My Foolish colleague Timothy Green recently published an article suggesting that NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) G-SYNC technology might not last against what rival graphics maker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) calls FreeSync.
As Timothy notes, FreeSync doesn't require any proprietary hardware, unlike G-SYNC, which requires a specialized hardware "module," known as a G-SYNC module, to be included as part of any monitor that supports G-Sync.
Green argues that now that chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which commands overwhelming PC graphics market segment share through its integrated graphics solutions, has publicly announced that it will support FreeSync, the chances that "G-SYNC will ultimately win out against FreeSync are slim."
Although I am bullish on NVIDIA, and even though I am thrilled with my G-SYNC powered display, I agree with Green that G-SYNC probably won't last over the long term. Here's why.
G-SYNC seems to significantly increase display costs
The first issue with G-SYNC is that it seems to lead to a significant increase in monitor pricing relative to comparable FreeSync panels. To illustrate this point, let me show you two gaming-oriented monitors. They are from different manufacturers, but they use the same underlying display.
The ASUS MG279Q, which is a FreeSync-capable monitor, goes for $580 new on Newegg.com. The Acer XB270HU, based on the exact same panel, sells for $799 -- a $219 price difference. Although, according to Tom's Hardware, G-SYNC has some advantages over FreeSync, $219 represents a substantial price premium.
A lot of FreeSync monitors have been hitting the market lately; where are the G-SYNC variants?
Although NVIDIA had a head start on AMD with G-SYNC, it would seem that many attractive displays have recently launched with FreeSync support, with G-SYNC models expected to come later.
For example, the G-SYNC counterpart from ASUS to the MG279Q -- known as the PG279Q has yet to become available. Another example would be Acer's 34-inch curved display. The FreeSync variant is available for purchase today, while the G-SYNC capable model isn't expected until later. And, of course, it will probably be even more expensive than the currently available FreeSync variant.
FreeSync-style variable refresh will probably win out in desktops, but does Intel's support really matter?
With FreeSync monitors seemingly coming in ahead of their G-SYNC-based counterparts and at substantially lower prices, I tend to agree with the notion that FreeSync-type technologies will ultimately win out over G-SYNC in desktop gaming monitors over the long term.
I would argue, though, that whether Intel supports the standard or not probably isn't all that important to this battle. As far as desktop PC gamers go, I doubt that users unwilling or unable to purchase discrete graphics cards will buy premium gaming monitors with either G-SYNC or FreeSync support.
In the laptops, where Intel's integrated graphics are probably more often used by gamers than in desktops, G-SYNC doesn't require any proprietary hardware such as the G-SYNC module to function correctly. Indeed, according to AnandTech, G-SYNC in mobile devices needs only embedded DisplayPort, which the site says is a "common fixture in high-end notebooks these days."
It would seem to me that in the fast-growing market for gaming notebooks, the FreeSync versus G-SYNC debate is fairly moot, strengthening the argument that Intel's support for FreeSync is ultimately irrelevant to the success or failure of NVIDIA's G-SYNC.
Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Nvidia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.