PC Monitors: The BFGD and Ultra-Wide 120Hz
Last year at CES, Nvidia showed off a prototype monitor built by partner Asus that harnessed G-Sync technology and DisplayPort 1.4 to push a 27" 4K panel to 144Hz. A few months later, Acer took its turn to announce a similar model. Unfortunately for PC enthusiasts, neither of these models came into being. At CES this year (or more specifically Pepcom's Digital Experience!, where HP had a booth), we had a heart-to-heart with Vijay Sharma, the Product Management Leader for Nvidia's G-Sync division, so what you're about to read comes "straight from the horse's mouth".
As Vijay put it, "when you push hard, you learn hard." And what Nvidia and its partners learned last year after announcing the 4K 144Hz displays was that reality had a way of making things more difficult. They were pushing the limits of display and cable technology, before DisplayPort 1.4 had even arrived on a single monitor. You could say they sort of jumped the gun in a way, asking DisplayPort to do more (run at 144Hz) than it was ever meant to (it's spec'd for 4K/120Hz). In any event, Vijay and his team have things well sorted this time around, and HP, Asus, and Acer are all onboard for a Q1'18 launch of quite literally the biggest thing in PC monitors: the Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD). Playfully named after an infamously-vulgar gun in the game Doom, the BFGD is everything gamers have ever wanted, and then some. Get a load of these specs:
- Displayport 1.4
- 10-bit HDR
- DCI-3 Color
- Fully Array Backlight
- Nvidia Shield Built-in
Now, neither HP nor Nvidia would give us a firm pricetag on this wonder of wonders, but both gave us wink-wink clues as to what the price would be. HP said that upon release later this quarter, it would be carefully analyzing the current pricing of high-end 65" 4K TVs. For his part, Vijay from Nvidia said he could never dictate what partners like HP sell their products for, but of course HP, Acer, and Asus would be targeting today's ultra-high-end 4K TVs, which to us means OLEDs, and when I suggested that 65" OLEDs go for $3,500, he simply nodded his head. Now, keep in mind that the BFGD includes a built-in Shield, which is worth about $250 on its own, because Vijay stated that this would somewhat affect the price. So we expect BFGDs to come in slightly above the best 4K TVs, and they won't be marketed towards mainstream movie enthusiasts. That being said, we discussed with Vijay the huge potential benefits of G-Sync for judder-free video playback of film material shot at 23.976fps, and he indeed agreed that the BFGD would do a better job of presenting the material the way the filmakers intended it than any current TVs on the market. No, it won't have the color or contrast of an OLED or Samsung's new-for-2018 QLED, but it will have processing advantages that those TVs can't touch.
While the BFGD was most definitely the biggest news in PC gaming at CES 2018, there was another quieter launch that we think may be nearly as significant. LG is throwing its hat into the G-Sync ring, which is the first time one of the big three TV makers has partnered with Nvidia. Previously, G-Sync was only available on PC-only manufacturers like Asus, Acer, Dell, and AOC. Well, now the image-meisters at LG are going to share their talent with owners of GeForce video cards.
So, while LG's somewhat-anonymously named 34GK950G might have been passed up as yet another also-ran in the gaming monitor wars, it has a special trick up its sleeve: a Nano coating. Similar to the tech used on LG's LED-based TVs, this allows for better color than just about any other monitor on the market. Sure, its other specs, including 100Hz refresh rates overclockable to 120Hz, a curved 34" 3440x1440 IPS panel, and G-Sync are nice, but they're available on a number of monitors at this point. Its the 950G's 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space that sets it apart. We didn't get word from LG on pricing, but expect it to match existing 34" ultra-wides currently on the market, which typically sell for around $1,100 at this point. For consumers that can't quite stomach the size (or the price) of the BFGD, LG's 950G will likely be the best gaming monitor to hit the market this year.
As always, we'll be updating our Monitor Buyer's Guide with the latest and greatest from CES as soon as these monitors become available!