AMD: Only certain new Radeons will work with FreeSync displays

There's one specific bit of news in my Radeon R9 285 review that's worthy of calling out in more detail. During a briefing on that new graphics card, AMD revealed something about its Project FreeSync display initiative that we hadn't heard before.

FreeSync, you may recall, is AMD's initiative to enable variable-refresh display technology for smoother in-game animation. This project was conceived as an answer to Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which has already produced production gaming monitors like the excellent Asus ROG Swift PG278Q.

Turns out only the newest GPU silicon from AMD will support FreeSync displays. Specifically, the Hawaii GPU that drives the Radeon R9 290 and 290X will be compatible with FreeSync monitors, as will the Tonga GPU in the Radeon R9 285. It's also possible the Bonaire chip that powers the Radeon R7 260X and HD 7790 cards could support FreeSync.

Here's the slide in AMD's presentation that highlighted this reality.

Since the current Radeon lineup is populated by a mix of newer and older GPU silicon, there are brand-new graphics cards selling today that will not support FreeSync monitors when they arrive. The list of products that won't work with FreeSync includes anything based on the older revision of the GCN architecture used in chips like Tahiti and Pitcairn.

That means brand-new cards like the Radeon R9 280, 280X, 270, and 270X won't be FreeSync-capable. Nor will any older Radeons in the HD 7000 and 8000 series. AMD tells us these prior-gen GPUs don't have the necessary support for the latest DisplayPort standard.

By contrast, Nvidia's G-Sync works with GeForce graphics cards based on the Kepler architecture, which include a broad swath of current and past products dating back to the GeForce GTX 600 series.

AMD has told us that the first FreeSync monitors will sample this month, with finished products expected to ship early next year.

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