AMD’s latest ReLive driver package introduces a new frame rate synchronization technology called Enhanced Sync that replaces VSync and improves FreeSync to offer a smoother gaming experience on any display. If your monitor supports FreeSync, Enhanced Sync works as an extra cushion to ensure that latency and tearing are kept to a minimum outside the FreeSync range.
Frame synchronization technology isn’t new, but in recent years the concept has been the subject of significant change. For years, VSync (read: vertical synchronization) was the only option available to help keep screen tearing to a minimum. The technology adds a software cap on the frame rate to match your monitor's refresh rate so your GPU won’t try to deliver frames the display can’t reproduce. This results in smooth visuals--provided the GPU can output a frame rate that meets or exceeds the display’s refresh rate--but VSync also introduces stuttering at low frame rates and increases input response time.
In 2015, in response to Nvidia's G-Sync technology, AMD rolled out FreeSync to improve frame rate synchronization. FreeSync technology allows for dynamic refresh rates that synchronize with the frame rate output from the graphics card, which minimizes tearing and increases response time. FreeSync doesn’t work on all displays, though. You must have a FreeSync-specific display to take advantage of those variable refresh rates. FreeSync's operational ranges are also limited. You still experience stuttering when your frame rate dips below the minimum threshold, and when the frame rate exceeds the upper limit, you may experience tearing.
AMD’s new Enhanced Sync technology works with any display, whether it supports FreeSync or not. Enhanced Sync is a replacement for VSync (it's unclear if VSync remains as an option, but why would you use it?) and works hand-in-hand with FreeSync technology. Unlike VSync, Enhanced Sync doesn’t lock the frame rate maximum to the display’s refresh rate. Instead, it uncaps the frame rate to reduce latency in exchange for some mild tearing.
When your GPU can't output frames at the same pace as your monitors refresh rate, Enhanced Sync prioritizes decreased stutter over eliminating tearing. That is, where Vsync strives to remove tearing completely, Enhanced sync allows occasional tearing instead of allowing the GPU to repeat the previous frame and introduce a momentary stutter.
AMD’s Enhanced Sync technology is part of Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.7.2, which is available now from AMD’s website.