CES 2015: AMD Talks Technical about FreeSync Monitors

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: video, radeon, monitor, g-sync, freesync, ces 2015, CES, amd

It finally happened - later than I had expected - we got to get hands on with nearly-ready FreeSync monitors! That's right, AMD's alternative to G-Sync will bring variable refresh gaming technology to Radeon gamers later this quarter and AMD had the monitors on hand to prove it. On display was an LG 34UM67 running at 2560x1080 on IPS technology, a Samsung UE590 with a 4K resolution and AHVA panel and BenQ XL2730Z 2560x1440 TN screen.

free-1.jpg

The three monitors sampled at the AMD booth showcase the wide array of units that will be available this year using FreeSync, possibly even in this quarter. The LG 34UM67 uses the 21:9 aspect ratio that is growing in popularity, along with solid IPS panel technology and 60 Hz top frequency. However, there is a new specification to be concerned with on FreeSync as well: minimum frequency. This is the refresh rate that monitor needs to maintain to avoid artifacting and flickering that would be visible to the end user. For the LG monitor it was 40 Hz.

free-3.jpg

What happens below that limit and above it differs from what NVIDIA has decided to do. For FreeSync (and the Adaptive Sync standard as a whole), when a game renders at a frame rate above or below this VRR window, the V-Sync setting is enforced. That means on a 60 Hz panel, if your game runs at 70 FPS, then you will have the option to enable or disable V-Sync; you can either force a 60 FPS top limit or allow 70 FPS with screen tearing. If your game runs under the 40 Hz bottom limit, say at 30 FPS, you get the same option: V-Sync on or V-Sync off. With it off, you would get tearing but optimal input/display latency but with it off you would reintroduce frame judder when you cross between V-Sync steps.

There are potential pitfalls to this solution though; what happens when you cross into that top or bottom region can cause issues depending on the specific implementation. We'll be researching this very soon.

free-3.jpg

Notice this screen shows FreeSync Enabled and V-Sync Disabled, and we see a tear.

FreeSync monitors have the benefit of using industry standard scalers and that means they won't be limited to a single DisplayPort input. Expect to see a range of inputs including HDMI and DVI though the VRR technology will only work on DP.

We have much more to learn and much more to experience with FreeSync but we are eager to get one in the office for testing. I know, I know, we say that quite often it seems.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015 Podcast Day 2 - ASUS, Gigabyte, Freesync Monitors, Storage News and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: zenphone 2, x99 soc champion, video, transformer book chi, ROG Swift, podcast, pg27aq, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, brix s, brix, asus, amd

CES 2015 Podcast Day 2 - 01/05/15

It's time for podcast fun at CES!  Join us as we talk about the second day of the show including a lot of announcements from ASUS, Gigabyte, Freesync Monitors, Storage News and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 47:57

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: We Just Spotted the ASUS PG27AQ 4K 60 Hz IPS G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: pg27aq, ips, gsync, g-sync, ces 2015, CES, asus, 60hz, 4k

Sure, the ASUS press conference hasn't started yet, but we did find a new monitor on display in the lobby. The ASUS PG27AQ is a 27-in monitor with a 4K resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Even better is that this is an IPS panel and utilizes NVIDIA G-Sync technology. That's right, a real-life IPS G-Sync monitor!

pg27rq-1.jpg

I don't have many other details yet but I was told that pricing is not set and availability would be in the "second half of 2015." The physical construction is identical to that of the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q. Unfortunately ASUS was only playing back a 4K video on the system, no real-world G-Sync testing quite yet. The ASUS press event starts in just about 45 minutes so stay tuned!

pg27rq-2.jpg

So, who's interested?

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: Acer Announces New 27-inch Gaming Monitors Including IPS G-SYNC

Subject: Displays | January 3, 2015 - 07:55 PM |
Tagged: monitor, ips, gaming, g-sync, ces 2015, CES, acer, 144hz

xb270hu_wp_05-100538366-large~2.jpg

Today Acer has announced two new gaming monitors with "world first" designs. First we have the XB270HU, which is the world’s first NVIDIA G-SYNC gaming monitor with an IPS panel. This is a big step for a category that has predominantly featured TN panels, though it was not stated what the response time of the IPS panel in use might be. We can expect 178° viewing angles and that nice IPS color accuracy, however. The XB270HU also features tilt, swivel, and height adjustment.

