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NVIDIA G-SYNC Update; Notebooks & More

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Author: Eber Antony
Date: June 2, 2015

 

Until recently, NVIDIA’s G-SYNC was the only kid on the block when it came to adaptive synchronization monitor technology. By eliminating the judder and tearing normally associated with V-SYNC being turned on and or left off, they delivered a new level of gameplay experiences for users of their latest cards. That monopoly ended not too long ago as AMD officially adopted the existing DisplayPort Adaptive Sync protocol to deliver FreeSync, a solution that delivers comparable benefits.

Despite having some competition now, the features initially offered G-SYNC haven’t evolved all that much since its inception nearly 20 months ago. The reason for this is simple: with it, NVIDIA has consistently delivered exactly what they promised. Naturally, the offering of monitors has expanded by leaps and bounds as manufacturers have chosen G-SYNC for their premium gaming displays and we’ve gradually seen the technology cascade upwards into higher quality IPS panels. While many things have remained the same, NVIDIA is now updating G-SYNC by integrating it into notebooks and adding some requested features.

One new addition to the G-SYNC feature stable is the ability to now run in windowed mode, something it wasn’t capable of before. This will be implemented at the driver level so all current and future G-SYNC panels will be compatible. While this won’t affect every gamer, there are those who prefer to run their games in windowed mode for quick switch-outs to other programs.

Taking a page from AMD’s manual, NVIDIA will now allow G-SYNC to be disabled when framerates exceed a monitor’s maximum refresh rate. Before this, framerates were capped at the maximum refresh rate of the panel, be it 60Hz, 120Hz or 144Hz. With this setting active, the driver detects framerates and will immediately take action to seamlessly disable adaptive synchronization when the threshold is passed.

Last but not least is the ability for the ULMB function within some G-SYNC monitors to be preset directly within the driver panel, on a game by game basis. Ultra Low Motion Blur strobes the panel’s backlight and typically reduces motion blur and input latency but it can also cause slight image flickering and lower framerates. As such, being able to without jumping through a monitor’s OSD will be a huge addition for any gamers who prefer this setting to G-SYNC in certain titles. Note however that it cannot be enabled alongside G-SYNC.

We certainly can’t complain about the variety of G-SYNC monitor offerings these days since they span every resolution from 1080P to 4K and include both IPS and TN panels. With that being said, NVIDIA’s partners are rolling out yet more displays, some of which really stand out.

Acer’s X34 Predator is a massive 34” curved ultra widescreen display boasting an IPS panel, a refresh rate of 75Hz and killer good looks. Many believe this will be a god among other monitors and from what we’ve seen so far, that’s exactly the case. Acer will also be launching the ultra wide Z35 with the world’s first G-SYNC certified VA panel which is rated at 144Hz. ASUS can’t be forgotten either as their offerings range from IPS to TN and 144Hz to a more mundane 60Hz. 4K monitors are stuck at 60Hz for now but expect that to change in the near future.

G-SYNC Comes To Notebooks

We all saw this one coming but NVIDIA made it official at Computex: G-SYNC is coming to notebooks. What we didn’t know up until now is how it was implemented and this is where things start to get interesting.

On a desktop system, the graphics card and the monitor talk to one another through the scaler, an item which NVIDIA replaces with their G-SYNC module in compatible monitors. That module allows NVIDIA to specifically tune the experience for every different panel the manufacturers use in their various models. Not only does this insure a consistently great experience but it also allows their engineers to easily diagnose and fix potential issues, many times before the panels even make it onto the market.

In a notebook things are done differently since the graphics processors is linked directly to the panel without a scaler acting as an intermediary. As such, G-SYNC and all of its tuning can be implemented directly within the GPU and its associated drivers without the need for an add-in module which is a significantly less expensive solution than the desktop-bound version.

This technology will be paired up with some of the notebook industry’s first 75Hz displays which will be available on nearly all of the first-run G-SYNC notebooks.

We’ve always suggested that some of G-SYNC’s largest benefits would be realized for lower end graphics card or mi-range notebook GPUs since both typically struggle to maintain consistently high framerates. As such, V-SYNC causes excess stuttering as it jumps between vertical refresh points, delivering an altogether horrible experience for anyone who wants to avoid screen tearing. G-SYNC should fix that in a big way for this expanding market.

Instead of some nebulous announcement without any backup, NVIDIA’s partners will be offering no fewer than a half dozen G-SYNC certified models in the next few weeks. We have one from Aorus on-hand right now and it is simply spectacular. Remember, these are all premium products so don’t expect them to be affordable but according to NVIDIA, nearly every upcoming notebook with a GeForce graphics core will also include G-SYNC.

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