What Is AMD FreeSync – Three Tiers Explained

What is AMD FreeSync? AMD FreeSync is an LCD technology that synchronizes the monitor’s refresh rate (the number of times it updates with new images each second) with the graphics card’s frame rate (the number of times your GPU redraws the screen every second). This capability is only available on graphics cards made by AMD. A monitor with G-Sync is the ideal option for individuals who have an Nvidia graphics card.

AMD FreeSync is a technology featured on various gaming monitors, gaming laptops, and TVs that helps battle screen tearing, stuttering, and input latency during fast-paced games and movies (the delay between when you move your best gaming mouse and when the cursor really moves).

FreeSync, AMD’s competitor to Nvidia G-Sync, was introduced in 2015 and required an AMD (including third-party branded) graphics card. There were an estimated 1,000 FreeSync-certified monitors as of January 2020. The three tiers of capability are FreeSync, FreeSync Premium, and FreeSync Premium Pro.

Both HDMI and DisplayPort connectors enable FreeSync, which delivers a dynamic refresh rate that adjusts to your PC’s hardware. Allowing the display to “communicate” with the GPU minimizes visual artefacts such as screen tearing, stuttering, and video playback.

what is amd freesync

Let’s pretend you’re just staring at your computer screen. Your monitor is constantly updating, with 60 new images appearing every second (which means a refresh rate of 60Hz). Everything seems to be in excellent condition. However, when you go to your favourite game, your GPU sends more or less than 60 frames per second, which your monitor cannot handle.

The screen tearing occurs when your GPU renders a new frame and delivers it to your monitor before the previous one has finished being shown. As a result, your display attempts to show numerous structures simultaneously. Because they are out of sync, the upper portion of your screen shows a different frame than the bottom, resulting in distortion with a horizontal line.

Your monitor will display the last picture twice if your GPU only sends 59 frames per second. This results in a minor stutter or lag.

How Does It Work?

Screen tearing (as seen in the image above) is an undesirable effect that causes the on-screen image to appear disjointed. It occurs when the game’s frame rate (the rate at which the game displays frames) differs from the display’s refresh rate (the frequency at which the display redraws the screenFreeSync displays may change their minimum and maximum refresh rates to the AMD Radeon graphics card’s frame rate using a dynamic refresh rate.

The FreeSync range refers to the content of refresh rates that can go up to the display’s maximum refresh rate. However, if you aim for top frame rates higher than your monitor’s refresh rate, tearing may occur.

All versions of FreeSync are based on the VESA’s Adaptive-Sync protocol, which means they work with DisplayPort (and USB Type-C) and HDMI connections. A display must pass AMD’s testing process to be FreeSync-certified, which examines its Adaptive-Sync support range, brightness, colour range, and other factors.

The most excellent gaming monitors are usually equipped with either FreeSync or G-Sync. Some consumer and professional monitors and some laptops and televisions use one of these forms of Adaptive-Sync (more on these below).

G-Sync vs FreeSync

AMD’s version of Adaptive-Sync, similar to Nvidia’s G-Sync, is FreeSync. To utilize G-Sync, you’ll need an Nvidia GPU (it might be third-party branded), much like you’ll need an AMD GPU to use FreeSync.

One significant difference is that FreeSync supports HDMI in addition to DisplayPort (which can also be used over USB-CG-Sync only works with DisplayPort, except LG’s G-Sync Compatible TVs, which connect to a compatible PC through HDMI.See our DisplayPort vs HDMI comparison for more information on which port is better for gaming.

We discovered no significant differences in performance between regular FreeSync and G-Sync. See our FreeSync vs G-Sync page for a more in-depth look at the performance differences.

FreeSync is based on an open standard, thus display manufacturers aren’t required to pay AMD a licensing fee or purchase hardware components to use it. In contrast, monitor manufacturers must pay for Nvidia’s proprietary hardware, which replaces the scalar they would typically buy to use G-Sync.

As a result, FreeSync monitors tend to be less expensive than G-Sync monitors. On the other hand, Nvidia is fighting back with G-Sync Compatible monitors, which have been certified to run G-Sync despite not having the same hardware as a conventional G-Sync display.

Many G-Sync Compatible displays are also FreeSync-certified, and we’ve learned that even if they aren’t, many FreeSync monitors can run G-Sync Compatibility. See our guide to using G-Sync with a FreeSync display for additional details.

FreeSync Tier

FreeSync is used to eliminate screen tearing, low latency, and stuttering. The GPU transmits the correct quantity of images to the monitor at all times. All three layers of FreeSync ensure that your gaming experience is smoother and more pleasurable. The most basic level does precisely that low latency and no more screen tearing or other issues.

What’s the difference between the different FreeSync tiers?

AMD FreeSyncTM Premium2 is a new FreeSync tier unveiled at CES 2020 and aimed towards hardcore gamers.

All of the FreeSync technologies allow for stutter-free gaming. The AMD FreeSyncTM Premium tier goes above and beyond the standard FreeSync technology tier, requiring low framerate compensation (LFC) and a refresh rate of at least 120hz at FHD resolution.

When a game’s framerate falls below a display’s minimum acceptable refresh rate, LFC ensures that the frames are displayed numerous times, allowing you to stay inside the display’s supported refresh rate and preserve smooth gameplay.

AMD Radeon FreeSync 2 HDR was the previous name for AMD FreeSyncTM Premium Pro3. The AMD FreeSync Premium Pro grade provides HDR compatibility for approved games and TVs. As gaming has progressed, there has been an increase in demand for high-resolution visual gaming experiences.

Highly accurate brightness and broad colour gamut tests are included in displays certified for the AMD FreeSyncTM Premium Pro tier, ensuring an unparalleled HDR visual gaming experience. FreeSync Premium Pro displays support game titles that use the previous FreeSync 2 HDR branding.