IPS_LOGO.jpg

IPS provides realistic color, wide viewing angles, and this sweet logo

Next is the Acer XG270HU (yes, this is a different model name), which Acer says is "the world's first gaming monitor with an edge-to-edge frameless display", which would allow for gapless multi-monitor setups. This one does not feature IPS, but it has the advantage of a 1 ms response time. Inputs will include HDMI 2.0, DVI, and DisplayPort 1.2. The other added feature of the XG270HU is Acer "EyeProtect technology", which "eliminates screen flicker through a stable supply of power", as well as proprietary non-glare and screen dimming features. Both XB270HU and XG270HU monitors have 27-inch displays with WQHD (2560 x 1440) resolution and 144Hz refresh rates.

These will available globally and begin shipping in March 2015.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Acer

Podcast #331 - Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, LG, Intel, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, drobo, bitfenix, asus, amd, acer, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #331 - 12/31/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:54:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
      1. Ken is an idiot, don't try to use the Hyper 212 Evo in the Air 240.
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. Graphics Card of 2014
      1. GTX 980
      2. Winner: GTX 970
      3. R9 285
      4. GTX TITAN Z (lulz)
      5. R9 295 X2
      6. Runner-up: GTX 750 Ti
    2. CPU of 2014
      1. Winner: Core i7-4790K
      2. Pentium G3258
      3. Core i7-5960X
      4. Core M 5Y70 (Broadwell-Y)
      5. AMD AM1 Athlon 5350
      6. AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
      7. Tegra K1
      8. Runner-up: Athlon X4 860K
    3. Storage of 2014
      1. Samsung 850 Pro
      2. Winner: Samsung 850 EVO
      3. Crucial MX100
      4. Runner-up: Intel P3700
      5. 6TB HDDs
      6. Intel SSD 730 Series
      7. Silicon Motion SM2246EN (Force LX, Angelbird ssd wrk, Adata 610)
    4. Case of 2014
      1. Winner: NCASE M1
      2. Runner-up: Corsair Carbide Air 240
      3. Fractal Design Define R5
      4. SilverStone Raven RVZ01
      5. PHT Ultra Low-Profile HTPC Case
    5. Motherboard of 2014
      1. Runner-up: ASUS Crossblade Ranger FM2+
      2. ASUS Z97 Deluxe
      3. Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Black Edition
      4. X99 Deluxe
      5. Winner: Z97 Maximus VII Formula
    6. Price Drop of 2014
      1. Winner: AMD R9 290X/290
      2. R9 295 X2
      3. Good Displays
      4. GTX Titan Z (lulz)
      5. Runner-up: SSDs (again)
      6. Gasoline
    7. Best Trend of 2014
      1. Variable Refresh Rate Monitors / Tear-free Gaming
      2. Smart Watches
      3. Runner-up: PCIe/NVMe storage
      4. Gigabit Internet
      5. Custom Watercooling
      6. Winner: 21:9 Monitors
    8. Worst Trend of 2014
      1. Smart Watches
      2. Locked GPU Voltages
      3. DDR4
      4. Winner: 840 Evo Performance Issues
      5. Runner-up: G-SYNC Monitor prices
      6. Curved Displays
      7. GPU Mining BitCoins
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

/p>

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Acer

Technical Specifications

NVIDIA's G-Sync technology and the monitors that integrate it continue to be one of hottest discussion topics surrounding PC technology and PC gaming. We at PC Perspective have dived into the world of variable refresh rate displays in great detail, discussing the technological reasons for it's existence, talking with co-creator Tom Petersen in studio, doing the first triple-panel Surround G-Sync testing as well as reviewing several different G-Sync monitor's available on the market. We were even the first to find the reason behind the reported flickering a 0 FPS on G-Sync monitors.

IMG_0643.JPG

A lot of has happened in the world of displays in the year or more since NVIDIA first announced G-Sync technology including a proliferation of low cost 4K panels as well as discussion of FreeSync, AMD's standards-based alternative to G-Sync. We are still waiting for our first hands on time (other than a static demo) with monitors supporting FreeSync / AdaptiveSync and it is quite likely that will occur at CES this January. If it doesn't, AMD is going to have some serious explaining to do...

But today we are looking at the new Acer XB270H, a 1920x1080 27-in monitor with G-Sync support and a 144 Hz refresh rate; a unique combination. In fact, there is no other 27-in 144 Hz 1080p monitor on the market that we are aware of after a quick search of Newegg.com and Amazon.com. But does this monitor offer the same kind of experience as the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q or even the Acer XB280HK 4K G-Sync panels?

Continue reading our review of the Acer XB270H 1080p 144 Hz G-Sync Monitor!!

