Getting G-Sync Working, And Our Test Setup
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.
|Processors||Intel 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|
|Motherboard||MSI X79A-GD45 Plus (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS 17.5|
|Memory||G.Skill 32 GB (8 x 4 GB) DDR3-2133, F3-17000CL9Q-16GBXM x2 @ 9-11-10-28 and 1.65 V|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 840 Pro SSD 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3 GB|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2 GB|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX860i 860 W|
|System Software And Drivers|
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional 64-bit|
|Graphics Driver||Nvidia 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.