Since we last checked in on the FreeSync versus G-Sync wars, Nvidia still hasn't chosen to implement FreeSync support in its graphics cards. Gamers who want to experience VRR magic with GeForces will need to invest in a G-Sync display. G-Sync monitors offer a gaming experience that's just as smooth as their FreeSync competitors, to be fair, but these displays often cost quite a bit more than their FreeSync competitors for comparable specs.
Meanwhile, AMD has brought FreeSync's feature set more on par with G-Sync by adding low frame-rate compensation (LFC) to the protocol's toolbox. LFC's software algorithm looks at frame times and sends additional frames to the display as needed to keep motion smoother when frame rates drop below the display's minimum refresh rate. This improved method is a much-needed bit of polish. LFC only works on displays whose maximum refresh rates are at least 2.5 times that of their minimum FreeSync refresh rates, though, so monitors with narrow FreeSync ranges (like 40 to 60Hz) are out of luck.
Compatible FreeSync monitors will also be able to sync up with Radeons over the common HDMI port this year. The first of these monitors are just hitting store shelves now, but we'd expect more and more of them to appear with time.
|AOC G2460PF||24" 1920x1080 TN, 144Hz, FreeSync||$259.99|
|AOC G2460PG||24" 1920x1080 TN, 144Hz, G-Sync||$364.99|
|Asus MG279Q||27" 2560x1440 IPS, 144Hz, FreeSync||$569.99|
|Asus PG279Q||27" 2560x1440 IPS, 165Hz, G-Sync||$799.99|
|Acer XB271HU||27" 2560x1440 IPS, 165Hz, G-Sync||$769.99|
|Acer XR341CK||Curved 34" 3440x1440 IPS, 75Hz, FreeSync||$999.99|
|Eizo Foris FS2735||27" 2560x1440 IPS, 144Hz, FreeSync||$1,289.00|
|Asus PG348Q||Curved 34" 3440x1440 IPS, 100Hz, G-Sync||Not available yet|
Variable-refresh on a budget: AOC G2460PF and G2460PG
Variable-refresh displays have a reputation as luxury products, but AOC's G-Sync 0G2460PG and FreeSync G2460PF prove that you don't have to spend a ton of money to get into the game. The $260 price tag on the G2460PF is especially appealing if you already own a FreeSync-compatible Radeon graphics card or you're looking to build an inexpensive gaming PC. These 24" displays both have 1920x1080 resolutions, so they're not hard to drive for today's midrange graphics cards.
These monitors do use TN panels. We think that's fine for their affordable price points. TN panels have gotten a lot better over the past few years, and something has to give if you're not going to pay over $500 for a VRR display. For folks who don't need to edit images or media on a regular basis, these monitors appear to be decent enough performers out of the box. In the unlikely event someone will stick a calibrator on the front of these displays, they seem to snap into sRGB conformance just fine. Tom's Hardware got good results from calibrating the G2460PG, and we'd expect similar performance from the G2460PF.
27" FreeSync: Asus MG279Q
If you want a bigger screen and more resolution to go with your Radeon graphics card, the Asus MG279Q looks like a logical step up to us. This excellent display uses a 2560x1440 IPS panel with a 144Hz maximum refresh rate. Its one limitation is a FreeSync range that spans 35Hz to 90Hz, although that range is still plenty wide enough to accommodate the lower frame rates where VRR really struts its stuff. Check out our video review for all the details.
If you play games where refresh rates higher than 90Hz are a common occurence, Asus' slightly less expensive MG278Q can perform FreeSync over a wider 42-to-144-Hz range, according to PC Perspective's review. To get there, the MG278Q does use a TN panel, but PC Perspective found that this screen snaps into sRGB compliance just fine if calibration is required. That panel's slightly narrow viewing angles are likely the MG278Q's only flaw.
Premium FreeSync: Eizo Foris FS2735
Eizo's 27" Foris FS2735 isn't officially available in the USA yet, but we have one in our labs for review and we're quite impressed with it. The black levels, uniformity, and color reproduction of the FS2735's 144Hz IPS panel are all outstanding. The FS2735 isn't quite the "set it and forget it" holy grail of FreeSync monitors, but its two FreeSync ranges (35 to 90 Hz and 56 to 144 Hz) are useful for keeping the display in the VRR sweet spot with different types of games.
The FS2735 can also be used in a strobing-backlight blur reduction mode that's quite unusual to see in a FreeSync monitor. If you want the cream of the crop for FreeSync displays—or just a really nice gaming monitor, period—the FS2735 is well worth a look. We expect nothing less for this display's $1289 suggested price.
Curved FreeSync: Acer XR341CK
Want a curved vista to go with your IPS FreeSync display? Acer's XR341CK delivers. This 34", 3440x1440 monster can run at variable refresh rates up to 75Hz. It's got a monster price tag, too, at about $1100, but there's nothing else quite like it on the market.
Acer tricks out the XR341CK with built-in speakers, ambient lighting, and a USB 3.0 hub. Pair a couple of these beauties with a powerful graphics setup, and you'd probably have the most immersive gaming experience this side of a VR headset.
King of the G-Sync hill: Asus PG279Q
I'm working on a full-length review of Asus' PG279Q, but here's the short version: it's among the finest gaming monitors I've ever laid eyes on. It uses a 2560x1440 IPS-type panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, and it keeps gray-to-gray response times to 4ms. If 144Hz isn't fast enough already, an option in the PG279Q's menus lets owners overclock the screen to 165Hz. For games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that can run at those kinds of frame rates, the PG279Q is unparalleled in its smoothness and responsiveness. For $800, we'd expect that kind of awesomeness, but it's still something to behold. The IPS panel offers great viewing angles and accurate colors, too.
Nvidia's G-Sync tech means that the PG279Q remains buttery-smooth across a broad range of frame rates. Unlike some FreeSync displays, the PG279Q can do the variable-refresh dance across its entire 30- to 144-Hz (or 165-Hz) range, no questions asked. That range is helpful in titles like Grand Theft Auto V where maxing out the eye candy can be challenging for today's graphics cards.
One word of warning: some PG279Q owners have complained that they've had to play the panel lottery with this display. Some PG279Qs seem to be fine, while others reportedly exhibit backlight bleed and regions of poor color consistency. The PG279Q I have in my labs doesn't have those problems, but picky buyers may need to be prepared to complain to Asus customer service if their display isn't up to snuff.
A premium G-Sync alternative: Acer XB271HU
If the Asus PG279Q is sold out or you prefer a more aggressive-looking display, the Acer XB271HU looks like a good alternative to us. Like Asus' monitor, the XB271HU offers a 165Hz maximum refresh rate, an IPS-type panel, and Nvidia G-Sync. If you're extremely particular about color, the XB271HU also offers six-axis calibration adjustments in its on-screen display for fine-tuning, an unusual feature in a gaming monitor. Overall, we'd expect performance similar to the PG279Q from the XB271HU.
Curved G-Sync: Asus PG348Q
If you want to get a curved, ultrawide, high-refresh-rate monitor with G-Sync, Asus' PG348Q wraps all those features into one neat package. This monitor uses a 100Hz, 34" IPS panel with a mild 3800R curve. The one catch: it's not on sale in the United States yet. When it does arrive, we'd expect a price tag well over $1000.