Does FreeSync work with Nvidia Graphics Cards? The answer can be a little complicated in some areas, but the answer is generally “yes, sort of”- it probably won’t be called FreeSync, though. For a clearer picture of FreeSync compatibility and what sets it apart from Nvidia’s own G-Sync, stick around!
What is AMD FreeSync?
So, let’s start with what AMD FreeSync actually is. AMD FreeSync is AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which debuted first.
Between G-Sync and FreeSync’s release, the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) debuted an open source “DisplayPort Adaptive Sync” standard, and this is what FreeSync is built on top of.
So, what the heck is Adaptive Sync, anyway?
Basically, all of these technologies serve the same general purpose, which is to enable Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) on a given monitor, by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rate to the in-game framerate. In theory, this should totally erase screen tearing, and even improve the general input lag and “feel” of games whenever they do dip in FPS.
Generally-speaking, this is actually how it works for both G-Sync and FreeSync, but that isn’t necessarily the full story.
What makes FreeSync different from Nvidia G-Sync?
The biggest difference between FreeSync and G-Sync is that FreeSync operates purely through software, whereas Nvidia G-Sync requires dedicated hardware built into the monitor to work. While this may sound like it means that G-Sync is better than FreeSync- being hardware-accelerated and all- the two still function virtually identically.
G-Sync monitors, however, do come with a price premium because of the extra cost of Nvidia’s scaling hardware inside of the display.
Do FreeSync Monitors Work With Nvidia GPUs?
Yup! They might be called G-Sync Compatible instead of being advertised as FreeSync, but in either case, you have a FreeSync monitor ready to go. When the monitor is labeled just G-Sync or something like G-Sync Ultimate, that means it’s an actual G-Sync monitor- good for Nvidia GPU users and no one else.
Do G-Sync Monitors Work With AMD GPUs?
G-Sync COMPATIBLE Monitors work great with AMD GPUs, as they are simply rebranded FreeSync monitors. FreeSync will work as expected when enabled in your settings, and you won’t have much to worry about after that.
Monitors built for G-Sync specifically, using the dedicated monitor hardware, are unfortunately not compatible with G-Sync or FreeSync on an AMD GPU. You can still use the monitor in question, but you’ll be denied the benefits of Adaptive Sync.
Should I spend extra on a G-Sync monitor instead of a FreeSync monitor?
If you’re using an Nvidia GPU, this is legitimately worth considering, but I wouldn’t base the choice on G-Sync or FreeSync support, as long as one is present. What matters is that the monitor itself has all of the features you need for your desired gaming experience. For instance, a G-Sync Ultimate monitor is just a G-Sync monitor that’s also been validated for high-end visual features like HDR, but you can find that stuff in a FreeSync monitor, too.
Since Nvidia users can use either freely, what should matter most is features for the price, not brand naming.
Do you have any good FreeSync or G-Sync Monitor recommendations?
I have a regularly-updated and pretty thorough Gaming Monitor Buying Guide over on CGDirector. Every monitor there should support FreeSync and G-Sync. If I ever add any picks that are G-Sync specific, I’ll be sure to add that information to the relevant review!
And that’s it, for now. Now you know if AMD FreeSync works with Nvidia cards- and the answer is yeah, usually. Unfortunately, the opposite cannot be said for G-Sync and AMD graphics cards, though the rise of “G-Sync Compatible” as a marketing term for AMD FreeSync monitors is bound to get real confusing, real fast.
Hopefully this clears that up! Until next time.