Written by: Subhasish Adhikary

What is FreeSync, And How Does It Work?

For all those gamers out there, remember the phenomenon of screen tearing and stuttering while playing fast-paced games?

The reason for this is that when your monitor’s refresh rate is not as fast as the game’s frame, it leads to screen tearing and stuttering. This ruins the gaming experience. 

FreeSync was introduced in 2015 to avoid the screen tearing and stuttering hence making your gaming experience good.

This article talks about exactly what FreeSync is and how it works.

What is FreeSync?

FreeSync enables the AMD’s graphic cards and APUs to control the refresh rate of the monitor that’s been connected while playing.

Mostly the monitor’s refresh rate is set to 60Hz by default i.e. it refreshes 60 times per second.

Some monitors come with different frequencies like 75Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240 Hz times per second.

You may also like: Best 1440p & UHD computer gaming monitors

Why is FreeSync required?

The screen tearing occurs when the monitor’s refresh rate is not as fast as the GPU’s rendering rate.

This leads to ripping off the artifacts because the GPU then compiles the image of the different frames and so when the gamer moves horizontally it leads to the ‘ripping effect’.

Similarly, when the refresh rate is faster than the GPU’s rendering, it leads to a ‘stuttering’ effect.

Hence, both the monitor’s refresh rate and GPU need to be in sync. 

FreeSync allows the monitor to dynamically refresh the screen concerning the current game’s frame rate.

For example, if the frame rate of the game is 60 frames per second, the freeSync will dynamically set the screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz i.e. displaying 60 frames(image) per second.

If the GPU’s rendering speed drops and the game’s frame rate increases, then the monitor’s refresh rate is set accordingly, thus making the image rendering smooth.

What do you need to use FreeSync?

  • Compatible AMD graphic card, or
  • Integrated APU

Check for specifications that support freeSync before making the decision.

VSync vs GSync vs FreeSync

VSync vs GSync vs FreeSync
VSync vs GSync vs FreeSync

VSync:

VSync means Vertical Sync. As the name suggests, the major purpose of Vsync is to avoid vertical tearing of the screen.

Vsync forces the graphics hardware to be in sync with the frame rate and thus minimizes the screen tearing but in this process, it puts a lot of pressure on the GPU which decreases the performance.

So you won’t be able to reach the performance of your CPU when you use VSync.

Pros:

  • Minimizes screen tearing.
  • Less expensive as compared to FreeSync and GSync.

Cons:

  • Reduces CPU performance.
  • Introduces input lag while playing.
  • Not an excellent choice for games demanding a lower refresh rate.

FreeSync:

FreeSync does the exact opposite of GSync. It elegantly adjusts the display rate as per the CPU’s performance and it is done dynamically and so there is no performance pressure built on the

CPU and the user have a smooth gaming experience.

It forces the monitor to display the frames at the current rate until and unless it receives an updated refresh rate, thus it always displays the frames at the same rate as that outputted by the graphics, which minimizes screen tearing and stuttering.

Pros:

  • Minimizes screen tearing.
  • Minimizes screen stuttering.

Cons:

  • Requires AMD GPU to work and so the system has to be compatible with it. You cannot use Nvidia’s Graphic Card for the same.

GSync:

GSync works on the similar principle of FreeSync. It also adjusts the refresh rate of the screen in sync with GPU dynamically which minimizes screen tearing and stuttering.

The major difference between FreeSync and GSync is that GSync relies on Nvidia’s module which should come as a built-in display for it to function, whereas FreeSync uses VESA’s DisplayPort Adaptive Sync.

Pros:

  • Minimizes screen tearing.
  • Minimizes screen stuttering.

Cons:

  • Expensive as compared to FreeSync.
  • Most of the GSync compatible monitors do not support FreeSync and so the user is blocked to just use GSync which is more expensive than their FreeSync counterparts.

Types of FreeSync:

There are 2 types of FreeSync available:

FreeSync Premium: FreeSync in general avoids screen tearing, flickering, and input latency. FreeSync Premium provides an upper hand to it.

It makes sure that the monitor provides a 120Hz refresh rate or higher when the video’s resolution is 1080.

