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TUTORIALS

Nvidia G-Sync vs AMD FreeSync: Which is Better

Over the last few years, there have been quite a few changes in the world of gaming monitors: ever faster panels, higher refresh rates, ever higher resolutions, variable vertical synchronization technologies. Let’s take a look at the Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync systems to compare their advantages and disadvantages.

Evolution of vertical synchronization

As you may already know, the movement that you see on the screen, be it a movie, a TV show or a PC game, is just an illusion. What we see are static images that pass before our eyes 30 (or more) times per second. Our brain puts them together and “sees” movement.

To get an idea of ​​the problem that can arise in the world of video games, let’s see above how a graphics card works. A GPU has two main buffers (or stores) in video memory. The secondary buffer is where the GPU renders the current frame while the primary buffer holds a full-frame that is transported to the screen. When the GPU fills a frame in the secondary buffer, the image in the secondary buffer is sent to the primary, and the second buffer, in turn, begins to store another new image.

Meanwhile, the screen receives an image, displays it, and erases it in a process called vertical bleaching. If this process is out of sync with the GPU buffer exchanges, the image displayed on the screen may have a part of two consecutive and different primary buffers (part of the previous buffer and part of the current buffer).

Tearing screen

Due to the way the screens draw the images, the separation between these two images can be seen as a visual tear (tearing) or horizontal tear line. If there is no movement, the effect will be practically imperceptible, but if there is a lot of movement you will see something like the following image.

The Vertical or V-Sync, Sync tries to solve this problem by limiting the output speed of the images of the GPU. The idea is to limit the GPU output to the screen refresh rate and eliminate visual tearing, but this introduces additional issues that can be just as annoying: stuttering and input lag.

Most games can work with or without vertical sync. If we activate it and the screen is 60 Hz, we can only display 60 images per second, therefore, this setting limits the GPU output to 60 frames per second. The stuttering or stuttering occurs when the GPU can not keep the frame rate (60 fps gives less) and the screen should reuse the same frame twice until the GPU send a new image. This produces jumps in the image and gives the sensation of jerks so the user experience is very bad.

Besides that, the V-Sync has another problem, as the GPU has to hold frames to wait for the monitor, there is a longer delay between the input (keyboard and mouse) and the actions rendered on the screen.

Nvidia G-Sync Vs. AMD FreeSync

To solve these problems, Nvidia launched G-Sync technology on the market in 2013 that manages to synchronize the monitor update with the speed at which our PC graphics generates each frame, even if that speed changes.

Soon after, AMD launched a similar system called FreeSync that works in a similar way to G-Sync but is cheaper to integrate by monitor manufacturers.

Today, you will find dozens of monitors, even non-gaming ones, that have G-Sync, FreeSync, or even both.

G-Sync Features

G-Sync guarantees that you will never see tearing even at the lowest refresh rates. Below 30Hz, G-Sync monitors double the frame renders (and thus double the refresh rate) to keep them running in the adaptive refresh rate.

G-Sync also has other advanced features such as ULMB that reduce image blur due to backlight strobing. Some FreeSync monitors also something similar with different names. The good news is that all G-Sync and G-Sync Ultimate monitors have it.

Nvidia’s solution requires a proprietary hardware component that monitors have to integrate inside, which is why G-Sync monitors are more expensive.

When G-Sync was released, monitors with G-Sync cost almost $ 200 more than their counterparts without that feature. As of today, that difference has dropped a lot and stands at around 100 euros. In addition, currently in the market, we have different certifications for monitors in different price ranges:

  • G-Sync Compatibility: This is the lowest grade and only features adaptive vertical sync above 60 fps. Many monitors with G-Sync Compatibility can also run FreeSync.
  • G-Sync – Features adaptive vertical sync at any frame rate, low motion blur, HDR, and better color support.
  • G-Sync Ultimate – Features adaptive vertical sync at any frame rate, low motion blur, HDR, better support, peak brightness above 600 nits (previously 1000 nits, but reduced in January 2021), and refresh rates of 144 Hz or higher.

