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As TFT Central reports, NVIDIA will open G-Sync for AMD graphics cards and game consoles, by adding Adaptive Sync and HDMI-VRR support to their G-Sync modules. This would potentially allow any device supporting these technologies to enable variable refresh rate switching on future G-Sync monitors.

NVIDIA will allow AMD GPUs to use G-Sync
NVIDIA is planning to release an updated firmware for its G-Sync modules that will enable other variable refresh technologies such as AMD’s FreeSync and Adaptive Sync.

Up until about a year ago, if you wanted to use variable refresh rates (VRR) on your gaming monitor, you had exactly one choice: If you had an AMD graphics card, you had to buy an AMD FreeSync monitor. Or, if you had an NVIDIA GPU, you had to buy a G-Sync monitor. There was no going around that. But then in January 2019, NVIDIA — out of the blue — announced a “G-Sync Compatible” mode for their GeForce cards. After many years of users asking for it, NVIDIA finally made their cards compatible with the VESA Adaptive Sync standard, which — in a nutshell — is AMD FreeSync. This allowed owners of NVIDIA cards to enable VRR on AMD FreeSync monitors. Happy days.

There was still one caveat though. While NVIDIA GPU owners were now able to utilize AMD FreeSync monitors — which are usually cheaper than G-Sync monitors — owners of AMD cards still only had one option: FreeSync monitors. And that’s exactly what NVIDIA is addressing now: NVIDIA will add support for Adaptive Sync and HDMI-VRR directly into their G-Sync display modules, enabling AMD graphics cards and game consoles to use VRR on G-Sync monitors.

Why would AMD graphics card owners want G-Sync?

While FreeSync monitors are usually cheaper than G-Sync monitors, they often lack some of the bells and whistles of G-Sync monitors. Like high-end HDR with 1000 nits of peak brightness and 384+ zone FALDs (named G-Sync Ultimate). Or the fact that many of the cheaper FreeSync monitors have a very narrow frequency range in which VRR can be applied. NVIDIA also claims that any monitor that wants a G-Sync badge has to go through rigorous testing and get certified. FreeSync monitors? Not so much. There are fantastic FreeSync monitors, but there are also those that are pretty bad. With G-Sync, you usually get consistent quality across the board.

With NVIDIA adding Adaptive Sync support to G-Sync monitors, owners of AMD graphics cards and game consoles will have a lot more options to choose from.

Only new G-Sync monitors will get these updates

As with most things in life, this welcome addition to G-Sync has a catch: All that is required to add these new capabilities to G-Sync is a firmware update to v1 and v2 G-Sync modules. However, as these modules can’t be updated by users and have to be applied at the factory, only new monitors will actually get the new features. This has been confirmed by NVIDIA, according to TFT Central.

All of this comes at a surprise

That NVIDIA opens G-Sync is very surprising. First G-Sync compatible, now this. For years, NVIDIA has refused to even acknowledge Adaptive Sync and its sibling, AMD FreeSync. The company always claimed that G-Sync is so much better and that Adaptive Sync had quality issues that were allegedly so bad, that NVIDIA never wanted to add support for it. I am not sure what changed their mind. Did Adaptive Sync quality improve? Or is it the fact that Adaptive Sync (and HDMI-VRR) are now omnipresent because game consoles as well as TVs are receiving wide-spread support for it? Who knows. It will be interesting to see how G-Sync will progress. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it will disappear or end up being just a quality label for exceptionally well-built Adaptive Sync displays. We will see.

Why use Variable Refresh Rate?

Screen Tearing
Screen tearing happens when the GPU sends more frames than the display can handle.

Traditionally, monitors had a fixed refresh rate. For years, 60 hz was the de facto standard. However, a fixed refresh rate has a dilemma, that becomes especially obvious in fast moving pictures like in video games.

Games don’t have a constant, fixed rendering speed at which they output frames. If your monitor is set to 60 hz (meaning, it will display 60 frames per second), but your GPU delivers more frames than that, the display can’t keep up and introduces what is known as screen tearing. The upper part of the screen shows one frame, the lower part of the screen shows another frame.

On the other hand, when the GPU delivers fewer frames than the display’s refresh rate, the image will stutter, because the monitor will have to display one frame multiple times. Adaptive Sync and G-Sync dynamically adjust the monitor’s refresh rate to exactly the rate the GPU is delivering frames, avoiding tearing and stuttering. If you have ever used G-Sync or FreeSync, you can never go back.

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