Nvidia is crashing AMD’s FreeSync party. The company announced today at CES that it is testing every “adaptive sync” monitor to see if they meet its GSync standards. So far, it has found 12 displays function properly, and it is going to automatically turn on GSync support for those monitors in its GeForce software.
GSync, FreeSync, and adaptive sync are three names for the same basic technology that enables a display’s refresh rate to sync up perfectly with a GPU. This eliminates or reduces unsightly tearing and visual juddering. The final result is a noticeably smoother image.
Nvidia pioneered this concept with its GSync. It has since worked with monitor manufacturers to include its processors in high-end gaming displays. That has led to a leap in visual fidelity, but it has also pushed up the prices of many monitors. Nvidia also closed GSync off to competing graphics cards from AMD.
In response, AMD launched its own version called FreeSync. It has a lot of the same benefits, but FreeSync displays typically cost less than their GSync counterparts. So while FreeSync took a while to catch on, it is now in hundreds of displays and even some televisions.
A compelling value proposition
Nvidia’s support for FreeSync is a major change for the company. And it likely couldn’t ignore the fact that people were doing math in their heads.
AMD’s video cards range from significantly more affordable to relatively equivalent to Nvidia’s products. But if you get an AMD GPU and a FreeSync monitor, you are often going to save hundreds of dollars compared to when you get an equivalent Nvidia GPU and GSync display.
So while, in the past, GSync was the reason to get an Nvidia card. Now, reasonably priced FreeSync displays are starting to push people toward AMD.
Nvidia, however, now supports FreeSync — although most of those monitors won’t work. The company said that it has already tested more than 400 FreeSync monitors, but only 12 of those passed its test:
- Acer XFA240
- Acer XZ321Q
- Acer XG270HU
- Acer XV273K
- Agon AG241QG4
- AOC G2590FX
- Asus MG278Q
- Asus XG248
- Asus VG258Q
- Asus XG258
- Asus VG278Q
- BenQ Xl2740
If you are running one of those displays, Nvidia’s software will automatically turn on adaptive sync. If you are running a different FreeSync monitor, however, you can still test it for yourself. You just need to go into the GeForce control panel and turn it on beginning January 15.
What this really means
The big takeaway here, however, is Nvidia is signalling to manufacturers that they no longer have to pay the Nvidia GSync tax. Asus, for example, can just make sure that all of its future FreeSync monitors meet Nvidia’s GSync specifications.
And that likely means that we may see the prices on GSync monitors come down. Nvidia has not confirmed that, though.