Studies have shown that lower latency can improve ‘shooting accuracy’ and ‘kill-to-kill’ ratios in competitive esports, and specifically how Nvidia Reflex can now make you a better esports player. PcWorld helped to quantify responsiveness in a wide range of scenarios. Fasten your seat belts.
This SDK software “Nvidia Reflex”, an Nvidia Reflex Latency analyzer and ´Reflex´ Low Latency Mode that is being introduced in the main esports games are two very different technologies, with two very different use cases, and maybe two slightly different audiences. But both are focused on the same underlying objective: to make games more responsive.
You don’t need one to use the other. Even better, the ´Reflex Latency Analyzer´ can let us evaluate the effectiveness of both, as well as measure how much faster your reactions would be if you invested in the price of a graphics card or a high refresh rate monitor.
Reflex is the next step for low latency modes. This is a feature that is integrated into the game in order to further reduce latency, in addition to modifying only the “queues” and the “buffers”.
Nvidia is reserving exactly how it works, but it can be summed up like this: through ´Reflex´, your Nvidia GPU tells the game engine what it is doing, and the game engine responds by looking at this information , and doing its job just before the GPU is ready to render. This means that the game engine is doing just-in-time processing, which allows it to grab the freshest inputs from your system, and deliver it to your screen with the least latency.
´Reflex´ is currently divided into two similar but separate characteristics. One of them is called Nvidia Reflex, and it is a feature that we will find added to games in order to improve latency. If we turn on a game’s settings and see the option to turn Nvidia Reflex on or off, that’s what we’re talking about.
The second is Nvidia’s Reflex Latency Analyzer, which is a collection of hardware and software tools that you can use to analyze the game and the total system latency. The goal is to provide players with latency information so they can optimize the system for the best responsiveness.
NVIDIA Reflex just came out, but it is now possible to offer latency improvements in GPU-intensive gaming scenarios on GeForce GTX 900 and higher NVIDIA graphics cards in top competitive games, including Fortnite, Valorant, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Destiny 2. Better yet, the functionality works with GeForce graphics cards dating back to the GTX 900 series.
You don’t need a 30-series RTX GPU to use it. To install, insert the Nvidia Reflex, introduced next to the GeForce RTX 3080 and DO RTX 3090. If you’ve heard of it before, you probably associate it with low latency features to be added to games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Valorant and Fortnite. But reflex is actually Nvidia’s comprehensive brand name for a wide range of new tools obsessed with latency.
Yes, the low latency mode to be added to the games is part of it, but on Tuesday, Nvidia and its partners are also launching 360Hz Esports G-Sync monitors with built-in Reflexy Latency monitors. If you have invested in compatible accessories, Reflex Latency Analyzer keeps track of the entire pipeline from the millisecond, and you can click on the mouse in the millisecond that the game makes your gun shot, helping you to identify which parts of your system are to act like a bottleneck.
First, let’s investigate Nvidia’s Low Latency Reflex mode that you may already be seeing in the games you play. In short, Nvidia Reflex is an optional set of APIs that developers can choose to implement in their game to reduce latency. It works particularly well in scenarios strongly connected to the GPU – if you are playing an esports game on a higher resolution monitor, or increasing all the graphical settings, you will see the most significant response improvements.
Technically, the Nvidia Reflex SDK works by ‘freezing’ the render queue, allowing the game engine to tell the CPU to submit rendering work to the GPU even in time. This prevents your game from feeling slow. Because the CPU is not under stress to provide a render queue, the player keeps an eye on mouse clicks until the last possible second.
Lower latency, faster deaths. In short, that’s all we need to know about Nvidia Reflex, and the analysis of whether the most powerful GPUs and the fastest monitors are worth the money, but there is more to the domain of esports than raw frame rates. Latency – the time it takes for an action on the screen to take place after pressing a button, is the supreme realm in a competition for an esports scene.
If your game looks good but feels slow, you will find yourself unarmed by rivals, and play with miserable visual settings to increase responsiveness. We witnessed the increased responsiveness with ´Reflex´, when playing Valorant at 60Hz on a GeForce GTX 1660 with ´cranked´ visual configurations. With Reflex active, our mouse delivered a response time of 0.5 milliseconds in 100 clicks, mostly composed of 0.4ms and 0.5ms clicks.
With Reflex off, the average was 0.6ms, with almost 0.6ms and 0.7ms clicks. This is the most striking example, but in all senses, slightly better rat latency with Reflex has been witnessed. This particular benefit may be somewhat hidden with the mouse that was used in the test, though, as the Asus ROG Chakram Core is ridiculously fast. Most mice take several milliseconds to register a click, but this averages 0.5ms.
You have to activate the various features of Nvidia Reflex in the visual options of the games that support it, as in Fortnite. Nvidia complements Reflex with an optional “Boost” feature that you can choose to activate. In games, the Nvidia Reflex menu setting has three options: Off, On and On + Boost. Activating Boost does not have any side drawbacks from a bigger power draw, and there is no reason to leave it off if you are using Reflex.
It is worth noting that Reflex shuts down at low frame rates (<30 fps), but in general, players would like to have a higher performance as a starting point, so sub-30 fps results will not be at reality a concern.
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