NVIDIA: G-Sync, ShadowPlay and Shield Preview at BlizzCon 2013
PC gamers rejoice! At BlizzCon 2013, the good folks at NVIDIA allowed us to check out some of their most recent and upcoming tech. Amidst a plethora of hardcore computer gaming fans, NVIDIA's offerings left players wide-eyed at each of their three very different display booths. NVIDIA's showing at BlizzCon appealed to not only Blizzard fans, but PC gamers of all sorts. We got to take a walk with one of the PC gaming's most well-respected visual computing technology developers, and we're excited to say that they did not disappoint.
Released just a few months ago, the NVIDIA Shield is an Android-based handheld gaming console. For those who are still new to it, the NVIDIA Shield allows direct, cordless streaming and gaming onto your TV at either 720p or 1080p from any PC equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 or higher. The Shield itself contains a 5 inch touchscreen with a 720p resolution. After getting our hands on it, we can honestly say that it is an amazing piece of hardware and offers a ton of variety. With the Shield's new software updates, you can close the screen, plug the Shield into a television via HDMI and connect a Bluetooth controller to it in order to play your PC and Android games on a big screen (with the PC games streaming up to 60 fps). Since many Android games were touch-only and depend on a touchscreen, the Shield also allows you to map the specific game's touchscreen controls to the Shield's face buttons.
Whether you're using Google Play for your Android titles or Stream for your PC games, the NVIDIA Shield brings about a much-needed sense of portability and comfort. It is much friendlier towards players who were hoping to enjoy their favorite PC or Android titles without the constraints of a computer chair or Android phone/tablet. We got to play Shield-optimized versions of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2. We must say that Tommy Vercetti and the Blue Bomber never looked as good as we saw on the Shield.
NVIDIA showed us their G-Sync technology, which creates a fluid visual experience unlike any other. G-Sync eliminates the screen tearing which occurs due to the conflictions between the GPU's varied refresh rate and the monitor's fixed rate. G-Sync eliminates this conflict by synchronizing the GPU with its monitor. While V-Sync has already tried to rectify the monitor/GPU mismatch, G-Sync will get rid of the lag/dimished input response time and on-screen stuttering which have been common while using V-Sync. NVIDIA has made a deal with Asus, Viewsonic, Phillips and Benq in order to start releasing the first G-Sync monitors in Q1 2014, starting with Asus. NVIDIA will soon be releasing a G-Sync modification kit for the ASUS VG248QE monitor for those wishing to upgrade early.
With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4's focus on recording your own game footage and offering the ability to post it onto social networking sites, NVIDIA's ShadowPlay program bestows PC gamers their own form of easy-access game recording. While there have been numerous video-capturing programs released throughout the past decade, ShadowPlay is specifically oriented towards PC gamers. ShadowPlay has been recently added to NVIDIA's GeForce Experience software (which is intended to optimize your hardware and keep your drivers updated). ShadowPlay has two methods of recording. The first method, Shadow Mode, captures up to 20 minutes of recorded footage by pressing a record which the player can easily map to his or her keyboard. Manual Mode can capture up to as much footage as the player prefers (you can also use Manual and Shadow Mode at the same time in order to put together the perfect clip). Since ShadowPlay comes as part of the GeForce Experience, it works in tandem with your GPU in order to capture the highest quality of footage possible. These videos output at 1080p up to 50 Mbps. Like the Shield, ShadowPlay requires a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 or higher.
The only downside to what we saw was that the ShadowPlay, Shield and G-Sync are not yet ready for gaming laptops. NVIDIA representatives said that integrating these technological advances into laptops are going to be eventually done, but for now they are strictly meant for PCs. NVIDIA's Shield, ShadowPlay and G-Sync are currently available, requiring a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 or higher, with specifically equipped G-Sync monitors arriving in early 2014.