Update 2017: AMD has revealed FreeSync 2, which builds on the already successful FreeSync technology and adds support for HDR content. AMD says FreeSync 2 offers two times the color space and brightness over sRGB.
Traditional monitors operate at a fixed refresh rate, commonly 60Hz, 120Hz or 144Hz. In games, frame rate (amount of generated frames per second) fluctuates accordingly to the intensity of the work required by the graphics card. This introduces a dilemma for gamers in particular. They can usually choose one of two main options that determines how the graphics card passes frames to the monitor: “VSync OFF” or “VSync ON”.
VSYNC OFF: The GPU sends frames to the monitor as soon as they are rendered, whether or not the monitor has finished its refresh and is ready to move on to the next frame.
This will cause screen tearing (picture below) if things become unsynchronized, even on a 120Hz or 144Hz display.
VSYNC ON: The GPU holds the frame until the monitor is ready to display it. This will eliminate screen tearing, but will increase input lag. This even happens on 120Hz and 144Hz monitors, but the input lag penalty is much shorter on these types of displays. If you have a great GPU, then input lag with this option will not be a significant problem.
The solution: AMD FreeSync
AMD has worked on a solution to the problems connected to the “VSYNC ON” option: FreeSync. They have worked with VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association) to add support for Adaptive Sync into the DisplayPort 1.2a standard, which AMD then utilizes in their FreeSync technology. Actually, FreeSync monitors began shipping as of March 2015 and it will be exciting to see how well the developers and gamers will adopt it. It is an optional feature, however, so we won’t expect a lot of monitors with this feature built in them. AMD is working with monitor manufacturers, so we will see a handful of displays hit the market soon. With AMD FreeSync, you will not get screen tearing or visual latency, you typically know from having VSYNC disabled. You won’t get the stuttering and input lag associated with VSYNC enabled either. Therefore, a good gaming monitor should have Adaptive Sync technology.
To take advantage of the benefits of AMD FreeSync technology, users will require: a monitor compatible with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, a compatible AMD Radeon GPU with a DisplayPort connection, and a compatible AMD Catalyst graphics driver. AMD plans to release a compatible graphics driver to coincide with the introduction of the first DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync monitors. The technology can not be used if you have a NVIDIA GPU, but NVIDIA has their own version labelled G-SYNC. AMD FreeSync have some advantages over NVIDIA G-SYNC, however.
No licensing fees for adoption
No expensive or proprietary hardware models
No communication overhead
The last benefit is essential to gamers, as AMD FreeSync technology does not need to poll or wait for the display in order to determine when it’s safe to send the next frame to the monitor. AMD FreeSync technology uses industry-standard DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to pre-negotiate supported min/max refresh rates during plug’n’play, which means frame presentation to the user will never be delayed or impaired by time-consuming two-way handshakes. The best part is that all this works up to a refresh rate of 240Hz, so we will see lots of 144Hz monitors compatible with AMD FreeSync soon, if they’re not already in the market already.
Major monitor manufacturers are extremely excited about this innovating technology. AOC, LG, ACER, ASUS, BenQ, Philips and ViewSonic all plan to release AMD-FreeSync compatible PC monitors or they already have. We will see a lot more of these kind of displays in the future, I promose you that! Some models will even have QHD (2560 x 1440) and UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution. AMD FreeSync is not limited to TN panels, so we will also see monitors with IPS panels who supports this feature.
Confirmed AMD FreeSync monitors
This is a list of monitors, which have or will have the AMD-FreeSync technology as of October 2017.
Disclaimer: Clicking on a product name will redirect you to amazon.com (.co.uk, .ca, .de, .it, .fr, .es) depending on your location.
For various purposes, we’ve made a dedicated page to the list of FreeSync monitors. Feel free to link to our FreeSync monitor list from anywhere you would like. The list gets updated every week with new additions.