When Nvidia announced it would begin supporting FreeSync with its GeForce GPUs, it did so in more or less the nastiest way possible. Things got off to a nice enough start, with Nvidia explaining that it had only formally certified 12 displays out of the more than 400 it had tested, but that the feature would be available to anyone with a FreeSync display, provided they checked a box inside the Nvidia Control Panel. The company must not have liked the way this played in the media, because Nvidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, later baselessly and illogically declared that FreeSync had “never proven to work.” Nvidia also showcased unidentified displays at CES as examples of the problems gamers might encounter when attempting to enable FreeSync on an Nvidia — or even an AMD — GPU.
TechSpot has now tested seven FreeSync displays with an Nvidia graphics card to try and determine exactly what kind of problems Nvidia gamers might or might not encounter. There have been literally hundreds of FreeSync displays, but by testing some of the more prominent models, reviewers should be able to spot-check whether the problems with FreeSync compatibility are as dire as Jen-Hsun predicted. First, the website tested the following six:
- Acer KG251QF (24-inch, 1080p, 30-144Hz)
- BenQ EL2870U (28-inch, 4K, 40-60Hz)
- Viotek GN24C (24-inch, 1080p, 48-144Hz)
- AOC C27G1 (27-inch, 1080p, 48-144Hz)
- Viotek GN32LD (32-inch, 1440p, 48-144Hz)
- Philips Momentum 43 (43-inch, 4K, 48-60Hz)
Each of the displays above worked flawlessly, with all features and supported capabilities enabled.
The seventh and only panel that failed to work with Adaptive Sync on an Nvidia GPU wasn’t a surprise. The Viotek NB24C only supports FreeSync over HDMI, which AMD implemented via a custom protocol, whereas Nvidia is only supporting FreeSync via DisplayPort. HDMI won’t add support for Variable Refresh Rate (that’s the formal name of the term) until HDMI 2.1. This does have implications for TV support since most-to-all of the FreeSync TVs currently available only support it over HDMI. (It’s not clear if any TVs are implementing this capability over DisplayPort.)
The other major limitation on G-Sync and Nvidia cards is the GPU families Nvidia is supporting. Only Pascal and Turing will be enabled — Maxwell and older GPU families will not support FreeSync.
There’s always the possibility that specific displays will prove to be incompatible with GeForce cards, but TechSpot’s findings echo our own expectations that there’s no fundamental problem with FreeSync as a standard. Features like HDR and Low Framerate Compensation appear to be fully supported as well. Despite the negative conversation around FreeSync support at CES, Nvidia’s engineers appear to have done their job well as far as compatibility and support.
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