Podcast #328 - G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, flickering, ROG Swift, pg278q, in win, d-frame mini, fractal, define r5 silent, nvidia, amd, Intel, asus, gtx 970 DirectCU Mini, msi, 970 Gaming

PC Perspective Podcast #328 - 12/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Manufacturer: PC Percpective

Overview

We’ve been tracking NVIDIA’s G-Sync for quite a while now. The comments section on Ryan’s initial article erupted with questions, and many of those were answered in a follow-on interview with NVIDIA’s Tom Petersen. The idea was radical – do away with the traditional fixed refresh rate and only send a new frame to the display when it has just completed rendering by the GPU. There are many benefits here, but the short version is that you get the low-latency benefit of V-SYNC OFF gaming combined with the image quality (lack of tearing) that you would see if V-SYNC was ON. Despite the many benefits, there are some potential disadvantages that come from attempting to drive an LCD panel at varying periods of time, as opposed to the fixed intervals that have been the norm for over a decade.

IMG_9328.JPG

As the first round of samples came to us for review, the current leader appeared to be the ASUS ROG Swift. A G-Sync 144 Hz display at 1440P was sure to appeal to gamers who wanted faster response than the 4K 60 Hz G-Sync alternative was capable of. Due to what seemed to be large consumer demand, it has taken some time to get these panels into the hands of consumers. As our Storage Editor, I decided it was time to upgrade my home system, placed a pre-order, and waited with anticipation of finally being able to shift from my trusty Dell 3007WFP-HC to a large panel that can handle >2x the FPS.

Fast forward to last week. My pair of ROG Swifts arrived, and some other folks I knew had also received theirs. Before I could set mine up and get some quality gaming time in, my bro FifthDread and his wife both noted a very obvious flicker on their Swifts within the first few minutes of hooking them up. They reported the flicker during game loading screens and mid-game during background content loading occurring in some RTS titles. Prior to hearing from them, the most I had seen were some conflicting and contradictory reports on various forums (not limed to the Swift, though that is the earliest panel and would therefore see the majority of early reports), but now we had something more solid to go on. That night I fired up my own Swift and immediately got to doing what I do best – trying to break things. We have reproduced the issue and intend to demonstrate it in a measurable way, mostly to put some actual data out there to go along with those trying to describe something that is borderline perceptible for mere fractions of a second.

screen refresh rate-.png

First a bit of misnomer correction / foundation laying:

  • The ‘Screen refresh rate’ option you see in Windows Display Properties is actually a carryover from the CRT days. In terms of an LCD, it is the maximum rate at which a frame is output to the display. It is not representative of the frequency at which the LCD panel itself is refreshed by the display logic.
  • LCD panel pixels are periodically updated by a scan, typically from top to bottom. Newer / higher quality panels repeat this process at a rate higher than 60 Hz in order to reduce the ‘rolling shutter’ effect seen when panning scenes or windows across the screen.
  • In order to engineer faster responding pixels, manufacturers must deal with the side effect of faster pixel decay between refreshes. This is a balanced by increasing the frequency of scanning out to the panel.
  • The effect we are going to cover here has nothing to do with motion blur, LightBoost, backlight PWM, LightBoost combined with G-Sync (not currently a thing, even though Blur Busters has theorized on how it could work, their method would not work with how G-Sync is actually implemented today).

With all of that out of the way, let’s tackle what folks out there may be seeing on their own variable refresh rate displays. Based on our testing so far, the flicker only presented at times when a game enters a 'stalled' state. These are periods where you would see a split-second freeze in the action, like during a background level load during game play in some titles. It also appears during some game level load screens, but as those are normally static scenes, they would have gone unnoticed on fixed refresh rate panels. Since we were absolutely able to see that something was happening, we wanted to be able to catch it in the act and measure it, so we rooted around the lab and put together some gear to do so. It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but we only needed to observe differences between the smooth gaming and the ‘stalled state’ where the flicker was readily observable. Once the solder dust settled, we fired up a game that we knew could instantaneously swing from a high FPS (144) to a stalled state (0 FPS) and back again. As it turns out, EVE Online does this exact thing while taking an in-game screen shot, so we used that for our initial testing. Here’s what the brightness of a small segment of the ROG Swift does during this very event:

eve ss-2-.png

Measured panel section brightness over time during a 'stall' event. Click to enlarge.

