G-Sync And FreeSync Monitors: The Ultimate Guide
Serious gamers need the best monitors.
The best gaming experience requires the best visual effects from displays.
As a gamer, you will notice immediately some changes as soon as some monkey business starts appearing on your monitor. That is the time all Adrenalin skyrockets giving you a high sense of rage.
But we all don’t want that. For multiple gamers, I mean, those who share a monitor, the Adrenalin may be part of the game but most importantly, enjoyment is very key.
So, if you are going to get yourself a monitor, then you should choose wisely. In every sense, the game should not only be satisfactory but superb.
Now, that is the thinking of a serious gamer.
Today, I am going to take you through two of the best gaming monitors in the market. G-Sync and FreeSync. What makes which supersede the other?
What features make them unique? What advantages do I, as a gamer expect? Is there a need to change my current monitor?
Well, the list of questions is endless. But for all gamers’ sake, I am going to answer every question comprehensively.
First, by looking at G-Sync monitors and their features, then the following suit with Free-Sync.
If you are new in gaming, don’t worry, the language here is quite simple like we are buddies. So, you can pick more tips on how to have the best gaming experience.
Monitors form the interface to your game. Any monitor or for this case, a gaming monitor, is directly linked with the graphics card and the graphics processing unit.
The rate at which the graphics card renders video to the monitor must be manageable by the monitor itself. Otherwise, you will end up with a scenario called screen tearing.
Ever noticed the way some displays on your screen have blurriness along the edges as if you were imposing a shear matrix on it.
Don’t think hard, a shear matrix separates your image into two overlapping parts. This causes you not to see the whole image as it should be.
This is screen tearing. As a gamer, you know irritating this can be. Screen tearing is caused by the monitor’s inability to match the streaming of video from the graphics card.
The graphics card may be processing video signals too fast, at a rate which the monitor cannot handle.
The rate at which a monitor responds to the video signals from the graphics card is called the refresh rate. This determines how fast your monitors is. The measure is always in Hz.
The highest refresh rate currently stands at 244Hz.
Ranging from 0 to 244Hz, you can choose a refresh rate you are comfortable with. Of course, not everyone can keep up with the supersonic speeds of racing games.
Some need the slow pacing movement of a game like Euro Truck, which is just a long distance truck moving a speed slightly faster than that of a tortoise. You do realize that every gamer needs his own speed.
Enough said, let us now delve deep into G-Sync monitors and see what they have in store for us.
It is convincing enough or probably is better off sticking to old monitor? Well, the answer is not mine to tell, however, the next section effectively answers that.
As earlier pointed out, this is one of the highest performing monitors. It seems NVidia, the company that makes GSync, did quite a lot on this monitor.
This monitor is meant to overcome the challenges of one, V-Sync monitor which was very prone to screen tearing and had high latency. Having defined screen tearing, what is latency?
Latency is the amount of delay, usually time taken for images to refresh on your monitor. So, now you can guess what high latency means for a gamer.
In order to beat screen tearing, G-Sync by NVidia tries to manipulate the monitor to compete with the graphics card. Of course, the graphical processing unit is also a factor, but we don’t want to get into that much detail.
By controlling the display, we can match the speed of our graphics card. So one might ask, how do we control our display?
You see frame rates for older monitors tend to be constant. This means that if you update your graphics card to improve on your display, the effective change might not be noticeable.
With G-Sync, the refresh rates are dynamically changed to match the input signal from the graphics card, this maintains a high stream of data onto your display without any discrepancies.
Now, let’s take a look at additional features of G- Sync.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
We want displays that feel real, something closer to the human eye experience. For the serious gamer graphics design is a compulsory requirement.
But you do realize that most gaming companies use the latest cutting-edge technologies to develop their games.
The market is too competitive to waste resources with shitty graphics. Does this mean that you are assured of high-quality graphics despite your monitor? A big no.
Monitors sometimes determine how games will display. If you are having a bad gaming experience, first check the game’s specifications against the monitor’s specifications.
HDR G-Sync monitor gives you an experience closer to the human eye experience or even better.
It has a wide range of luminance to cater to the various dynamics of the human eye. The measure of luminance stands at 1000 nits. Serious gamers know very well what this means.
It uses a DCI P3 color gamut. The color gamut is just the range of colors that can be displayed on printed on a monitor or paper respectively.
The former is our concern.
The luminance and the gamut of color define the dynamic range or a monitor. G-Sync, therefore, assures you of a high dynamic range, a closer to real experience with your gaming. This should mean a lot to you as a PC or a laptop gamer.
Optimized Refresh Rate
Well, we have been talking about refresh rates since we set off on monitors. While refresh rates are directly proportional to the frames rates of a GPU, something can be done to match it to that of the GPU.
So, instead of depending on the monitor to match the frame rates of the GPU, we just make the monitor as competitive as the GPU.
