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How to enable Nvidia G-Sync on your unsupported FreeSync monitor

How to enable Nvidia G-Sync on your unsupported FreeSync monitor


You may even have a good experience — at first

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you want smooth gameplay without screen tearing and you want to experience the high frame rates that your Nvidia graphics card is capable of, Nvidia’s G-Sync adaptive sync tech, which unleashes your card’s best performance, is a feature that you’ll want in your next monitor.

To get this feature, you can spend a lot on a monitor with G-Sync built in, like the high-end $1,999 Acer Predator X27, or you can spend less on a FreeSync monitor that has G-Sync compatibility by way of a software update. (As of this writing, there are 15 monitors that support the upgrade.)

However, there are still hundreds of FreeSync models that will likely never get the feature. According to Nvidia, “not all monitors go through a formal certification process, display panel quality varies, and there may be other issues that prevent gamers from receiving a noticeably improved experience.”

But even if you have an unsupported monitor, it may be possible to turn on G-Sync. You may even have a good experience — at first. I tested G-Sync with two unsupported models, and, unfortunately, the results just weren’t consistent enough to recommend over a supported monitor.

The 32-inch AOC CQ32G1 curved gaming monitor, for example, which is priced at $399, presented no issues when I played Apex Legends and Metro: Exodus — at first. Then some flickering started appearing during gameplay, though I hadn’t made any changes to the visual settings. I also tested it with Yakuza 0, which, surprisingly, served up the worst performance, even though it’s the least demanding title that I tested. Whether it was in full-screen or windowed mode, the frame rate was choppy.

The Asus MG279Q.
The Asus MG279Q.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Another unsupported monitor, the $550 Asus MG279Q, handled both Metro: Exodus and Forza Horizon 4 without any noticeable issues. (It’s easy to confuse the MG279Q for the Asus MG278Q, which is on Nvidia’s list of supported FreeSync models.) In Nvidia’s G-Sync benchmark, there was significant tearing early on, but, oddly, I couldn’t re-create it.

Despite all of that, if you’d like to try G-Sync with an unsupported monitor, here’s how to do it.

Before you begin, note that in order to achieve the highest frame rates with or without G-Sync turned on, you’ll need to use a DisplayPort cable. If you’re using a FreeSync monitor, chances are good that it came with one. But if not, they aren’t too expensive.

Using G-Sync with an unsupported FreeSync monitor

First, download and install the latest driver for your GPU, either from Nvidia’s website or through the GeForce Experience, Nvidia’s Windows 10 app that can tweak graphics settings on a per-game basis. All of Nvidia’s drivers since mid-January 2019 have included G-Sync support for select FreeSync monitors. Even if you don’t own a supported monitor, you’ll probably be able to toggle G-Sync on once you install the latest driver. Whether it will work well after you do turn the feature on is another question.

Once the driver is installed, open the Nvidia Control Panel. On the side column, you’ll see a new entry: Set up G-Sync. (If you don’t see this setting, switch on FreeSync using your monitor’s on-screen display. If you still don’t see it, you may be out of luck.)

Check the box that says “Enable G-Sync Compatible,” then click “Apply: to activate the settings. (The settings page will inform you that your monitor is not validated by Nvidia for G-Sync. Since you already know that is the case, don’t worry about it.)

Check that the resolution and refresh rate are set to their max by selecting “Change resolution” on the side column. Adjust the resolution and refresh rate to the highest-possible option (the latter of which is hopefully at least 144Hz if you’ve spent hundreds on your gaming monitor).

Nvidia offers a downloadable G-Sync benchmark, which should quickly let you know if things are working as intended. If G-Sync is active, the animation shouldn’t exhibit any tearing or stuttering. But since you’re using an unsupported monitor, don’t be surprised if you see some iffy results. Next, try out some of your favorite games. If something is wrong, you’ll realize it pretty quickly.

There’s a good resource to check out on Reddit, where its PC community has created a huge list of unsupported FreeSync monitors, documenting each monitor’s pros and cons with G-Sync switched on. These real-world findings are insightful, but what you experience will vary depending on your PC configuration and the games that you play.

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