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What Is G-SYNC Pulsar and How Does It Differ From Regular G-SYNC?

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NVIDIA G-Sync Pulsar demonstration.

Key Takeaways

  • G-SYNC Pulsar combines variable refresh rate (VRR) with Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) backlight strobing for smooth motion and impressive motion clarity.
  • Regular G-SYNC monitors can’t run ULMB in combination with VRR, while G-Sync Pulsar monitors can.
  • eSports gamers and those who dislike motion blur in games will benefit the most from G-SYNC Pulsar technology, at a price.



In a bid to improve fidelity and motion, NVIDIA is continually pushing the envelope when it comes to gaming monitor technology. G-SYNC Pulsar is the next step towards a tear-free and smooth gaming experience from the market-leading GPU manufacturer. Here’s how it works.


What Is G-SYNC Pulsar?

G-SYNC, a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology from NVIDIA, eliminates screen tearing and allows for a better motion experience. G-SYNC Pulsar marries G-SYNC with Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) to create a silky smooth gaming experience that also includes unprecedented motion clarity.


G-SYNC Pulsar allows for NVIDIA’s ULMB tech, NVIDIA’s name for backlight strobing, to work in combination with VRR without image flicker or other downsides.

Different monitor and TV manufacturers use different names for backlight strobing: Extreme Low Motion Blur (ASUS), OLED Motion (LG), Aim Stabilizer (Gigabyte), 1ms Motion Blur Reduction (LG for its LCD TVs and monitors), Motion Blur Reduction (Samsung), Moving Picture Response Time (MSI), and so on.

You may also have heard this referred to as “black frame insertion” (BFI) as a general industry term.

Why Is G-SYNC Pulsar Necessary?

ULMB tech, also known as backlight strobing, turns off the monitor backlight in between new frames to eliminate a type of motion blur caused by the image persistence on our retinas. This occurs when we track fast-moving objects and during sudden camera movements, and is also known as sample and hold motion blur.


This type of motion blur is found on most monitors and TVs, which keep showing the current frame right until the next frame is shown. This results in perceived motion blur, even on panels with near instantaneous response time, such as OLED panels.


ULMB, as well as similar technologies such as black frame insertion (BFI), which is especially effective on OLED TVs and monitors, work pretty well, but they all require the monitor or the TV to work at a fixed refresh rate. Despite this some monitors allow you to enable backlight strobing simultaneously with VRR, which usually results in severe flickering.


In most cases, on a monitor that supports both G-SYNC and ULMB, you usually have two choices. The first is to turn on ULMB and get crystal clear motion but with increased latency and screen tearing inherent to fixed refresh rate mode. The other option is to opt for G-SYNC alone and get silky smooth motion but with a certain amount of sample and hold motion blur. This is true even on a monitor with ultra-fast motion performance and with all in-game motion blur effects turned off.


Though backlight strobing removes sample and hold motion blur, the technology also comes with a number of caveats. For example, turning it on lowers the maximum brightness of the monitor or TV in question. On monitors with slow response time, backlight strobing can lead to a double image effect known as strobe crosstalk. Finally, using backlight strobing or BFI can lead to noticeable image flickering even at a fixed refresh rate, which can be quite jarring for some people.


G-SYNC Pulsar combines VRR and ULMB, allowing compatible monitors to strobe their backlight in sync with variable refresh rates, resulting in a best-of-both-worlds experience without the aforementioned backlight strobing downsides. You’re getting smooth, super-clear motion without image flicker or strobe crosstalk. You can see the difference for yourself in the video below, showcasing the improvement in the perceived motion clarity with G-SYNC Pulsar on.


What’s the Difference Between Regular G-SYNC and G-SYNC Pulsar?

Standard G-SYNC only includes VRR, you cannot use backlight strobing while G-SYNC is active. G-SYNC Pulsar combines backlight strobing with VRR, allowing the former to work in sync with VRR.


Most G-SYNC monitors do not support G-SYNC Pulsar. In fact, even monitors that pack NVIDIA’s G-SYNC chips and support G-SYNC Ultimate don’t have support for G-SYNC Pulsar, and won’t get G-SYNC Pulsar support in the future. They are limited to regular G-SYNC. If you want to use G-SYNC Pulsar, you’ll have to get a monitor with a built-in G-SYNC Pulsar chip. Future G-SYNC compatible monitors, supporting G-SYNC but not including hardware G-SYNC implementation, also won’t cut it.


If you like this tech and want your next monitor to have it, limit your search to G-SYNC Pulsar monitors. The feature should be clearly listed in the specs and promotional material of every monitor with G-SYNC Pulsar support. Manufacturers have to pay extra to include G-SYNC Pulsar hardware, and G-SYNC Pulsar support is likely to become a major point of differentiation between high-end gaming monitors and the rest of the pack.


In short, manufacturers will want to shout about G-SYNC Pulsar support in their top-of-the-line models. Unfortunately, this means that the technology won’t make its way into mid-range models for a while yet.

Who Will Benefit From G-SYNC Pulsar?

Naturally, the cohort of gamers that will benefit the most from G-SYNC Pulsar are eSports gamers who place motion clarity before anything else. Now, they can enjoy variable refresh rates and ULMB in the same package. Combine G-SYNC Pulsar with an ultra-high refresh rate monitor of 360Hz or higher and the result, at least according to NVIDIA, is perceived motion clarity that can match the motion clarity of a monitor with a refresh rate of 1000Hz.


NVIDIA


You should be able to benefit from the technology even if you don’t play multiplayer games. Perhaps you’re one of the many gamers who can’t stand any type of motion blur in games. G-SYNC Pulsar ought to provide a noticeable difference in perceived motion clarity even for gamers who mostly play demanding single-player games at lower refresh rates of 100Hz and lower.




G-SYNC Pulsar will take a while to achieve mass-market adoption, and a reliance on an NVIDIA hardware chip will push the price up. If motion clarity is very important to you, seek out a G-SYNC Pulsar monitor and see if the premium price is worth it to you. Alternatively, check out our best gaming monitor recommendations or best 240Hz monitor recommendations for more ideas.

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