Podcast #283 - AMD Kaveri APU Launch, Gigabyte's New Slim Gaming Notebook, and CES 2014 Wrapup!

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2014 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: video, R9 290X, podcast, msi, Kaveri, gsync, gigabyte, freesync, benq, amd, a8-7600, 290x

PC Perspective Podcast #283 - 01/16/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Kaveri APU Launch, Gigabyte's New Slim Gaming Notebook, and CES 2014 Wrapup!

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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes 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

 
Program length: 1:13:50

CES 2014: NVIDIA Shows Modified ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor with G-Sync

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2014 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: pq321q, PQ321, nvidia, gsync, g-sync, CES 2014, CES, asus, 4k

Just before CES Allyn showed you the process of modifying the ASUS VG248QE to support NVIDIA G-Sync variable refresh rate technology.  It wasn't the easiest mod we have ever done but even users without a lot of skill will be able to accomplish it.  

But at the NVIDIA booth at CES this year the company was truly showing off G-Sync technology to its fullest capability.  By taking the 3840x2160 ASUS PQ321Q monitor and modifying it with the same G-Sync module technology we were able to see variable refresh rate support in 4K glory.

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Obviously you can't see much from the photo above about the smoothness of the animation, but I can assure you that in person this looks incredible.  In fact, 4K might be the perfect resolution for G-Sync to shine as running games at that high of a resolution will definitely bring your system to its knees, dipping below that magical 60 Hz / FPS rate.  But when it does with this modified panel, you'll still get smooth game play and a a tear-free visual experience.

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The mod is actually using the same DIY kit that Allyn used in his story though it likely has a firmware update for compatibility.  Even with the interesting debate from AMD about the support for VRR in the upcoming DisplayPort 1.3 standard, it's impossible to not see the ASUS PQ321Q in 4K with G-Sync and instantly fall in love with PCs again.

Sorry - there are no plans to offer this upgrade kit for ASUS PQ321Q owners!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

DisplayPort to Save the Day?

During an impromptu meeting with AMD this week, the company's Corporate Vice President for Visual Computing, Raja Koduri, presented me with an interesting demonstration of a technology that allowed the refresh rate of a display on a Toshiba notebook to perfectly match with the render rate of the game demo being shown.  The result was an image that was smooth and with no tearing effects.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  NVIDIA's G-Sync was announced in November of last year and does just that for desktop systems and PC gamers.

Since that November unveiling, I knew that AMD would need to respond in some way.  The company had basically been silent since learning of NVIDIA's release but that changed for me today and the information discussed is quite extraordinary.  AMD is jokingly calling the technology demonstration "FreeSync".

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Variable refresh rates as discussed by NVIDIA.

During the demonstration AMD's Koduri had two identical systems side by side based on a Kabini APU . Both were running a basic graphics demo of a rotating windmill.  One was a standard software configuration while the other model had a modified driver that communicated with the panel to enable variable refresh rates.  As you likely know from our various discussions about variable refresh rates an G-Sync technology from NVIDIA, this setup results in a much better gaming experience as it produces smoother animation on the screen without the horizontal tearing associated with v-sync disabled.  

Obviously AMD wasn't using the same controller module that NVIDIA is using on its current G-Sync displays, several of which were announced this week at CES.  Instead, the internal connection on the Toshiba notebook was the key factor: Embedded Display Port (eDP) apparently has a feature to support variable refresh rates on LCD panels.  This feature was included for power savings on mobile and integrated devices as refreshing the screen without new content can be a waste of valuable battery resources.  But, for performance and gaming considerations, this feature can be used to initiate a variable refresh rate meant to smooth out game play, as AMD's Koduri said.

Continue reading our thoughts on AMD's initial "FreeSync" variable refresh rate demonstration!!

Manufacturer: NVIDIA G-SYNC

Introduction and Unboxing

Introduction:

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.

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Unboxing:

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All items are well packed and protected.

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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.

Read on for the full review!

Reader Results: NVIDIA G-Sync Upgrade and First Impressions

Subject: Displays | January 3, 2014 - 11:10 AM |
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!

 

Installation thoughts:

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.

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Installation Step 1

First impressions:

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.

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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. 

Continue reading Levi's experiences using the NVIDIA G-Sync upgraded ASUS VG248QE monitor!!

Win an ASUS VG248QE Upgrade Kit to Enable NVIDIA G-Sync!!

Subject: Displays | December 24, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
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!

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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!

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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. 

Podcast #281 - NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2013 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: video, ROG, podcast, nvidia, mars 760, gtx 760, gsync, DirectCU II, aus, 290x

PC Perspective Podcast #281 - 12/19/2013

Join us this week as we discuss our NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:38:13
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:04:00 Intel Roadmap Leaks
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

 

NVIDIA G-Sync Monitors Limited Availability Starting Today

Subject: Displays | December 16, 2013 - 09:11 AM |
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. 

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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.

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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!!

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

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. 

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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. 

Continue reading our tech preview of NVIDIA G-Sync!!

Podcast #274 - NVIDIA G-SYNC, R9 290X Benchmarks, and Process Technology for Next Gen Graphics

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2013 - 02:21 PM |
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!

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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes 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

 
Program length: 1:16:43
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:07:10 NVIDIA "The Way It's Meant to be Played" 2013 Press Event
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Did you know (Windows 8.1 safe mode)
  4. podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro