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What is AMD FreeSync and How Does It Improve Gaming?

What is AMD FreeSync and How Does It Improve Gaming?

Michelle Wilson
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As a gamer, a great visual experience is essential so you can totally immerse yourself in the world of your game. If there’s anything wrong with the display it immediately takes you out of the game world, distracting you from beating a boss or seeing an enemy.

Great gaming takes more than a great monitor

More than a mouse, a keyboard, or sound system, the display is the key to premium gaming. And even if you have a great gaming monitor, you might not be getting the most out of it if you’re experiencing inferior visual performance.

Screen tearing

One of the biggest issues that gamers experience playing the latest triple-A (AAA) game is screen tearing. It’s a visual artifact that occurs when the frames displayed during gameplay appear to be halved and don’t match up.
In some severe screen tearing cases, the frame may be split up even more. It’s impossible to focus on your next mission when you can’t see properly, so this presents a serious problem for gamers from amateurs to professionals.

Screen lagging

Standard monitors generally have a 60 Hz refresh rate, which means 60 frames can be displayed per second. [1]
A very fast gaming PC, on the other hand, can have an even faster refresh rate. If the frames start appearing faster than the monitor can refresh, your display may show visuals that contain more than one frame.

Screen stuttering

Another common issue is “stuttering” where visuals appear to stutter due to a multi-GPU setup thanks to frames coming in on an uneven timeline. So, how do you solve these issues? One way is by utilizing AMD FreeSync which helps to solve an inconsistent visual experience.

What is AMD FreeSync?

So what is FreeSync? The short answer: AMD FreeSync technology gives gamers dynamic, adaptive refresh rates. [2]
Okay, but then this begs the question what are dynamic refresh rates?
A monitor with this technology enabled synchronizes its refresh rate to the frame rate of a user’s GPU to reduce input latency and diminish screen tearing during gaming and video streaming. In layman’s terms: the monitor refreshes dynamically based on how your graphics card is performing.
When FreeSync is used, the monitor will refresh in conjunction with the game being played, up to its highest possible refresh rate (75 Hz).

For example:

  • If your GPU is at 50 FPS, AMD FreeSync technology will match it at 50 Hz
  • If your GPU is at 60 FPS, AMD FreeSync technology will match it at 60 Hz
Generally, AMD FreeSync works within a 48 to75 Hz window [3]. So, if you’re playing a game with 100 to 200 fps, you won’t see the benefits of AMD FreeSync because you’re not within the sweet spot or window for smooth gameplay.

FreeSync versus G-Sync

When you start looking into adaptive sync technology, the other major player in the game is NVIDIA G-Sync.
NVIDIA was actually the first to market its own dynamic refresh rate technology when they partnered with Asus, Acer, and AOC for its release. For a monitor to be G-Sync compatible, it must have G-Sync specific hardware that tends to be expensive and adds to the overall cost of the system.
G-Sync displays need an NVIDIA G-Sync scaler module for it to work. To use FreeSync, monitor manufacturers are able to use a scaler module from whichever manufacturers make hardware that is compatible with AMD FreeSync. [4]

AMD FreeSync features:

  • Uses an open standard called adaptive sync (DisplayPort1.2a) so any manufacturer can use it
  • The open standard configuration keeps monitor costs low
  • No license cost

NVIDIA G-Sync features:

  • Requires G-Sync module
  • Closed-off design
  • Module costs money
  • Higher monitor cost compared to FreeSync

Key advantages of AMD FreeSync over NVIDIA G-Sync:

  • No licensing fees
  • No manufacturer-specific hardware
  • No communication overhead
  • G-Sync monitors tend to be paired with pricier PC gaming systems
  • More choices for monitors

Does FreeSync work with NVIDIA?

If you have an NVIDIA GPU, FreeSync will not be compatible with it. You can only use an NVIDIA GPU with NVIDIA G-Sync.

Is FreeSync worth it?

If you already have an AMD card, it’s worth it to get a FreeSync monitor. In addition, if you play graphics-intensive games that stress your GPU such as any AAA game, AMD FreeSync is probably worth it. Especially if you’re in a 48 to 75 frames per second range.

Range limitation

As PCWorld notes, there are some drawbacks to FreeSync you should be aware of as you shop for monitors. Although, on the whole, it’s a great choice as far as adaptive sync technology is concerned, the main drawback is that the FreeSync’s limitation range of 48 to 75 Hz means there are only certain monitors that fit those specific parameters.
It can be hard to figure this out. However, if you go on AMD’s website, you can find a helpful chart of monitors that are compatible.

LFC

AMD recently created a feature called Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) and added it to their FreeSync technology. What does LFC do, exactly?
It helps strengthen FreeSync monitors’ performance when they’re under their minimum refresh rate (for example, 48 FPS). Monitors enabled with LFC duplicate frames if rates are out of the FreeSync range. [5]
What does this mean in a real gameplay situation? If your GPU is pushing out 30 FPS, LFC is able to duplicate frames and runs the display at 60 Hz so you can still enjoy smooth visuals [6]. It’s a great feature for gamers who are looking to maximize their PC gaming experience.

AMD FreeSync: elevate your gaming, one frame at a time

If you’re looking for a smooth gaming experience, AMD FreeSync may be the solution. There are few things more irritating than constant stuttering and screen tearing when your GPU and refresh rate aren’t quite synced up.
With AMD FreeSync technology, you can fully immerse yourself in your game, without any jarring visual artifacts to distract you from your main objectives.
Say goodbye to frustrating, sub-par gaming and step into a visual experience so good, you might just forget about the real world altogether.

About the Author

Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.

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