It has been an abnormal week for us here at PC Perspective. Our typical review schedule has pretty much flown out the window, and the past seven days have been filled with learning, researching, retesting, and publishing. That might sound like the norm, but in these cases the process was initiated by tips from our readers. Last Saturday (24 Jan), a few things were brewing:
- Ryan was informed by NVIDIA that the memory layout of the GTX 970 was different than expected.
- The huge (now 168 page) overclock.net forum thread about the Samsung 840 EVO slowdown was once again gaining traction.
- Someone got G-Sync working on a laptop integrated display.
We had to do a bit of triage here of course, as we can only research and write so quickly. Ryan worked the GTX 970 piece as it was the hottest item. I began a few days of research and testing on the 840 EVO slow down issue reappearing on some drives, and we kept tabs on that third thing, which at the time seemed really farfetched. With those two first items taken care of, Ryan shifted his efforts to GTX 970 SLI testing while I shifted my focus to finding out of there was any credence to this G-Sync laptop thing.
A few weeks ago, an ASUS Nordic Support rep inadvertently leaked an interim build of the NVIDIA driver. This was a mobile driver build (version 346.87) focused at their G751 line of laptops. One recipient of this driver link posted it to the ROG forum back on the 20th. A fellow by the name Gamenab, owning the same laptop cited in that thread, presumably stumbled across this driver, tried it out, and was more than likely greeted by this popup after the installation completed:
Now I know what you’re thinking, and it’s probably the same thing anyone would think. How on earth is this possible? To cut a long story short, while the link to the 346.87 driver was removed shortly after being posted to that forum, we managed to get our hands on a copy of it, installed it on the ASUS G751 that we had in for review, and wouldn’t you know it we were greeted by the same popup!
Ok, so it’s a popup, could it be a bug? We checked NVIDIA control panel and the options were consistent with that of a G-Sync connected system. We fired up the pendulum demo and watched the screen carefully, passing the machine around the office to be inspected by all. We then fired up some graphics benchmarks that were well suited to show off the technology (Unigine Heaven, Metro: Last Light, etc), and everything looked great – smooth steady pans with no juddering or tearing to be seen. Ken Addison, our Video Editor and jack of all trades, researched the panel type and found that it was likely capable of 100 Hz refresh. We quickly dug created a custom profile, hit apply, and our 75 Hz G-Sync laptop was instantly transformed into a 100 Hz G-Sync laptop!
Ryan's Note: I think it is important here to point out that we didn't just look at demos and benchmarks for this evaluation but actually looked at real-world gameplay situations. Playing through Metro: Last Light showed very smooth pans and rotation, Assassin's Creed played smoothly as well and flying through Unigine Heaven manually was a great experience. Crysis 3, Battlefield 4, etc. This was NOT just a couple of demos that we ran through - the variable refresh portion of this mobile G-Sync enabled panel was working and working very well.
At this point in our tinkering, we had no idea how or why this was working, but there was no doubt that we were getting a similar experience as we have seen with G-Sync panels. As I digested what was going on, I thought surely this can’t be as good as it seems to be… Let’s find out, shall we?
Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 12:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vrr, video, variable refresh rate, mg279q, gsync, g-sync, freesync, ces 2015, CES, asus
We have talked about G-Sync for what seems like years now and we got our first hands-on with AMD's FreeSync monitors earlier this week at CES, but the new ASUS MG279Q is in an interesting place: it is the first display that publicly supports Adaptive Sync and DP 1.2a+ but does not have an affiliation with either branded variable refresh rate technology. As it turns out though, that isn't bad news.
First, let's talk about the hardware. The screen is a 27-in 2560x1440 display with IPS panel technology and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. High refresh rate IPS monitors are brand new and we are glad to see that ASUS is bringing one to the market so we can finally combine great color, great viewing angles and great refresh rates. The monitor supports DP 1.2a+ and Adaptive Sync which leads us too...
...the fact that this monitor will work with AMD Radeon graphics cards and operate at a variable refresh rate. After talking with AMD's Robert Hallock at the show, he confirmed that AMD will not have a whitelist/blacklist policy for FreeSync displays and that as long as a monitor adheres to the standards of DP 1.2a+ then they will operate in the variable refresh rate window as defined by the display's EDID.
So, as described by the ASUS reps on hand, this panel will have a minimum refresh of around 40 Hz and a maximum of 120 Hz, leaving a sizeable window for variable refresh to work it's magic.
Even better? The price! ASUS said this panel will ship in late Q1 of this year for just $599!
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces
Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 01:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
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!
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!
So, who's interested?
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
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.
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?
