AMD and Nvidia’s fierce battle over one of the most thrilling display technologies to appear in a long time—variable refresh rates, which sync your monitor and graphics card’s output for a buttery smooth gaming experience—is extending to engulf yet another hot new monitor advancement: gorgeous high-dynamic range visuals.
Samsung announced the world’s first FreeSync 2-enabled PC monitors on Friday, the 27- or 32-inch CHG70 and the utterly massive 49-inch CHG90 ultrawide display. The panels pack HDR, quantum dot technology, wide 178-degree viewing angles, and a significant 1800R curvature, along with blazing-fast 144Hz refresh rates and 1ms response times.
Those impressive specs are bolstered by FreeSync 2. AMD’s technology builds on the shoulders of FreeSync’s base capabilities, mandating low latency levels and the use of the previously optional “low framerate compensation” feature that keeps gameplay buttery smooth when frame rates dip to low levels.
Most of FreeSync 2’s advantages revolve around HDR, however. The technology ensures your game looks as glorious as possible by switching to a “FreeSync mode” that increases brightness levels and enforces the maximum color space when you load supported games. It also provides those games with the native characteristics of your display, which lets games output directly to those properties during their initial tone mapping—negating the need for an extra image processing step and reducing latency even more.
You need an AMD Radeon graphics card to take advantage of FreeSync 2, and any Radeon GPU that supports FreeSync will work with FreeSync 2. (Read: Most modern cards.) But if you don’t already have one, you’ll probably have trouble finding one. The CHG70 packs a 2560x1440 resolution, while the insanely wide CHG90 rocks 3840x1080—the equivalent of two standard 1080p monitors side-by-side. Pushing pixels on monitors like that requires a Radeon RX 580 or more. Unfortunately, AMD’s enthusiast-class Radeon RX Vega graphics cards won’t land until the very end of July, and Etherium cryptocurrency miners have gobbled up all Radeon RX 570 and RX 580 cards, driving up prices and emptying stocks from store shelves.
But interestingly, PC graphics cards aren’t the only technology that supports FreeSync 2. Microsoft’s powerful Xbox “Project Scorpio” gaming console will also play nice with AMD’s technology, and it’s expected to be formally unveiled at Microsoft’s E3 event this weekend.
The impact on you at home: These beastly displays were built for gaming, just like the first wave of rival G-Sync HDR monitors. But unlike the Nvidia-infused panels, you won’t need to wait forever to buy Samsung’s FreeSync 2 displays. The CHG90 is available to preorder for $1,499 on Amazon, with a slated release on June 30. The 32-inch CHG70 will appear on Newegg for $700 soon, and the 27-inch on Samsung's website for $600, though neither appeared at the time of writing.