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Vizio’s 2021 TVs get a major gaming upgrade with FreeSync

Vizio has good news for gamers who are considering buying a new TV. The company is pushing a free firmware update to its 2021 TV models that will enable compatibility with AMD’s FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR) technology, which should enable much smoother graphics when the TVs are used with compatible gaming consoles and PCs.

Both Sony and Microsoft’s latest generation of gaming consoles use AMD graphics cards, which makes FreeSync an especially popular choice for console gamers.

“Today’s games are more demanding than ever, and so are today’s gamers,” said Bill Baxter, chief technology officer at Vizio, in a press release. “We worked side by side with AMD to ensure AMD FreeSync technology would be available on our 2021 Collection, in turn giving our users a smooth, high refresh rate gaming experience.”

These are the 2021 Vizio models that will be getting FreeSync technologies with the update:

  • M-Series Quantum
  • P-Series Quantum
  • P-Series Quantum X

The update also brings some picture performance improvements for Vizio’s new OLED series, including up to 120Hz at 4K resolutions, smoother VRR, and improved judder reduction.

The update is an enhancement of Vizio’s ProGaming Engine, and the benefits vary slightly from one model to another. The M-Series Quantum get standard AMD FreeSync, which reduces latency and flicker and eliminates screen tearing. Meanwhile, the P-Series Quantum and Quantum X get AMD’s FreeSync Premium, which provides these benefits, plus a minimum of 120Hz at FHD resolution (1080p) and low frame rate compensation.

With this update, the Vizio M-Series Quantum becomes the most affordable TV with FreeSync technology.

Who needs VRR?

The reason you’re seeing more and more TVs with VRR is that it’s an essential ingredient in order for modern games to look their best on a display. Graphically demanding games often end up being rendered at different frame rates depending on how complex the on-screen action is. This can become a problem when your monitor or TV can’t adapt its refresh rate to stay in sync. When that happens, you get screen tearing — a jarring visual effect that can make some games unplayable.

Monitors and TVs that are equipped with VRR can read these frame rate changes and adapt their refresh rates accordingly. Theoretically, this can and usually does eliminate the tearing effect completely.

Do all TVs have VRR?

No. Even new 2020 high-end models from companies like Sony often ship without this feature, so if you’re a gamer who plays high-performance PC or console titles, it’s worth reading the fine print to make sure you get a TV with VRR (Sony’s X900H and Z8H do support VRR).

VRR vs. FreeSync vs. G-Sync

Some newer TVs, like TCL’s 2020 6-Series, have VRR built-in as part of the HDMI 2.1 specification. It provides a very good level of optimization for gaming. FreeSync is AMD’s version of VRR. It provides a few more advantages over VRR when a FreeSync display is mated with a FreeSync console or PC.

G-Sync is Nvidia’s version of VRR. It provides many of the same benefits as FreeSync, but it uses proprietary hardware. For a deep dive of the differences, here’s a handy FreeSync vs. G-Sync explainer.

So far, only LG’s 2020 lineup of OLED TVs offer both FreeSync and G-Sync VRR technologies.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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