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G-Sync Technology Preview: Quite Literally A Game Changer

Getting G-Sync Working, And Our Test Setup

System requirements

G-Sync isn't part of any existing standard, nor does Nvidia anticipate trying to get it included with future versions of DisplayPort. As such, there are some specific requirements that need to be satisfied before you can expect that G-Sync-capable monitor you have your eye on to work properly.

First, you need an Nvidia graphics card. Specifically, it needs to be a GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost or faster model. Kepler is the first graphics architecture with an integrated display controller that can be programmed to enable G-Sync, so even if you have a Fermi-based GPU that's faster, the technology won't work. Maxwell was designed specifically to support it, so upcoming cards will feature G-Sync as well.

The second requirement is a monitor with Nvidia's G-Sync module built-in. This module replaces the screen's scalar. So, it's not possible to add G-Sync to a tiled Ultra HD display, for example. In today's story, we're using a prototype capable of 1920x1080 at up to 144 Hz. But you can imagine just how much more impact G-Sync will have if manufacturers start adding it to less expensive 60 Hz panels.

Third, you need to be using a DisplayPort 1.2 cable. DVI and HDMI connections are not supported. In the near-term, this means that the only way G-Sync is going to work across multi-display Surround arrays is via a three-way SLI configuration, since each card has at most a single DisplayPort connection and adapting from a card's DVI output to DisplayPort won't work. Similarly, an MST hub won't do the trick.

Finally, driver support is required. The latest 331.93 beta software enables G-Sync, and we assume future WHQL-certified releases will include it as well.

Test Setup

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3970X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.5 GHz Base Clock Rate, Overclocked to 4.3 GHz, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardMSI X79A-GD45 Plus (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS 17.5
MemoryG.Skill 32 GB (8 x 4 GB) DDR3-2133, F3-17000CL9Q-16GBXM x2 @ 9-11-10-28 and 1.65 V
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Pro SSD 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2 GB
Power SupplyCorsair AX860i 860 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce 331.93 Beta

Now, it's important to understand where G-Sync does and does not yield the most significant impact. There's a good chance you're currently using a screen that operates at 60 Hz. Faster 120 and 144 Hz refresh rates are popular amongst gamers, but Nvidia is (rightly) predicting that its biggest market will be the enthusiasts still stuck at 60 Hz.

With V-sync turned on at 60 Hz, the most visually-disturbing artifacts are encountered when 60 FPS cannot be maintained, yielding those jarring jumps between 30 and 60 FPS. That's where you see significant stuttering. With V-sync turned off, scenes with a lot of motion or panning side to side make tearing most apparent. For some enthusiasts, this detracts so much from the game that they simply turn V-sync on and live with the stuttering and incurred input lag.

As you step up to 120 and 144 Hz and higher frame rates, the display refreshes itself more often, cutting down on the amount of time spent with one frame persisting for multiple scans if performance cannot keep up. However, the same issues with V-sync on and off do persist. For this reason, we'll be hands-on testing the Asus monitor in 60 and 144 MHz mode, with and without G-Sync enabled.

  • gamerk316
    I consider Gsync to be the most important gaming innovation since DX7. It's going to be one of those "How the HELL did we live without this before?" technologies.
    Reply
  • monsta
    Totally agree, G Sync is really impressive and the technology we have been waiting for.
    What the hell is Mantle?
    Reply
  • wurkfur
    I personally have a setup that handles 60+ fps in most games and just leave V-Sync on. For me 60 fps is perfectly acceptable and even when I went to my friends house where he had a 120hz monitor with SLI, I couldn't hardly see much difference.

    I applaud the advancement, but I have a perfectly functional 26 inch monitor and don't want to have to buy another one AND a compatible GPU just to stop tearing.

    At that point I'm looking at $400 to $600 for a relatively paltry gain. If it comes standard on every monitor, I'll reconsider.
    Reply
  • expl0itfinder
    Competition, competition. Anybody who is flaming over who is better: AMD or nVidia, is clearly missing the point. With nVidia's G-Sync, and AMD's Mantle, we have, for the first time in a while, real market competition in the GPU space. What does that mean for consumers? Lower prices, better products.
    Reply
  • This needs to be not so proprietary for it to become a game changer. As it is, requiring a specific GPU and specific monitor with an additional price premium just isn't compelling and won't reach a wide demographic.

    Is it great for those who already happen to fall within the requirements? Sure, but unless Nvidia opens this up or competitors make similar solutions, I feel like this is doomed to be as niche as lightboost, Physx, and, I suspect, Mantle.
    Reply
  • Jgriff
    g sync tv pleeeeeeeeeease
    Reply
  • ubercake
    I'm on page 4, and I can't even contain myself.

    Tearing and input lag at 60Hz on a 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 has been the only reason I won't game on one. G-sync will get me there.

    This is awesome, outside-of-the-box thinking tech.

    I do think Nvidia is making a huge mistake by keeping this to themselves though. This should be a technology implemented with every panel sold and become part of an industry standard for HDTVs, monitors or other viewing solutions! Why not get a licensing payment for all monitors sold with this tech? Or all video cards implementing this tech? It just makes sense.
    Reply
  • rickard
    Could the Skyrim stuttering at 60hz w/ Gsync be because the engine operates internally at 64hz? All those Bethesda tech games drop 4 frames every second when vsync'd to 60hz which cause that severe microstutter you see on nearby floors and walls when moving and strafing. Same thing happened in Oblivion, Fallout 3, and New Vegas on PC. You had to use stutter removal mods in conjunction with the script extenders to actually force the game to operate at 60hz and smooth it out with vsync on.

    You mention it being smooth when set to 144hz with Gsync, is there any way you cap the display at 64hz and try it with Gsync alone (iPresentinterval=0) and see what happens then? Just wondering if the game is at fault here and if that specific issue is still there in their latest version of the engine.

    Alternatively I suppose you could load up Fallout 3 or NV instead and see if the Gsync results match Skyrim.
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    I would be excited for this if it werent for Oculus Rift. I don't mean to be dismissive, this looks awesome...but it isn't Oculus Rift.
    Reply
  • hysteria357
    Am I the only one who has never experienced screen tearing? Most of my games run past my refresh rate too....
    Reply