go for Free-sync. If you have an Nvidia GPU, use G-sync. 

But before choosing what to buy, let’s understand what they are and the important features of them. 

What are G-sync and Free-sync monitors?

Nvidia was the first one to propose the solution to screen tearing. It works by inserting the external built-in chip, replacing the standard scaler modules. This was implemented as G-sync, working for Nvidia’s GPU. So, you can use this monitor only for the Nvidia-equipped system. 

AMD Free sync is Nvidia’s rivalry’s solution to the same problem. It uses video card functionality to manage the refresh rate by connecting Adaptive sync to DisplayPort standard. Since it doesn’t use any external hardware like Nvidia, it is cost-effective. You can use Free-sync if you have an AMD Radeon-equipped system. Moreover, X box One X and X box One S users can also enjoy the benefits of AMD Free-sync technology. 

Implementation: 

Since Free-sync doesn’t need expensive proprietary hardware, it works on regular off-the-shelf components. This helps manufacturers to easily adapt to existing hardware. Indeed, the entire implementation of Free-sync is in the hands of the manufacturer. This means that it has a narrow range of refreshing rates, usually set by the manufacturer. Hence, reducing the usefulness of it. 

Unlike Free-sync, G-sync comes with variable refreshing rates. It is likely to perform below the stated minimum refresh rate. Thus, it can function even at 30Hz, providing Low frame rate compensation(LFC).

Nvidia’s G-Sync vs AMD’s Free-Sync

AMD’s Free-Sync

Nvidia's G-Sync vs AMD's Free-Sync

Nvidia’s G-Sync

In short, AMD Free-sync:

  • Doesn’t need expensive hardware proprietary.
  • Narrow refreshing rates, decided by the manufacturer.
  • Affordable device certified under VESA Adaptive-Sync.

Nvidia G-sync:

  • Requires external hardware proprietary.
  • Variable refreshing rates, operating down to 30Hz.
  • More expensive due to external hardware setup. 

Performance:

The main function of Free-sync and G-sync is to provide smooth gameplay, reduce input lag, and prevent screen tearing. However, they take different methods to fulfill these requirements. Thus, exhibiting different performance levels. 

They both are hardware technologies and struggle with low inconsistent refresh rates. Free-sync shows effects like stuttering and input lag when the monitor drops below the standard minimum refresh rate. G-sync, on the flip side, exhibits flickering at low refresh rates. However, Nvidia is trying its best to reduce this effect. 

Free-sync has an additional drawback over G-sync. Though it prevents screen tearing, a new effect called ghosting is observed by its users. A shadowy image occupies the screen whenever the image is rendered. This annoys many users.

Ghosting occurs due to an imbalance between adaptive refresh technology and power distribution. When there’s too much power, the screen leaves with the shadow. However, G-sync doesn’t show this effect as it requires less power to run its PC. 

In short, AMD Free-sync:

  • Displays Stuttering at low inconsistent refresh rates.
  • Exhibits Ghosting.

Nvidia’s G-sync:

  • Exhibits flickering at low inconsistent refresh rates.
  • No ghosting is detected.

Connectivity and Input Lag:

As mentioned earlier, V-sync prevents screen tearing but produces input lag. So, G-sync/Free-sync monitors also work to keep this effect as minimum as possible. Though this effect still exists in the system, it’s nowhere as bad as with V-sync. On comparing side by side, we can say that G-sync provides low input lag than a Free-sync monitor. Not to say that Free-sync will have high input lag effects, but you have to check for reviews before the purchase. 

Free-sync has an advantage over G-sync when connectivity is concerned. It can work over HDMI, in addition to the display port standard. Plus, it has multi-input functionality depending on the manufacturer’s design. On the flip side, G-sync can hardly support 2 or 3 inputs, depending on the generation. It works mostly with Display ports. However, newer versions are coming up with a feature to support HDMI, along with Display ports. 

In short, AMD’s Free sync:

  • Supports Multi-input facility.
  • Manufacturer decides the extent of input lag.
  • Works over HDMI, in addition to display ports.

Nvidia’s G-sync:

  • Can support only 1-2 inputs.
  • Guarantees low input lag.
  • Generally works over Display ports. 

Premium Flavors:

The standard G-sync and Free-sync offer most of the desirable factors for gamers. But, upon user’s demand, these come up in the form of Premium versions too. 

AMD Premium options include:

Free-sync Premium:

Free-sync Premium focuses on giving at least 120Hz and above refresh rate at FHD resolution. It is also capable of producing LFC- a frame doubling feature when the monitor falls below its refresh rate. Besides, it produces the effects of standard Free-sync such as Low flicker, low latency, and tear-free display. 

Free-sync Premium Pro: 

Free-sync Premium Pro, alternatively known as Free-Sync 2 HDR, is specially designed for HDR contrast. The monitor must at least guarantee 400 nits of brightness for HDR, along with all the benefits of Free-sync Premium. 

Nvidia Premium options include:

G-Sync Ultimate:

These monitors contain a screen of 27 to 65 inches. Its main focus is to provide HDR content and low latency. Thus, produces the best HDR quality with certified over 300+ tests. It used to demand a minimum brightness of 1000 nits, but that was recently reduced to around 400 nits. 

G-sync compatible Free-sync Monitors:

In 2019, Nvidia has announced a list of AMD Free-sync monitors that can run with Nvidia graphics cards. Nvidia tested these cards strictly before confirming this.

But for this, you must connect the monitor via display port. It won’t work over HDMI. Also, you cannot use G-sync and HDR at the same time on a Free-sync monitor. Thus, it’s not useful to connect Nvidia’s card to Free-sync 2 HDR monitor. Even it doesn’t support overdrive at variable refresh rates in this mode of gaming. So you might see a bit of motion blur while gaming.

Hence, you have to give up on HDR and overdrive if you want to run a G-sync compatible Free-sync monitor. 

Advantages of G-sync:

  1. Nvidia produces ULMB( Ultra Low Motion Blur), which enhances motion clarity. This feature cannot be experienced on a Free-sync monitor. 
  2. Another impressive feature of Nvidia is Variable Overdrive. It adjusts the overdrive algorithm based on the current displayed frame rate. Thus, controlling the refresh rate and reducing motion blur. While it’s a great feature on G-sync, it can’t be found on Free-sync monitors. 
  3. It supports a variable refresh rate from 1240Hz or whatever the monitor’s maximum refresh rate is 

Advantages of Free-sync:

  1. No premiums added on licensing, to display OEMs( Original Equipment Manufacturer) for adoption, and expensive proprietary hardware. Thus, it is more affordable than its counterpart Nvidia G-sync.
  2. It supports HDMI, along with Display ports, since long before HDMI 2.1 and HDMI VRR were adopted.
  3. Free-sync monitors work on all AMD cards and some Nvidia cards too.

Conclusion:

Thus, you can see that both G-sync and Free-sync come up with amazing features to improve your gaming levels. So, you can pick the one which suits your needs best. If you already have a good graphics card, then go with your GPU compatibility.

If not, you can go for Nvidia or AMD depending on your budget. G-sync costs a bit higher than Free-sync but it has more options to play with. Unfortunately, these are not in shortage and so, the prices are in the hike. So, if you want to save some money, Free-sync monitors or Free-sync supported GPUs cost a bit less, on average.