It’s been a little quiet on the Nvidia BFGD (or Big Format Gaming Display, to you and me) front lately, probably because said graphics giant wants to get the launch of their shiny new Turing RTX 2080 graphics cards out of the way first because they’re probably the only GPUs in existence that will actually be able to make full use of their giant 4K, 120Hz refresh rate G-Sync HDR panels.
Fortunately, I come bearing good news (sort of), as I managed to clap eyes on one of Nvidia’s BFGDs at Gamescom last month – specifically, the HP Omen X 65 – and dug up some new info on its design and their supposed release date. With that in mind, here’s a quick refresher on everything we know about Nvidia’s BFGDs so far, including their specs, who’s making them, and whether they’re really the living room gaming displays we’ve been waiting for.
Nvidia BFGD: What are they and who’s making them?
First announced back in January 2018, Nvidia’s Big Format Gaming Displays (or BFGDs for short) are essentially the PC gaming equivalent of a living room TV – and they look as though they could be some of the best gaming monitors of all time.
I’ll get into why that is in a second, but before we do get into the nitty-gritty of the BFGD’s specs, here’s a quick look at the three models that are currently in production:
- Asus ROG Swift PG65
- Acer Predator BFGD
- HP Omen X 65
There are no doubt more in the pipeline from other manufacturers, but these ones will be the first to arrive on shop shelves. They all share the same specs and the same panel, so the only thing that’s really going to differentiate them is how much they cost and their overall design. We don’t know much about Acer’s imaginatively named BFGD yet, but we do have some early images of what Asus’ will look like as well as some actual real-life photographs of what’s currently going on with HP’s effort.
Asus’ PG65 appears to be quite a chunky old thing if the image above is anything to go by, recalling the early ‘flat-but-still-incredibly-thick-screens’ of yore. Just look at those giant vents on the top and bottom.
HP’s Omen X 65, meanwhile, has changed quite a bit from its initial concept image (below). What was once slim enough to potentially wall-mount has now morphed into a rather chunky, soundbar-bearing beast. It’s a fraction more tasteful than Asus’ ‘l33t gamer’ design, but not by much as the rear still bears all the design hallmarks of HP’s Omen products, such as their Omen X 17 laptop, as well as a dash of RGB lighting for good measure.
You can still see the ghost of the Omen X 65’s original design when looking at it from the front, though, as here you can see some lovely slim bezels and a pleasing absence of ‘gamer-y’ embellishments. In fact, all you get is a small Omen logo in the centre and a tiny Nvidia G-Sync HDR logo over on the bottom right. It’s unclear whether the soundbar will still be there come launch day, however, as HP also told me they’re still finalising its overall design.
Nvidia BFGD specs
So what makes these BFG displays so special? Well, they’re massive for starters, measuring 65in across the diagonal. They also have a 4K resolution, but what really sets them apart from your typical telly is their giant 120Hz refresh rate, ultra low response time and G-Sync HDR support.
That last one is particularly special. We’ve already seen the wonders and delights of what G-Sync HDR can do in the smaller Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, and the three BFGDs should be no different in that regard. After all, G-Sync HDR is a fixed standard that combines Nvidia’s adaptive frame rate tech for smooth, tear-free gaming with HDR (or high dynamic range), so every display that supports it should deliver exactly the same kind of experience regardless of screen size.
You can read more about in the ins and outs of what HDR is and what it means for your game library in our HDR on PC guide (as well as what graphics card you need for HDR), but from a specs point of view, G-Sync HDR more or less boils down to two main things: a peak brightness of 1000cd/m2 (the same as high-end Ultra HD Premium-certified TVs) for brighter whites and more life-like images, and DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage for more accurate, realistic colours.
Each BFGD will also have its own Nvidia Shield streaming doodad built straight into the back of it, too. Yeah, yeah, big deal, you say. Hear me out, though.
For me, this is one of the big coups of the BFGDs, as it technically means you don’t even have to have a PC connected to it in order to carry on playing your favourite PC games. That’s because, as well as being able to sit back and chill with a bit of Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer (and, if you’re in the US, Hulu and HBO) through the Shield’s Android TV side of things, you can also take advantage of its Nvidia GameStream and GeForce Now tech.
The former lets you stream games from another GeForce GTX graphics card-powered PC in your home, while the latter is Nvidia’s soon-to-be cloud subscription service (it’s still in beta at the moment) that lets you stream games you already own (and are included as part of the service) without owning any high-end hardware whatsoever.
Of course, a large part of Shield’s streaming appeal will depend on a) the quality of your internet connection, and b) your willingness to potentially add yet another subscription service to your life. You may also hate the idea of cloud gaming with such a passion that you’re compelling to do a little vomit in your mouth every time someone mentions the phrase ‘cloud gaming’ (sorry) or look up at the sky.
And that’s fine. Streaming isn’t for everyone. But it does open up the BFGD to those who might not necessarily be able to afford keeping their PC up-to-date all the time, and it also means you don’t necessarily have to have a giant black box cluttering up your living room for people to spill drinks on, accidentally delete the contents of your hard drive, or generally get in the way of everything. And that, for me, is a big plus when it comes to trying to play PC games from the comfort of my sofa.
Nvidia BFGD release date
When Nvidia first announced their BFGDs, they tentatively said they’d be here this summer. Well, we’ve got to the beginning of autumn and we still haven’t seen hide nor hair of them, so it’s probably safe to say that’s no longer the case.
It might not be too far in the distant future, though, as Asus have now listed the PG65 on their website (as of the beginning of July), suggesting it’s currently getting ready for its big release. There’s no information on its specs tab at the moment, or indeed anything that might suggest even the vaguest of launch windows, but it surely can’t be that far off.
Nvidia have also hinted that we won’t have to wait that much longer for them either. According to PC World, they will now arrive by the end of 2018, but going on information HP told me at Gamescom, it may well be something of a staggered launch if the end of 2018 is, in fact, the current target.
Indeed, HP said they probably wouldn’t even be able to announce full pricing for their Omen X 65 until next year’s CES, which starts on January 8 2019. They also confirmed it will likely go on sale at some point next year, so I’d argue that the first half of 2019 is looking far more likely at this point – and not just for HP’s BFGD, either. Watch this space.
Nvidia BFGD price
The other thing we don’t know much about yet is how much each BFGD is going to cost – which may well negate that earlier comment about it being a better use of your money than continually upgrading your PC every couple of years.
We can, however, take an educated guess. Given that Nvidia’s normal-sized G-Sync HDR displays such as the Asus PG27UQ will currently set you back £2300 of your fine English pounds or $2000 of your even finer US dollars, we can comfortably assume they’re going to be, and I quote, a heck of a lot more than that.