The HDR revolution is enroute to PCs so at CES both AMD and Nvidia announced updated versions of the FreeSync and G-Sync systems. The second generation implementations will support HDR.
HDR + adaptive frame rate
FreeSync and G-Sync are systems built on what the industry has dubbed ‘adaptive frame rate’, which means that the monitor syncs perfectly to the frame rate output from the graphics card in the PC. Since PC games rarely run at a fixed refresh rate this has to be done in real time to avoid tearing, stuttering, and bring down input lag.
At CES the both systems were updated. ’FreeSync 2’ and ’G-Sync HDR’ will both add support for (High Dynamic Range), which encompasses an expanded brightness range and an expanded color gamut (up to Rec.2020).
AMD is also fixing one problem that has plagued FreeSync since the beginning. It will now support a larger frequency range. The first implementation was typically limited to for example 40-75Hz or another interval. The solution is called LFC (low frame rate compensation).
AMD explains that FreeSync 2 and a compatible PC monitor will share information on the display’s picture characteristics (peak brightness, color space etc.) to properly tone-map the HDR images. This is the same approach that Dolby Vision is built on. PCs will only support HDR10 initially.
It is not clear if G-Sync HDR has a similar implementation but it is very likely. Nvidia says that G-Sync also builds on the HDR10 format.
First HDR monitors & games
AMD will work together with Samsung to launch the first PC monitors based on FreeSync 2. These monitors were not announced. Nvidia will work together with Acer and Asus. You can learn more about the Acer and Asus monitors that also represent the first true HDR PC monitors.
Some of the first PC games to support HDR10 output are ’Mass Effect: Andromeda’ and ’Shadow Warrior 2’.
Both FreeSync 2 and G-Sync HDR will exist alongside the first generation systems. There will still be lots of non-HDR PC monitors available in the marketplace for many years to come. To utilize the new features you also need a graphics card from the latest generation.