How to Enable AMD FreeSync in Windows 10

Many of the best gaming monitors support AMD FreeSync, but you’ll need to know how to enable FreeSync to use it. FreeSync is an adaptive refresh-rate technology that helps prevent stuttering, screen tearing, and input lag, which can make a huge difference while playing games.

Although FreeSync was designed to work with AMD graphics cards, it’s possible to use the feature with Nvidia graphics cards, too. Regardless of the GPU you have, we’ll walk you through the process step by step.

How to enable FreeSync with an AMD graphics card

You need a few things to use FreeSync. First, you need a FreeSync monitor. AMD has three different FreeSync classifications: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium, and FreeSync Ultimate. There are a few differences between the versions, but you’ll need a monitor with one of them to use the feature.

In addition, you need a Radeon graphics card or an AMD A-Series APU. You can use FreeSync with an Nvidia GPU — we’ll show you how in the next section — but it’s not technically supported.

Finally, you need to change a few settings on your monitor. Using your monitor’s on-screen display, make sure to enable FreeSync and disable anti-blur settings. You’ll also want to make sure your monitor is connected through a DisplayPort cable, not HDMI. HDMI is supported, but AMD still recommends using a DisplayPort connection.

Once you’ve checked everything, install the latest AMD Radeon drivers and software and follow these steps:

Step 1: Open AMD Radeon Settings.

Step 2: Select the Settings icon.

Step 3: Select the Display tab. If you have multiple displays, select the display you want to apply the setting to.

Step 4: Turn AMD FreeSync to On. 

That will turn on FreeSync universally for your monitor. You can turn the feature off for certain games if you want to, though. To do so, open up Radeon Settings again and follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the Gaming tab.

Step 2: Click Add in the top-right corner if you don’t see the game you want to change.

Step 3: Navigate to the game installation and add it to your library.

Step 4: Select the game to open the settings menu.

Step 5: Change the AMD FreeSync setting to On or Off, depending on what you want.

Although AMD gives you the option to turn FreeSync on or off, you can only turn the feature off for individual games. You must have FreeSync universally enabled to adjust the setting for individual games. After you’re done, your games will automatically run with a variable refresh rate.

How to enable FreeSync with an Nvidia graphics card

Technically, FreeSync is only supported on AMD graphics cards. However, Nvidia has a list of FreeSync displays that it has validated to work with an Nvidia GPU. These monitors come with the G-Sync Compatible branding, which means they support FreeSync with an Nvidia graphics card.

Nvidia hasn’t tested every monitor, though, so it’s possible that you can use FreeSync with an Nvidia graphics card on a display that hasn’t been validated. The best way to see if your monitor works is to enable the setting through the Nvidia Control Panel. If it works, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, you can always revert to your previous settings.

G-Sync settings in the Nvidia Control Panel.

Again, install the latest drivers for your graphics card and the Nvidia Control Panel, then follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Nvidia Control Panel.

Step 2: Expand the Display setting and select Set Up G-Sync. 

Step 3: Check the Enable G-Sync, G-Sync Compatible box.

Step 4: Select your display and check the Enable Settings for the Selected Display Model box.

Step 5: Click Apply. 

Your screen will flash several times, then your monitor will restart. Below the second checkbox, you will see a notification that says “selected display is not validated as G-Sync Compatible” if you don’t have the certification. That’s OK. That just means Nvidia hasn’t tested the specific display you’re using.

That said, this method doesn’t always work. It depends on your display. The best way to find out is to follow the process above, open up a game that uses DirectX 9 or newer, and validate that it’s working. If it’s not, you can uncheck the setting in the Nvidia Control Panel.

