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What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Talk about NVIDIA G-SYNC, a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology. G-SYNC eliminates stutters, tearing, and reduces input lag. List of G-SYNC Monitors.

What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby xenphor » 21 Nov 2018, 22:23

I really like the concept of gsync but don't really have any way to actually try it out myself. So to avoid having to buy monitors and return them, what things should I look out for when buying a gsync monitor?

One thing I'm worried about is the default refresh rate of the monitor. A refresh rate of 144 or 165 seems like it could cause issues in games/applications that expect a 60hz refresh. I suppose I could manually change the refresh rate to 120, but I'd rather not have to constantly switch the refresh rate depending on what I'm doing. In that case I would probably be looking at a 240hz monitor since 120hz monitors don't seem to be as popular anymore.

Another thing I'm concerned about is what kind of manual controls/overrides the monitor provides. Since gsync is a relatively new technology I would like to have the most options available to mitigate any issues that arise from incompatibilities. For example, driver settings may not be enough to fix an issue, so I would like to have even more controls available at the hardware level as well. Do certain monitor brands offer more options/controls over things that affect gsync performance than others?

I make heavy use of my computer for emulation (arcade and console) and also use legacy operating systems on real hardware like DOS (70hz) and windows 98 (lots of games have weird refresh rates). Having robust controls over the aspect ratio (correcting 320x200 DOS games to 4:3) or even the refresh rate independent of the OS would be nice. My current monitor can't correct 320x200 to 4:3 but it does display 70hz without stuttering. Having a variety of scaling options on the monitor itself would be nice too.

Are there any monitors that are recommended? I suppose a cheaper model would be nice but getting an optimal gsync experience is paramount. I currently just have a 100 dollar 1080p Asus VS239H-P 23" IPS that I have no issues with other than not having gsync. I would be fine with 1080p but 1440p seems to be more common.

I'm sure there are other things to look for (flickering?) that I don't know about because I can't try it out for myself so any other information would be appreciated.

I could potentially just wait until VRR gets standardized in HDMI and becomes more mature but I've had bad experiences with AMD's drivers (opengl) and I doubt nvidia is going to support it.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby RealNC » 22 Nov 2018, 06:41

xenphor wrote:One thing I'm worried about is the default refresh rate of the monitor. A refresh rate of 144 or 165 seems like it could cause issues in games/applications that expect a 60hz refresh. I suppose I could manually change the refresh rate to 120, but I'd rather not have to constantly switch the refresh rate depending on what I'm doing. In that case I would probably be looking at a 240hz monitor since 120hz monitors don't seem to be as popular anymore.

You always use the highest refresh rate with g-sync. If a game needs 60FPS, then you just limit your FPS to 60, but your refresh rate is set to the highest available.

Another thing I'm concerned about is what kind of manual controls/overrides the monitor provides. Since gsync is a relatively new technology I would like to have the most options available to mitigate any issues that arise from incompatibilities. For example, driver settings may not be enough to fix an issue, so I would like to have even more controls available at the hardware level as well. Do certain monitor brands offer more options/controls over things that affect gsync performance than others?

G-Sync is an on/off setting. There's only one tweak knob for it, which is vsync. G-Sync compatibility is excellent. I'm not aware of even a single game that's not compatible with g-sync. Not that I know for a fact it's 100%, but I personally am not aware of any incompatible games.

I make heavy use of my computer for emulation (arcade and console) and also use legacy operating systems on real hardware like DOS (70hz) and windows 98 (lots of games have weird refresh rates). Having robust controls over the aspect ratio (correcting 320x200 DOS games to 4:3) or even the refresh rate independent of the OS would be nice. My current monitor can't correct 320x200 to 4:3 but it does display 70hz without stuttering. Having a variety of scaling options on the monitor itself would be nice too.

I don't know about that. I use PCem for emulation (I guess if you're on Windows, you'd use 86Box instead.) I get extremely accurate MT-32 (with Munt) and Roland Sound Canvas (with Sound Canvas VA) emulation with that, bit-perfect OPL3 emulation ("Nuked OPL" emulator in PCem and 86Box), and quite good SB AWE32 emulation (although no point in using that since there's Sound Canvas VA.) Overall, a superior experience compared to running MS-DOS natively on a modern machine.

