Nvidia’s new ‘big-format gaming displays’ look set to shake up both the gaming monitor and TV markets.
However, with the company throwing umpteen technical terms at us in its marketing, trying to determine the tech and perks they actually offer can be tricky. Here to help, we’ve summarised everything you need to know about Nvidia’s new behemoth monitors, including our hands-on impressions.
Related: CES 2018 live news and highlights
What are Nvidia BFGD (big format gaming displays)?
BFGD are a new standard of monitor from Nvidia. They aim to combine the perks of both top-end TVs and gaming monitors into a custom 65-inch panel built by the company in partnership with AU Optronics. Any monitor carrying the BFGD branding will offer a variety of different technologies.
For starters, they’ll have to offer the razor-sharp 4K resolutions seen on expensive TVs, while also meeting the HDR10 (High Dynamic Range 10) standard. This means the panel will have to reach a minimum brightness of 1000 nits. Considering the fact they’re LCD – not OLED – panels, this will be a seriously impressive achievement if Nvidia succeeds and manages to maintain a decent black level. The panels will also present a super-fast 120Hz refresh rate, full coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut and support Nvidia’s G-Sync variable-refresh-rate technology.
Related: Best gaming monitors
What this means for gamers and movie fans
The combination of technologies means that BFGD monitors will, in theory, be great for both watching movies and competitive gaming.
HDR10 support isn’t a unique selling point, but it’s awesome nonetheless. HDR TVs and monitors aim to make images, games and videos look more dynamic and lifelike by offering better contrast and superior brightness levels to their non-high-dynamic-range competitors. You can find out more about the benefits of HDR in our in-depth guide.
Related: What is HDR?
It’s more the inclusion of G-Sync and the 120Hz variable refresh rate that are the headliner for BFGD monitors. For non-techies, refresh rate refers to the number of images a screen can render per second. A higher refresh rate means there are fewer gaps between each new animation and image.
Related: Monitor refresh rates explained
Gamers tend to favour a higher refresh rate. If implemented correctly, it makes the screen significantly more responsive and smoother to use. This increased responsiveness also results in the monitors being able to detect and display your controller or mouse and keyboard movements faster on-screen – an advantage in reaction-focused games such as first-person shooters.
G-Sync is a nifty technology that’s similar to AMD’s FreeSync. For gamers, the benefits of G-Sync remain the same on BFGD monitors as they are on regular gaming displays. The tech syncs the screen’s dynamic refresh rate with the GPU, to stop it jumping ahead and pre-rendering images early, thus causing screen tears and anomalies appearing when gaming.
What’s unique here is the size of the panel. To date there haven’t been any mainstream gaming monitors to match a BFGD monitor in size. The inclusion of the tech is doubly important for those looking for an all-in-one device that can work as a gaming monitor and lounge TV.
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There are some 120Hz TVs on the market, but most remain capped at 60Hz and the refresh rates aren’t variable. A locked refresh rate can affect how some types of entertainment media are displayed. TVs generally force movies, which are mastered in cinemas at 24Hz, to play at 60Hz, for example.
Even if they have a higher refresh rate, the forced boost can cause a number of technical issues, including motion blur and screen tearing. The inclusion of G-Sync and variable refresh rates should reduce, or even stop, such problems occuring on BFGDs by letting them manually adjust to play content at its native refresh rate.
The inclusion of an integrated Nvidia Shield further boosts BFGDs’ entertainment capabilities, giving buyers access to key services including Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube, as well as Android apps and Nvidia’s GameStream.
The end result is a compelling package that could be a great choice for lounge PC gamers looking for a slick high-refresh-rate monitor that can double as a TV.
Related: Best 4K streaming services
Who’s making them?
Acer, Asus and HP will be the first companies to release BFGDs. Sadly, all three have been tight-lipped about the monitors’ exact specifications – outside of the fact that units will meet the standards set by Nvidia.
BFGD release date
Sadly, this is another key question yet to be answered. The only hint we have so far is that “it’s expected to be later this year”. Helpful.
Are they any good?
Hands-on by Max Parker
CES 2018 hasn’t been jammed with seriously exciting products. There have been some impressive televisions, an excellent addition to Dell’s laptop line in the XPS 15 2-in-1, and Google Assistant in just about everything – but on the whole it’s been an unremarkable show.
That’s why Nvidia’s fantastic BFGD (Big Format Gaming Displays) stood out so much when I tried them. For my demo I was shown the BFGD from HP, but the ones from Asus and Acer were also in the room. All three have the same basic specs – HDR10 support, 4K resolution, G-Sync and the Nvidia Shield platform baked in – but differ when it comes to inputs, outputs and designs. Acer’s version, for example, had the garish colour scheme and over-the-top looks synonymous with its Predator brand.
Initially they’ll all be 65 inches in size, but Nvidia reps teased that smaller models could possibly come out at a later date, which will be a blessing for people without oodles of space.
They’re also all LED panels, rather than OLED. Nvidia told me this decision was made to allow the 120Hz refresh rate and G-Sync, but that we might eventually see some OLED versions when the tech allows.
Playing games, it was instantly noticeable how gamers will appreciate the addition of G-Sync on a monitor this size. In Destiny 2, a game that also supports HDR, everything felt ridiculously smooth and an absolute joy to play. G-Sync on such a huge panel is a unique, amazing experience that really needs to be seen to be understood.
Nvidia was quick to point out that these aren’t televisions – they have no tuners inside – but the idea is that they can replace your main TV without any trouble.
Each model will have Nvidia’s excellent Shield TV built in, and they’ll receive the same updates that are pushed out to the regular box. That means you can control your smart home through Google Assistant, download apps from Google Play and even stream games from Nvidia’s GeForce Now service.
Amazon’s Prime app is pre-installed and I was shown an episode of The Grand Tour in 4K HDR with G-Sync enabled. G-Sync isn’t just restricted to games, and offering variable refresh rates to movies and TV shows is huge. The footage looked excellent, and even though the black levels can’t match those of OLED, it didn’t really bother me. Obviously if you’re purely into watching films, rather than gaming, you’d still be better off with an OLED.
How much will a BFGD cost?
The biggest barrier to entry for these BFGDs will be the price. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but they’re going to be oh-so expensive. Regular 27-inch 4K G-Sync enabled monitors can run upwards of £500, so my wallet is already worrying about how much I am going to end up shelling out for one of these beauties.
Variable refresh rate support in HDMI 2.1
The lack of a solid release date is another potential barrier, since one of BFGD’s biggest selling points – variable refresh rates – will appear on mainstream TVs when the new HDMI 2.1 standard starts to roll out. HDMI 2.1 was first announced at CES 2017, but we haven’t seen any TVs sporting the tech hit the market yet.
Related: What is HDMI 2.1?
Excited about Nvidia BFGDs? Let us know on Twitter @Trustedreviews. Also, be sure to bookmark this page as we’ll be updating it as and when new info on Nvidia’s sleek-looking BFGDs become available.