The relatively small ripple to the left and right of center demonstrate the panel output at just under 144 FPS. Panel redraw is in sync with the frames coming from the GPU at this rate. The center section, however, represents what takes place when the input from the GPU suddenly drops to zero. In the above case, the game briefly stalled, then resumed a few frames at 144, then stalled again for a much longer period of time. Completely stopping the panel refresh would result in all TN pixels bleeding towards white, so G-Sync has a built-in failsafe to prevent this by forcing a redraw every ~33 msec. What you are seeing are the pixels intermittently bleeding towards white and periodically being pulled back down to the appropriate brightness by a scan. The low latency panel used in the ROG Swift does this all of the time, but it is less noticeable at 144, as you can see on the left and right edges of the graph. An additional thing that’s happening here is an apparent rise in average brightness during the event. We are still researching the cause of this on our end, but this brightness increase certainly helps to draw attention to the flicker event, making it even more perceptible to those who might have not otherwise noticed it.

Some of you might be wondering why this same effect is not seen when a game drops to 30 FPS (or even lower) during the course of normal game play. While the original G-Sync upgrade kit implementation simply waited until 33 msec had passed until forcing an additional redraw, this introduced judder from 25-30 FPS. Based on our observations and testing, it appears that NVIDIA has corrected this in the retail G-Sync panels with an algorithm that intelligently re-scans at even multiples of the input frame rate in order to keep the redraw rate relatively high, and therefore keeping flicker imperceptible – even at very low continuous frame rates.

A few final points before we go:

  • This is not limited to the ROG Swift. All variable refresh panels we have tested (including 4K) see this effect to a more or less degree than reported here. Again, this only occurs when games instantaneously drop to 0 FPS, and not when those games dip into low frame rates in a continuous fashion.
  • The effect is less perceptible (both visually and with recorded data) at lower maximum refresh rate settings.
  • The effect is not present at fixed refresh rates (G-Sync disabled or with non G-Sync panels).

This post was primarily meant as a status update and to serve as something for G-Sync users to point to when attempting to explain the flicker they are perceiving. We will continue researching, collecting data, and coordinating with NVIDIA on this issue, and will report back once we have more to discuss.

During the research and drafting of this piece, we reached out to and worked with NVIDIA to discuss this issue. Here is their statement:

"All LCD pixel values relax after refreshing. As a result, the brightness value that is set during the LCD’s scanline update slowly relaxes until the next refresh.

This means all LCDs have some slight variation in brightness. In this case, lower frequency refreshes will appear slightly brighter than high frequency refreshes by 1 – 2%.

When games are running normally (i.e., not waiting at a load screen, nor a screen capture) - users will never see this slight variation in brightness value. In the rare cases where frame rates can plummet to very low levels, there is a very slight brightness variation (barely perceptible to the human eye), which disappears when normal operation resumes."

So there you have it. It's basically down to the physics of how an LCD panel works at varying refresh rates. While I agree that it is a rare occurrence, there are some games that present this scenario more frequently (and noticeably) than others. If you've noticed this effect in some games more than others, let us know in the comments section below. 

(Editor's Note: We are continuing to work with NVIDIA on this issue and hope to find a way to alleviate the flickering with either a hardware or software change in the future.)

Samsung Announces First FreeSync UHD Monitors

Subject: Displays | November 20, 2014 - 10:50 AM |
Tagged: TN, Samsung, nvidia, monitor, ips, g-sync, freesync, amd

We have been teased for the past few months about when we would see the first implementations of AMD’s FreeSync technology, but now we finally have some concrete news about who will actually be producing these products.

Samsung has announced that they will be introducing the world’s first FreeSync enabled Ultra HD monitors.  The first models to include this feature will be the updated UD590 and the new UE850.  These will be introduced to the market in March of 2015.  The current UD590 monitor is a 28” unit with 3845x2160 resolution with up to 1 billion colors.  This looks to be one of those advanced TN panels that are selling from $500 to $900, depending on the model.

Samsung-UD590.jpg

AMD had promised some hand’s on time for journalists by the end of this year, and shipping products in the first half of next year.  It seems that Samsung is the first to jump on the wagon.  We would imagine that others will be offering the technology.  In theory this technology offers many of the same benefits of NVIDIA’s G-SYNC, but it does not require the same level of hardware.  I can imagine that we will be seeing some interesting comparisons next year with shipping hardware and how Free-Sync stacks up to G-SYNC.

Joe Chan, Vice President of Samsung Electronics Southeast Asia Headquarters commented, “We are very pleased to adopt AMD FreeSync technology to our 2015 Samsung Electronics Visual Display division’s UHD monitor roadmap, which fully supports open standards.  With this technology, we believe users including gamers will be able to enjoy their videos and games to be played with smoother frame display without stuttering or tearing on their monitors.”

Source: Samsung

Podcast #320 - Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840

PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!