With a 1440p monitor, upscaling and aspect ratio correction work extremely well too. Way better than letting the monitor do it. Here's how text mode VGA looks like on my 1440p G-Sync display, using a CRT shader in PCem:

https://i.imgur.com/7xyw3Es.png

Note: It will look wrong if you're on a 1080p monitor. You need a 1440p display. And you need to view the image unscaled, 1:1, 100% size. On 1080p this will result in the image looking too blurry and/or too pixelated. However, it will still give an impression of what to expect with 1440p.

320x240 and 320x200 games can have decent upscaling even at 1080p (1440p is still better though,) but for 640x480 and 640x400, 1440p is really needed, otherwise 4:3 correction will have distortion. In the image above, you'll notice there's no distortion at all, even though it's 4:3 aspect corrected.

If you instead have real old hardware to run old DOS games, then you can keep using your current monitor for that. I don't think a modern G-Sync monitor will be better at upscaling. G-Sync displays don't even have analog inputs any more. They only have DisplayPort and HDMI, and really expect you to run them at their native resolution. Scaling options are poor.

With that being said, PCem/86Box using a CRT shader will look better vs any LCD monitor upscaler. If you have a 1440p or better display, that is.

Are there any monitors that are recommended? I suppose a cheaper model would be nice but getting an optimal gsync experience is paramount. I currently just have a 100 dollar 1080p Asus VS239H-P 23" IPS that I have no issues with other than not having gsync. I would be fine with 1080p but 1440p seems to be more common.

1440p is a must I'd say if you want to use DOS in PCem/86Box and want to have upscaling that looks decent.

I'm sure there are other things to look for (flickering?) that I don't know about because I can't try it out for myself so any other information would be appreciated.

IPS G-Sync monitors have the least issues with flickering, vertical lines, etc. These are usually TN panel artifacts. I have an IPS 165Hz G-Sync monitor myself (XG2703-GS.) There's a new IPS 165Hz G-Sync display coming out from Asus. No idea when though:

https://www.asus.com/us/Monitors/ROG-SWIFT-PG279QZ
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby xenphor » 22 Nov 2018, 11:26

I don't know about that. I use PCem for emulation (I guess if you're on Windows, you'd use 86Box instead.) I get extremely accurate MT-32 (with Munt) and Roland Sound Canvas (with Sound Canvas VA) emulation with that, bit-perfect OPL3 emulation ("Nuked OPL" emulator in PCem and 86Box), and quite good SB AWE32 emulation (although no point in using that since there's Sound Canvas VA.) Overall, a superior experience compared to running MS-DOS natively on a modern machine.


I was planning on trying pcem again with gsync because right now the input lag is horrible with vsync on, and it does not seem to function properly giving lots of stuttering, even when running 60hz games. So it's the usual emulator issue of running old games at odd refresh rates (or in this case 60hz) on a 60hz monitor. There's probably an additional issue of having multiple layers of vsync (game and pcem).

I was not able to find out if pcem supported gsync or not at the time (or if that would even solve the issue) so just decided to go with real hardware. I know some emulation software like Retroarch still doesn't behave properly with gsync since it uses its own method to combat stuttering: dynamic rate control.

G-Sync is an on/off setting. There's only one tweak knob for it, which is vsync. G-Sync compatibility is excellent. I'm not aware of even a single game that's not compatible with g-sync. Not that I know for a fact it's 100%, but I personally am not aware of any incompatible games.


I suppose I mean more like gsync will work, but may have unwanted side effects. I think I recall reading people having issues with Final Fantasy XV and gsync, where there was an issue with the cutscene playback not being smooth?

I also recall reading that some monitors have a feature to force the max refresh rate of a monitor even if a game tries to mess with it in some way, so that could be something I would find useful to have if the driver setting fails to do it.

Another thing I might find useful would be some sort of gsync monitoring feature on the display itself that would let you quickly check to make sure it is behaving properly. Maybe something like a builtin frame time analyzer that would let you know if the stuttering you are noticing is because gsync isn't engaged or there is some system level issue.

