If you were hoping the variable refresh monitor war would come to an end sooner rather than later, don't hold your breath. Nvidia just kicked it up a notch, announcing at Computex on Monday (Taiwan time) that its variable refresh technology called G-Sync is coming to gaming laptops.
To show that it's serious with G-Sync on laptops, the company has lined up no less than six different laptops from four different manufacturers that use G-Sync technology. All are expected to be available this month. In my hands-on with the G-Sync-enabled laptops, there was indeed a noticeable improvement in tearing and stuttering with G-Sync enabled.
The new laptops include:
- Asus G751 with GeForce GTX 970m or GTX 980m and a 17.3-inch 1080p screen
- MSI's GT72G with GTX 970m or GTX 980m and a 17.3-inch 1080p screen
- Clevo's P7707M-G with GTX 970m or GTX 980m and--whoa, big surprise, a 17.3-inch 1080p screen
- Clevo will also offer the P750ZM-G with GTX 970 or GTX 980 and a 15.6-inch 4K resolution screen.
- Gigabyte's Aorus X7 Pro-SYNC plays it a little differently: The laptop has a 17.3-inch 1080p screen but runs GTX 970m cards in SLI mode.
- The company will also offer the Aorus X5 with a 15.6-inch 3K screen and GeForce GTX 965m GPU.
Why this matters: Variable refresh monitors enhance image quality by having the monitor match the graphics card's frame rate and nearly eliminate annoying stuttering and tearing in games. Nvidia has long been the only player with G-Sync, which it announced in late 2013. But with monitors supporting AMD's competing FreeSync finally shipping, it's turned into another standards war. (AMD has also claimed FreeSync actually predates G-Sync)
There's no need for a G-Sync module
G-Sync on laptops is a little different than a desktop monitor. Desktop monitors feature built-in scalers to handle the different inputs and communicate with the graphics card. G-Sync replaces those scalers with a G-Sync module that connects to the panel. Laptops don't use scalers because they attach directly to the graphics card though LVDS or eDP (embedded DisplayPort).
Technically a laptop vendor could add G-Sync support to an existing laptop through a driver and firmware update. That isn't likely to happen, however: The vendors queried by PCWorld said they currently had no plans do that.
Part of the problem may be the other factor that Nvidia says makes G-Sync superior to AMD's implementation: closer integration and panel selection.
Nvidia controls the vertical and horizantal
Nvidia officials said that as part of the G-Sync validation process, laptop and monitor makers must submit panels to Nvidia for certification. If a panel doesn't pass muster, it doesn't get the G-Sync stamp of approval.
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