Nvidia’s G-Sync goes mobile, adds features

In addition to introducing the GeForce GTX 980 Ti today, Nvidia is making some updates to its G-Sync variable display refresh technology. Among the changes, the biggest news is the introduction of a mobile version of G-Sync for use in gaming laptops with mobile GeForce graphics chips.

G-Sync hits the road

The mobile version of G-Sync is distinct from the desktop version because laptops typically allow the GPU to connect to the display’s control logic directly, without a display scaler chip standing in the way. As a result, Nvidia has managed to implement the mobile version of G-Sync without the custom module used in desktop displays. Instead, the GPU directly controls the display’s behavior.

According to Nvidia’s Tom Petersen, the plan going forward is for all GeForce-equipped laptops to ship with G-Sync support as a standard feature.

At least four different laptop makers will introduce G-Sync-capable laptops this week at the Computex trade show in Taipei, including Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, and Clevo, as indicated above. Gigabyte’s offerings even include SLI multi-GPU mojo.

Many of these laptops have LCD panels with 75Hz peak refresh rates, and Nvidia promises they will be “gamer grade” displays. I got the chance to see a couple of these systems in action briefly, and they do indeed appear to provide the same sort of silky smooth animation that we’ve come to expect from desktop displays with variable-refresh technology.

Petersen assured us that we can expect “the same behaviors” out of mobile G-Sync displays that we’ve come to expect from their desktop counterparts, including the collision-avoidance logic in low-FPS scenarios and custom overdrive behavior to prevent ghosting. Since the G-Sync module isn’t present, the GPU and driver software will combine to make sure these features work correctly.  In fact, a GPU shader program will assist with LCD overdrive compensation, which Petersen told us is a “small amount of work for the GPU.” Nonetheless, he claimed that the initial tuning of each LCD panel for the proper overdrive behavior in a variable-refresh setting is “a non-trivial effort,” one for which Nvidia will continue to assume responsibility under the G-Sync banner.

More desktop displays, too

In addition to expanding to laptops, G-Sync will be coming to a wider variety of desktop displays soon, many of which are likely to be announced or at least shown in some form this week at Computex. Nvidia provided us with the following list of upcoming monitors from just two manufacturers, Asus and Acer.

The most exciting prospects here may be the trio of IPS offerings from Asus, including the PG279Q, which has the deadly combo of a 2560×1440 resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate, and an IPS-type panel. Then again, Acer already has the XB270HU in the market with the same basic attributes.

Acer’s X34 is mighty intriguing; this curved 34″ display has a near-4K resolution on an IPS panel with a 75Hz refresh rate. I need a trio of those things arrayed on my desktop for some Project Cars action as soon as possible.

I’m also fascinated by the two 27″ IPS displays listed with 4K native resolutions. Those monitors could be the do-everything upgrade enthusiasts can embrace. Acer’s 35″ VA panel has the potential to offer a nice mix of quality and affordability, as well.

I expect to learn more about some of these monitors as the week progresses, and hopefully we’ll be able to get our mitts on some of them for review soon.

Better behaviors, more control

Owners of G-Sync-capable systems can expect some upgrades in Nvidia’s latest graphics drivers, too.

Most notably, the firm is adding support for variable display refresh rates on the Windows desktop, so that users can run games in windowed mode and still experience smoother animation. Making this mode work with variable refresh rates is a pretty nice trick, since the Desktop Window Manager application is natively a fixed-refresh application that composites the results from multiple windows.  Nvidia’s software guys managed to make it work by having the DWM’s refresh track with the refresh rate of the currently in-focus window. In Petersen’s words, “we are the driver, so we can do things behind the scenes.”

Petersen tells us G-Sync should work with games running in both windowed and borderless windowed mode. That fact should be popular with a lot of gamers, especially those who like to stream to Twitch or the like.

Nvidia is also taking a page from AMD’s FreeSync by adding the ability to disable variable refresh synchronization (vsync) when the frame rate from the graphics card ventures beyond the range of refresh intervals supported by the display. This option is available in Nvidia’s latest 352.90 drivers, which we used in our GeForce GTX 980 Ti review. See the screenshot above.

Unlike AMD, though, Nvidia will not let go of synchronization when frame rates drop below the monitor’s tolerance.  Instead, Nvidia’s implementation will only allow tearing when the frame rate exceeds the speed of the display. Doing so makes sense, I think, given the collision-avoidance logic Nvidia has built for low-refresh scenarios; it tends to handle that situation pretty well. Allowing tearing at really high frame rates should make games more responsive by letting the game loop execute as quickly as possible. Folks playing twitch shooters should appreciate this option.

