ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27" 4K 144Hz G-SYNC Monitor: True HDR Arrives on the Desktop
Teardown and Hardware Analysis
Once we took off the stock monitor stand in order to investigate potential fan intake issues with the VESA mount, we couldn't help ourselves from continuing further to see what makes this display tick.
I'm actually impressed at how easily the PG27UQ came apart compared to some other displays we've taken apart. After removing the stand, a metal spudger was used to release the plastic clips holding the two pieces of the enclosure together. Taking care to remove the cables for the LEDs and controls on the back panel, we were left with access to the innards of the panel.
From the general layout, it appears there are two modules on the left and right side of the display that are likely controlling the 384-zone FALD backlight, which connects to PCB in the middle which the display outputs are attached to, and is responsible for interfacing directly to the LCD panel.
After disconnecting the cables running to the PCB in the middle, and removing the bracket, we gained access to the electronics responsible for controlling the LCD panel itself.
A New G-SYNC Module
Now that we have a better view of the PCB, we can see exactly what the aforementioned blower fan and heatsink assembly are responsible for— the all-new G-SYNC module.
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about if/when NVIDIA would move from an FPGA solution to a cheaper, and smaller ASIC solution for controlling G-SYNC monitors. While extensible due to their programmability, FGPA's are generally significantly more expensive than ASICs and take up more physical space.
Removing the heatsink and thermal paste, we get our first peek at the G-SYNC module itself.
As it turns out, G-SYNC HDR, like its predecessor is powered by an FPGA from Altera. In this case, NVIDIA is using an Intel Altera Arria 10 GX 480 FPGA. Thanks to the extensive documentation from Intel, including a model number decoder, we are able to get some more information about this particular FPGA.
A mid-range option in the Arria 10 lineup, the GX480 provides 480,000 reprogrammable logic, as well as twenty-four 17.4 Gbps Transceivers for I/O. Important for this given application, the GX480 also supports 222 pairs of LVDS I/O.
DRAM from Micron can also be spotted on this G-SYNC module. From the datasheet, we can confirm that this is, in fact, a total of 3 GB of DDR4-2400 memory. This memory is likely being used in the same lookaside buffer roll as the 768MB of memory on the original G-SYNC module, but is much higher capacity, and much faster.
While there's not a whole lot we can glean from the specs of the FPGA itself, it starts to paint a more clear picture of the current G-SYNC HDR situation. While our original speculation as to the $2,000 price point of the first G-SYNC HDR monitors was mostly based on potential LCD panel cost, it's now more clear that the new G-SYNC module makes up a substantial cost.
It's an unstocked item, without a large bulk quantity price break, but you can actually find this exact same FPGA on both Digikey and Mouser, available to buy. It's clear that NVIDIA isn't paying the $2600 per each FPGA that both sites are asking, but it shows that these are not cheap components in the least. I wouldn't be surprised to see that this FPGA alone makes up $500 of the final price point of these new displays, let alone the costly DDR4 memory.