Summing The Analysis
We started down the path of comparing AMD’s FreeSync technology to Nvidia’s G-Sync in the hopes that a community-based, hands-on approach would provide additional insight or perhaps lead us to some unexpected conclusion. In some ways it has. But we naturally had some hypotheses going into our event, and those largely proved true, too.
Let’s get the big question out of the way: what’s better, G-Sync or FreeSync? As both technologies stand right now, the G-Sync ecosystem is more mature. From compatible graphics cards to G-Sync-capable displays and variable refresh ranges, Nvidia has the leg up. It also has an advantage when you drop below the variable refresh range. Our experiment never took us to that point, fortunately, so it didn't become an issue we needed to address in the analysis.
Then again, you’ll also pay $150 more for the G-Sync monitor we tested today—a premium that exceeds what most of our respondents claimed they’d be willing to spend for the experience they ultimately preferred, and some of those folks even picked AMD’s less expensive hardware combination as their favorite. [Editor's note: As previously noted, the pricing difference between monitors has increased since we published this article. As always, even that is subject to further change.]
Given the technical similarities of what FreeSync and G-Sync set out to achieve, so long as they’re both in their variable refresh range, all of our sources suggest you should get fundamentally identical results from them. On paper, that is. Differences do crop up outside of those upper and lower bounds, where FreeSync and G-Sync ask you to pick between v-sync on or off, and G-Sync is able to double (or more) screen refreshes when they drop below 30 FPS. We chose to leave v-sync off on the FreeSync-capable machines after surveying our readers’ habits and acknowledging AMD’s default driver behavior. However, it would have been interesting to compare results with v-sync on, particularly in Borderlands.
What about that Asus monitor we chose to represent FreeSync? While we can’t claim to know why the company chose a scaler limited to 90Hz on its 144Hz MG279Q, we’ve heard that it’s selling really well. Our event participants certainly loved it (along with Acer’s XB270HU). A $600 price point certainly isn’t cheap. However, when you’re talking about a 144Hz IPS display, gamers are bound to find a little more room in their budgets. In addition to the enthusiasts buying this screen for its FreeSync support, we suspect that those with high-end graphics subsystems from both GPU vendors are simply running it at 144Hz for fast-paced action on a beautiful-looking panel.