Introduction and Unboxing
We've been covering NVIDIA's new G-Sync tech for quite some time now, and displays so equipped are finally shipping. With all of the excitement going on, I became increasingly interested in the technology, especially since I'm one of those guys who is extremely sensitive to input lag and the inevitable image tearing that results from vsync-off gaming. Increased discussion on our weekly podcast, coupled with the inherent difficulty of demonstrating the effects without seeing G-Sync in action in-person, led me to pick up my own ASUS VG248QE panel for the purpose of this evaluation and review. We've generated plenty of other content revolving around the G-Sync tech itself, so lets get straight into what we're after today - evaluating the out of box installation process of the G-Sync installation kit.
All items are well packed and protected.
Included are installation instructions, a hard plastic spudger for opening the panel, a couple of stickers, and all necessary hardware bits to make the conversion.
Subject: Displays | January 3, 2014 - 11:10 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: reader results, nvidia, gsync, g-sync
Editor's Note: Late last December NVIDIA gave us the opportunity to hand out 5 of the NVIDIA G-Sync upgrade kits for the ASUS VG248QE display to PC Perspective readers. Part of the deal though was that those winners agree to give us feedback on the upgrade experience and the real-world experience of using NVIDIA G-Sync on their gaming rig. Below is the (slightly edited) results sent in by one Levi Kendall. We'll likely post other users' results as well when the start to filter in.
So, if you are curious what it will be like to upgrade and use your own G-Sync monitor, I think the experiences described by Levi below are going to be very interesting.
Also, don't forget to read over my overview of NVIDIA's G-Sync technology and my initial impressions in this article as well!
This was a fairly serious product mod, actually more than I thought it was going to be. Overall, the installation took more than an hour, so not exactly trivial for me. I suppose it's possible to get it done in 30 minutes if you were really focused and knew what you were doing. I put the LVDS connector on wrong the first time (connectors had to be rotated 180 degrees) so I had to retrace my steps for a bit to get it fixed after I realized it was put on incorrectly and the metal plate was on the wrong side. The manual does actually point this out in a couple steps but it was a little confusing to think of that rotation change. Also, during installation I opted to remove the somewhat useless monitor speakers (that nobody probably uses anyway). It's definitely something a PC hobbyist can do, but count on spending some time carefully removing a lot of small cables inside the monitor and doing it right. Part of my slow approach was caution at damaging any components; I've never been inside an LCD display until now.
Installation Step 1
The OSD settings through the monitor buttons are greatly reduced (fortunately simplified) after the mod. It's not really an issue since it looks amazing, but the display controls seem to be basically just a brightness option +/- now. I'm happy with the gamma particularly in dark levels as I don't feel like I have to fool with it now and the ASUS OSD was a bit clunky to work with anyway. The various display "modes" of the VG248QE weren't something I really used much before, just got it to the point it looked nice to me and left it alone. The monitor also powers up nearly instantly as opposed to the delay of showing the animated ASUS logo which is nice.
Installation Step 2
For more detailed display setting tweaks I downloaded a free utility called “softMCCS” and this has allowed me to access things like the detailed color settings and contrast. This software seems a little buggy but overall it does work at least. Unfortunately NVIDIA did not provide any official MCCS software utility in the package.
Game play testing:
In games where the frame rate was already consistently 144+ it's hard to say precisely where the difference is. The VG248QE was already a beastly fast gaming monitor to start from. It feels to me like the latency might have gone down a little bit with G-Sync, everything does feel a bit more responsive and caught up very close with player inputs. Where G-Sync becomes more noticeable to me is in games where the frame rate is dropping somewhere below the magical 144 mark and you see this kind of graceful degradation in performance and game play remains very fluid even when the action ramps up and you are in a lower FPS situation.
Subject: Displays | December 24, 2013 - 02:45 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gsync, giveaway, g-sync, contest, asus
We have our winners!! Congratulations to the following 5 submissions and we'll have the upgrade kits on the way to you very soon.
- Lewis C.
- Levi K.
- Jonathan F.
- John G.
- Ben L.
I know that LOTS of you have been clamoring for information on how you can get your hands on one of those DIY G-Sync upgrade kits for yourself and I have some good news. Though I can't tell you where to buy one or how much it will cost, I can offer you 1 of 5 FREE G-Sync upgrade kits through a giveaway we are hosting at PC Perspective!
Here are the rules for the sweepstakes:
- You must already own an ASUS VG248QE monitor
- We need you to supply feedback on the G-Sync experience after the upgrade
- Sorry, this is only available in the US and Canada
Now, the real question is, how can you enter to win as long as you meet those above requirements? It's pretty simple!
