Most of us are used to thinking about, say, a 1440p-capable monitors that run at a 120Hz refresh rate. In 2024, that’s going to change. New logos and specs will indicate monitors that can run at two different refresh rates at different resolutions.
It’s a dynamically different way of thinking about displays, reminiscent of how some PCs are being designed for content creation, with moderately powerful discrete GPUs that can be used for video and photo editing during work hours, but are also capable of gaming after the workday has ended. These new displays will be designed to work at higher resolutions at slower refresh rates, but switch to a lower-resolution, higher refresh rate when called for.
It’s important to note that VESA is proposing an alternative to the terminology already in the market. “Adaptive sync” displays are typically used as another way to describe Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync technology, which alters the refresh rate of the display to match the output of a graphics card — if your PC can only display 54 frames per second at 1080p while running the game Cyberpunk 2077, for example, the technology will alter the display’s frame rate to 54Hz reduce the visual artifacts known as “tearing.”
In this scenario, gamers would manually reduce the game’s resolution and/or visual quality to maximize framerate. But it wouldn’t matter if the gamer later bought a better graphics card; an older display capable of 60Hz at 4K resolutions would only be capable of 60Hz at 1080p, too.
And that’s what’s changed.
“Until recently, most displays did not have the ability to operate at different refresh rates when the resolution is reduced, instead running at the refresh rate supported by their physical maximum resolution,” said Roland Wooster, chairman of the VESA Display Performance Metrics Task Group responsible for the Adaptive-Sync Display CTS, in a statement.
“Users interested in both high-performance gaming as well content creation, photography, or video editing, have often been faced with a difficult choice between purchasing a display with low latency and high refresh rates, or one with higher resolution,” Wooster added. “Today, more and more displays are coming to market that give users the best of both worlds. VESA’s updated Adaptive-Sync Display CTS includes optional testing for these innovative displays, and a new dual mode logo allowing consumers to identify the range of variable refresh rate performance of these displays more easily.”
The idea is that you’ll be able to optimize your display for the game. As LG put it, the “VESA CERTIFIED” logo instantly tells gamers that its 32GS95UE is capable of delivering an optimized gaming experience, for graphically rich, story-driven games at UHD (4K) 240Hz, or fast-paced FPS, MOBA or racing games at FHD (1080p) 480Hz.
There is a small catch: the logo and testing only allows for two different resolutions and refresh rates, rather than a sliding scale that accommodates many. The logo testing does account for “overclocked” displays, if they pass the tests. VESA’s logo also requires a minimum of a 144Hz framerate at the maximum resolution, as well as 1080p resolution at the minimum configuration.
VESA said it will be showing off AdaptiveSync displays with its partners next week at CES 2024.