Discussion My GTX 1080 woes. It appears NOT to have been the GPU or the PSU - I just can't reliably use FreeSync

Ok, the fact that the behavior with the blanking screen was so erratic and inconsistent was what threw me off.

First there was my A clichéd "Is my GPU going bad?" post posting when I noted the initial issues.

Then there was my post It wasn't the GPU (edit: maybe it is?) or the PSU after all, but Nvidia's DRIVERS! - Argh! Are they trying to break FreeSync compatiblity now?

Because the behavior was so inconsistent, at first, it looked like changing the PSU fixed it. So I had what I thought was a bulletproof Seasonic Focus PX-650 replaced under warranty.

When the replacement Seasonic PSU came, the screen blanking behaviors continued. Went back to the alternate PSU, and the behavior was suddenly there with THAT PSU as well, where it never was before.

Alright, did more testing, etc., and it seemed that it was the card itself. The blanking sometimes wouldn't happen for quite some time, and sometimes might happen once or twice per minute. Very random. Also the issue where the frame rate would dip to 47-48 fps, on games that are NOT stressful (Pinball Arcade, Don't Starve, Portal, Portal 2), then come back up to 60fps (the max rate I set in the driver), continued - also with no rhyme or reason with regard to what has to be displayed. This only happens in gaming, not desktop use.

Did some tests (questionable utility, a stress test that didn't push the GPU very hard), and a little back and forth with Nvidia, and they replaced my card with a refurbished unit.

I tried the replacement card, and within 5 minutes on Portal, same symptoms.

Then I went back to what I wrote before - the suspicion where, when the performance dipped, it was right at the minimum refresh rate of the monitor. I also went back to that FreeSync indicator for the monitor itself. It seems that the LED was indicating that FreeSync was on, but whenever the screen would go blank, the LED switched to indicate that FreeSync was now off... then when the screen came back, after a second or two, the indicator would show FreeSync as on again. I haven't seen the "slow down to 1 fps less than monitor's minimum refresh rate" again, though my testing hasn't been as extensive (the blanking happens more often, and is frustrating - now sometimes as frequently as 3-4 times per minute, though at least that's uncommon)

Somehow, it seems like Nvidia's driver's are occasionally arbitrarily shutting off FreeSync in mid-game, which causes the brief blanking.

While it hasn't happened in a little while, it's also kind of suspicious that the performance drops would happen that the frame rate goes particularly to 1 fps below the monitor's minimum.

If I set it to use a fixed refresh rate rather than GSync, then everything works perfectly. This is something I wish I'd remembered to try earlier, and indicates to me that the card itself should be fine.

Wondering if I was having some weird monitor issues (really? The MONITOR), I switched to my son's old RX 580, and installed the Adrenalin 20.2.2 drivers. I figure if it's the monitor's fault, then I'd have issues with FreeSync turning off and then back on.

Nope. Gamed for over an hour, not a single incident of FreeSync spontaneously shutting off. Not a single moment where the frame rate dipped below 60 (not counting loading screens, obviously).

I could've sworn back in the beginning, with the 417.71 drivers, FreeSync always worked properly, and that ever since I upgraded drivers, it was a problem - though reverting back didn't help. I'm now starting to wonder if I was imagining it about the original FreeSync-supporting drivers (417.71) having worked correctly.

My conclusion at this point - Even though my monitor isn't on Nvidia's certified compatible list, it's got to be an Nvidia driver issue. FreeSync is FreeSync. If it works correctly with an AMD card, there's no reason Nvidia shouldn't be able to handle it. I might stick the GTX 1080 back in and try the 417.71 drivers back in, but I hold out little hope for that.
Update (and maybe a little more ranting) - I guess with the Windows updates since my previous postings on this, 417.71 is no longer usable on Windows 10. That aside, I happened to look when checking out various settings for the display, and realized my monitor driver was set to Generic PnP.

I then had Windows 10 search, and it installed an Acer XR382CQK driver. So, curious, I proceeded to play Portal 2.

It worked fine for 2 hours... it's NEVER worked anything close to that long. I seriously wondered "Was I an idiot? Was THAT the only thing holding Nvidia's drivers back from using GSync/FreeSync correctly?" Then I took consolation and asked myself "Why didn't Nvidia's tech support think of this?" when they suggested other tests.

(side note: it worked for well over an hour when I first tested it in another system a while back, too, which was the reason for the misdiagnosis of the power supply being bad).

Anyway, this really got my hopes up. I stopped, shut down, and had dinner. I came back again, confident that this problem had been solved. However, even though the Monitor driver is still Acer XR382CQK, the blanking and slowdown to one-less-than-minimum FreeSync range problems came back. Mostly blanking, as it was before, and definitely on a frequent basis.

It CANNOT be blamed on "the monitor doesn't implement FreeSync properly." AMD handles it no problem. Nvidia's drivers handle it just fine, until they decide not to.

At some point or another, I may try it on my son's LG 34UC79G-B, even though that's not on Nvidia's list, either. Still, this makes me hesitant to buy Nvidia in the future, given what appears to me to be a half-assed implementation of FreeSync support.

I'm also curious as to whether the Nvidia driver hack that existed (and QUICKLY shut down by Nvidia) prior to Nvidia's official support for FreeSync ever had this problem.

(side note: The Nvidia Control Panel is still clunky as hell and unpleasant to use)