- Fill out the form below with name and email information
- You have to include a link to a picture of your existing VG248QE monitor. Include text on it (or on a sheet of paper in the photo) that mentions this contest! Use Imgur if you need an image host.
- Leave a comment on this post that describes WHY you want G-Sync technology
- Hey, if you subscribe to our YouTube channel that won't hurt your chances either. Leave your YouTube name in the comment as well!
Our thanks goes to NVIDIA for supplying the kits and good luck to all participants! We'll pick our winners on December 23rd and have the units out by the end of the year.
Subject: Displays | December 16, 2013 - 09:11 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, vg248qe, nvidia, gsync, g-sync, asus
It looks like some G-Sync ready monitors are going to be on sale starting today, though perhaps not from the outlets you would have expected. NVIDIA let me know last night that they are working with partners, including ASUS obviously, to make a small amount of pre-modified ASUS VG248QE G-Sync monitors available for purchase. These are the same monitors we used in our recent G-Sync preview story so you should check that article out if you want our opinions on the display and the technology.
Those people selling the displays? Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and Overlord Computer. This creates some unfortunate requirements on potential buyers. For example, Falcon Northwest is only selling the panels to users that either are buying a new Falcon PC or already own a Falcon custom system. Digital Storm on the other hand WILL sell the monitor on its own or allow you to send in your VG248QE monitor to have the upgrade service done for you. The monitor alone will sell for $499 while the upgrade price (with module included) is $299.
This distribution model for G-Sync technology likely isn't what users wanted or expected. After all, we were promised upgrade kits for users of that specific ASUS VG248QE display and we still do not have data on how NVIDIA plans to sell them or distribute them. Being able to purchase the display from these resellers above is at least SOMETHING before the holiday, but it really isn't the way we would like to see G-Sync showcased. NVIDIA needs to get these products in the hands of gamers sooner rather than later.
NVIDIA also prepared a new video to showcase G-Sync. Unlike other marketing videos this one wasn't placed on YouTube as the ability for it to run at a fixed 60 FPS is a strict requirement, something that YouTube can't do or can't do reliably. For this video's demonstration to work correctly you need set your display to a 60 Hz refresh rate and you should use a video player capable of maintaining the static 60 FPS content decoding.
To grab a copy of this video, you can use the link right here that will download the file directly from Mega.co.nz. It should help demonstrate the effects us using a G-Sync enabled display for users that don't have access to see one in person.
Oh, and I know that LOTS of you have been clamoring for information on how you can get your hands on one of those DIY G-Sync upgrade kits for yourself and I have some good news. Though I can't tell you where to buy one or how much it will cost, I can offer you one of 5 FREE G-Sync ASUS VG248QE upgrade kits through a giveaway we are hosting at PC Perspective! Check out this page for the details!!
Quality time with G-Sync
Readers of PC Perspective will already know quite alot about NVIDIA's G-Sync technology. When it was first unveiled in October we were at the event and were able to listen to NVIDIA executives, product designers and engineers discuss and elaborate on what it is, how it works and why it benefits gamers. This revolutionary new take on how displays and graphics cards talk to each other enables a new class of variable refresh rate monitors that will offer up the smoothness advantages of having V-Sync off, while offering the tear-free images normally reserved for gamers enabling V-Sync.
NVIDIA's Prototype G-Sync Monitor
We were lucky enough to be at NVIDIA's Montreal tech day while John Carmack, Tim Sweeney and Johan Andersson were on stage discussing NVIDIA G-Sync among other topics. All three developers were incredibly excited about G-Sync and what it meant for gaming going forward.
Also on that day, I published a somewhat detailed editorial that dug into the background of V-sync technology, why the 60 Hz refresh rate existed and why the system in place today is flawed. This basically led up to an explanation of how G-Sync works, including integration via extending Vblank signals and detailed how NVIDIA was enabling the graphics card to retake control over the entire display pipeline.
In reality, if you want the best explanation of G-Sync, how it works and why it is a stand-out technology for PC gaming, you should take the time to watch and listen to our interview with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen, one of the primary inventors of G-Sync. In this video we go through quite a bit of technical explanation of how displays work today, and how the G-Sync technology changes gaming for the better. It is a 1+ hour long video, but I selfishly believe that it is the most concise and well put together collection of information about G-Sync for our readers.
