First Impressions

The real heart of the story though is the actual experience of playing games and the real-world changes it makes to how I gamed over the last couple of days.  To be quite upfront, the difference between a G-Sync enabled system and a V-Sync disabled experience is night and day.  You will be able to see your full frame rate and full graphics card performance on your monitor at 1080p without any of the entirely distracting horizontal tearing that having V-Sync disabled has always produced.

It's funny to me now how accepting we were to this horrible artifacting that V-sync disabled gaming presented.  We assumed this was something we HAD TO HAVE.  It was the best of two evils, if you will, between V-Sync on and V-Sync off.  NVIDIA's creation of G-Sync proves that this isn't the case, and across a half dozen games over the last 36 hours I was able to see how gaming SHOULD be and can be.

Screenshot of a demo application NVIDIA created to show G-Sync advantages

Comparing G-Sync to V-Sync enabled setups is a little bit more complicated because you don't have the painfully obvious visual tearing on your screen the majority of the time.  Instead you are looking for differences in performance, frame times and micro stuttering.  This happens when you switch between refresh rates steps.  This is much more apparent in current 60 Hz panels that drop from 16ms frame time to 33ms frame times.  But if you happen to be one of those lucky gamers with a 120 Hz panel then you have a lot derivations of your vertical sync and thus the differences are going to be more difficult to see.  They are definitely there though.

Think back to a time in your gaming experiences in Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 or Metro: Last Light where you remember seeing animations that just weren't smooth to your eye.  If those animation smoothness differences were caused by frame rate variations going between V-Sync divisions, then NVIDIA G-Sync will produce a huge improvement in your gaming experience.

Please keep in mind that other sources of stutter and frame time drops can occur from texture loads, CPU bottlenecks or just about anything else in the PC or software pipeline.  NVIDIA G-Sync can't address those.

My short time with the NVIDIA G-Sync prototype display has been truly impressive, and getting some play time in with Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite and even some good old Battlefield 3 was awesome.  Even from someone watching over my shoulder as I played Crysis 3 (a game with which they were greatly familiar) there was an immediate "awe-factor" from the smoothness and feel of "speed" in the movement.  Bioshock Infinite was a game that suffered from some of the most horrendous horizontal tearing in my first play through, but with G-Sync enabled I was able to keep a smooth frame rate without any of that artifacting. 

Setup of G-Sync is simple enough, once you have your panel connected through DisplayPort you just jump into the NVIDIA Control Panel and find the Vertical Sync setting and set it to "G-Sync."  In the game you then make sure that V-Sync is set to off or disabled and NVIDIA's driver handles the rest.  You do want to make sure that your panel's maximum refresh rate is set correctly in the resolution section of NVIDIA's Control Panel as well.

There is still talk about upgrade kits being available for current owners of the ASUS VG248QE display, but as of this writing I don't have any details on pricing or availability quite yet.  NVIDIA definitely promised this as an option, so I would hate for them to go back on that verbal agreement now.  Still, most users will find G-Sync more palatable as a new monitor purchase, but keep in mind that you must have a Kepler GPU (GTX 650 or higher) to take advantage of the technology.

There isn't a single doubt that I want a G-Sync monitor on my desk,  but there are still some limitations to this panel and the technology that will hold me back a bit longer.  First, I have become addicted to resolution, and 2560×1440 is a minimum for my productivity needs (4K would be nice too.)  I don't usually game in Surround or Eyefinity modes, but that isn't supported yet either.  And though the ASUS VG248QE is a great gaming monitor it doesn't have the chops to be the workhorse panel for my day to day usage – IPS panels would be a big upgrade here.

Luckily from what I am hearing, most of these issues are going to fixed early next year and I am hoping to see some previews of all of it at CES in January. 

If you are planning on a gaming rig update in 2014, my experiences thus far have told me you are going to want to add a G-Sync enabled monitor to that list.

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