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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How to Enable G-SYNC on FreeSync Monitors: NVIDIA’s G-SYNC Compatible Explained

At CES 2019, NVIDIA announced that it was finally supporting FreeSync. Well, sort of—what the company actually announced was a “G-SYNC Compatible” program. But the rub is this: NVIDIA’s cards and drivers now work with FreeSync monitors for adaptive sync.

The situation is a little confusing. Let’s fix that, shall we?

Adaptive Sync, FreeSync, and G-SYNC

Adaptive Sync, often branded as “FreeSync” by AMD and its partners, is a feature that lets a monitor pause its screen refresh until an entire frame of animation is ready to load. This happens multiple times per second, faster or slower depending on how fast your PC and graphics card can render the frame. If the frame is slower than your monitor’s refresh rate, it will wait. This allows the motion in the game to remain smooth without tearing.

G-SYNC is NVIDIA’s branded alternative to adaptive sync/FreeSync. Unlike FreeSync, which doesn’t need any additional hardware, G-SYNC monitors include a tiny computer module inside them to manage the syncing of frames rendered by the GPU and displayed by the screen. This module is manufactured and supplied by NVIDIA to its hardware partners, which is why G-SYNC monitors are almost universally more expensive than FreeSync monitors.

Here’s a more technical breakdown of G-SYNC and FreeSync.

But for several years, PC gamers with NVIDIA cards have lamented their lack of access to the adaptive sync/FreeSync capabilities on cheaper monitors. As of NVIDIA driver version 417.71, released on January 15, 2019, this is no longer a problem.

G-SYNC Versus G-SYNC Compatible

NVIDIA’s new support for FreeSync monitors is via a program called “G-SYNC Compatible.” NVIDIA GPUs now work with FreeSync monitors with “G-SYNC Compatible” enabled in the configuration tool. Huzzahs and hurrahs all around.

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