Variable refresh rate monitors are becoming more popular among PC gamers due to their elimination of screen tearing and stutter.
There are two variable refresh rate technologies currently in the PC gaming market, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync.
The screen technologies are only effective when paired with a graphics card from the same manufacturer, however, and there is a notable price difference between FreeSync and G-Sync monitors.
FreeSync vs G-Sync
FreeSync and G-Sync monitors do not refresh at a constant rate of 60Hz or 144Hz like most monitors, and change their refresh rates based on how many frames per second your GPU delivers.
This removes artifacts like screen tearing or stutter which result from higher frame rates and Vsync respectively.
Vsync locks the video card’s FPS output to a static amount, usually 60FPS, which causes input lag and stutter.
FreeSync and G-Sync monitors solve this problem by changing refresh rates dynamically within a certain range.
AMD and Nvidia’s technologies both deliver similar results, which vary depending on the monitor’s hardware and panel type.
LCD monitors can make use of FreeSync or G-Sync on a variety of panel types, including IPS, TN, and VA.
G-Sync is supported by Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti or better graphics cards and require the manufacturer’s R340.52 display drivers.
AMD’s FreeSync technology is supported by the company’s RX-series graphics cards, in addition to various GPUs from the R9 series.
For a monitor to use Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, it must have a proprietary hardware module which is sold by Nvidia installed.
FreeSync monitors use AMD’s open FreeSync standard.
Prices and Licensing
While Nvidia charges monitor manufacturers to install the G-Sync hardware module into their devices, FreeSync is royalty-free and has no licensing costs.
This means that consumers with Nvidia graphics cards pay a premium for the same technology that AMD card owners get for free.
According to AMD, the open FreeSync licence results in a price “up to $300 less than comparable displays with competing technologies.”
G-Sync monitors are generally more expensive than their FreeSync counterparts, but the price difference is usually obscured by different specifications – such as panel types or connectivity.
However, Dell’s recently-launched Alienware monitors sport identical specifications, with the exception of their variable refresh rate technology.
- The Alienware FreeSync monitor costs $499.
- The identical G-Sync model is priced at $699.
The pricing difference is also noticeable across other adaptive sync monitor line-ups from other manufacturers.