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AMD's Radeon FreeSync 2 is here to make your HDR gaming even smoother

AMD has announced FreeSync 2, the next iteration of its display-syncing tech for gamers. Designed to live alongside the original FreeSync specification, FreeSync 2 represents a slight step up with support for bringing a better, smoother picture to monitors with high dynamic range (HDR).

Just as it has started to become more common on TVs and the content shown on them, HDR support is starting to pop up more and more in PC games and monitors. While that's excellent for those who want a more vibrant picture, it also introduces some problems for games due to a higher latency. FreeSync 2 is meant to counteract that by shifting work usually handled by displays to the graphics card instead. From AMD:

Current HDR transport formats were designed primarily for movie content displayed on televisions with tone mapping handled by the displays, often leading to higher-than-acceptable latency for PC gaming. AMD's new API for FreeSync™ 2 offers a lower-latency alternative that shifts the workload to the powerful pipeline of a Radeon™ GPU, allowing the game to tone map directly to the display's target luminance, contrast, and color space. Radeon FreeSync™ 2 technology offers over 2x the brightness and color volume over sRGB.

FreeSync 2

FreeSync 2

Interestingly, AMD says that the FreeSync and FreeSync 2 designations will coexist in the marketplace, with the latter being reserved specifically for more premium displays with HDR support on board. Thankfully, if you have a Radeon graphics card that already supports FreeSync, it will also support FreeSync 2 via a driver update. Still, games have to add support for FreeSync 2 via a dedicated API, so your mileage will vary depending on what game you're playing.

In any case, we should start seeing FreeSync 2 popping up on monitors from a variety of manufacturers fairly soon. FreeSync 2 is expected to hit the market sometime in the first half of 2017. If you need a GPU upgrade, have a look at our guide to the best graphics cards for tons of advice.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

15 Comments
  • Excellent for Scorpio. MS will undoubtedly utilize this in Scorpio.
  • If it's using an AMD GPU it'd be silly not to frankly.
  • Which it is. AMD have the deal with both Sony and MS. NVidia turned their back on console. Idiots they are if you ask me.
  • There are not TVs with freesync...
  • Actually the just announced HDMI 2.1 spec supports Freesync (variable refresh rate) so there will be TV's using it one day however... Game consoles typically stick to a more fixed frame rate then PC's do either hitting 30fps or 60fps and the best I think you could really get out of it for console owners is that for the games which run without a locked frame rate but also hover in the 40-50 fps range Freesync can make those feel like they are running at 60fps, so thats a limited bunch of titles. It's a nice freebie but not something to get super excited by. The HDR stuff isn't anything special that MS doesn't already do on Xbox and for the PC this system is a competing solution if Windows 10 adds native HDR support, though the pre-calibrated HDR displays are a nice touch.
  • So? It's not compulsory. I have an AMD GPU but no Freesync monitor. Just means I can't use it.
  • Amd is doing great things lately.I hope it will change the way we look at Amd.NVidia and Intel need serious competition.There was a benchmark test about how amd using the Finewine tech for their cards.Next time I will be definitely getting an Amd card.
  • It sounds like this won't work with NVIDIA cards unlike FreeSync.
  • NVIDIA has its own first-party thing, G-Sync. Which is basically a similar idea except they charge companies to use it and obv only works on their GPUs. NVIDIA would rather push that I'm sure!
  • FreeSync only works on gaming monitors.
  • It works on monitors with FreeSync support.
  • I thought free sync standard was baked into display port tech? Is there an additional step they have to take to get it working?
  • So monitors now have to support Free Sync2 in addition to Free Sync? Nice way of forcing people to buy more monitors!
  • No, they can support whatever spec they want to support, and people can buy whatever monitor they want. If someone doesn't need HDR, they can still use a regular FreeSync monitor.
  • Not really. I mean...technology advances. That's how it is and will always be. No-one forces you to buy anything!