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 27, 2014 - 07:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gsync, g-sync, freesync, adaptive sync
During an interview that we streamed live with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen this past Thursday, it was confirmed that NVIDIA is not currently working on, or has any current plans to, add support for the VESA-based and AMD-pushed Adaptive Sync portion of the DisplayPort 1.2a specification. To quote directly:
There is no truth [to that rumor of NVIDIA Adaptive Sync support] and we have made no official comments about Adaptive Sync. One thing I can say is that NVIDIA as a company is 100% dedicated to G-Sync. We are going to continue to invest in G-Sync and it is a way we can make the gaming experience better. We have no need for Adaptive Sync. We have no intention of [implementing it]."
To be clear, the Adaptive Sync part of DP 1.2a and 1.3+ are optional portions of the VESA spec that is not required for future graphics processors or even future display scalar chips. That means that upcoming graphics cards from NVIDIA could still be DisplayPort 1.3 compliant without implementing support for the Adaptive Sync feature. Based on the comments above, I fully expect that to be the case.
The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q G-Sync monitor
With that new information, you can basically assume that the future of variable refresh monitors is going to be divided: one set for users of GeForce cards and one set for users with Radeon cards. (Where Intel falls into this is up in the air.) Clearly that isn't ideal for a completely open ecosystem but NVIDIA has made the point, over and over, that what they have developed with G-Sync is difficult and not at all as simple as could be solved with the blunt instrument that Adaptive Sync is. NVIDIA has a history of producing technologies and then keeping them in-house, focusing on development specifically for GeForce owners and fans. The dream of having a VRR monitor that will run on both vendors GPUs appears to be dead.
When asked about the possibility of seeing future monitors that can support both NVIDIA G-Sync technology as well as Adaptive Sync technology, Petersen stated that while not impossible, he "would not expect to see such a device."
The future of G-Sync is still in development. Petersen stated:
"Don't think that were done. G-Sync is not done. Think of G-Sync as the start of NVIDIA solving the problems for gamers that are related to displays...G-Sync is our first technology that makes games look better on displays. But you can start looking at displays and make a lot of things better."
Diagram showing how G-Sync affects monitor timings
So now we await for the first round of prototype FreeSync / Adaptive Sync monitors to hit our labs. AMD has put a lot of self-inflicted pressure on itself for this release by making claims, numerous times, that FreeSync will be just as good of an experience as G-Sync, and I am eager to see if they can meet that goal. Despite any ill feelings that some users might have about NVIDIA and some of its policies, it typically does a good job of maintaining a high quality user experience with these custom technologies. AMD will have to prove that what it has developed is on the same level. We should know more about that before we get too much further into fall.
You can check out our stories and reviews covering G-Sync here:
- PCPer Live! NVIDIA Maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970 Discussion with Tom Petersen, Q&A
- Acer XB280HK 28-in 4K G-Sync Monitor Review
- NVIDIA G-Sync Surround Impressions: Using 3 ASUS ROG Swift Displays
- PCPer Live! Recap - NVIDIA G-Sync Surround Demo and Q&A
- ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q 27-in Monitor Review - NVIDIA G-Sync at 2560x1440
Here they come - the G-Sync monitors are finally arriving at our doors! A little over a month ago we got to review the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q, a 2560x1440 144 Hz monitor that was the first retail-ready display to bring NVIDIA's variable refresh technology to consumers. It was a great first option with a high refresh rate along with support for ULMB (ultra low motion blur) technology, giving users a shot at either option.
Today we are taking a look at our second G-Sync monitor that will hit streets sometime in mid-October with an identical $799 price point. The Acer XB280HK is a 28-in 4K monitor with a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz and of course, support for NVIDIA G-Sync.
The Acer XB280HK, first announced at Computex in June, is the first 4K monitor on the market to be announced with support for variable refresh. It isn't that far behind the first low-cost 4K monitors to hit the market, period: the ASUS PB287Q and the Samsung U28D590D both shipped in May of 2014 with very similar feature sets, minus G-Sync. I discussed much of the general usability benefits (and issues) that arose when using a consumer 4K panel with Windows 8.1 in those reviews, so you'll want to be sure you read up on that in addition to the discussion of 4K + G-Sync we'll have today.
While we dive into the specifics on the Acer XB280HK monitor today, I will skip over most of the discussion about G-Sync, how it works and why we want it. In our ASUS PG278Q review I had a good, concise discussion on the technical background of NVIDIA G-Sync technology and how it improves gaming.