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MSI’s affordable Alpha 15 gaming laptop goes all-AMD with Radeon RX 5500, Ryzen 7, and FreeSync

AMD revealed its new Radeon RX 5500 series graphics cards on Monday, bringing the cutting-edge features found in its Radeon RX 5700 series to the masses with a focus on 1080p gaming. In an unusual twist, AMD’s new GPU is debuting in prebuilt PC systems first, including an intriguing all-AMD gaming laptop also introduced today: MSI’s Alpha 15.

The Alpha 15 packs Radeon RX 5500 graphics, obviously, along with the Ryzen 7 3750H processor and a blazing-fast 15.6-inch 144Hz FreeSync panel for stutter-free, buttery-smooth mobile gaming. Better yet, this notebook clocks in at a very attractive price, costing just $999 for a version with 8GB of RAM, or $1099 for a 16GB model.

That’s pretty aggressive considering that laptops packing Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 graphics can sometimes sell for around the same price, and AMD claims that the mobile Radeon RX 5500 is considerably faster than its rival. No independent testers have verified the claim yet, however.

mobile radeon rx 5500 perf AMD

Here’s the full spec sheet for the MSI Alpha 15:

  • Processor: Up to AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5500M 4GB GDDR6
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080), 144Hz IPS-Level Thin Bezel Display, support AMD Radeon FreeSync technology or 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080), 120Hz IPS-Level Thin Bezel Display, support AMD Radeon FreeSync technology
  • Keyboard: Per-Key RGB keyboard by SteelSeries (optional)
  • Storage: 1x M.2 SSD Combo Slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA) 1x 2.5-inch HDD
  • Audio: Hi-Res Audio, Giant Speaker (2 x 2W), Nahimic 3
  • Dimensions: 14.08 x 9.76 x 1.08-inch 5.07 lbs

MSI says that its “Dynaudio Giant Speaker” was built for gaming, boasting a chamber five times larger than traditional laptops. “Taking up almost a quarter of the chassis, the speaker system pumps out impressive surround sound at higher volumes and with better clarity without sacrificing bass,” the company’s press release claims.

msi nb alpha 15 photo05 MSI

While we’ve yet to see how the Radeon RX 5500 performs in the real world, landing a laptop win like this out of the gate is a huge deal for AMD. Radeon GPUs and Ryzen CPUs are on the upswing but still a rarity in the mobile world, where Intel chips and Nvidia GPUs dominate. Between this and the Ryzen-powered Microsoft Surface Laptop, it’s been a hell of a month for AMD, and we’re only seven days in.

Look for the MSI Alpha 15 to land on store shelves in mid-to-late October. As part of AMD’s Raise the Game promotion, buyers will receive a free copy of either Ghost Recon Breakpoint or Borderlands 3 with their purchase. We recommend picking the latter.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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What Is FreeSync? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Tearing occurs when your monitor won’t refresh as quickly as the game’s frame rate. For players who deal with this issue regularly, it can quickly ruin the gameplay experience. 

There is a way to sync your refresh rate to your GPU rendering, but you’ll need to use FreeSync to do it. This program might be completely unknown to some, but using FreeSync shouldn’t be too complicated. Here’s how to do it. 

What is AMD FreeSync?

Notice the misaligned elements of the left-hand frame? Although this screen tearing is simulated, it displays the effect screen tearing can have on a game. AMD

FreeSync allows AMD’s graphics cards and APUs to control the refresh rate of a connected monitor. Most monitors default to 60 refreshes per second (60Hz), but you’ll also see monitors that refresh 75, 120, 144 or even 240 times per second.

Overall, timing is essentially the big screen-tearing issue. The GPU may render frames faster than the display can update the screen, causing the latter to compile “strips” of different frames. The “ripping” artifacts typically surface when the view moves horizontally. Likewise, if the GPU can’t output at the display’s refresh rate, you’ll experience a “stuttering” effect.

With FreeSync enabled, the monitor dynamically refreshes the screen in sync with the current game’s frame rate. If it’s a 60Hz display then it only supports 60 frames per second. If the GPU’s output drops, the display’s refresh rate drops accordingly.

If you’re playing a relatively simple PC game like the original Half-Life, you probably don’t even need FreeSync. High refresh rates go a long way in eliminating screen tearing, so adaptive sync technologies are largely unneeded if your GPU consistently outputs high frame rates.

But if you’re playing a newer, graphically intensive game like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey at 4K, even a powerful gaming desktop might only render 40 or 50 frames per second on average, falling below the monitor’s refresh rate. With AMD FreeSync, the monitor’s refresh rate scales up or down to match the frame rate, so the monitor never refreshes in the middle of a frame and tearing never materializes.

What do you need to use FreeSync?

best gaming monitors asus mg279q
Asus’ MG279Q, our favorite FreeSync gaming display.

For FreeSync to work, you need a compatible AMD graphics card or an integrated APU, like AMD’s recent Ryzen-branded all-in-one chips. Most modern Radeon cards — from budget offerings up to the super-powerful Radeon VII — support FreeSync. If you’re unsure, check the specifications.

You also need a compatible monitor or TV that supports VESA’s Adaptive-Sync. AMD began supporting this technology as FreeSync via its software suite in 2015. It essentially builds a two-way communication between the Radeon GPU and off-the-shelf scaler boards installed in certified Adaptive-Sync displays. These boards do all the processing, rendering, backlight control, and more.

The DisplayPort 1.2a spec added support for variable refresh rates in 2014 followed by HDMI 2.1 in 2017.

But manufacturers don’t simply slap on AMD’s “FreeSync” branding and move on. According to AMD, these panels endure a “rigorous certification process to ensure a tear-free, low latency experience.” Nvidia does the same thing with its G-Sync certification program.

Typically FreeSync monitors are cheaper than their G-Sync counterparts. That’s because G-Sync monitors rely on a proprietary module, ditching the off-the-shelf scaler. This module controls everything from the refresh rate to the backlighting. However, Nvidia is currently building a list of FreeSync-class monitors that are now compatible with its G-Sync technology on the PC side.

Despite their lower price, FreeSync monitors provide a broad spectrum of other features to enhance your games, like 4K resolutions, high refresh rates, and HDR. Our favorite gaming displays have many of these technologies, though not all of them are FreeSync compatible.

How to enable FreeSync

After connecting your computer to a FreeSync-enabled monitor, make sure to download the latest AMD Catalyst drivers from the company’s website. You can manually select your card or APU model with the “Manually Select Your Driver” tool — just make sure to match your version of Windows. You can also use the auto-detection tool if you’re not sure.

Remember, you don’t need a second driver to enable FreeSync, If you have compatible hardware, it’s included in this download. Install the driver and restart your computer if necessary.

When you’re ready, open the AMD Radeon Settings by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting it from the pop-up menu. Next, select “Display” from the top menu and toggle on the “Radeon FreeSync” setting. Depending on your display, you may also need to turn it on in your monitor settings.

Note: Some FreeSync displays only work within a pre-defined frame rate range, so depending on the game you may need to limit your frame rate to stay within that threshold.

What is FreeSync Premium?

It’s important to use monitors that support LFC, which stands for low framerate compensation. LFC steps in when your graphics processor can’t maintain the same frame rate as your monitor, working to keep them in sync. FreeSync doesn’t offer any other enhancements in their Premium version, and all your other favorite features are still there.

What about FreeSync 2 HDR?

AMD rebranded FreeSync level as FreeSynch Premium Pro and added support for adding HDR content and games capable of HDR-based visuals during CES 2020. 

Premium Pro panels support low latency for SDR and HDR and can pass luminance accurately and successfully. It also comes with wide-color gamut testing. The panels must test to 400 nits of brightness for HDR 400 certification. 

FreeSync Premium Pro and its features are something that many in the future will continue to use. HDR will be necessary as it is a feature on all of these monitors.