It also provides Low Frame Compensation(LFC) which enables the monitor to automatically display frames multiple times in case the game’s frame drops more than the monitor’s lowest refresh rate supported.

Therefore, maintaining smooth gameplay.

FreeSync Premium Pro: FreeSync Premium Pro is also known as FreeSync 2 HDR.

It provides low input latency by mapping the game’s display directly. It promises over 400 nits of brightness, and that too with HDR.

Just like FreeSync Premium, FreeSync Premium Pro also activates LFC automatically in the case when the game’s frame drops more than the monitor’s lowest refresh rate supported.

How does FreeSync improve the overall experience?

FreeSync, when enabled, allows you to sync your monitor’s refresh rate with GPU’s rendering rate.

For example, if you have a monitor with a refresh rate 144Hz, then it will allow you to refresh 144 frames per second.

If the rendering rate decreases less, then it will lead to stuttering and vice versa will lead to screen tearing.

But when you enable FreeSync, it dynamically manages the sync between the monitor’s refresh rate and GPU’s rendering rate, thus giving the user a smooth and seamless gaming experience.

It will not only avoid screen tearing and stuttering, but will also alleviate the gaming hours of the user.

In a nutshell, having a FreeSync solely depends on the purpose the monitor is bought for.

Purchasing FreeSync is considered good if you’re purchasing the monitor for gaming purposes.

It is at all required if you’re purchasing the monitor for casual surfing, reading, or binge-watching.

Also read: Best curved monitors with AMD FreeSync

Freesync as Fast As Possible

Some FAQs related to FreeSync

Should I use FreeSync?

FreeSync should be used by those who play complex PC games and have a graphic card which is compatible with FreeSync otherwise it is of no use.

If you’re someone who plays simple games like Original Half-Life, then FreeSync is not mandatory. It is also not required if your GPU outputs high frame rates consistently.

Do I need FreeSync for 144Hz?

Monitors with 144Hz refresh rates, one can hardly notice tearing in that case.

The lesser the refresh rate, the higher the tearing, and a monitor with 144Hz refresh rate is usually considered a high refresh rate.

FreeSync with 144Hz will make a difference for sure, but if you are trying to save some extra bucks, then you might skip investing in FreeSync for a 144Hz monitor.

Does FreeSync increase FPS?

FPS means frames per second. FreeSync does not increase the FPS, rather it provides a better and smooth transition from one frame to another, which makes the result look better.

The FreeSync is majorly designed to reduce stutter and screen tearing.

Is FreeSync automatically on?

While installing the FreeSync software you can configure the settings to automatically enable the FreeSync on the monitor while playing the game.

Does AMD FreeSync work with Nvidia GPU?

To use AMD FreeSync with an Nvidia GPU, follow the following steps:

1. Use on-screen controls to activate FreeSync on your display.
2. You’ll see Nvidia’s logo on the taskbar(of Windows 10). Right-click on the same.
3. Choose the Nvidia Control Panel and click on it.
4. Select the ‘Change Resolution’ option present in the left menu.
5. Select the highest refresh rate available for FreeSync for a monitor.
6. Select ‘Set-up GSync’ option present in the left menu.
7. Select ‘Enable GSync’ option present for FreeSync monitor.
8. Start with your game and make sure that there is no screen tearing.
Also, don’t forget to turn off VSync to avoid performance minimization.

Is FreeSync good with Nvidia?

There are few Nvidia GSync monitors available that are compatible with AMD FreeSync.

Apart from the monitors that are announced officially that they support the Nvidia GSync, the other FreeSync monitors might support GSync partly or completely.

So if your monitor is the one that’s officially announced that it is compatible, then FreeSync is good with Nvidia else you’ll face flickering for sure and that’s not recommended.

For nerds: What is monitor response time? Fully explained.

References:

https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/what-is-freesync/

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-freesync-monitor-glossary-definition-explained,6009.html

https://www.amd.com/en/technologies/free-sync-faq

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Subhasish Adhikary

I'm constantly in search of the latest gadgets & technology news that I can share with you. In my meantime, I blog on topics ranging from digital marketing, online business, startups to tech gadgets.

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