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The Best G-Sync Monitors for 2021

Nvidia’s G-Sync technology gets rid of screen tearing while you’re playing games. For a long time, G-Sync displays were expensive because they required a proprietary module from Nvidia. Now, many of the best G-Sync monitors offer adaptive refresh rate without a module, making G-Sync monitors cheaper than ever.

We’ve rounded up the top five G-Sync monitors, from budget displays like the Dell 24 Gaming Monitor to the insanely expensive LG 38GL950G-B. Out of all of them, though, the Acer Predator XB273K is our favorite. It’s a 4K display at a reasonable price, and it comes with top gaming features like a 144Hz refresh rate and, of course, G-Sync.

The best G-Sync monitors at a glance:

The best 4K G-Sync monitor: Acer Predator XB273K

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Acer’s Predator models are already great for gaming: Adding G-Sync and HDR support to this 4K model only makes it better. This 27-inch monitor has an excellent quantum dot screen with good color accuracy and amazing brightness levels thanks to the effective HDR.

The refresh rate starts at 120Hz and overclocks to 144Hz (DisplayPort only). The response time is a healthy 4 milliseconds — more than fast enough for most gamers. You also get the many Predator customization options for various gaming modes — action, sports, racing, etc. — and the ability to adjust color and other settings as you please.

We did have some issues with the design: The onboard controls for the Acer Predator XB3 are in the back and a little difficult to use, especially once you have the screen positioned the way you like. The ports — including HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-A, and USB-B — are well hidden but also difficult to access. As a result, setting this monitor up may take a little bit longer, but in the end, it’s all worthwhile.

The best 1440p G-Sync monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

There’s plenty to love with this 1440p G-Sync display, including a nice 165Hz refresh rate.

Our current favorite to earn the 1440p crown is the ROG Swift PG279Q from Asus. It packs a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution across a flat 27-inch IPS panel. It’s not quite as attractive as Razer’s unique Raptor 27 display that originally sat in this spot, but there’s plenty of eye candy to give your desktop a little visual flair.

This G-Sync display offers a maximum 165Hz refresh rate, a 350-nit maximum brightness, and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. It doesn’t support HDR, but the IPS panel translates to rich, deep colors and wide viewing angles.

Other notable features packed into this Asus ROG Swift display include built-in two-watt speakers, a handful of ports, a built-in crosshair and FPS counter, and a 4-millisecond response time.

The best budget G-Sync monitor: Dell 24 Gaming Monitor

With G-Sync compatible certification, a 144Hz refresh rate, and full HD resolution on a TN panel, all for around $170, it’s hard beating the Dell 24 Gaming Monitor. We’re talking specifically about the S2421HGF, which is a high refresh rate G-Sync monitor with a 1-millisecond response time. It’s all you need for gaming, and it’s as cheap as monitors come.

The monitor is G-Sync compatible, meaning it doesn’t have a dedicated G-Sync module inside. However, it will still solve screen tearing without adding input lag. If you decide to switch to an AMD graphics card down the line — maybe one of the new RX 6000 cards — you’re covered, too. The monitor supports FreeSync Premium through the DisplayPort connection.

The specs are right, especially for the price, but the Dell 24 Gaming Monitor makes cuts in a few areas. The included stand doesn’t have a lot of adjustment options, and the panel isn’t very color accurate. Still, those issues are easy to overlook considering how inexpensive the monitor is. We’re recommending the 24-inch model here, but you can pick up the 27-inch version for $50 more.

The best high refresh rate G-Sync monitor: Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor

The Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor offers a blistering 360HZ refresh rate on a 24.5-inch IPS panel. Like the previous monitor, there are several variations of this one. We’re talking specifically about the AW2521H. It’s a 25-inch full HD monitor that comes with a 1-millisecond response time and a 360Hz refresh rate through DisplayPort or a 240HZ refresh rate through HDMI.