The story today is more about extensive hands-on testing with the G-Sync prototype monitors. The displays that we received this week were modified versions of the 144Hz ASUS VG248QE gaming panels, the same ones that will in theory be upgradeable by end users as well sometime in the future. These monitors are TN panels, 1920x1080 and though they have incredibly high refresh rates, aren't usually regarded as the highest image quality displays on the market. However, the story about what you get with G-Sync is really more about stutter (or lack thereof), tearing (or lack thereof), and a better overall gaming experience for the user.
Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2013 - 02:21 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, R9 290X, g-sync, gsync, never settle, the way it's meant to be played, carmack, sweeny, andersson
PC Perspective Podcast #274 - 10/24/2013
Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA G-SYNC, R9 290X Benchmarks, and Process Technology for Next Gen Graphics!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | October 20, 2013 - 02:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tom petersen, nvidia, livestream, live, g-sync
UPDATE: If you missed our live stream today that covered NVIDIA G-Sync technology, you can watch the replay embedded below. NVIDIA's Tom Petersen stops by to talk about G-Sync in both high level and granular detail while showing off some demonstrations of why G-Sync is so important. Enjoy!!
Last week NVIDIA hosted press and developers in Montreal to discuss a couple of new technologies, the most impressive of which was NVIDIA G-Sync, a new monitor solution that looks to solve the eternal debate of smoothness against latency. If you haven't read about G-Sync and how impressive it was when first tested on Friday, you should check out my initial write up, NVIDIA G-Sync: Death of the Refresh Rate, that not only does that, but dives into the reason the technology shift was necessary in the first place.
G-Sync essentially functions by altering and controlling the vBlank signal sent to the monitor. In a normal configuration, vBlank is a combination of the combination of the vertical front and back porch and the necessary sync time. That timing is set a fixed stepping that determines the effective refresh rate of the monitor; 60 Hz, 120 Hz, etc. What NVIDIA will now do in the driver and firmware is lengthen or shorten the vBlank signal as desired and will send it when one of two criteria is met.
- A new frame has completed rendering and has been copied to the front buffer. Sending vBlank at this time will tell the screen grab data from the card and display it immediately.
- A substantial amount of time has passed and the currently displayed image needs to be refreshed to avoid brightness variation.
In current display timing setups, the submission of the vBlank signal has been completely independent from the rendering pipeline. The result was varying frame latency and either horizontal tearing or fixed refresh frame rates. With NVIDIA G-Sync creating an intelligent connection between rendering and frame updating, the display of PC games is fundamentally changed.
Every person that saw the technology, including other media members and even developers like John Carmack, Johan Andersson and Tim Sweeney, came away knowing that this was the future of PC gaming. (If you didn't see the panel that featured those three developers on stage, you are missing out.)
But it is definitely a complicated technology and I have already seen a lot of confusion about it in our comment threads on PC Perspective. To help the community get a better grasp and to offer them an opportunity to ask some questions, NVIDIA's Tom Petersen is stopping by our offices on Monday afternoon where he will run through some demonstrations and take questions from the live streaming audience.
Be sure to stop back at PC Perspective on Monday, October 21st at 2pm ET / 11am PT as to discuss G-Sync, how it was developed and the various ramifications the technology will have in PC gaming. You'll find it all on our PC Perspective Live! page on Monday but you can sign up for our "live stream mailing list" as well to get notified in advance!
NVIDIA G-Sync Live Stream
11am PT / 2pm ET - October 21st
We also want your questions!! The easiest way to get them answered is to leave them for us here in the comments of this post. That will give us time to filter through the questions and get the answers you need from Tom. We'll take questions via the live chat and via Twitter (follow me @ryanshrout) during the event but often time there is a lot of noise to deal with.
So be sure to join us on Monday afternoon!
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 18, 2013 - 07:55 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tim sweeney, nvidia, Mantle, john carmack, johan andersson, g-sync, amd
If you weren't on our live stream from the NVIDIA "The Way It's Meant to be Played" tech day this afternoon, you missed a hell of an event. After the announcement of NVIDIA G-Sync variable refresh rate monitor technology, NVIDIA's Tony Tomasi brough one of the most intriguing panels of developers on stage to talk.
John Carmack, Tim Sweeney and Johan Andersson talk for over an hour, taking questions from the audience and even getting into debates amongst themselves in some instances. Topics included NVIDIA G-Sync of course, AMD's Mantle low-level API, the hurdles facing PC gaming and what direction each luminary is currently on for future development.
If you are a PC enthusiast or gamer you are definitely going to want to listen and watch the video below!