Basically, I would like gsync quality of life features on the display that would help with diagnosing problems, completely independent of the OS or anything else.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby Chief Blur Buster » 22 Nov 2018, 14:43

With the emulator, try out the new RTSS scanline-based framerate capping. (aka tearingless VSYNC OFF).

This is the new raster-based tearline steering technique that steers tearlines into the VBI between refresh cycles.

It may not help things, but it's worth a try as an alternate mode too.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby xenphor » 22 Nov 2018, 16:00

Chief Blur Buster wrote:With the emulator, try out the new RTSS scanline-based framerate capping. (aka tearingless VSYNC OFF).

This is the new raster-based tearline steering technique that steers tearlines into the VBI between refresh cycles.

It may not help things, but it's worth a try as an alternate mode too.


I thought emulators had to incorporate specific support for something like that? Isn't there a bounty for it for Retroarch? Is it similar to what Winuae beam racing is?
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby Chief Blur Buster » 23 Nov 2018, 06:56

xenphor wrote:
Chief Blur Buster wrote:With the emulator, try out the new RTSS scanline-based framerate capping. (aka tearingless VSYNC OFF).

This is the new raster-based tearline steering technique that steers tearlines into the VBI between refresh cycles.

It may not help things, but it's worth a try as an alternate mode too.


I thought emulators had to incorporate specific support for something like that? Isn't there a bounty for it for Retroarch? Is it similar to what Winuae beam racing is?

That's a separate feature. RTSS is unrelated to this bounty. It's a different kind of tearingless VSYNC OFF, full framebuffer based rather than beamraced. So not as theoretical lowest lag realtime as the proposed bounty, but much lower lag than VSYNC ON. It is a feature newly added to RTSS on my suggestion to the author Unwinder on Guru3D -- the new scanline frame rate capping features lets you configure where you want the tearline to appear.
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       To support Blur Busters:
       • Official List of Best Gaming Monitors
       • List of G-SYNC Monitors
       • List of FreeSync Monitors
       • List of Ultrawide Monitors
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby RealNC » 23 Nov 2018, 14:49

xenphor wrote:I was planning on trying pcem again with gsync because right now the input lag is horrible with vsync on, and it does not seem to function properly giving lots of stuttering, even when running 60hz games. So it's the usual emulator issue of running old games at odd refresh rates (or in this case 60hz) on a 60hz monitor. There's probably an additional issue of having multiple layers of vsync (game and pcem).

I just tried some side-scrollers in PCem (Jazz Jackrabbit and Turrican 2). They do benefit from g-sync and it works fine. No tearing with vsync off, and no lag. However, only the regular OpenGL renderer works here. OpenGL 3, which is needed to get shader support, stutters like crazy.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby xenphor » 23 Nov 2018, 18:36

RealNC wrote:
xenphor wrote:I was planning on trying pcem again with gsync because right now the input lag is horrible with vsync on, and it does not seem to function properly giving lots of stuttering, even when running 60hz games. So it's the usual emulator issue of running old games at odd refresh rates (or in this case 60hz) on a 60hz monitor. There's probably an additional issue of having multiple layers of vsync (game and pcem).

I just tried some side-scrollers in PCem (Jazz Jackrabbit and Turrican 2). They do benefit from g-sync and it works fine. No tearing with vsync off, and no lag. However, only the regular OpenGL renderer works here. OpenGL 3, which is needed to get shader support, stutters like crazy.


Yes I noticed opengl 3 had more issues although regular opengl isn't completely smooth for me with regular vsync. There is also the issue that I have to use borderless vsync because pc games of that era change resolutions a lot which causes havoc when using exclusive fullscreen. I was thinking of setting my display to 1280x960 1:1 gpu scale and then running pcem in full screen with integer scale. It would have borders but maybe wouldn't look terrible.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby RealNC » 24 Nov 2018, 05:34

Hm. I didn't know PCem can't do proper exclusive fullscreen with scaling on Windows. I'm using it on Linux.
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Re: What to look for when buying a gsync monitor?

Postby xenphor » 24 Nov 2018, 10:11

RealNC wrote:Hm. I didn't know PCem can't do proper exclusive fullscreen with scaling on Windows. I'm using it on Linux.


It works in fullscreen; it's just annoying when resolutions change because there's a large delay in it updating on my monitor.
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