G-Sync monitors support the changing of refresh rates from zero to maximum which is well supported by Liquid Crystal Displays.
What does this mean to the gamer? We are looking at no screen tearing, no stuttering, yes your images won’t flicker on your screen as if there were a power surge. This infers continuous streaming of video signals from the GPU without awkward stops along the way.
NVidia G-Sync monitors have implemented perfection when it comes to gaming refresh rates, giving you the best gaming experience.
Unrivaled Image Quality
It seems quality is the middle name for NVidia G-Sync monitors. No gamer wants to compromise when it comes to the quality of the image on the screen.
Yes, even the most minute details should be displayed in a high definitive manner.
Gamers are winners and winners want quality. So how does G-Sync do it? How does it ensure quality?
G-Sync predicts the frames in advance. As such, it uses something like a buffer memory that is created as your images and video stream onto your display. This way you can never realize any latencies while gaming.
This also helps to eliminate what we call ghosting artifacts where a display may show non- consistent images. Like for example skipping some sections or hanging for that matter.
Also, the very wide color gamut for G-Sync monitors gives it the unrivaled image quality we are talking about.
Any serious gamer would notice any foul play when it comes to the quality of images on monitors.
As I had earlier pointed out, while the performance of a game may be dependent on the game itself, monitors also play a big role in determining performance. G-Sync monitors boast of superior performance in the monitors market.
With a G-Sync monitor, any lagging effects on quality would be blamed on the graphics card, GPU or the game itself. I mean that this monitor has all its technical details worked out. What you need is to bring the game on.
How does superior performance come about? First, let us bank on the refresh rates, from 0 to 244 Hz.
This is a winner for sure. Secondly, for high response gaming, where changes occur in the twinkle of an eye, like say car racing, G-Sync monitors provide low latency. This is not the same as no latency.
Of course, latencies will be there but they will be too insignificant to notice. Now, that is a superior performance.
What are the advantages of G-Sync monitors?
Having looked at quality aspects of G-Sync monitors, it would be appropriate to condense such aspects so you would have a quicker view of what monitor you are getting.
Here are some advantages of the G-Sync monitors:
i). Optimal brightness: As a gamer, you want optimal brightness, not some exaggerated brightness levels. Like, let’s say, a blonde avatar in your game appearing too blonde.
HDR G-Sync monitors tackle this well.
ii). The wide color gamut gives the widest color range that almost matches your human eye capability to identify the color.
iii). High level of synchronization between your keyboard actions and your display. A serious gamer would envy this.
iv). Lastly, the high refresh rates. These do the magic. G-Sync monitors have high-speed panels running at refresh rates of 75 to 244 Hz. How much would a gamer ever ask for?
Having dissected the dynamics of G-Sync by NVidia, it is high time we looked at a closer competitor, Free- Sync by AMD.
But before we go further, I want to set some level ground. AMD has two versions of its Free Sync monitors. That is Free sync and Free Sync 2.
Free Sync 2 is more advanced than Free-Sync. For comparative purposes, I will use Free Sync 2. It is only appropriate because only Free- Sync 2 can compete with G-Sync on a higher level.
Free sync monitors were developed to overcome the insufficiency of VSync. VSync on and off settings set the ground for problems that revolve around stuttering, screen tearing and input lags.
VSync on will give you screen tearing while VSync off gives you an input lag and stuttering.
So, what is input lag? One might ask. You see, when the graphics card renders images at a frame rate greater than the refresh rate of the monitor, there results in some latency in between.
As such, images may be produced inconsistently on the screen. This is input lag. How worse could it ever get with VSync? That is where G-Sync and Free-Sync step in.
In the next section, we take a look at the key features of freesync monitors and what makes them worth incorporating in your gaming experience.
1. Low Framerate Compensation
One feature of Free Sync monitors is the narrow range of refresh rates of its monitors. I think AMD does this with a more specific approach to developing monitors for individual gaming environments.
Free Sync monitors fall at refresh rates ranging from 48-75 Hz or 40-75Hz. In order to compensate for this low refresh rate, AMD introduces the LFC technology.
How does LFC work?
The basic rule is that as long as the refresh rate of the monitor falls in the range of freesync refresh rates, you are free from stuttering and tearing.
So, LFC doubles the refresh rate any time it falls below the lower limit of Free sync’s refresh rates. For instance, let’s assume we are using 48 – 75Hz.
Suppose the graphics card renders the content at a frame rate that supersedes the range, LFC doubles the refresh every time the refresh rate falls below 48Hz.
2. Automatic Mode Switching
You recall HDR from G-Sync. Well, Free Sync implements that whole idea of HDR quite differently.
Free Sync monitors only switch to HDR mode only when there is compatible HDR content. So what is the difference between this and G-Sync? G-Sync uses a full HDR mode.
