One of the most advertised specs for gaming monitors is FreeSync or G-SYNC compatibility, yet outside of some vague images, it isn’t clear what these certifications offer, and much less how they will translate to your gaming experience.
These features are very useful and can offer great improvements to your monitor’s performance, so in this article, we’ll explain their function to help you make an informed purchase.
Without adaptive synchronization, a monitor will always run at its set refresh rate, which sounds great when it’s making the most of your monitor’s capabilities, but can cause issues if its input isn’t matching the refresh with enough frames. When you’re running games that are more demanding that your source device can handle, the frame rate may dip, desynchronizing the monitor and causing motion artifacts or screen tearing.
These artifacts can be incredibly distracting and will affect your performance in competitive games. Therefore, companies like VESA, AMD, and NVIDIA have developed synchronization certifications that ensure such artifacts are avoided.
To avoid the motion artifacts, when any of these frame-sync functions is enabled, the monitor will adjust its refresh rate to match the frame rate outputted by the source. This means that a 144Hz monitor using FreeSync will adjust to 80Hz if the framerate drops to 80FPS. This also allows each frame to be displayed as soon as it is rendered, further reducing the display’s latency.
AMD offers FreeSync as their adaptive frame synchronization certification. Based on the VESA Adaptive-Sync standard, it works through both HDMI and DisplayPort on AMD GPUs and some Xbox consoles. There are three tiers to the FreeSync certification: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium, and FreeSync Premium Pro.
The lowest FreeSync certification focuses only on the basics, ensuring that a monitor with this certification will not present tearing or other motion artifacts, and has a low latency suitable for gaming.
The next tier adds on to the certification requirements with a minimum refresh rate of 120Hz at FHD and requires low framerate compensation (LFC). When the framerate outputted by the source is lower than what the monitor can display, LFC allows it to duplicate frames and bring it back within the operating range for the monitor.
FreeSync Premium Pro
The highest FreeSync certification tier brings a lot of new requirements and features, primarily focused on improving the HDR experience when using the monitor. Besides requiring accurate color reproduction and high peak brightness, it allows tone mapping to be done directly in the monitor in some supported games, reducing the latency when gaming in HDR.
G-SYNC is NVIDIA’s adaptive framerate technology exclusive for their GPUs. Just as FreeSync, it offers three levels of certification: G-SYNC Compatible, G-SYNC, and G-SYNC Ultimate.
This is the most basic G-SYNC tier, which allows monitors tested by NVIDIA that meet their standards to use G-SYNC with compatible GPUs. Monitors are tested to ensure no screen tearing or motion artifacts are present. Since this certification does not require any proprietary tech, you’ll often see monitors include both this and FreeSync certifications.
The standard G-SYNC certification adds some significant features, but it requires a proprietary NVIDIA scaler module which increases the cost of the monitor and locks compatibility only to NVIDIA GPUs.
The main feature added by this tier is NVIDIA’s ULMB, which reduces motion blur through backlight strobing. While every monitor with G-SYNC is required to include this function, it is not exclusive to NVIDIA, as several monitor manufacturers have implemented backlight strobing under their own branding.
NVIDIA’s flagship G-SYNC certification level focuses on reducing response time and offering the best HDR experience possible. A G-SYNC Ultimate Certified monitor must have factory calibrated DCI-P3 and sRGB color profiles to ensure accurate color reproduction in both HDR and SDR, as well as a minimum peak brightness of 1,000 nits.
It also requires a refresh rate of at least 144Hz and a variable overdrive function. This ensures the monitor’s response time is as low as possible, reducing the ghosting artifacts visible behind moving objects.
The Dough Spectrum
The Dough Spectrum 4K@144Hz is certified for both FreeSync Premium Pro and G-SYNC Compatible, ensuring the best performance no matter whether you’re using an NVIDIA or AMD GPU, or even an Xbox console. While it meets the most important requirements for NVIDIA’s higher certifications, our crowd-development community decided against including the module required for G-SYNC as it would raise the price of the monitor and block compatibility with AMD GPUs, and additionally, would not allow us to implement some of our community’s most requested features.
The monitor is factory calibrated to allow for 100% sRGB and 98% DCI-P3 coverage with an incredible delta E average of 0.6 and a 750-nit peak brightness. It offers user-adjustable backlight strobing tuned by Blur Busters and customizable response time overdrive.
These features combined with its 144Hz refresh rate allow for an incredible gaming experience. It offers the lowest response time possible, allowing you to perform your best in competitive games, and if you like to enjoy your games, its impressive color accuracy will ensure you experience the game as intended by its creators.