How to activate G-Sync

To use G-Sync, you need a G-Sync certified to display and an Nvidia graphics card, with the minimum compatible model being the GTX 650 Ti for G-Sync compatible monitors, and a GTX 1050 for G-Sync Ultimate.

You also need a modern DisplayPort cable: DP 1.2 for G-Sync compatible monitors, and DP 1.4 for G-Sync Ultimate monitors.

Finally, to activate it we only have to install the latest drivers, go to the Nvidia Control Panel and click on Screen. There you should see the option to “Configure G-SYNC”. Check the box to activate the settings and you’re done.

FreeSync Features

FreeSync has the main advantage of having a cheaper implementation because it uses an open-source standard created by VESA, Adaptive-Sync, which is also part of the VESA DisplayPort specification. Any DisplayPort interface version 1.2a or higher can support adaptive refresh rates. Although a manufacturer may choose not to implement it, the hardware is already there, so there is no additional production cost for the manufacturer to implement FreeSync. FreeSync can also work with HDMI 1.4.

  • FreeSync: It is the lowest grade and only has adaptive vertical sync and can support HDR. Many FreeSync monitors can also run G-Sync.
  • FreeSync Premium – Adaptive vertical sync, can support HDR, Low Frame Rate Compensation (CFL), 120Hz or higher refresh rates.
  • FreeSync Premium Pro: Adaptive Vertical Sync, Low Frame Rate Compensation (CFL), refresh rates of 120Hz or higher, HDR, better color support, and, although not specified, FreeSync Premium Pro monitors typically have more than 600 nits of maximum brightness.

Due to its open nature, the implementation of FreeSync varies greatly between monitors… Many inexpensive monitors do not offer blur reduction, and the lower limit of the Adaptive-Sync range could be only 48 Hz. However, there are FreeSync displays (so such as G-Sync) that operate at 30 Hz or even lower.

One of the benefits of G-Sync is that it continuously adjusts the monitor’s overdrive to help eliminate ghosting. All G-Sync monitors incorporate Low Frame Rate Compensation (LFC), which ensures that even when the frame rate drops, no glitches or image quality problems occur. This feature is found on FreeSync Premium and Premium Pro monitors, but not always found on standard FreeSync monitors.

How FreeSync is activated

To use FreeSync you need a FreeSync-compatible display and one of the following options: a 2012 or newer AMD graphics card or APU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 10-series graphics card or higher (you must use a DisplayPort cable), an Xbox One S or X, or an Xbox Series X or S. For FreeSync certified displays, make sure FreeSync is enabled through the monitor’s on-screen display.

For FreeSync TVs, simply activate Game Mode, usually through the settings menu.

For AMD Radeon graphics cards or AMD APUs, you can enable FreeSync through the AMD Radeon software, in the Display tab of the setup menu. Some recommend locking in maximum FPS for a smoother experience. If you follow this recommendation, you can use Radeon Chill, to limit your maximum FPS to about three or five FPS below the maximum refresh rate of your monitor.

In the case of Nvidia graphics cards, you need the latest Nvidia Game Ready drivers, although support for these displays started with driver version 417.71. After the latest drivers are installed, activate FreeSync through the on-screen display of the monitor. Then, in the Nvidia control panel, you can enable variable refresh rates through the “Configure G-SYNC” menu option.

Conclusions

On paper, Nvidia’s G-Sync technology can deliver better results, however, FreeSync’s performance is so even that the price difference is rarely offset.

Additionally, high-end monitors with FreeSync have proprietary technologies (not included in FreeSync) that improve image quality and make them as capable as the best G-Sync monitors.