Our Legacys Influence
We are often creatures of habit. Change is hard. And often times legacy systems that have been in place for a very long time can shift and determine the angle at which we attack new problems. This happens in the world of computer technology but also outside the walls of silicon and the results can be dangerous inefficiencies that threaten to limit our advancement in those areas. Often our need to adapt new technologies to existing infrastructure can be blamed for stagnant development.
Take the development of the phone as an example. The pulse based phone system and the rotary dial slowed the implementation of touch dial phones and forced manufacturers to include switches to select between pulse and tone based dialing options on phones for decades.
Perhaps a more substantial example is that of the railroad system that has based the track gauge (width between the rails) on the transportation methods that existed before the birth of Christ. Horse drawn carriages pulled by two horses had an axle gap of 4 feet 8 inches in the 1800s and thus the first railroads in the US were built with a track gauge of 4 feet 8 inches. Today, the standard rail track gauge remains 4 feet 8 inches despite the fact that a wider gauge would allow for more stability of larger cargo loads and allow for higher speed vehicles. But the cost of updating the existing infrastructure around the world would be so cost prohibitive that it is likely we will remain with that outdated standard.
What does this have to do with PC hardware and why am I giving you an abbreviated history lesson? There are clearly some examples of legacy infrastructure limiting our advancement in hardware development. Solid state drives are held back by the current SATA based storage interface though we are seeing movements to faster interconnects like PCI Express to alleviate this. Some compute tasks are limited by the “infrastructure” of standard x86 processor cores and the move to GPU compute has changed the direction of these workloads dramatically.
There is another area of technology that could be improved if we could just move past an existing way of doing things. Displays.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 18, 2013 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: variable refresh rate, refresh rate, nvidia, gsync, geforce, g-sync
UPDATE: I have posted a more in-depth analysis of the new NVIDIA G-Sync technology: NVIDIA G-Sync: Death of the Refres Rate. Thanks for reading!!
UPDATE 2: ASUS has announced the G-Sync enabled version of the VG248QE will be priced at $399.
During a gaming event being held in Montreal, NVIDIA unveield a new technology for GeForce gamers that the company is hoping will revolutionize the PC and displays. Called NVIDIA G-Sync, this new feature will combine changes to the graphics driver as well as change to the monitor to alter the way refresh rates and Vsync have worked for decades.
With standard LCD monitors gamers are forced to choose between a tear-free experience by enabling Vsync or playing a game with the substantial visual anomolies in order to get the best and most efficient frame rates. G-Sync changes that by allowing a monitor to display refresh rates other than 60 Hz, 120 Hz or 144 Hz, etc. without the horizontal tearing normally associated with turning off Vsync. Essentially, G-Sync allows a properly equiped monitor to run at a variable refresh rate which will improve the experience of gaming in interesting ways.
This technology will be available soon on Kepler-based GeForce graphics cards but will require a monitor with support for G-Sync; not just any display will work. The first launch monitor is a variation on the very popular 144 Hz ASUS VG248QE 1920x1080 display and as we saw with 3D Vision, supporting G-Sync will require licensing and hardware changes. In fact, NVIDIA claims that the new logic inside the panels controller is NVIDIA's own design - so you can obviously expect this to only function with NVIDIA GPUs.
DisplayPort is the only input option currently supported.
It turns out NVIDIA will actually be offering retrofitting kits for current users of the VG248QE at some yet to be disclosed cost. The first retail sales of G-Sync will ship as a monitor + retrofit kit as production was just a bit behind.
Using a monitor with a variable refresh rates allows the game to display 55 FPS on the panel at 55 Hz without any horizontal tearing. It can also display 133 FPS at 133 Hz without tearing. Anything below the 144 Hz maximum refresh rate of this monitor will be running at full speed without the tearing associated with the lack of vertical sync.
The technology that NVIDIA is showing here is impressive when seen in person; and that is really the only way to understand the difference. High speed cameras and captures will help but much like 3D Vision was, this is a feature that needs to be seen to be appreciated. How users will react to that road block will have to be seen.
Features like G-Sync show the gaming world that without the restrictions of console there is quite a bit of revolutionary steps that can be made to maintain the PC gaming advantage well into the future. 4K displays were a recent example and now NVIDIA G-Sync adds to the list.
Be sure to stop back at PC Perspective on Monday, November 21st at 2pm ET / 11am PT as we will be joined in-studio by NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss G-Sync, how it was developed and the various ramifications the technology will have in PC gaming. You'll find it all on our PC Perspective Live! page on Monday but you can sign up for our "live stream mailing list" as well to get notified in advance!
NVIDIA G-Sync Live Stream
11am PT / 2pm ET - October 21st
Get notified when we go live!