CES is more of a generalist tech show than a Computex or something like Gamescom, and as a result it's where Nvidia tends to talk about more about robotics and self-driving cars. But their CES keynote yesterday ended up being all about gaming, with a few surprise turns and announcements.
There's a new GPU in town
The RTX lineup of GPUs was always missing a more affordable option, and CES 2019 finally provided one: the RTX 2060. Sporting the same real-time ray-tracing tech on its beefier cards, as well as the AI capabilities that power tools like deep learning super-sampling, the RTX 2060 will be available next week locally from $599.
Nvidia spent the entirety of their CES keynote last night focusing on gaming - and one of the cornerstones was the expansion of their RTX line of Turing GPUs with the more affordable RTX 2060.
Nvidia starts supporting FreeSync monitors, sort of
The biggest surprise of the evening keynote was the revelation that Nvidia's drivers would, as of next week, partially work with monitors that have the VESA Adaptive Sync protocol over DisplayPort.
In other words: Nvidia owners won't necessarily need to pair their GPU with a G-Sync capable monitor anymore.
That's a huge departure for Nvidia, which has been pushing their hardware-based G-Sync solution in monitors for years. G-Sync is a great technology, and it sure as hell works, but it's expensive. G-Sync variants of monitors are often a few hundred bucks more expensive than their FreeSync-compatible versions, but if you wanted a tear-free gaming experience, it was a cost you had to wear.
But at CES 2019, Nvidia announced a range of "G-Sync Compatible" monitors, a small range of displays that met Nvidia's standards and would automatically support variable refresh rate for GTX 10 and RTX 20 series cards with Nvidia's first driver release for 2019.
Most importantly: if your monitor supports variable refresh rate, but it hasn't got the Nvidia badge of approval, you can still get some use out of the feature.
For VRR monitors yet to be validated as G-SYNC Compatible, a new NVIDIA Control Panel option will enable owners to try and switch the tech on - it may work, it may work partly, or it may not work at all. To be sure, only purchase a monitor listed as “G-SYNC Compatible” on our site.
To be clear: if you've got a monitor that supports VESA Adaptive Sync or is labelled as supporting AMD's FreeSync technology, you can now use that with your Nvidia card. Or at least you will be able to give it a whirl as of next week, when the next set of Nvidia drivers are due out.
Some fresh gameplay and tech footage
Real-time ray-tracing isn't any good without games to show it off, and Nvidia's keynote showed some more real-time footage from three games: Battlefield 5 and its ray-traced reflections; Anthem, which will use Nvidia's AI-powered DLSS (although it wasn't clear whether Anthem's implementation would focus on image quality or performance); and a tech demo for Justice, an MMO from Chinese conglomerate Netease which will use both DLSS and ray-traced shadows.
There was also a demo of the new ray-tracing benchmark for 3DMark, called Port Royal, which will be released globally today.
RTX cards are coming to laptops
Nvidia unveiled the Max-Q line of power optimised GPUs for laptops with the GeForce 10 series, and that trend has carried through to the RTX ray-traced cards. That's continuing with the RTX line, with regular and Max-Q versions of RTX cards finding their way in 40 laptops.
Out of the 40, 17 of those will have the Max-Q versions of the cards. The first one - the MSI GS65 Stealth - will be available from January 29 internationally, although Australian pricing and availability hasn't been announced.
Curiously, Nvidia made a point of saying that the first RTX 2080 laptop would be twice as powerful as the PS4 Pro, which seems like a strange comparison to be drawing. Either way, more powerful thin and light gaming laptops are on the way.
Nvidia Ansel and OBS get some love
No new Ansel features were announced during the keynote, although the company did announce that they would be using advertising space in New York's Times Square to show off the super-high resolution shots. More practically, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said the company was partnering with the open-source Open Broadcast Software team to improve the quality of encoding and streaming for users on a single PC.
The BFG displays are back
After a lengthy delay, Nvidia's Big Format Gaming Displays will start hitting the market internationally from next month. HP's Omen X Emperium 65 is the first screen available, but it's going for $US5000 (!). No word on local pricing or availability at this stage.