One of the better kept secrets of G-Sync displays is the presence of an ultra-low motion blur (ULMB) mode on some monitors. This mode sacrifices variable refresh, but it promises greater clarity through the use of backlight strobing. I looked at it right here in my review of the Asus PG278Q, if you’re curious. Some folks really appreciate the benefits of this mode, and Nvidia has decided to raise its profile by including it as an option in its driver control panel alongside G-Sync variable refresh. The monitor I had connected for the screenshot above doesn’t support ULMB, so the menu option is unfortunately not shown there. Still, this little refinement is a welcome one.

Comments closed
    • evilpaul
    • 4 years ago

    I’ve got an ASUS VG248 and have LightBoost hacked to run on the Windows Desktop. It breaks 3D Vision slightly and a couple other things a little. Are they finally adding a driver config option for that? I’d need that module to make my monitor actually support G-Sync.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 4 years ago

    too bad all the laptop options are rather clunky designs and hideous. Really guys we can do better.

    • rahulahl
    • 4 years ago

    Love the new update. Can’t wait to try it out.
    Being able to play in border less mode was what I really needed and Nvidia has finally delivered.

    Wonder what AMD Freesync response will be now. They seem to have ghosting issues, high lower limit on FPS and now lacking windowed mode adaptive sync. These are pretty important issues they need to sort.

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    “As a result, Nvidia has managed to implement the mobile version of G-Sync without the custom module used in desktop displays. Instead, the GPU directly controls the display’s behavior.”

    Great, so DP 1.2a support is coming, yes?

      • Tristan
      • 4 years ago

      They are too greedy to do this.
      Eventually, they may certife some monitors with DP 1.2a for small amount $$$$$$, and limit support only to these certified monitors.

      • savagedamage
      • 4 years ago

      eDP has supported variable refresh rates since 2008.

    • MFergus
    • 4 years ago

    I assume with gsync windowed on and have 2 videos on, the one in focus will be in perfect sync while the other will be flickering because it will be out of sync with the variable refresh right?

      • MathMan
      • 4 years ago

      Why would it be flickering? It will be tearing or stuttering. There’s no reason why it’d be flickering.

        • MFergus
        • 4 years ago

        Ya your right, I’m just kinda curious how noticeable it is. I don’t think it’s a problem at all just like to hear what it looks like.

    • Tristan
    • 4 years ago

    We need 24inch 4K IPS monitor with G-Sync

    • Flapdrol
    • 4 years ago

    A gsync screen with a VA panel, interesting. 2560×1080 instead of 1440, but still nice to see.

    • NoOne ButMe
    • 4 years ago

    Hope someone can figure out a way to “hack” this solution onto A-sync capable displays. If only because it would be the right thing for Nvidia to do.

    Well, for PC gaming as a whole. Not as good for their bottom line. So, fair of them to do it this way.

      • Klimax
      • 4 years ago

      Since both solutions use variable V-Blank, the hardest part should be convincing driver monitor is G-Sync enabled and maybe intercepting some commands not present in other scalers. (In case those scalers would get confused)

    • krazyredboy
    • 4 years ago

    Dang it… I bought a MSI GT72 laptop, a couple of months ago. I spent most of my tax return on that, getting the 980m and all the bells and whistles (and I really love the whistles). This is the part that I hate, even though I completely understand and knew going into my purchase, but had I held out for just a few more months, I could have had some sweet g-sync goodness.

    Too bad it can’t be covered with a firmware update or changing out the display myself… that would be wonderful!

      • GrimDanfango
      • 4 years ago

      You’d still probably be able to get… ooh, ~85-90% resale value if you sold a 2-month old laptop on eBay I’d reckon… so ultimately you’d probably only take a couple of hundred bucks hit for the g-sync upgrade 🙂

    • DancinJack
    • 4 years ago

    [url<]http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/85823/en-us[/url<] have fun ya'll

      • NoOne ButMe
      • 4 years ago

      Finally can get my “optimal” HotS setup settings easily! 😀
      Now, to see what FPS the Geforce experience aims for, I’m assuming it bases it off your refresh rate, or aims for 60fps. *Shrug*

      Having an option for 30/60/120 FPS would be a good addition, I think. Guess I’ll look into where I can send my feedback.

    • gc9
    • 4 years ago

    “the plan going forward is for all GeForce-equipped laptops to ship with G-Sync support as a standard feature”

    G-Sync calibration and branding is a premium NVidia would like to charge for.

    G-Sync must be directly connected to the display.
    So a GeForce laptop manufacturer might have to choose between
    either (a) no longer supporting Optimus (which outputs via Intel’s iGPU),
    or (b) enabling G-Sync for the external display port only, not the integrated screen,
    or (c) adding a hardware switch choosing between the integrated and discrete GPU outputs.

    Non-gaming laptop designs are not likely to give up Optimus battery life savings.
    Non-gaming laptop designs are not likely to pay to put in a hardware switch,
    Non-gaming laptop designs are not likely to pay a premium for G-sync that only works on the external display port.