It has a dedicated G-Sync module inside, meaning it’s been validated by Nvidia to offer a variable refresh rate without any visual artifacts or input lag. Additionally, the monitor comes with a Nvidia Reflex latency analyzer, and the panel covers 99% of the sRGB color spectrum. You can output the Nvidia Reflex data through one of the five USB 3.2 ports that are situated around the monitor.

Although the Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor doesn’t support HDR, it still comes with a peak brightness of 400 nits. If you mostly play competitive games like Overwatch, Valorant, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it’s hard beating Alienware’s 360Hz behemoth.

The best ultrawide G-Sync monitor: LG 38GL950G-B

The LG 38GL950G-B is an absurd display. It’s a 38-inch curved ultrawide monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 1600. The panel uses nano IPS technology, offering 98% coverage of the wide-gamut PCI-P3 color space, and it’s certified for VESA DisplayHDR 400. There’s also a G-Sync module inside for tear-free gaming, and the panel supports a 144Hz refresh rate (175Hz if you overclock it).

It’s an absurd monitor, but it comes with an equally absurd price tag. At around $1,800, the LG 38GL950G-B is one of the most expensive monitors on the market. However, it’s rare to find a large ultrawide with a high refresh rate, HDR, and G-Sync support, and the few that do exist are even more expensive than LG’s offering.

LG makes the price worth it, too. In addition to top-of-the-line specs, the LG 38GL950G-B comes with Sphere Lighting 2.0, which offers subtle accent lighting that you can sync with music, movies, or games, and it also comes with a highly adjustable stand.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

The Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i debut Nvidia Advanced Optimus to tame power-hungry G-Sync displays

The new Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i laptops will be the first to feature Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus, a technology that manages G-Sync graphics dynamically to preserve battery life.

The two gaming systems are part of the Thursday announcement of Intel’s Comet Lake H mobile CPUs and Nvidia’s GeForce Super GPUs. Taken all together, the companies’ products usher in an exciting new generation of high-performance laptops (and intriguing competition with the Ryzen 4000 laptops launched Monday).

The first laptops with Advanced Optimus

The debut of Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus technology in the Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i is significant. Lenovo’s been in the vanguard before—the Legion Y740 of 2019 was the first laptop we tested with Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Max-Q with ray tracing, for instance. But Advanced Optimus is even more impactful, fixing a problem that thwarted Nvidia graphics in the mobile space. 

The problem was power-hungry G-Sync. Gamers have long valued Nvidia’s G-Sync display technology because it smooths out annoying stutter and screen-tearing in fast-moving images. However, the implementation on mobile has been rocky. G-Sync required the discrete GPU to be running constantly, which basically killed battery life. 

As my colleague Brad Chacos explains in his news story about Nvidia’s announcements, Advanced Optimus lets the laptop use G-Sync when it needs it, and turn it off when it doesn’t. “It connects both Nvidia’s GeForce GPU and your laptop processor’s integrated CPU to a dynamic display switch,” he explains. “When you’re gaming or performing other GPU-intensive tasks, the switch hands display output directly over to Nvidia’s graphics chip, enabling higher frame rates and yes, full G-Sync support. When you’re not, however, the dynamic switch hands full control over to your system’s integrated graphics to save power.” In short, G-Sync will no longer be a relentless drag on gaming laptops.

Lenovo’s hardly alone in the gaming space, making solid systems but facing competition on all sides, from vendors large and small. Getting “firsts” like Advanced Optimus could give the company’s Legion line a boost as gamers line up to buy the latest technology. 

The Legion 5i and Legion 7i will succeed the Legion Y540 and Y740 gaming laptops in what appears to be a phased changeover, during which laptops with the old and new naming schemes will coexist, most likely in different markets. Availability will also vary. The Legion 5i/Legion Y540 will have a starting price of $999 with RTX 2060, while the Legion 7i/Legion Y740 will start at $1,199 with RTX 2070.

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Computing

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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