The idea of G-Sync is pretty easy to understand, though the implementation method can get a bit more hairy. G-Sync introduces a variable refresh rate to a monitor, allowing the display to refresh at wide range of rates rather than at fixed intervals. More importantly, rather than the monitor dictating what rate this refresh occurs at to the PC, the graphics now tells the monitor when to refresh in a properly configured G-Sync setup. This allows a monitor to match the refresh rate of the screen to the draw rate of the game being played (frames per second) and that simple change drastically improves the gaming experience for several reasons.
A few days with some magic monitors
Last month friend of the site and technology enthusiast Tom Petersen, who apparently does SOMETHING at NVIDIA, stopped by our offices to talk about G-Sync technology. A variable refresh rate feature added to new monitors with custom NVIDIA hardware, G-Sync is a technology that has been frequently discussed on PC Perspective.
The first monitor to ship with G-Sync is the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q - a fantastic 2560x1440 27-in monitor with a 144 Hz maximum refresh rate. I wrote a glowing review of the display here recently with the only real negative to it being a high price tag: $799. But when Tom stopped out to talk about the G-Sync retail release, he happened to leave a set of three of these new displays for us to mess with in a G-Sync Surround configuration. Yummy.
So what exactly is the current experience of using a triple G-Sync monitor setup if you were lucky enough to pick up a set? The truth is that the G-Sync portion of the equation works great but that game support for Surround (or Eyefinity for that matter) is still somewhat cumbersome.
In this quick impressions article I'll walk through the setup and configuration of the system and tell you about my time playing seven different PC titles in G-Sync Surround.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | August 22, 2014 - 08:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, gsync, g-sync, tom petersen, nvidia, geforce
Earlier today we had NVIDIA's Tom Petersen in studio to discuss the retail availability of G-Sync monitors as well as to get hands on with a set of three ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q monitors running in G-Sync Surround! It was truly an impressive sight and if you missed any of it, you can catch the entire replay right here.
Even if seeing the ASUS PG278Q monitor again doesn't interest you (we have our full review of the monitor right here), you won't want to miss the very detailed Q&A that occurs, answering quite a few reader questions about the technology. Covered items include:
- Potential added latency of G-Sync
- Future needs for multiple DP connections on GeForce GPUs
- Upcoming 4K and 1080p G-Sync panels
- Can G-Sync Surround work through an MST Hub?
- What happens to G-Sync when the frame rate exceeds the panel refresh rate? Or drops below minimum refresh rate?
- What does that memory on the G-Sync module actually do??
- A demo of the new NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet capabilities
- A whole lot more!
Another big thank you to NVIDIA and Tom Petersen for stopping out our way and for spending the time to discuss these topics with our readers. Stay tuned here at PC Perspective as we will have more thoughts and reactions to G-Sync Surround very soon!!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays, Mobile | August 21, 2014 - 05:23 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, video, live, shield, shield tablet, g-sync, gsync, tom petersen
Tomorrow at 12pm EDT / 9am PDT, NVIDIA's Tom Petersen will be stopping by the PC Perspective office to discuss some topics of interest. There has been no lack of topics floating around the world of graphics card, displays, refresh rates and tablets recently and I expect the show tomorrow to be incredibly interesting and educational.
On hand we'll be doing demonstrations of G-Sync Surround (3 panels!) with the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q display (our review here) and also show off the SHIELD Tablet (we have a review of that too) with some multiplayer action. If you thought the experience with a single G-Sync monitor was impressive, you will want to hear what a set of three of them can be like.
NVIDIA Live Stream with Tom Petersen
9am PT / 12pm ET - August 22nd
The topic list is going to include (but not limited to):
- ASUS PG278Q G-Sync monitor
- G-Sync availability and pricing
- G-Sync Surround setup, use and requirements
- Technical issues surrounding G-Sync: latency, buffers, etc.
- Comparisons of G-Sync to Adaptive Sync
- SHIELD Tablet game play
But we want your questions! Do you have burning issues that you think need to be addressed by Tom and the NVIDIA team about G-Sync, FreeSync, GameWorks, Tegra, tablets, GPUs and more? Nothing is off limits here, though obviously Tom may be cagey on future announcements. Please use the comments section on this news post below (registration not required) to ask your questions and we can organize them before the event tomorrow. We MIGHT even be able to come up with a couple of prizes to giveaway for live viewers as well...
See you tomorrow!!
Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2014 - 12:50 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, corsair, angelbird, wrk, ddr4, freesync, gsync, nvidia, amd, Intel, titan-z, VIA, video
PC Perspective Podcast #314 - 08/21/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair Air 240 Case, Angelbird SSD wrk, DDR4 Pricing, and more!
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
NVIDIA Live Stream Friday at noon
Week in Review:
Last Weeks Winner: Brian H.
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Josh: Just a nice, solid LCS.