Nvidia G-Sync matches LCD refresh rate to GPU render rate


— 11:48 AM on October 18, 2013

During a press event in Montreal this morning, Nvidia revealed a new technology that could revolutionize PC monitors. Dubbed G-Sync, the tech allows the display to synchronize directly with the GPU. It supplants the scaler of traditional LCDs, allowing the normally fixed refresh rate to be replaced by a variable one linked to the rendering pipeline. Each time the GPU is finished rendering a frame, G-Sync puts it on the screen immediately.

Since frames are drawn on the display as they're ready, G-Sync should eliminate tearing and stuttering. It's supposed to deliver a smooth experience even at lower frame rates, and the latency is apparently comparable to having vsync off. Responsiveness shouldn't be an issue.

Scott is at the Nvidia event, and he's seen G-Sync in action. Here's his response to the demo:

Welp, I've seen it, and it really, really works. I'm gonna need a new monitor.

Incredibly smooth animation without tearing. There's no way really to convey with conventional videos or the like. You have to see it for yourself. The crazy thing is that 40 FPS can look quite smooth.

Leading game developers are impressed, as well. Id's John Carmack, Epic's Tim Sweeney, and EA DICE's Johan Andersson were all on stage to give their impressions. According to Carmack, being able to use "all of the power you've got without suffering the stuttering or tearing is such a better experience." Sweeney called G-Sync "one of those experiences that's better without being easy to quantify," while Andersson said the tech "completely changes the perception of the picture, a continuous stream of that your mind interprets as a smooth picture."

Nvidia is already working with Asus, BenQ, Philips, and ViewSonic to integrated G-Sync into displays. There's no word on what G-Sync might add to the price of a monitor or when we could see compatible gear available for sale, though. We do know that the technology requires a Kepler-based GPU, so older GeForce cards won't be able to participate.

Update: Asus has pledged to offer a G-Sync-enabled version of its VG248QE monitor in the first half of 2014. The monitor will be priced at $399, which is a fair bit more than the $280 asking price attached to the current model. The G-Sync variant will presumably have the same 24" TN panel as the existing unit, which offers a 1080p display resolution and a 144Hz maximum refresh rate.

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