G-Sync coming to gaming laptops, updated to support windowed mode

Nvidia Gsync Notebooks

If you like PC gaming on a laptop, good news: Nvidia's variable refresh technology, G-Sync, is coming to gaming laptops in the near future. If you like PC gaming on a G-Sync desktop monitor, good news: G-Sync now supports windowed mode. If you like good news, good news: this G-Sync stuff is pretty neat.

Let's tackle laptops first: new systems coming from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and Clevo will be the first to sport 75 Hz refresh G-Sync panels. All the laptops use Nvidia's latest series of mobile GPUs, ranging from the 965M to the 980M. Nvidia told me they'll have 12 models to show at CES, but only gave details on the following:

Asus G751: GTX 970M/980M, 17.3-inch 1080p panel
Gigabyte Aorus X7 Pro-Sync: GTX 970M SLI, 17.3-inch 1080p panel
Gigabyte Aorus X5, GTX 965M SLI, 15.6-inch 3K panel (probably 2880x1620)
MSI GT72 G: GTX 970M/980M, 17.3-inch 1080p panel
Clevo P770ZM-G: 970M/980M, 17.3-inch 1080p panel
Clevo P750GM-Z: 970M/980M, 15.6-inch, 4K panel

Remember that Clevo's laptops are often modified and rebranded by other laptop companies, so don't be surprised to see a few more gaming laptops popping up with the same specs as those two above.

We don't know what kind of price premium will be attached to these G-Sync gaming laptops, but they shouldn't have the same kind of premium as Nvidia's desktop G-Sync monitors. Nvidia spent some time talking about the technology of G-Sync at a recent meeting, and pointed out that the G-Sync module used in their desktop displays isn't needed in laptops. That G-Sync module is a necessary hardware addition to monitors because their scalers weren't built to control refresh rates and color response the way Nvidia wants. But laptops don't have scalers, since they don't need to support a variety of input options. This allows a direct link between GPU and panel.

The panels used in these laptops are still specifically selected and tested to ensure they can hit that 75 Hz refresh, so we won't be surprised if they cost a bit more than the vanilla models.

Desktop users will also have the chance to use G-Sync in windowed mode with an upcoming driver update. Previously, G-Sync was limited to fullscreen mode, which allowed Nvidia to completely control the refresh rate of a game and control it at a variable rate up to 144 Hz. The Windows desktop would normally refresh at a static rate, like 60 Hz, but the update allows Nvidia to override that static rate and drive the refresh of Windows at the same rate as the game. Nvidia says there's no performance difference between G-Sync in fullscreen and windowed mode. I briefly demoed Grand Theft Auto 5 running in a window, and it did seem to run just as smoothly in a window as it did in fullscreen.

To cap off the wave of G-Sync news, Nvidia also announced seven new G-Sync monitors on the way. You can read more about those here.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).