In barely a year AMD's FreeSync display technology - whereby a monitor panel will only refresh when a new frame is ready, rather than at a fixed rate - has become almost an industry mainstay. Numerous mainstream and premium models are now available, thanks not least in part to the adoption of Adaptive Sync as an official optional extension to VESA's Displayport 1.2a standard. With models starting from less than £100 it's now an option for all consumers who sport an up to date AMD GPU or APU, but until now one restriction on the tech has been the need for DisplayPort, as opposed to the more ubiquitous HDMI connector.
Addressing this underlying shortfall, AMD announced that it was developing FreeSync over HDMI technology for use with consumer displays. Initially shown off as a proof-of-concept made possible through a firmware hack in June last year, HDMI over FreeSync was officially incorporated into AMD's plans in December along with the reveal of half a dozen tech partners including major manufacturers Acer, LG and Samsung. Samsung have now unveiled two supporting 1080p monitors, with more still on the way.
Both the CF591 and CF390 are part of Samsung's stable of curved displays which are set to be all the rage this year. Both model ranges stake out the mainstream market fairly well, even if they are part of the curved display trend which is set to be the 'in thing' this year: each are 1080P, range in size from 23.5" to 27", and offer relatively standard input options.
Occupying more of an entry level position is the the CF390-range, which will be initially available with a 23.5" or 27" curved panel. Not much is known about the exact panel tech in these designs but they are understood to be restricted to HDMI and DVI inputs, hence the need for FreeSync-Over-HDMI. It's also possible that a 21" model will arrive later this year.
The CF591 by contrast arrives in just one size, a 27" 1080p curved panel with a curvature rating of 1800R. More technical titbits for the panel used include a 3000:1 contract ratio, 4ms GTG response time, and support for 119% of the sRGB colour-space. These specs aren't enough to get either hardcore gamer or CAD specialist particularly excited, but depending on the price could be attractive to users who have a mix of passions. Models in the range will support a DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 1.4 and one DVI input.
Obviously two looming questions remain: what's the price, and what's the FreeSync range. The CF591 is quoted as having a refresh rate of 60Hz, which likely corresponds to the upper range; anything around 30Hz for the lower bound would be suitable for entry-level gaming, but approaching 45Hz would be less ideal. AMD's low framerate compensation for FreeSync will only kick in on panels which have an upper refresh rate 2.5x that of the lower, so for best gaming performance the lower the range the better. As for price, that's going to be highly variable depending on the underlying panel quality.
A wider range of FreeSync capable HDMI monitors will become available in the coming months, and all recent AMD GPUs that currently support the DisplayPort FreeSync technology should also support it over HDMI following a driver update. For more information on the technology visit AMD.com/FreeSync.