    This plan might explain why Apple chose an AMD GPU in the latest MacBookPro.

      • MathMan
      • 4 years ago

      Always impressive how people are able to come with a convoluted theory about something that doesn’t need one.

      If Apple wants a non-gaming GPU, it can just ask.

        • gc9
        • 4 years ago

        Of course they asked. The mystery is how was NVidia not able to negotiate a solution that satisfied them.

          • MathMan
          • 4 years ago

          How about they didn’t want to play AMD’s game of dumping their excess silicon at bargain bin prices? Would that solve the mystery?

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 4 years ago

            Or, perhaps AMD wasn’t threatening to sue everyone who used IP that is used in the products that make up the vast majority of Apple’s income.

            If they have sued or not, NVidia isn’t like Samsung, where each division pretty much operates by itself. Of course, they do have superior mobile GPUs, and have for quite a while.

            • MathMan
            • 4 years ago

            Hey guys, come over here! A semiaccurate crackpot left the reservation!

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 4 years ago

            “This suit is not limited to just Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs however, and also extends to ARM Mali and Imagination PowerVR GPUs as well, as Samsung has used both of those GPU families in their various Exynos designs. Overall NVIDIA believes that the Adreno 200, Adreno 300, and Adreno 400 families all violate NVIDIA’s patents, while the Mali-T628 and the PowerVR SGX (Series 5) are also explicitly named in claims.”

            [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/8492/nvidia-files-patent-infringement-complaints-against-qualcomm-samsung[/url<] PowerVR... Wonder who uses the majority of those chips? Why would you want to be buying product from the company who basically said "you infringe, we're going after you with huge suites eventually". As I said before, Nvidia isn't a conglomerate where each division does things separately either. And they don't have a business that you have to plan long ahead to use (fabrication). Of course, AMD probably offered cheaper chips, but, Apple's focus is almost always on cooler, thinner, longer battery. The MacBook Pro got hotter and lower battery. I'm pretty sure that Apple is willing to pay more if it allows them to create a better product. Especially on a product with such a high margin.

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    hmmmm if this is similar to adaptive sync based on disport standard, that is a good thing since most laptops still ship with screens using the old lvds connection and not the eDP type connector. Hopefully this will help make eDP notebook screens more common and standard.

    edit – just updated win 7 and got a pop up to reserve a free copy of win 10. hmmm have to put in my email address.

    Question is if I have 6 PCs and 1 email, will I get 6 copies of W10?

      • Sargent Duck
      • 4 years ago

      Microsoft has stated that all Win7/Win8/Win8.1 versions will get a free upgrade to Win10.
      .
      .
      .
      For the first year at least. In year 2 you fork over the credit card.

    • invinciblegod
    • 4 years ago

    I wish the g-sync module is more capable with more inputs, pip, thunderbolt, or others available in it.

    • GrimDanfango
    • 4 years ago

    Windowed and Borderless Windowed G-Sync! At last!
    I was concerned they had just been ignoring it, but it seems they just had some coding hurdles to overcome.

    G-Sync is finally complete and fully functioning! Whoop whoop!

      • wizpig64
      • 4 years ago

      I had been completely ignoring gsync because I run my games in borderless for multi-monitor sanity. This is amazing news.

        • Milo Burke
        • 4 years ago

        What’s the advantage?

          • NoOne ButMe
          • 4 years ago

          In fullscreen you have to minimize to get to another window usually. In boarderless Windows you can have it on a separate monitor and easily access everything that isn’t part of the game while being able to keep an eye on the game also.

            • Airmantharp
            • 4 years ago

            Alt-Tab does this for me most of the time…

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 4 years ago

            yes, alt-tab minimizes the display.

            If you have say, one monitor, you can play the game with other stuff open and easy to interact with while keeping track of the game.

            If you have multiple monitors you can interact with other monitors while game is still showing on a monitor.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 4 years ago

            Yeah, basically what your saying is to address basic multi monitor funkiness you use borderless windowed. Makes sense as GPU drivers still seem to not know what to do with more than one display normally. There aren’t appropriate options to black out other panes instead of manually turning them off, or to as you say fluidly shift in and out of a game environment in something like a RPG or online game.

          • GrimDanfango
          • 4 years ago

          Unity engine games have an annoying habit of ONLY running in Borderless Window mode… that is their only “Fullscreen” option at this point. Basically, before this, any recently released/updated Unity engine games wouldn’t trigger G-Sync mode at all.

          It would still be nice if Unity switched back to allowing true fullscreen though, as borderless window mode still prevents things like nvidia DSR working, as the resolution is always slaved to your desktop res.

    • MathMan
    • 4 years ago

    2540×1440 -> 2560×1440 ?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      I was hoping for a slightly squarish 127:72 aspect ratio. 🙁

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