Yesterday, NVIDIA’s CES 2018 keynote address included the announcement of a brand-new format for gaming displays. It’s designed for high-end enthusiasts with tons of money to burn and who aren’t averse to paying for operations on their burned retinas after sitting super-close to 65-inch screens.
NVIDIA’s Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGD) are a line of 65-inch panels dedicated to desktop PC gaming, and will additionally serve as a replacement for Smart TVs from other vendors. It’s an interesting use case for these panels, and my only gripe with the announcement is that NVIDIA didn’t throw caution to the wind and call them what they are: big f***ing gaming displays.
NVIDIA’s press release about the BFGD standard (standard in the same sense as G-SYNC is standard) mentions that for the most part, large-format displays have been the domain of the living room, because the panels that’re chosen are inherently unsuitable for PC use. They’re laggy, they’re slow, and they aren’t really tuned for use on a PC. The scaler situation is even worse, with some TVs incorporating features on specific HDMI ports to ease issues with HDCP handshaking, and adjusting clock signals to diminish input lag. Buying a TV for gaming or professional desktop use has its risks, and consumers have to spend hours pouring over reviews and recommended lists to find affordable 4K displays that aren’t horrible.
In NVIDIA’s own words, “if you play on a PC, don’t be tempted by the buzzwords and shiny tech – none of the big-screen displays will deliver the excellent experience you deserve.”
The standard doesn’t give much leeway to NVIDIA’s parners who’re making these monsters. To qualify as a BFGD under NVIDIA’s banner, the unit must incorporate a 65-inch display of the IPS, VA, or IGZO variety, run at Ultra HD 4K resolution with a maximum 120Hz refresh rate, and support the DCI-P3 colour space along with HDR (high dynamic range) and 1,000 nits of brightness (there’s the retina-searing part we’re looking for). Moreover, G-SYNC support is mandatory and it has to include a built-in NVIDIA Shield, which acts as the brain of the whole unit. I can already hear the collective groan of NVIDIA fans from all the way over here, because this is guaranteed to be an expensive piece of kit.
The first of these panels will be arriving this year courtesy of ACER, ASUS, and HP. They’ll include all the bells and whistles mentioned above, and you’ll additionally get access to Shield TV features – which includes access to streaming services, NVIDIA GameStream, Android apps and more. They’ll all feature quantum-dot technology, which means a significant reduction in blur that’s sure to appeal to fans of twitchy shooters. ASUS’ model is called the ROG SWIFT PG65, HP’s is the OMEN X 65, and ACER’s doesn’t have a name yet, but you can bet it’ll be part of the Predator family.
These displays will also do some nifty things for home-theatre setups by allowing Shield TV to control the refresh rate to match the source file, so that 24fps translates exactly into 24Hz, for example. It’s less of a need and more of a nice-to-have, although it’s a bit baffling that this feature isn’t already used on existing desktop G-SYNC monitors.
The only unknowns at this point are the price and whether or not there’ll be a G-SYNC scaler in there. It’d make sense for a G-SYNC scaler to control the BFGD, but NVIDIA have already proven that they can match the scaler’s capabilities using the existing variable refresh rate technology included in the HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.0 specifications. So, is the Shield TV handling all of those duties? Is it doing the job of a scaler? If so, it could mean that NVIDIA could lower the price of G-SYNC displays if a Tegra processor can do the same job.