AMD FreeSync is making its way into the majority of monitors, even the office variety. The technology offers tangible benefits for both casual and seasoned gamers, but what exactly does FreeSync do, and how do the Premium and Premium Pro variants differ?
FreeSync Is AMD’s Variable Refresh Rate Technology
FreeSync is an AMD technology, designed primarily to work with AMD GPUs like the Radeon range. This is AMD’s implementation of variable refresh rate (VRR) technology, which allows the GPU and the monitor to sync up for a smoother gaming experience. Check out AMD’s promotional video for FreeSync to see how they advertise it.
The main benefit of VRR is the ability to eliminate screen tearing. Tearing occurs when the GPU isn’t ready to send a full frame to the monitor, so a partial frame is sent instead. Without VRR enabled, a monitor will expect (and display) a new frame every time the display refreshes, known as the refresh rate.
Most basic office monitors refresh at around 60Hz, which means 60 frames are displayed every single second. If the GPU cannot get a frame ready in time, a partial frame is displayed over the top of the previous one. This results in unsightly tearing artifacts that negatively affect the experience.
With VRR technology like FreeSync, the GPU can instruct the monitor to wait until the next frame is ready. This ensures that only full frames are sent to the monitor and displayed, which all but eliminates tearing.
Other brands of VRR technology include NVIDIA’s G-Sync and the VRR standard defined in the HDMI 2.1 specification.
FreeSync Premium and Premium Pro Benefits
While basic FreeSync eliminates screen tearing at lower refresh rates of around 60Hz, FreeSync Premium expects a refresh rate of 120Hz or greater at 1080p. It also enables low frame rate compensation (LFC), a technology that allows the monitor to duplicate frames to smooth out dips in performance.
FreeSync Premium Pro was previously known as FreeSync 2 HDR until AMD decided to rebrand it in early 2020. This implementation specifically targets HDR (high dynamic range) games that must be tone-mapped to display properly. By passing information back to the computer driving the display, latency is reduced by eliminating steps required to get the HDR image ready.
The Premium Pro implementation of FreeSync also includes LFC for smoother gameplay. While standard FreeSync and FreeSync Premium should work on all content, FreeSync Premium Pro is supported on a game-by-game process. You can see a full list of FreeSync Premium Pro compatible games on AMD’s website.
Buying a TV or Monitor for Gaming is Easy
There are a few things to remember if you’re buying a TV for gaming, and ensuring that the TV is compatible with a variable refresh rate technology that you can take advantage of. Even consoles like the Xbox Series X can take advantage of VRR now.
Check out our top recommended TVs for gaming if you need further inspiration.