However, as G-Sync certification is more demanding, it is easier to choose good G-Sync monitors than FreeSync. I explain. If we choose a G-Sync monitor it will be good practically always. If we choose a FreeSync monitor, we have to look at other technical features that compensate for the shortcomings of the FreeSync specification such as low motion blur or compensation with low frame rates.

Ultimately, the best option for the vast majority of people is to go for a good monitor with FreeSync. The value for money is usually much more advantageous. Also, they work with both AMD and Nvidia cards. If you don’t care about money, you want the best of the best and you have an Nvidia card, you can go for a G-Sync monitor knowing that you will normally be paying a premium of about 100 euros for it.

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TUTORIALS

OLED Monitors: Can an OLED TV Be Used as a Pc Monitor?

At CES 2019, Dell already showed us the promise of an exciting new future for Alienware gaming monitors with OLED displays for gaming.

Technically it was amazing. 55-inch screen, 4K resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, HDR, color gamut up to 95% of DCI-P3 and support for variable refresh rates. These features fueled many enthusiasts for an OLED monitor, but it looks like it will still take a few years to become a reality.

Disadvantages of OLED panels

According to some sources, the purchase cost for a wholesaler of a 55-inch Samsung OLED panel is estimated at about $ 800. And Samsung, which is the world leader in the production of OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode), continues to have losses in all panels. And we are talking about 60 Hz panels, 120 Hz panels are much more expensive. So Samsung has shifted its focus to smaller and more cost-effective OLED panels for smartphones. Therefore, it is estimated that a 55-inch gaming monitor could go on the market for more than 3,000 euros, a price difficult to justify.

Also, keep in mind that such a large monitor is impractical for most people’s normal desktop use, even the smallest OLED options like the 48 ”LG CX48 are too big. Even 40- to 43-inch “monitors” aren’t comfortable and you end up with a sore neck and constantly having to move your head to view different areas of the screen.

Also, a 55-inch 3840 x 2160 pixel (UHD 4K) monitor has a density of 80.11 pixels per inch (a pixel density very close to that of a 27 ”1920 x 1080 monitor). This density may be suitable for games and multimedia, but not for general use for text documents, web browsing, photo editing, etc.

Another of the weaknesses that will worry the most about OLED panels is their tendency to produce burns when there are still images (the fly of television networks, HUDs in video games, etc.). This means that if we play a video game or the same program for many hours, the part of the screen that shows fixed information can be permanently marked on the screen. For example, the operating system’s taskbar will appear lightly when we are playing a game… Fortunately, OLED panels have been improving a lot and also have refresh technologies that prevent these problems.

OLED panels have a shorter lifespan of around 14,000 hours, slightly lower than their rivals. This shorter shelf life also affects color degradation over time. Although it is not such a serious problem for games and multimedia, it can be very problematic when editing photos. Therefore, you will need a reliable way to calibrate your screen over time to ensure consistent color consistency.

Lastly, OLED panels usually offer a slightly lower maximum brightness than their rivals.

Advantages of OLED panels

OLED panels work in a different way than other panels since each pixel lights up independently. In a normal screen, we have a matrix of white LED lights that through filters produce different colors. This design has the drawback that, by producing black pixels, some light is filtered out and makes the blacks not pure (they are dark grey).

On the contrary, OLED panels are capable of producing pure blacks since the one-pixel black LED does not turn on. For this reason, OLED panels have a much higher level of contrast. Thanks to this they achieve impressive image quality.

This way of operating, without backlighting or backlighting, has a couple of immediate benefits. The first is that OLED displays can be thinner. The second is that they have lower energy consumption.

Characteristics Between OLED and Other Technologies

As we already know, what we see on a screen are a succession of still images that change many times per second. Gaming monitors should have a refresh rate of 144 Hz and above and luckily there are already OLED monitors that reach that figure. Of course, there are monitors with TN and IPS panels that far exceed that number. Even so, 144 Hz should be valid for the vast majority of users.

