Gaming Monitors that Don’t Tear or Stutter

Professional Monitors – At PEPCOM’s Holiday Spectacular, a press-and-analysts-only show held on September 29 at the Metropolitan Pavilion on New York City’s West Side, I came across the new ASUS PG278Q 2560 x 1440 gaming monitor.

In discussing the monitor with ASUS personnel, and then with Nvidia’s Bryan Del Rizzo, I learned things about the way high-performance games present their imagery to monitors which I didn’t know before, and how Nvidia’s G-Sync technology solves the long-standing problems of tearing and stutter that have beset gamers and their fixed-frame-rate monitors.

“The source [of these problems] is that modern games don’t deliver a consistent frame rate due to the complexity and richness of the scenes being rendered. Some frames take longer to render than others. Frames that are rendered in 10ms will push the FPS in the game higher, while frames that take longer to render will reduce the overall FPS in the game”, according to a reviewer’s guide which Del Rizzo sent me.

“Currently, gamers have few options when it comes to how frames are delivered. Most gamers disable V-Sync to get the best input response they can, but this introduces some serious visual artefacts: Tearing and Stutter. With V-Sync enabled, you eliminate the tearing, but introduce input delay and inconsistent frame delivery as the GPU will rarely generate frame rates in perfect sync with the refresh rate of the monitor”, the guide says.

Nvidia_G-Sync_graphic_KW_DDWith G-Sync, a G-Sync controller built into the monitor receives a signal from the graphics processing unit (GPU) in the computer. (Currently G-Sync is supported by Nvidia Series 7 and 9 GeForce graphics cards.) When the GPU has finished rendering a frame, no matter how long it takes, it sends a signal that tells the monitor to update the display. The result is a variable-rate monitor that solves the problem of tearing and stuttering. Lag between a user input and the screen updating based on the input is reduced compared to V-sync.

ASUS advertises its PG278Q – to be the first 1440p monitor to feature G-Sync technology. Acer advertises its XB280HK gaming monitor – an example of which was in the Nvidia booth – as “the world’s first 4k display featuring Nvidia G-Sync technology”. Del Rizzo told me that G-Sync is currently available, or will soon be available, in gaming monitors from four or five different brands.

Nvidia says it has been developing G-Sync for several years, and this is serious technology developed to allow gamers to have more fun. But that should come as no surprise. Gaming is a very serious business. – Ken Werner