We've been hearing about FreeSync, AMD's answer to Nvidia's G-Sync variable refresh display tech, for just over a year now. This week at CES, we finally got a chance to see FreeSync in action, and we used that opportunity to shoot some enlightening 240-FPS footage. We were able to find out some new specifics from AMD, as well.
The demo was running on a 4K display with a peak refresh rate of 60Hz. If you maximize the video above, you can see the refresh rate reported in the bottom-right corner. Without FreeSync, the display is pegged at 60Hz, and the rendered scene tears quite a bit. (The effect is particularly visible around the windmill's blades.) With FreeSync on, the display hovers between 44 and 45Hz, matching the scene's frame rate and eliminating tearing altogether.
As we learned earlier this week, five display makers have FreeSync-certified monitors in the works. Some of those monitors will mirror the 4K resolution and 60Hz cap of the demo unit, while others will offer refresh rates as high as 144Hz and resolutions ranging from 1080p to 2560x1440. Minimum supported refresh rates will vary from display to display, but the technology can go as low as 9Hz, we're told. The supported maximum is 144Hz.
Certification of FreeSync monitors will be handled by AMD directly. The company says it wants to ensure its brand is synonymous with a "good experience." The certification process will be free of charge, the company tells us, so it hopefully won't add to the cost of FreeSync panels. That said, AMD says its drivers will also allow variable-refresh mojo with non-FreeSync-certified panels, provided those panels support the DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive-Sync specification. One such monitor will be Asus' MG279Q, which we saw earlier this week. With or without certification, though, a FreeSync-capable Radeon GPU will be required for variable refresh rates to work.
FreeSync panels entered mass-production last month, and AMD says 11 of them will be available by the end of March. Asus' MG279Q, too, is due out late in the first quarter. The number of capable displays will grow to as many as 20 by the end of the year, AMD predicts, so there should be a nice stable of them for Radeon users to choose from.
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