The response time is the milliseconds it takes for a pixel to change from white to black and vice versa color. Long response time causes fast movements to trail and ghosting which makes the image less sharp. OLED panels have very fast response times, even better than gaming monitors with TN technology.

Variable vertical sync technologies (Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync) are extremely important because they eliminate tearing, stuttering, and decrease input lag. Many OLED televisions are already beginning to be compatible with these two technologies so that users can better enjoy their video games.

Conclusions

OLED panels can be used as gaming monitors, however, I think that to this day they still do not have enough value for money to be worth it.

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TUTORIALS

Display Resolution: What Are They and What Do You Need

One of the most important features when buying a computer monitor or television is screen resolution. And, although it is a simple aspect to understand, unfortunately, the acronyms and the marketing make it quite confusing … For example, the immense of the 4K monitors that are sold, are not 4K, they are UHD.

What is the resolution of a screen?

The resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up the image of a screen. A pixel is at a small point on the screen.

Resolution is usually specified as the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that make up the image, for example, 1920 x 1080 pixels. That means the screen has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels.

The total number of pixels will be the multiplication of both numbers. Older displays had less than one million total pixels, 1080p (1920 x 1080) displays have just over 2 million pixels, 4K displays have over 8 million pixels, and 8K displays have over 33 million pixels. pixels.

What is the aspect ratio of a monitor?

The aspect ratio of a monitor is the proportional representation that describes the correlation between the width and height of the screen.

Modern Resolutions

720p or WXGA

A 720p screen typically has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, just under 1 million total pixels (megapixels). They are sometimes also called HD or HD Ready displays, although in reality those usually have a resolution of 1366 x 768. It doesn’t matter much either. Today, they are quite low resolutions and practically all computer monitors and all televisions have higher resolutions.

1080p or FullHD (FHD)

The FullHD displays have a horizontal resolution of 1,920 pixels and 1,080 pixels of vertical resolution. There are still many monitors and televisions that use this resolution. Of course, I would not recommend buying a monitor larger than 24 or 27 inches with this resolution. The pixels are quite large and, although they do not bother in games, in office automation they can be noticed.

QHD 1440p, the misnamed 2K

1440p displays contain 2560 x 1440 pixels, and as monitors increase in size, the resolution is becoming more common. This resolution is also known as QHD or Quad HD as it has 4 times the resolution (twice the pixels in height and twice the pixels in width) than 720p HD displays.

As you can see, until now the normal screens were named with the vertical resolution (720p, 1080p, 1440p…), however, from that moment on the name of the resolution will be the horizontal resolution.

Because this format has been caught in the middle of the transition, it is sometimes incorrectly called 2K. And I say incorrectly because the 2K resolution (referring to the new fashion, horizontal) would be the 2048 x 1080 resolution that was used in the world of cinema before 4K.

UHD Vs. 4K Resolution

Although they are often confused, UHD and 4K resolutions are not the same . As we have seen in the table, the UHD resolution is 3840 x 2160 pixels, while the 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160 pixels. It is a bit wider.

4K is a professional cinema standard, while UHD is a consumer standard.

The term “4K” was originally derived from the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a consortium of film studios that standardized a specification for the digital production and projection of 4K content. In this case, 4K is 4,096 by 2,160, and it’s exactly four times the previous standard for digital editing and projection (2K, or 2,048 x 1,080).

4K resolution referring to the number of vertical lines as 2160p

The UHD or Ultra High Definition (ultra high definition) is the next step of what is called Full HD, the official name for the screen resolution of 1,920 by 1,080. UHD quadruples that resolution to 3,840 by 2,160. And while it is not the same as the 4K resolution we just saw, almost all televisions and monitors that are advertised as 4K are actually UHD.

8K Resolution

The 8K resolution is the highest resolution currently available and is 7680 × 4320 pixels. There are still very few monitors and televisions with this resolution, and the ones that are there are extremely expensive.

