As Fast As Possible
Both NVIDIA G-SYNC HDR and AMD FreeSync 2 technologies ensure smooth HDR gaming experience while still preserving the variable refresh rate feature of the previous generation. You should choose between G-SYNC HDR and FreeSync 2 displays according to your graphics card for the optimal performance.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is arguably the next big step in PC gaming and while it still requires some work to be done in order to be perfectly viable, both AMD and NVIDIA have their own implementations to address the issues with using HDR in Windows.
When both a video game and a monitor support HDR, the gameplay experience can be enriched with more lifelike colors, a higher brightness, and a superior contrast ratio. Learn more about HDR.
So, what is the role of FreeSync 2 or G-SYNC HDR in all this?
Well, first off, a display with any of these two technologies will have to pass an evaluation concerning its input lag, color gamut, and refresh rate performance – with higher requirements being set by NVIDIA.
Both technologies still feature a variable refresh rate which is the main asset of the previous-gen FreeSync and G-SYNC.
Moreover, can still use FreeSync/FreeSync 2 monitors with NVIDIA graphics cards and vice versa. In this case, you will get HDR for compatible content, but not necessarily a variable refresh rate which eliminates screen tearing and stuttering.
Since January 2019, a few FreeSync monitors do, in fact, support VRR with compatible (GTX 10-series and RTX 20-series) NVIDIA cards. However, not all FreeSync displays are certified as G-SYNC compatible FreeSync monitors.
AMD FreeSync 2
Unlike the first-generation FreeSync displays, in order for a monitor to feature FreeSync 2, it will have to meet a set of requirements.
Firstly, all FreeSync 2 monitors must support LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) which means that the higher end of the dynamic refresh rate range must be at least 2.5 times higher than the lower end.
So, a 75Hz monitor must have a FreeSync dynamic range of at least 30Hz-75Hz.
This allows for frame rate doubling when your FPS rate drops below the lower end of the range which ultimately, makes gameplay smoother at lower framerates.
Secondly, a FreeSync 2 HDR display must have satisfactory low input lag performance and at least double the standard display’s peak brightness and color gamut.
How Does It Work?
Basically, FreeSync 2 makes HDR more viable in Windows. As you can see in the image above, there’s a lower latency between HDR rendering and the final stage since FreeSync 2 eliminates one tone mapping process.
In other words, tone mapping is done directly between a video game and the native color space of the display which in turn reduces the input lag.
FreeSync 2 also introduces the automatic mode switching which automatically enables HDR only when there is compatible content i. e. when you enable HDR in the video game.
FreeSync 2: Non-Gaming Purposes & Pricing
Watching other content in HDR is still an issue due to its poor implementation in Windows. There’s no optimal HDR color management for color spaces other than sRGB when it comes to the other Windows applications.
This means that you will have to manually enable/disable HDR in the settings when you want to watch HDR content which will make all non-HDR content over-saturated and overall unpleasant to look at.
While HDR still isn’t completely supported for PC, FreeSync 2 monitors at least make it usable for gaming.
Since AMD has to test the displays for input lag, refresh rate, native color gamut, and tweak the tone mapping, FreeSync 2 implementation isn’t free as FreeSync 1, so these gaming monitors will have added cost, but still not as high as G-SYNC HDR or even G-SYNC for that matter.
NVIDIA G-SYNC HDR
NVIDIA hasn’t revealed as much information as AMD regarding how their technology works, but it likely works on the same principle.
However, G-SYNC HDR has a lot more demanding display requirements.
All of the currently known gaming monitors with G-SYNC HDR feature the state-of-the-art technology including the multiple-zone full-array local dimming and 1,000-nit peak brightness required for the true HDR viewing experience as well as the native support for 4K at 144Hz.
On balance, these G-SYNC HDR gaming monitors such as the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ deliver the ultimate gaming experience regarding both performance and image quality but they are also quite expensive.
Even though HDR is still underway for PC, both FreeSync 2 and G-SYNC HDR make HDR essentially viable, at least for PC gaming.
So which one should you choose?
Well, that depends on your budget and on what graphics card you have or plan to get.
While FreeSync 2 won’t be available in budget monitors for a while, G-SYNC HDR is explicitly aimed at the high-end displays whereas FreeSync 2 monitors as great mid-range option.
Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.