Editors’ Choice

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How to Use G-Sync on a FreeSync Monitor

Two of the most common issues with PC gaming are screen tearing and stuttering. Each time your GPU renders a frame, it’s sent to the display, which updates the picture at a certain interval depending on the refresh rate (a 144Hz, display, for example, will refresh the image up to 144 times in a second). Screen tearing or stuttering happens when these two steps misalign, either with your GPU holding a frame your monitor isn’t ready for or your monitor trying to refresh with a frame that doesn’t exist.

G-Sync solves that problem by aligning your monitor’s refresh rate to your GPU’s frame render rate, offering smooth gameplay even as frame rates change. For years, G-Sync was a proprietary Nvidia technology that only worked with certain, very expensive displays with a Nvidia-branded module inside. In 2019, though, Nvidia opened its G-Sync technology to some compatible FreeSync displays, offering an adaptive refresh rate to not only a lot more displays, but a lot of cheaper ones, too.

Although there are now displays with the G-Sync Compatible badge on the shelves, they aren’t set to work with G-Sync by default. Here’s how to use G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor.

Further reading

Before getting started

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

First, you need to make sure that your hardware setup is going to support G-Sync, or this process isn’t going to work very well. Your monitor needs to be ready, and that requires three important things.

The first thing you need is a compatible monitor. You will want to consult the GeForce list of G-Sync compatible gaming monitors, which are monitors where G-Sync isn’t built-in but is expected to perform quite well. Recent displays from Dell, BenQ, Asus, Acer, LG, Samsung, and more are mostly supported, though you’ll still need to consult Nvidia’s list.

Secondly, you’ll need a GTX 10-series graphics card or better. RTX 20-series and its Super variants work, as do RTX 30-series GPUs. Similarly, the 1660 Super, 1660 Ti, and 1660 work, too. Lastly, you’ll need a DisplayPort connection from this graphics card to your monitor for most displays, though there are some LG models that require HDMI.

Finally, you’ll need to update your GPU drivers. Driver 417.71 brought support for G-Sync in 2019, so you’ll need at least that version, though layer versions are preferable for their improved overall performance and support.

With a compatible monitor at the ready, head into your monitor settings and make sure that FreeSync (or Adaptive Sync) is turned on. This is necessary for the following steps to work.

How to enable G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor

Set up G-Sync

With your Nvidia graphics card plugged in and recent drivers installed, you should have access to the Nvidia Control Panel app on your PC. Open it now. Once open, look at the left-hand menu for the Display section. Here, select the option to Set up G-SYNC.

This will open up a new window where you can enable various G-Sync features. Here’s what you need to do here:

  • First, make sure the box for Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible is checked
  • Make sure that Enable For Full-Screen Mode is selected. G-Sync may have problems trying to work with windowed games.
  • Select your display. There’s probably only one display to pick here, so this isn’t usually a problem unless you have an odd sort of multi-monitor display plan and need to make sure the changes apply to the right monitor.
  • Make sure the box for Enable Settings for the Selected Display is checked

Once finished, select Apply to get G-Sync started. Your monitor will black out for a few moments after applying settings.

Confirm your compatibility

Manage 3D Settings

If you have a decent, compatible monitor, you could find that G-Sync is most likely up and running just fine. This is a good thing. Run a few graphics tests to ensure everything looks how it should, and then go ahead and move forward from there. You should note that other monitors may still not enable G-Sync properly. This is common, and you may just have to make one additional adjustment to help your monitor get along properly. 

Stay in the Nvidia Control Panel, and check the left-hand menu for the section that says 3D Settings. From here, select Manage 3D Settings, and go to the Global tab. Look for the setting called Monitor Technology, and make sure it is set to the G-Sync compatibility setting.

If you prefer to decide on a game by game basis whether or not to use G-Sync, you have the option to do so. You will want to access Program Settings rather than Global. This allows for some added customization if you prefer certain games on G-Sync and certain games otherwise.

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