Summary

Resolution is one of the most common specifications used to sell televisions and computer monitors, partly because “4K” and “8K” are easy to remember and claim to represent the latest of the latest in high technology.

However, the resolution is not the most important ingredient in image quality. Just because one monitor has a higher resolution than another doesn’t always mean it looks better. It can be, but not always, and for reasons that have little to do with resolution. When buying a monitor, you also have to take into account contrast, dynamic range, color representation, etc.

  • What does 4K mean? It should mean that a screen is 4096 x 2160 pixels, but typically 3840 x 2160 pixels.
  • What does UHD mean? It stands for “Ultra High Definition” and, although incorrectly, it is often synonymous with 4K.
  • Do you need a 4K monitor? No, unless you are buying a monitor larger than 30 inches.
  • Is 8K worth worrying about? Do not.
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TUTORIALS

TN vs IPS vs VA Panels: Advantages and Disadvantages

There are many different types of LCD panel technologies (Liquid-crystal displays). Of course, each technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Next, we are going to see each technology in detail, but here is a summary:

  • TN: shorter response time (up to 1 ms), but poor colors.
  • IPS: the best colors, but worse response time. Even so, the improvements to the IPS panels have practically solved this problem and there are already IPS monitors with 1ms of response and 280 Hz.
  • VA: They are not as fast as TN panels and they do not look as good as IPS panels. Of course, they have the advantage of having the best contrast. In addition, they are usually cheaper than IPS.

TN panels

TN (Twisted Nematic) is the oldest technology in the world of LCDs (liquid crystal displays). Its operation uses the nematic effect that allows liquid crystal molecules to be controlled with voltage.

Twisted nematic technology was invented in 1970 and developed in the Hoffmann-Roche laboratories. It was a revolution and allowed the creation of flat screens.

Basically, the TN effect is used to change the alignment of liquid crystals when a voltage is applied. This, along with different polarization layers to filter the colors, allows the panel to show light or not.

TN panels are inexpensive and offer excellent response times (between 1 and 5 ms), making them perfect for gaming. Unfortunately, the color reproduction, viewing angles, and contrast of TN panels are worse than current LCD panel technologies.

Unlike most 8-bit IPS / VA-based panels, TN is 6-bit only and cannot display the 16.7 million colors available in 24-bit true color. They can mimic the 16.7 million colors of 8-bit panels using a technique called dithering, but the results are not impressive.

IPS panels

IPS is perhaps the most famous technology in the world of PC monitors because it tends to meet the most common uses of users very well.

IPS stands for “in-plane switching” and, like all LCDs, it also uses voltage to control the alignment of the liquid crystals. However, unlike TN, IPS monitors use a different orientation of the crystals, one in which the crystals are parallel to the glass substrates, hence the term “in-plane” in their name.

Rather than “spin” the crystals to change the amount of light that is allowed to pass through, the IPS crystals are already rotated, which has a number of benefits. However, you also need a more powerful backlight, which can lead to light leakage or bleeding on the screen.

What is the Super PLS?

It is a technology developed by Samsung that is very similar to IPS technology. According to Samsung, Super PLS (Plane to Line Switching) panels have wider viewing angles, produce 10% more brightness, and are cheaper to produce. In real life … they are just another IPS monitor.

What is AHVA?

Another type of patented panel similar to IPS and that also has the advantages announced by Samsung. Developed by AUO, AHVA is short for Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle. It is important to know it so as not to confuse it with VA technology.

VA panels

VA stands for Vertical Alignment or vertical alignment. As the name suggests, this technology uses vertically aligned liquid crystals that tilt when a voltage is applied to let light through.

This is the key difference between IPS and VA: with VA, the crystals are perpendicular to the substrates, while with IPS they are parallel.

As in IPS technology, the VA also has important variants such as Samsung’s S-PVA or AU Optronics’ AMVA.

VA technology has the advantage of offering better color reproduction and wider viewing angles than TN panels, although they do not reach the level of IPS panels.

