FreeSync Premium Pro vs G-SYNC Ultimate – Which Should I Choose?

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Both NVIDIA G-SYNC Ultimate and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro technologies ensure smooth HDR gaming experience while still preserving the variable refresh rate feature of the prior generations.

Choosing between G-SYNC Ultimate and FreeSync Premium Pro mostly comes down to your budget. The former is only available in high-end displays while the latter can be found on more affordable monitors.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is arguably the next big step in PC gaming, and while it still requires some work to be done 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 monitor support HDR, the gaming experience is improved with better colors, brightness, and contrast ratio to create the picture the way game developers intended.

Of course, for this to work, the HDR monitor in question needs to meet certain display requirements regarding its capabilities (color gamut, maximum brightness, etc).

So, what is the role of FreeSync Premium Pro and G-SYNC Ultimate 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, refresh rate, and other features – with higher requirements being set by NVIDIA.

Both technologies still feature a variable refresh rate (VRR), which is the main asset of the previous-gen FreeSync and G-SYNC.

AMD FreeSync Premium Pro

Unlike the first-generation FreeSync displays, for a monitor to feature FreeSync Premium Pro (previously known as ‘FreeSync 2’ and ‘FreeSync 2 HDR’), it will have to meet a set of requirements.

Firstly, all FreeSync Premium Pro monitors must support LFC (Low Framerate Compensation), which means that their VRR range must be at least 2:1.

So, a 100Hz monitor, for instance, must have a VRR range of at least 50Hz-100Hz for LFC support; 51-100Hz or lower means no LFC support.

This allows the display to multiply its refresh rate when your FPS rate drops below the lower end of the range (for example, 49FPS = 98Hz) to keep tearing at bay.

Secondly, a FreeSync Premium Pro display must have low input lag, a peak brightness of at least 400-nits, and a wide color gamut (at least 90% DCI-P3).

How Does It Work?

amd freesync vs nvidia g sync

Basically, FreeSync Premium Pro 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 Premium Pro eliminates one tone mapping process.

In other words, tone mapping is done directly between a video game and the native color gamut of the display, which in turn lowers the input lag and delivers optimal image quality in accordance with the display’s capabilities.

This means that the game itself must have tone mapping done for FreeSync Premium Pro. You can find a list of compatible games here.

If you have a FreeSync Premium Pro monitor, but the game doesn’t support it, you can still use FreeSync and HDR at the same time with low input lag, but whether the HDR picture will actually be good will depend on the game and the display’s HDR capabilities.

FreeSync Premium Pro also introduces automatic mode switching, which automatically enables HDR when compatible content is detected.

FreeSync Premium Pro: Non-Gaming Purposes & Pricing

Watching other content in HDR is still an issue due to its bad implementation in Windows.

There’s no optimal HDR color management system for color spaces other than sRGB when it comes to 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 Premium Pro monitors at least make it easy to use for gaming.

Since AMD has to test the displays for input lag, refresh rate, native color gamut, and tweak tone mapping, FreeSync Premium Pro implementation isn’t free as FreeSync.

As a result, these gaming monitors will have an added cost, but still not as high as G-SYNC Ultimate or even G-SYNC for that matter.

We have a dedicated buyer’s guide for the best FreeSync Premium Pro monitors.

NVIDIA G-SYNC Ultimate

NVIDIA hasn’t revealed as much information as AMD regarding how their technology works, but it likely works on a similar principle.

However, G-SYNC Ultimate has a lot more demanding display requirements.

All currently available G-SYNC Ultimate gaming monitors feature multiple-zone full-array local dimming solutions for superior contrast ratio and stellar brightness of over 1,000-nits as well as wide color gamut and high pixel density for the true HDR viewing experience.

Due to these impeccable but expensive features, the HDR picture quality on G-SYNC Ultimate displays is unmatched by any FreeSync Premium Pro monitor.

You can read our Acer Predator X35 and ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ reviews for more information.

Conclusion

Even though HDR is still underway for PC, both FreeSync Premium Pro and G-SYNC Ultimate make HDR fundamentally 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.

G-SYNC Ultimate is explicitly aimed at the high-end displays, so if you can’t afford one, a FreeSync Premium Pro monitor may be for you.

In case your favorite games don’t support FreeSync Premium Pro, you should consider other HDR displays or non-HDR gaming monitors.

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Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer

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.