Actually, there are G-Sync monitors specifically dedicated to HDR rendering. HDR mode means more a wide color gamut, higher brightness, and superior performance.
This will work for any gaming PC or laptop, so long as you are running on a windows platform. Free-Sync auto mode switching is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1 or 7.
3. Open Standard
One outstanding feature of Free-Sync, the predecessor of Free-Sync 2 is its ability to be implemented by any manufacturer or display controllers. This seems to be a feature retained in Free-Sync 2.
This means that with Free Sync monitors, you don’t need special hardware to implement. It works absolutely well with any gaming machine. The same cannot be said of NVidia’s G-Sync.
Free-Sync 2 gives an opportunity to every gamer to enjoy high-quality display without having to feel the pinch in the pocket. Anyway, you never know how far some gamers go to get the thrill.
Costs may come later. The open implementation Free-Sync monitors is surely a plus in the gaming arena.
4. Low Input Lag
Input lag is the delay caused by delays between a monitor’s refresh rate and the graphics card’s frame rates. Free Sync has the ability to deal with this delay giving you uninterrupted gaming action.
No gamer wants to wait while the monitor is loading something in the middle of the game, it irritates badly. The inclusion of HDR in Free-Sync monitor design contributed to this lag at some level.
This is because the monitor was not able to cope with the rate at which wide color gamut images were being produced by the graphics processor.
So, how does Free-Sync 2 handle this issue? In Free-Sync 2, tone mapping is transferred to the graphics processor. This now relieves the display of such processing leaving it with the intended function, that is, display.
This technique works thoroughly on the input lag, hence eliminating it. You can, therefore, enjoy 24/7 uninterrupted gaming in the comfort of your home.
The scraping off of latencies makes Free-Sync 2 a worthy competitor to technologies like GSync. The battlefield just got hotter.
Advantages of Free Sync
If we are going to compare Free-Sync and G-Sync, then it is only fair that we look at the advantages of both. The latter we have tackled. Here are some advantages of Free Sync.
i). With Free Sync monitors, you incur no extra costs at acquisition. This means that you only need to acquire display for your game. With GSync, you need a special NVidia Hardware which should interface well with the GSync monitor.
This creates a need for extra costs. Anyway, for the serious or commercial gamer, this would not be a problem, since we are looking for the best gaming experience, costs aside.
ii). Free-Sync works with both HDM1 and Display ports. This gives you a contingency in case of failure of either component.
iii). Free Sync uses a wider RGB color gamut which is a standard for most gaming PCs and laptops. You need not to be worried about compatibility issues.
iv). The variable refresh rates provided by Free-Sync helps to deal with the problem of VSync. This is also an advantage of G-Sync.
G-Sync Vs Free-Sync
I believe that you now have substantial knowledge that will help you determine which display is the best for you.
Serious gamers know what they are looking for, but sometimes it is quite a hard task choosing which monitor to use for your gaming.
In terms of cost, Free Sync Monitors carry the day. The elimination of extra hardware costs is something an economist gamer cannot fail to notice.
However, for the serious, down to earth gamer, the cost of G-Sync would not be a problem given the optimization and synchronization of gaming functionalities.
In terms of performance, G-Sync monitors would carry the day. It is a fact that NVidia’s G-Sync offers better quality when it comes to rendering images and videos on displays. GSync has way too many defined means of producing quality than Free-Sync.
Free-Sync 2 being an open standard gives it an edge over GSync. The fact that any manufacturer can use Free Sync tech on their display controllers is something we can’t just rub this off, this gives Free Sync 2 a wider platform for implementation.
NVidia’s G-Sync can be quoted as a “mean technology” due to the high level of specificity.
Is this a bad thing? Maybe yes or no, because while such a feature makes it difficult to implement GSync, it also gives it some uniqueness in the market which is actually good for NVidia.
Otherwise, all other factors remaining constant, G-Sync and Free-Sync attempt to solve the same problem, screen tearing and stuttering as witnessed in VSync.
These are two revolutionary technologies that set the standards when it comes to monitors in the gaming world. Every gamer wants to have the best gaming experience, but are you ready to compromise?
For commercial gamers, cost should not be a factor compared to performance.
A high performing gaming environment gives you a good return on investments. So, for this, I would advise you to go with G-Sync. For the home gamer, you could compromise on cost and go for Free-Sync.
Monitors are the face of gaming and will remain so in the years to come. They impose an abstraction on the gaming machine.
As such, the quality of the game stored on the machine is only visible through the monitor.
Graphics cards and Graphical processing units also matter as these define the performance metrics of the games.
The most important performance metric is speed, which is a function of the frame rate of the graphics card and the refresh rate of the monitor.
Better technologies will always keep arising. But until those technologies come, let gamers embrace the present standards instead of sitting idle while waiting for the better ones.
Become a better gamer today by choosing NVidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s Free-Sync. The choice is yours.