How to Enable G-SYNC on FreeSync Monitors: NVIDIA’s G-SYNC Compatible Explained

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Here at CES 2019, NVIDIA just announced that GSync is finally going to be offered on Freesync monitors. Of course, this comes with certain limitations, however, it is very good news to see that NVIDIA has announced the “G-Sync compatible” program.

Understanding Adaptive Sync, FreeSync, and G-SYNC

Adaptive Sync, often branded as “FreeSync” by AMD and its partners, is a feature that lets a monitor pause its screen refresh until an entire frame of animation is ready to load. This happens multiple times per second, faster or slower depending on how fast your PC and graphics card can render the frame. If the frame is slower than your monitor’s refresh rate, it will wait. This allows the motion in the game to remain smooth without tearing.

One of the biggest hurdle faced by gamers is syncrhonising the monitor’s refresh rate to the graphics’s card refresh rate. When the refresh rate or fps falls below the refresh rate of the monitor the user experiences what is known as screen tearing. To solve this problem, both AMD and NVIDIA use different technologies whereby the refresh rate of the monitor is adjusted to match the refresh rate of the graphics card.

Before today’s announcement, users purchasing a new monitor or graphics card had to choose whether to go for an AMD card and a Freesync monitor, or go with a NVIDIA card and a GSync monitor, since Freesync was not supported by NVIDIA cards and vice versa. As of NVIDIA driver version 417.71, released on January 15, 2019, this is no longer a problem.

G-SYNC Versus G-SYNC Compatible

The new official support label for Freesync monitors by NVIDIA has been given the name “G-Sync Compatible”. This label is given to monitors which have been tested by NVIDIA and certified to work flawlessly with G-Sync. However, a monitor which is not labeled as “G-Sync Compatible” might still be used with an NVIDIA graphics card and with G-Sync turned on within the GeForce Experience control panel.

Make no mistake, NVIDIA is still making it very clear that the more expensive G-SYNC option, with NVIDIA hardware, is the superior choice. At CES, NVIDIA engineers told us that after independently testing hundreds of FreeSync monitors, only twelve passed its rigorous tests for panel quality, refresh consistency, color accuracy, and a multitude of other criteria. These twelve monitors are:

  • Acer XFA240
  • Acer XZ321Q
  • Acer XV273K
  • Acer XG270HU
  • Agon AG241QG4
  • AOC G2590FX
  • Asus MG278Q
  • Asus XG258
  • Asus XG248
  • Asus VG278Q
  • BenQ XL2740

How to Enable “G-SYNC Compatible” Mode on Any FreeSync Monitor

If your monitor is certified by NVIDIA, then the G-Sync option would be automatically turned on. If, however, this is not the case, then here’s what you’ll need to enable G-SYNC:

  • A FreeSync (adaptive sync) capable monitor
  • An NVIDIA GTX or RTX graphics card (laptops with internal discrete cards are fine too)
  • A DisplayPort cable connecting them (Mini-DisplayPort is fine)
  • HDMI 2.1
  • NVIDIA GPU drivers, 417.71 or later

Once you’ve confirmed that your monitor is FreeSync compatible and you’re using a DisplayPort cable, check the on-screen menu of your monitor. That’s the one that you activate via the physical buttons on the monitor. Go into the menu and make sure that the Adaptive Sync or FreeSync function is enabled.

Now, in Windows, open the NVIDIA Control Panel by right-clicking your desktop and selecting “NVIDIA Control Panel.”

You can also find a shortcut to the NVIDIA Control Panel in the Start menu or as an icon in the Windows Control Panel.

In the NVIDIA Control Panel, you should see “Set up G-SYNC” under the “Display” menu on the left side. If you don’t see “Set up G-SYNC” as an option and you’re sure it’s enabled by your monitor, you might need to install drivers for your monitor manually.

In the Set Up G-SYNC screen, make sure your main monitor is selected if you have more than one. Click the check mark next to “Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible.” Choose whether to enable it for full screen mode only or both windowed and full screen modes, depending on how you display your games.

Click “Apply” to enable G-SYNC/FreeSync. You’re good to go! Enjoy smoother gameplay in your favorite games. Note that some games may work better or worse, depending on whether you run them in fullscreen or windowed mode (“fullscreen windowed” counts as windowed for this purpose). You can come back and change that setting in the NVIDIA Control Panel if you’re having issues.

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