At CES 2019, NVIDIA announced that it finally supported FreeSync. Well, sort of-what the company actually announced was a "G-SYNC compatible" program. But the need is this: NVIDIA's cards and drivers now work with FreeSync monitors for adaptive synchronization.
The situation is a bit confusing. Let's fix it, shall we?
Adaptive Sync, FreeSync and G-SYNC
Adaptive Sync, often labeled as "FreeSync" by AMD and its partners, is a feature that lets a monitor pause its screen update until an entire animation frame is ready to load. This happens several times per second, faster or slower depending on how fast the computer and graphics card can make the frame. If the frame is slower than the screen refresh rate, it waits. This allows the movement of the game to remain smooth without tearing.
G-SYNC is the NVIDIA branding option for adaptive synchronization / FreeSync. Unlike FreeSync, which does not need any additional hardware, G-SYNC displays contain a small data module inside them to handle the synchronization of frames made by the GPU and displayed by the screen. This module is manufactured and supplied by NVIDIA to its hardware partners, so G-SYNC displays are almost universally more expensive than FreeSync displays.
Here is a more technical breakdown of G-SYNC and FreeSync.
But for several years, PC players with NVIDIA cards have lamented their lack of access to adaptive sync / FreeSync features on cheaper displays.
G-SYNC Versus G-SYNC Compatible
NVIDIA's new support for FreeSync displays is through a program called "G-SYNC Compatible." NVIDIA GPU now works with FreeSync displays with "G-SYNC Compatible" enabled in the configuration tool. Huzzahs and Hurray's around.
Now, NVIDIA makes it very clear that it thinks that the more expensive G-SYNC option, with NVIDIA hardware that drives both the GPU and the monitor, is the superior choice. But there are also some FreeSync monitors that it thinks are worth their G-SYNC blessing (if not the official branding). At CES, NVIDIA engineers told that they independently tested hundreds of FreeSync monitors and found that only twelve passed their meticulous panel quality, update consistency, color accuracy, and glove of other criteria. These twelve monitors are:
- Acer XV273K
- Acer XG270HU
- Agon AG241QG4
- AOC G2590FX
- Asus MG278Q
- Asus XG258
- Asus XG248
- Asus VG278Q
- BenQ XL2740
Although the specialized G-SYNC hardware in G-SYNC brand monitors is missing, these monitors will automatically have G-SYNC enabled in NIVIDA's driver if you connect them with adaptive sync activated by the monitor itself. It's FreeSync! Only called G-SYNC because you have an NVIDIA card.
This list will grow, as NVIDIA continues to test a wider range of game monitors. In fact, at least one FreeSync display that is not on the market, the new Razer Raptor, will be certified for G-SYNC before it is even released.
What happens if you have one of hundreds of FreeSync doesn't monitor the list above? Do not worry. While your monitor may not conform to NVIDIA's strict internal testing standards, you can still try it with the G-SYNC compatible program. You may see a noticeable improvement in game agility, with the adaptive synchronization feature eliminating demolition at lower rates. Check out the next section to see how.
How to enable G-SYNC compatible mode on any FreeSync monitor
Here's how to enable G-SYNC compatible mode if your screen is not NVIDIA certified:
- A FreeSync (adaptive synchronized) display
- An NVIDIA GTX or RTX graphics card (laptops with internal discrete cards are also good)
- A DisplayPort cable connecting them (Mini DisplayPort is good)
- ] NVIDIA GPU drivers, 417.71 or later
After confirming that your monitor is FreeSync compatible and you are using a DisplayPort cable, check the on-screen display menu. This is what you activate via the physical buttons on the screen. Enter the menu and verify that the Adaptive Sync or FreeSync function is enabled.
Now open NVIDIA Control Panel by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting "NVIDIA Control Panel."
You can also find a shortcut to the NVIDIA control panel on the Start menu or as an icon in the Windows Control Panel.
In the NVIDIA control panel, see "Installing G-SYNC" in the "Display" menu on the left. If you do not see "Setting up G-SYNC" as an option and you are sure it is enabled by your monitor, you may need to install drivers for your monitor manually.
In the Set Up G-SYNC screen, make sure the main screen is selected if you have more than one. Click the checkbox next to "Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible." Choose whether you want to activate it only for full screen mode or both window and full screen mode depending on how you view your games.
Click "Apply" to activate G-SYNC / FreeSync. You're good to go! Enjoy softer games in your favorite games. Note that some games may work better or worse, depending on whether you run them in full screen or windowed mode ("fullscreen windowed" counts as windowed for this purpose). You can come back and change that setting in the NVIDIA control panel if you have problems.