AMD has officially launched its FreeSync technology, enabling monitor refresh-controlling.
The new driver will enable FreeSync for all users that have both a compatible graphics card and monitor.
While the former includes most of the AMD graphics cards from the last couple of years, the latter only incorporates those monitors that have a new controller that’s compatible with the new VESA Adaptive-Sync standard.
Some of the models that support Adaptive-Sync include the new Acer XG270HU, BenQ XL2730Z and LG 29UM67. A range of Nixeus, Samsung and Viewsonic monitors also make the cut.
Theoretically some existing monitors should be upgradeable to support the new feature, but no monitor manufacturers have yet committed to releasing any new firmware that will enable it.
Adaptive-Sync is a completely open standard that AMD suggested be added to DisplayPort 2.1a, allowing any monitor or display output manufacturer to implement the technology for free.
As such, FreeSync is just an AMD-approved stamp that will be applied to monitors that the company has tested and verified. At present, FreeSync is only supported by AMD graphics cards.
FreeSync aims to tackle the same problem solved by Nvidia’s recent G-Sync innovation, which is the elimination of visual tearing and stuttering while gaming by tying the refresh rate of the monitor to the framerate of the graphics card.
However, where G-Sync uses a proprietary monitor controller to achieve this, AMD proposed an open standard.
By using an open standard the costs of producing a FreeSync monitor are lower than for creating a G-Sync model. Further benefits include full support of all the other usual features you get in a standard monitor controller such as audio, OSD, scaling and colour processing.
The driver can be turned off above a certain framerate, too, reducing mouse latency in certain scenarios. AMD is also claiming a slight performance advantage with FreeSync but it’s only in the range of about 1 per cent.
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The FreeSync monitors so far available are not directly comparible to G-Sync models so the cost savings of the lack of a license fee aren’t immediately obvious. However, pricing is clearly aggressive and it’s expect new models will be arriving soon.