Today, during Nvidia’s second day of their Editor’s Day in Montreal, the company made the first hardware announcement in many years that didn’t involve a new GPU or a new Tegra product. Instead, Nvidia introduced a new product feature that was hardware based but still requires one of their GPUs to work. This feature is called G-Sync. G-Sync is Nvidia’s own way of solving one of the biggest problems in the way that gamers experience their gaming. One of the biggest problems with gaming is that 99% of people game using a monitor and most of these monitors are generally limited to one or two refresh rates. As a result, whenever the frame rates fluctuate rapidly or quickly, there is a possibility of getting screen tearing through the display.
One of the ways of preventing screen tearing is by implementing V-Sync which limits the GPU to the monitor’s refresh rate at 60 Hz and the frame rate to 60 frames per second. The reason this happens is because vertical sync, also known as V-Sync, essentially limits the GPU from sending any frames to the monitor until the frame has been refreshed. So, theoretically, a 60 Hz monitor will be limited to 60 FPS and a 120 Hz monitor will be limited to 120 FPS. This prevents too many frames being sent to a monitor and too many frames overloading the monitor as it tries to refresh. By syncing the monitor’s refresh rate with the frame rate of the graphics card, you theoretically are getting an improved experience. However, most monitors operate on 30 and 60 Hz refresh rates and anything below or above those refresh rates would theoretically cause issues or result in reduced performance.
G-Sync is designed to improve the overall experience that the gamer has with their games by introducing new hardware into the monitor that helps the monitor sync perfectly with the refresh rate of the graphics card so that the refresh rate varies dynamically and does not jump around or hit any sudden barriers. By getting the monitor and graphics card to work so closely together, Nvidia has finally found a way to smooth out the way that we perceive games. Since Monitors are the most popular method of viewing games, it makes sense for Nvidia to work with display manufacturers on this technology to help them get it included into their monitors.
The Monitors require a hardware upgrade, or replacement module, which is what allows Nvidia’s GPUs to drive the monitor’s timing. The module as shown above by Jensen Huang is what allows for this all to happen to remove all of the tearing.
One of Nvidia’s closest partners when it comes to new display technologies has always been ASUS. They’ve helped Nvidia with their 3D vision technologies and supplied the necessary monitors as well as worked with Nvidia on their 4K push to make sure that their graphics cards properly displayed 4K. And now, ASUS is also partnering with Nvidia on G-Sync by putting it in some of their gaming monitors. This won’t be included in all of ASUS’ monitors since nobody other than gamers will care about it, but it will still be an attractive technology for gamers to use. The monitor being used for this is ASUS’ VG248 144 Hz monitor, which enables incredibly high refresh rates and frame rates. They are also partnering with BenQ, Viewsonic and Philips, however, the monitors they had on display were the VG248 144 Hz monitors.
Following that, Nvidia showed members of the press a demonstration with two identical systems side by side with one standard monitor and one monitor with a G-Sync module that enables G-Sync. The demonstration showed the difference in juttering and screen tearing.
Following that, Jensen Huang brought Tim Sweeney, John Carmack and John Andersson on stage to talk about how they believe G-Sync will change the future of video games.
A few factors are yet to be determined, one, what final connectivity will be supported beyond the current DisplayPort as well as how much this module will affect the final price of a new monitor. Surely, these will be the first breed of real gaming monitors that will give you a visible difference when you game. However, they will obviously be completely limited to GeForce GPUs. This is where Nvidia’s strategy is a good one, because it delivers a great experience as long as you’re on GeForce, which adds an experience level of gaming that has never been seen before.
Additionally, G-Sync addresses another issue that has existed within the industry that nobody really wants to talk about. The fact that most current mid-range and upper mid-range cards are capable of basically running any and every game pretty smoothly at 1080P. Surely, Nvidia and AMD’s 4K push is a way for the companies to get consumers to want/need new and more powerful GPUs. However, G-Sync, to me at least, indicates that the majority of gamers are still going to be at 1080P for quite some time and their performance won’t really improve much. But there is still much more to be had in terms of actual gaming experience. As such, it makes total sense that Nvidia would go in this direction even though it isn’t directly quantifiable. The real truth is that G-Sync is one of those technologies that you have to see to believe, but hopefully someone with a high-speed HD camera can show the difference pretty easily with Nvidia’s demo that they showed us.
G-Sync is a very big deal, but price could be a huge problem for Nvidia if the monitor manufacturers charge too much for these monitors because of Nvidia’s module. The monitor Nvidia had on display for their demos is the ASUS VG248 and it currently sells on Amazon for $266 so I foresee a $100 premium over this price to be fairly reasonable and doable. We haven’t gotten any details in terms of pricing or expected pricing from Nvidia, but I don’t see them selling very many if the price becomes cost prohibitive relative to non-G-Sync monitors.