We met with AMD and among other things, one item they wanted to show us was the essentially final versions of several upcoming FreeSync displays. Overall AMD and their partners are still on target to launch FreeSync displays this quarter, with AMD telling us that as many as 11 displays could hit the market before the end of March. For CES AMD had several displays running, including a 28” 60Hz 4K display from Samsung, a 27” 144Hz QHD display from BenQ, and a 75Hz 2560x1080 34” display from LG. The three displays mentioned were all running on different GPUs, including an R9 285 for the BenQ, R9 290X for the Samsung display, and an A10-7850K APU was powering the LG UltraWide display.

More important than the displays and hardware powering them is the fact that FreeSync worked just as you’d expect. AMD had serveral demos running, including a tearing test demo with a large vertical block of red moving across the display, and a greatly enhanced version of their earlier windmill demo. We could then enable/disable FreeSync and V-SYNC, we could set the target rendering speed from 40 to 55 Hz in 5Hz increments, or we could set it to vary (sweep) over time between 40 Hz and 55 Hz. The Samsung display meanwhile was even able to show the current refresh rate in its OSD, and with FreeSync enabled we could watch the fluctuations, as can be seen here. [Update: Video of demo has been added below.]

Having seen and used G-SYNC, there was nothing particularly new being demonstrated here, but it is proof that AMD’s FreeSync solution is ready and delivering on all of AMD's feature goals, and it should be available in the next few months. Meanwhile AMD also took a moment to briefly address the issue of minimum framerates and pixel decay over time, stating that the minimum refresh rate each monitor supports will be on a per-monitor basis, and that it will depend on how quickly pixels decay. The most common outcome is that some displays will have a minimum refresh rate of 30Hz (33.3ms) and others with pixels quicker to decay will have a 40Hz (25ms) minimum.

On the retail front, what remains to be seen now is just how much more FreeSync displays will cost on average compared to non-FreeSync displays. FreeSync is royalty free, but that doesn’t mean that there are not additional costs involved with creating a display that works with FreeSync. There’s a need for better panels and other components which will obviously increase the BoM (Bill of Materials), which will be passed on to the consumers.

Perhaps the bigger question though will be how much FreeSync displays end up costing compared to G-SYNC equivalents, as well as whether Intel and others will support the standard. Meanwhile if FreeSync does gain traction, it will also be interesting to see if NVIDIA begins supporting FreeSync, or if they will remain committed to G-SYNC. Anyway, we should start to see shipping hardware in the near future, and we’ll get answers to many of the remaining questions over the coming year.

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  • Impulses - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - link

    I won't care until all the dick waving ends and we have a clear picture of which solution will stand the test of time. Hopefully by then the panel I want at the res/refresh/size I want will be semi affordable and I can buy two or three to replace my 3x U2412M, the majority of the market will take same stance...

    The BEST tech or standard doesn't always win because it's often not the market itself that picks the winner, countless past examples dating back to Betamax/VHS. Not making a case for Freesync mind you, I think it'd be a crying shame if it's actually interior and gains critical mass...

    But I'm sure as heck not gonna sink one or two grand into displays that won't last me a good five years at least, and I'm not rushing out to swap $600 worth of GPUs over it either.
  • chizow - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - link

    I can understand the hesitation and I think many will be in the same boat as you, because you want a "true" upgrade across the board for all of your monitors. Unfortunately, I think we can see the trend will be a near exponential increase in cost for some time. IPS only really became affordable in recent years, most likely due to the fact TN gaming panels have become more popular and the emphasis and premium on IPS just hasn't been the same, especially given the decrease in price for IPS HDTVs into that $500 range.

    I guess as someone who never really got into the whole multi-display gaming (I do have multiple monitors, just game on a single panel), I would never consider tying myself to 3x or 4x of that resolution and price, since it also increases your GPU demands. Instead, I just go for the biggest, highest resolution for my main panel at the time with the best gaming characteristics. Still use 2xU2410 for companion panels and they're still great for that. ROG Swift for my main display/gaming.

    And the converse of what you stated, the OPEN tech or standard doesn't always win either, because in the end the market will tend to favor the better implemented and better supported option, regardless whether it costs more or not.

    But realistically, I do hope Nvidia adopts its own version of Adaptive Sync and puts what AMD has said to the test (again), because this would give the market one less reason to buy AMD. Nvidia would support both their own version of Adaptive-Sync (N-Sync?) and a superior proprietary G-Sync. I guess then we will see just how genuine AMD was when they encouraged Intel and Nvidia to adopt their open standard when it results in stripping them of any competitive advantage.

    But yeah, the commitment of 3x displays will make it 3x harder for you to invest in this kind of upgrade, while for me, I see it as spending the same on a single, fantastic monitor for the same price as 3 monitors that don't really improve or do anything better than what I already own.

    In fact, my brother recently bought 3xU2415 but returned them when he came over and saw my Swift. The U2415s looked really slick on a 3 monitor stand, very little bezel, but they still had all the negatives of IPS when it came to gaming. Maybe these new FreeSync and G-Sync panels will address some of these issues but since these panels tend to come from the same factories and share the same issues/benefits, I am not going to be overly optimistic even if they claim 144Hz support.
  • Scutter42 - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    On pcper they show the Asus MG279Q amd claim it works with Freesync since according to AMD's Robert Hallock "AMD will not have a whitelist/blacklist policy for FreeSync displays and that as long as a monitor adheres to the standards of DP 1.2a+ then they will operate in the variable refresh rate window as defined by the display's EDID."

    The MG279Q is a 27-in 2560x1440 display with IPS panel that supports 40-120hz. Ships Q1 2015 for $599
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - link

    It totally sucks that people are expected to buy new monitors just to get G-Sync and FreeSync.

    For people like myself who just spent quite a bit on a good monitor, the budget for replacing a monitor just isn't there.
  • R3MF - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    i'm not sure i see a solution to that.

    i'd love amd to wave a magic wand and make my 9 year old Dell Ultrasharp 2405 screen Free-Sync compliant, after all, i paid £600 for it back in the day!
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    Cute, but my monitor is a few months old. That, and there are no A-MVA panels that offer either technology, let alone 32" 1440p models.
  • NZLion - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    The new LG 34" ultrawide with freesync is only 2560*1080? Well, that's incredibly disappointing.

    The only reason I haven't already bought their 3840*1440 unit was that I'd heard a freesync version was imminent. So much for that.

    Why is there never a monitor from any manufacturer that ticks all the feature boxes at any given time? I am prepared to spend more and compromise less for the right monitor than pretty much any other component in my PC, as it's likely to last through multiple machines. But the last time I felt like I could get everything I wanted at the time in one display was about 2007
  • Rock1m1 - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    Even though Gsync is more expensive than FreeSync, from what I've seen Gsync works better in the regarding to completely eliminating tears. I believe Gsync will drop in cost considerably over the next few months, especially when the Freesync goes to production - One reason it costs so much because there is simply no alternative/competing product at the moment.

    If FreeSync does take off, I'm sure Nvidia will have no choice but to implement Free syc.

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