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When you’re building yourself the ultimate gaming rig, you expect to get the best possible visual experience out of your games as possible. One thing that can really put a damper on this is called “screen tearing”. This phenomenon occurs when your monitor isn’t refreshing the image it’s showing you as fast as your game’s frame rate. The screen tearing effect is a result of your monitor and graphics card effectively being out of sync with each other’s speed. This is where technologies like AMD’s FreeSync come into play. There are mainly three types of FreeSync: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium, and FreeSync Premium Pro.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about FreeSync.
What is AMD FreeSync?
FreeSync is a technology found in graphics cards made by AMD as well as monitors that are FreeSync certified. What FreeSync does is allow your graphics card to take control of your monitor’s refresh rate. This enables your card to deliver images at the speed it can while at the same time maintaining the same refresh rate on your monitor. For example, if your monitor refreshes at 60Hz but your game is running at 50 fps because you’re playing it at max graphics at 4K resolutions, then you’ll experience screen tearing. AMD FreeSync will dynamically lower or increase your monitor’s refresh rate to match the performance of your game. FreeSync is AMD’s version of a technology called Adaptive Sync. Its main rival, NVIDIA’s G-Sync, works similarly, but FreeSync has one advantage: it works both over DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0.
How Does FreeSync Work?
The “ripping” or “tearing” effect you get on your screen when your game and monitor refresh rate aren’t matching is a result of your graphics card playing catch-up. As your ultra settings, 4K romp through the latest Assassin’s Creed is making your graphics card work double-time, it’s pumping out images at a slower rate compared to the speed of your 60Hz monitor. This inevitably leads to pieces and artifacts of images coming through because refreshing happens between frames. With FreeSync enabled, your graphics card will dynamically scale the refresh rate of your monitor. This makes use of a technology called Adaptive Sync. When your card can produce 60 fps, then the refresh rate will be set to 60 Hz. If at any point graphics performance drops, your monitor’s refresh rate will be adjusted to match it. It’s intelligent automation that is supported by most recent AMD cards as well as monitors that have passed the FreeSync rigorous certification process. Learn more about FreeSync vs G-Sync.
What is Low Framerate Compensation(LFC)?
That’s all well and good when your game performance dips only slightly. But, what happens when your graphics card’s output takes a nosedive into, say, below the 30 fps range? Can a FreeSync monitor adjust to that range? If it comes with Low Framerate Compensation (LFC), it can. Every monitor has a minimum refresh rate for use with FreeSync. In most cases, 30Hz is the lowest rate supported, but it can vary from one manufacturer to another. LFC kicks in when your graphics performance drops below that minimum. What it effectively does is force your monitor to refresh twice for every frame your game renders in order to keep things synced up. As most games and cards these days aim to produce at least 30 frames per second, it’s unlikely this feature will kick in often, but it’s nice to have for extreme cases.
What is FreeSync Premium?
On top of the removal of disjointed images and keeping your games running smoothly, FreeSync has two other versions that take things to the next level. AMD FreeSync Premium adds support for the aforementioned LFC tech. On top of that, it only supports monitors with at least a 120Hz refresh rate at a minimum of FHD resolutions (1920 x 1080).
What is FreeSync Premium Pro?
AMD FreeSync Premium Pro – also known as FreeSync 2 HDR – offers the same as its younger sibling with the addition of support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). AMD claims that FreeSync Premium Pro offers up to 400 brightness nits, producing spectacularly vibrant images. What you’ll need to bear in mind is that there are a limited number of games that support FreeSync Premium Pro at the moment.
FreeSync vs. FreeSync Premium vs. FreeSync Premium Pro
|AMD FreeSync||AMD FreeSync Premium||AMD FreeSync Premium Pro(FreeSync 2 HDR)|
|Tear-free||At least 120 Hz at minimum FHD(1920 x 1080) resolution||HDR support|
|Low flicker||Low framerate compensation||At least 120Hz at FHD resolution|
|Low latency||Tear-free||Low framerate compensation|
|Low latency||Low flicker|
|Low latency with SDR or HDR|