The VESA group, which is responsible for standards like the DisplayPort interface, has launched a new certification scheme to assist customers in finding better variable refresh rate monitors. The new Adaptive-Sync Display Compliance Test Specification is designed specifically for variable refresh rate displays; looking for glitches like flicker and dropped frames; as opposed to the previous HDR certification program, which measured things like peak brightness.
VRR (variable refresh rate) is a technology that allows a display to synchronize its refresh rate with the output of whatever device is hooked into it; eliminating visual artifacts, screen tearing, and frame pacing difficulties.
AMD and NVIDIA have their own tests
Both Nvidia and AMD have long given their own certification processes for VRR displays based on their proprietary standards; while the open Adaptive-Sync standard is more of a wild west. When Nvidia began evaluating Adaptive-Sync displays as part of its “G-Sync Compatible” project in 2019; only 5.56 percent of the products it tested passed. They didn’t have a wide enough variety of refresh rates or had other image quality difficulties, such as flickering.
VESA is certifying raw Adaptive-Sync performance rather than GPU-specific standards such as FreeSync or G-Sync. As a result, VESA anticipates that its certification badges will frequently coexist with manufacturer-specific equivalents. A G-Sync logo indicates how well a display works with an Nvidia GPU, whereas a VESA AdaptiveSync mark indicates how well a monitor works with any Adaptive-Sync-capable source.
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VESA Adaptive-Sync is exclusive for its own DisplayPort
VESA’s Adaptive-Sync technology is only available for its own DisplayPort standard; it is used in monitors and laptops. Unfortunately, it won’t help you choose from among the growing number of TVs that support VRR via HDMI 2.1; where standards are even more ad hoc.
However, Wooster claims that VESA’s new certification standard holds screens to a higher quality than existing vendor-specific certifications; in addition to being more transparent.
“We’ve seen some monitors that have passed those certifications but have flicker, jitter, and don’t satisfy our gray-to-gray specifications,” he says. In a follow-up email, he says he anticipates less than half of the Adaptive-Sync monitors on the market to match VESA’s criteria, which is comparable to what Nvidia discovered when it launched its own certification for Adaptive-Sync displays.
There are two compliance logos that displays can acquire through VESA certification. MediaSync is designed for monitors to watch videos or create content. Whereas AdaptiveSync is designed for gaming monitors. Manufacturers are allowed to plaster the relevant emblems over the product’s box, website, or wherever else they think potential customers would be interested in their equipment passing these standards.
Makers don’t have to publicly reveal the failures
A display that fails the tests cannot use the mark. However, makers won’t have to publicly reveal a failure.
MediaSync is the first of the two logos. The goal is to ensure that displays can playback video content with less than 1ms of jitter at each of the ten major worldwide frame rate standards. Although it may appear to be a straightforward request; 24fps content on 60Hz displays can cause serious issues because the frames do not divide properly into the refresh rate of the screen. The three-two pull-down method was once popular. However, it can cause juddering. A display with the MediaSync logo can use Adaptive-Sync to avoid such problems.
The second is the AdaptiveSync logo; it is designed for high refresh rate gaming monitors. To begin, a monitor bearing the AdaptiveSync logo must be capable of running at a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz or more at native resolution in factory default mode, and its adaptive refresh rate must be able to dip down to 60Hz.
That may not seem like a low floor; but Wooster says that if your frame rate drops below 58 frames per second, for example; display is required to use frame-doubling to bring it back up to 116 frames per second and back into its adaptive sync range.
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