Nvidia has a new gizmo to make PC gamers sit up and take notice. It’s called the Big Format Gaming Display (or BFGD for short). But is this new type of TV actually an innovation or just some marketing gimmick?
Nvidia Doesn’t Make BFGD TVs, It’s a Standard
The first thing you should know is that Nvidia does not make BFGD TVs or monitors. Instead, it has developed a series of technologies and a set of requirements for a TV to be called a BFGD. If a company like HP, Acer, or Asus makes a TV that meets these standards, it’s a BFGD.
What Are BFGD Specifications and Requirements?
Since BFGD targets gamers, the requirements are things that make more sense for gaming than anything else. Specifically, here’s what any BFGD TV would need to have:
- 65 inches in size (but this may change)
- Full-array LED panel with Quantum Dot Enhancement
- 4K resolution for high-resolution gaming
- HDR 10 support (but with HDR 10, not necessarily Dolby Vision)
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Nvidia G-Sync for dynamic refresh rate
- DisplayPort 1.4 support
- Built-in Nvidia Shield TV set-top box
So why do these specifications matter, and how are they different from existing PC gaming monitors or high-end TVs? Let’s compare the main stuff.
Size Does Matter
The 65-inch size is common for the first lot of BFGD TVs as only one screen-maker (AU Optronics) currently manufactures BFGD screens. But this might change in the future as AU Optronics makes other sizes, or Nvidia partners with other manufacturers to BFGD screens.
It’s important to note that none of the current PC gaming monitors are available in such a big size. Gaming monitors tend to top out around the 30-inch range, so Nvidia is really inflating the screen size with this. While you get 65-inch TVs easily, they don’t include most of the technology that makes gaming monitors superior, especially the high and dynamic refresh rate.
The Best of the Basics: Full-Array LED, 4K, and HDR
For a large-size TV (55 inches and up), these three features are the minimum you should go for. As you can see in our round-up of the best budget 4K HDR TVs, you will easily get a full-array LED panel for better contrast. Sure, you could opt for the superior OLED panel, but right now, their costs are far too high to consider for most people.
4K resolution is almost standard now and available at sizes much smaller than this too. So full marks to Nvidia there. But HDR is where it gets a bit tricky.
BFGD asks for HDR with 1,000 nits of brightness. That’s HDR10, the free and open standard. But that’s not as good as Dolby Vision, which pumps up the brightness and adds a wider color range. Then again, Dolby Vision is only useful for a select number of movies, and it doesn’t make a difference with gaming at all.
120Hz Refresh Rate and G-Sync Make a Difference
All BFGD TVs must have 120Hz refresh rate and use Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync technology for dynamic (or variable) refresh rate. Sounds like a bunch of jargon? Let’s break it down.
For gaming, a higher refresh rate leads to a better performance. This is because video games have fast-moving images. The “refresh rate” is the number of images a monitor can display in a second. Ideally, it should match the number of images that the graphics card is sending in a second. All of this makes an impact in split-second imagery, which can be the difference between getting that headshot or ending up dead.
Higher refresh rate is better, but dynamic refresh rate makes all the difference. Most monitors and TVs have a set, specific refresh rate. So if the graphics card sends images at a different refresh rate, you’ll see artifacts, motion blur, ghosting, or the soap opera effect as the TV will still project them at its built-in set rate. Nvidia’s G-Sync dynamic refresh rate changes this. Now, the monitor or TV doesn’t have a set rate, so it can adjust according to the incoming images, and display them at the intended rate.
With gaming, this won’t always make a big difference since good graphics cards try to top it as often as possible. But there are some games where it will matter. And dynamic refresh rate makes a big difference with movies, since you can watch films at the refresh rate they were filmed in.
Get a Graphics Card With DisplayPort
The high and dynamic refresh rate is also why it’s important for BFGD monitors to support DisplayPort 1.4. Right now, this is how you can get dynamic refresh rate, since current HDMI standards don’t support it. Future HDMI 2.0 standards will support dynamic refresh rate, but for now, DisplayPort is important, so you’ll need a graphics card that can output to it.
This is one standard of BFGD you can count on changing. Once HDMI 2.0 rolls around, it’s almost a given that BFGD will move to it. But for now, you need both types of ports.
Built-In Nvidia Shield TV Is Awesome
Nvidia’s Shield is an awesome set-top box, and BFGD monitors will have it built in. The Shield TV is a combo console and media streaming box, so this is awesome news for gamers and cord-cutters.
Shield TV has all the movie-watching apps you want, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and so on. It is based on Android, so you can download several apps from the Play Store.
Primarily a gaming platform, you can play titles from Nvidia’s GeForce Now gaming subscription service. The Nvidia Shield stable has also ported several classic games specifically to its platform. So you can play Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 on your TV!
And yes, BFGD monitors have HDMI ports to connect your existing video game consoles. The PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch will also benefit from many of the advanced technologies to look better than ever before.
Finally, Nvidia promises that BFGDs will get updates to the Shield TV just as often as the Shield set top box. So you aren’t going to be left behind like most Android TVs end up being.
BFGD TVs Don’t Have a TV Tuner
There is one big thing to note here. BFGD TVs aren’t technically televisions, they are monitors. This means they don’t have a TV tuner. Get an external antenna or tuner if you want to watch broadcast television.
This seems like an unnecessary omission by Nvidia, and could be a deterrent. But it should be noted that Nvidia hasn’t said “no TV tuner” is a requirement to classify as BFGD. Hopefully other BFGD monitors in the future will include one.
What’s the Price of BFGD and When Does It Release?
Nvidia hasn’t announced the price or release date of BFGDs. The first batch of manufacturers (HP, Asus, and Acer) are going to release their TVs “later this year” according to Nvidia. Big help that is.
If it’s affordable, the BFGD monitors or TVs are sure to be a big hit. But Nvidia doesn’t have a history of hitting the right price point for its goods.
What do you think is a good price for a BFGD TV?
Image Credit: Nvidia