VA panels also have the advantage of having higher contrasts compared to TN and IPS, so their blacks are much better.

There are VA monitors with high refresh rates, but they have high latency that can cause ghosting and motion blur. For this reason, competitive players should avoid VA panels.

The biggest disadvantage of VA panels is the color change. The change in color can cause the brightness levels to be uneven across the screen. It is subtle and there are people who do not even notice it, however, there are others who cannot live with it. Color changes also cause a loss of shadow detail in dark scenes when viewed directly from the center.

Differences

Viewing angles

TN panels have the poorest viewing angles. The color and contrast change as you move your head both horizontally and vertically.

The VA panels are significantly better, but the best is the IPS.

Contrast

Both TN and IPS panels tend to have a contrast ratio of around 1000: 1, although some good IPS monitors go as high as 1500: 1.

The best by far is the VAs that easily reach 4500: 1, although 3000: 1 is a more normal figure for cheap monitors.

Many televisions use VA panels and achieve 6000: 1 contrasts, achieving much deeper blacks. Ideal for watching movies.

Color

Color quality can be divided into color depth (bit depth) and color range.

Color depth

In both cases, TN panels are the worst. Many TN displays, particularly the cheaper models, only have native 6-bit and use frame rate control, also called FRC or dithering, to achieve standard 8-bit output. 6-bit panels are prone to color banding, while native 8-bit panels have smoother color gradients and therefore better color output.

Not all TN panels are 6-bit. High-end TNs are native 8-bit, but there are very few, even today.

Color range

VA panels achieve full coverage of the sRGB color space. However, VA panels can go higher-achieving about 125% sRGB or 90% of the DCI-P3 mark.

With IPS panels, there is more variation. Cheap IPS displays tend to offer sRGB coverage of 95% or less. On high-end displays, usually for professionals, it is not unusual to see full coverage of DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB.

Response times

At the gaming level, a very important aspect is the response time. A low time will ensure that we have an image without ghosting, without spots, and with a better level of general clarity.

The early IPS and VA panels were very slow, however, this has improved a lot with modern panels, so the differences between the three technologies are not as pronounced as before. That said, TN is still the best with panels with nominal 1ms (or even less) transition and 2-3ms true gray-to-gray averages.

IPS panels are next in terms of speed, although as is often the case with IPS, there is a wide variation between the best and the worst. High-end IPS monitors can have a transition time as fast as 4 ms. However, entry-level IPS panels sit closer to the 10ms range.

VA panels are consistently the slowest of the three. The fastest monitors have a response time of between 5 and 6 ms.

Refreshment rates

Currently, both TN and IPS monitors are capable of reaching refresh rates above 200 Hz, more than enough for any gamer.

  • 60 Hz = 16.67 ms
  • 75 Hz = 13.33 ms
  • 100 Hz = 10.00 ms
  • 120 Hz = 8.33 ms
  • 144 Hz = 6.94 ms
  • 165 Hz = 6.06 ms
  • 240 Hz = 4.17 ms

Conclusion!

A few years ago the most popular monitors were TNs. However, as the technology has matured, the best-selling monitors use IPS technology.

A typical IPS screen offers viewing angles of 178 degrees horizontal and 178 degrees vertical. Also, IPS panels are often more color accurate and capable of displaying more colors.

Over time manufacturers have managed to reduce response times reaching the performance of TN panels, yes, they are not so cheap.

Really, its only improvement, today, is the contrast and the depth of the blacks which is much better in the VA panels.

VAs have the advantage of being cheaper than IPS panels, they have better contrast, and the colors are much better than TNs. From my point of view, VA monitors are also a very good option, especially if you use the monitor a lot to watch movies or to play scary games since deep blacks are much better. Still, keep in mind that some VA monitors are ghosted and their viewing angles are more limited than IPS and can look very saturated (and weird) when viewed from the side.

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