FreeSync

  • Certified
  • Tear free
  • Low latency

FreeSync  Premium

  • Certified
  • At least 120 Hz at minimum FHD resolution
  • Low framerate compensation
  • Low latency

FreeSync Premium Pro

  • Meticulous colour and luminance certification
  • HDR capabilities and game support
  • At least 120 Hz at minimum FHD resolution
  • Low framerate compensation
  • Low latency with SDR or HDR

Premium Tier of FreeSync

While both forms of FreeSync work to reduce screen tearing, flickering, and latency, FreeSync Premium takes things a step further by demanding a refresh rate of 120Hz or higher while using FHD, or 1920 x 1080, resolution. 

Low frame rate correction is also included (LFC). LFC will display frames multiple times if your game’s frame rate falls below the monitor’s lowest supported refresh rate. This ensures that you stay inside the supported refresh rate range of your monitor and, as a result, maintain a smooth gameplay. According to AMD, there are currently over 300 FreeSync Premium monitors available.

Premium Pro Tier of FreeSync

FreeSync Premium Pro, formerly known as FreeSync 2 HDR until January, is aimed at HDR video creators (for HDR recommendations, see our article on choosing the best HDR monitor).

A FreeSync Premium Pro display is believed to be different from a non-FreeSync HDR monitor in that it has decreased input latency because of the fact that games tone map directly to the collection, avoiding significant in-between steps. With HDR, it also offers over 400 nits of brightness.

FreeSync Premium Pro, like FreeSync Premium, triggers LFC when the game’s frame rate falls below the monitor’s refresh rate.

Keep in mind that all games don’t support FreeSync Premium Pro. The games that support FreeSync Premium Pro are listed below. To get FreeSync to work, you’ll need the following items.

To use any FreeSync, you’ll need a FreeSync-certified display and a PC with an AMD graphics card or APU. With an Xbox One X or Xbox One S, you can also use a FreeSync show (no PlayStations).

A DisplayPort (which also works through USB-C) or HDMI connection, as well as the relevant Radeon Software graphics driver, are required for PC gamers. All AMD GPUs, including third-party branded ones, from 2012 (Radeon HD 7000) and on any AMD Ryzen-series APU, are supported.

To use FreeSync on a PC monitor, you must enable it in the AMD Radeon Settings software. A monitor, TV, or laptop that supports AMD FreeSyncTM technology, a FreeSync compliant APU or GPU and the latest graphics driver are all required to enjoy the benefits of AMD FreeSyncTM technology. AMD FreeSyncTM technology is also available for Xbox OneTM X and Xbox OneTM S users. 

All AMD RadeonTM graphics cards, starting with the RadeonTM RX 200 Series, released in 2013, and all contemporary Radeon consumer graphics products that employ GCN 2.0 architecture or later, are compatible GPUs. Other GPUs that support DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, such as the Nvidia GeForce 10 series and newer ones, should operate with AMD FreeSync Technology as well; please check with your GPU maker.

All AMD RadeonTM graphics cards, starting with the RadeonTM RX 200 Series, released in 2013, and all contemporary Radeon consumer graphics products that employ GCN 2.0 architecture or later, are compatible GPUs. Other GPUs that support DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, such as the Nvidia GeForce 10 series and newer ones, should operate with AMD FreeSync Technology as well; please check with your GPU maker.

With AMD FreeSyncTM technology, compatible graphics cards can handle a wide range of dynamic refresh rates. Based on the capabilities supplied by the display, FreeSync compatible graphics cards can detect and adjust the appropriate maximum and minimum refresh rate. This signifies that FreeSync can support the display’s maximum refresh rate.

How does FreeSyncTM Premium Pro’s HDR differ from traditional HDR?

HDR is implemented differently in FreeSyncTM Premium Pro than in a traditional HDR pipeline. With FreeSync Premium Pro, the display sends specifications and data directly to the computer. This allows games to tone map instantly to the monitor, avoiding the need for bulky intermediate processes and reducing input latency. Furthermore, FreeSync Premium Pro’s baseline HDR requirements are higher than HDR 400, giving at least twice the perceived colour volume as SDR (sRGB).

HDR compatibility

The highest grade, FreeSync Premium Pro, provides exclusive access to a high dynamic range and comprehensive colour gamut capability. Due to processing bandwidth difficulties, the FreeSync and FreeSync Premium functions may not work when HDR is enabled.

Alternatively, they may operate at the expense of inconsistent HDR performance (your PC, console, or monitor may need to disable HDR to keep FreeSync features working). In any case, FreeSync’s two lower tiers work independently of HDR, whereas FreeSync Premium Pro incorporates HDR into the hardware.

This unlocks all of the above-mentioned FreeSync features and better HDR performance. That’s because the FreeSync Premium Pro procedure aids the hardware-level negotiation between your display and your PC/consoles, reducing the computational load. FreeSync Premium Pro is the best option if you want to game with HDR enabled. If you’re looking for a DisplayHDR-certified monitor, look for one with FreeSync Premium Pro to get the most out of it.

Because all levels of FreeSync remain “free” in essence, FreeSync Premium Pro should be the sole option. AMD doesn’t charge monitor manufacturers for the technology, but the extra processing components come at a cost. However, being a royalty-free technology, you should acquire the highest tier because the price difference is usually insignificant. 

Conclusion 

As the importance of HDR in games grows, FreeSync Premium Pro will eventually become the standard, and you should strive for it. AMD Freesync is well worth the money. They are far less expensive than NVIDIA G-Sync monitors and function admirably. AMD’s FreeSync technology is based on the same fundamental adaptive refresh technology as its competition, however it is limited to the graphics card. 

 

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