Nvidia’s G-SYNC steps up your display to your graphics card

Display technology hasn’t kept up with the improvements in hardware graphics from the likes of companies like Nvidia. So, fully rendered 3D gaming experiences are not all they can be. Now, engineers at Nvidia want to make your display play ball with your graphics hardware to give you the best experience possible.

Nvidia Director of Technical Marketing, Tom Petersen, wrote on a blog post yesterday:

A perfect evening for me is coming home after a long day at NVIDIA, cracking open a Guinness and sitting down to a session of “Starcraft II.” Or even better, jumping into a new indie release like “Antichamber.” That thing still blows my mind.

But much as I love gaming, I’ve always hated the choices you have to make synchronizing to your monitor. With V-SYNC off you can have fast input response time, but images are seriously corrupted by tearing. Or, you can use V-SYNC on, but then games get laggy, and any time the GPU’s FPS falls below the refresh rate of the monitor, animation stutters badly.

Traditional televisions, the originators of computer displays, were set at 60 Hz refresh rates historically. That means the display screen is reconstructed 60 times every second. When it comes to how games screens are “refreshed” the measure is frames per second (fps), which means that every frame is a recreation of the screen. Typically, game frame rates can exceed 100 fps and the higher the frame rate, the smoother the reaction and flow of gameplay.

A workaround in traditional display is to turn off the Vertical Synchronization (VSync) in your graphic card output (usually enabled in software) which locks the frame output to the refresh rate. However, if your graphics card output is 150 fps and your monitor only manages 120 Hz refresh (which some do), you will experience errors and image issues.

With VSync enabled, you experience tearing, stutter and other artifacts associated with the disparity in the number of frames from your graphics card versus the number of refreshes that your display can handle in 1 second.

G-SYNC is an Nvidia add-on circuit designed to synchronize the monitors refresh rate with the graphics cards’ output. Nvidia’s GPUs become the determinants in refresh rate. Theoretically, it should result in smooth, non-tearing, highly responsive displays. Gaming nirvana as Tom Petersen likes to say.

Ultimately, the solution is limited to the high-end of the PC gaming market, but if Nvidia can succeed in getting this technology accepted at the display manufacturing level, it could fundamentally change, for the better, the quality of our displays because, even game consoles are capable of very high frame rates and are similarly limited by display technology.