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Tested: How Nvidia Reflex can make you a better esports gamer

Lower latency, faster kills. Here's everything you need to know about Nvidia Reflex, which just got added to Rust, Rainbow Six: Siege and Overwatch.

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Bottom line

That was a long ride full of interesting findings. Hopefully you understand the differences between the Nvidia Reflex feature found in games and the Reflex Latency Analyzer found in monitors now. Like I said, they’re two very different tools with two very different uses, but both can help you become a better esports player.

First, let’s discuss the Nvidia Reflex Low Latency Mode feature in games. It won’t help you across the board, but it can improve latency significantly if you become GPU-bound, roughly doubling responsiveness in situations where your graphics card is stressed. That’s huge for casual esports gamers. Nvidia Reflex can let you bump up visual details while keeping your games responsive. That’s an all-around win for your gaming experience. Better yet, activating Reflex never really hurts responsiveness. There’s no reason not to turn it on. This is a fantastic technology that can give you a real edge over your competition, as studies have shown that player accuracy and kill-to-death rates improve as latency goes down.

I suspect Reflex would be even more beneficial at 1440p and 4K resolutions, but the panel we used for testing is a 1080p display, and we need its analyzing tools to measure latency metrics. (We’d love to see 1440p, 144Hz monitors with Reflex Latency Analyzer inside.) Definitely try it though; since they’ve integrated the Reflex API, both Fortnite and Valorant now include an option to show some latency metrics onscreen in the game itself. You can use those to see if turning Reflex on makes a difference on your system even if you don’t have a 360Hz G-Sync Esports display, and to be honest, you’ll probably feel it if Reflex drops latency significantly. It’s very noticeable in the Fortnite scenarios that show the biggest improvements.

screenshot 67 Brad Chacos/IDG

You can see Valorant’s native latency monitoring graphs underneath the RLA overlay in this screenshot.

Speaking of those 360Hz G-Sync Esports monitors, they’re also very useful, but aiming for a very different crowd—very competitive and deep-pocketed esports fanatics. Asus hasn’t announced pricing for the luxurious ROG Swift PG259QNR display we used for testing, but the non-“R” ROG Swift PG259QN model that lacks Reflex Latency Analyzer capabilities costs $700. Expect to pay more for this fancier model.

You get a lot for your money, though. Playing on a 360Hz IPS monitor is simply sublime. Everything feels so smooth. Both the visual quality of the panel and the build quality of Asus’s monitor are top notch. This thing rocks. Reflex Latency Analyzer is almost just a value-adding cherry on top.

asus rog swift 360hz monitor back Asus

You need to plug your mouse into a specific USB port on the rear of your monitor to use Nvidia’s Reflex Latency Analyzer.

That’s generally where I fall on Reflex Latency Analyzer for actual gamers. The technology is wonderful for reviewers like myself, allowing us to test the variety of latency scenarios we walked through earlier. For normal people and casual gamers, it’s overkill.

But if you’re the sort of person who is willing to invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into a 360Hz display for peak competitive performance anyway, you’ll probably find Reflex Latency Analyzer invaluable. Being able to see the latency impact created by hardware changes and by tweaking specific visual settings in games can help you fine-tune things so your game looks good and feels great, especially if you’re using the Nvidia Reflex Low Latency Mode in games. There’s a lot you could play with. Nvidia’s Reflex Latency Analyzer is a godsend for optimization geeks.

A big part of the appeal lies in Reflex Latency Analyzer’s ability to measure mouse responsiveness for true end-to-end system latency, but that’s the least compelling reason to buy in, at least for now. Yes, measuring system latency used to take much more equipment. But today, only four mice support Reflex Latency Analyzer. Once I realized the Asus ROG Chakram Core mouse included in my reviewer kit delivered 0.5ms of average latency across the board, I couldn’t really do anything else with the information. It just is what it is. Once more mice add Reflex Latency Analyzer support, or once Nvidia adds a wider array of average latency data for unsupported mice to its database, the feature will be more compelling. (Currently, Nvidia’s database provides average click latency data for the top 30 esports mice, as tabulated by ProSettings.net, with plans to add more.)

fortnite final gains 3080 Brad Chacos/IDG
valorant final gains Brad Chacos/IDG

This ROG Chakram Core is just as potent as the 360Hz ROG Swift monitor, though. Top-tier gaming mice, including the others with Reflex Latency Analyzer support, take several milliseconds to register a click. The ROG Chakram Core sends its signals in half a millisecond. It’s insane, and you can feel it in moment-to-moment gameplay. If you’re a competitive esports gamer, check it out even if you aren’t interested in the 360Hz G-Sync Esports display ecosystem.

Bottom line? Nvidia Reflex can help make you a better esports gamer, regardless of which facet you’re examining. The Nvidia Reflex Low Latency Mode feature can drastically improve responsiveness if you like games to both look good and feel great. There’s no reason not to turn it on. The Reflex Latency Analyzer in 360Hz G-Sync Esports monitors serves a much more niche crowd and needs fuller ecosystem support to truly shine, but if you’re invested in esports enough to even consider picking up a 360Hz panel, you’ll find it an invaluable tool in your tinkering. We’re excited by what Nvidia’s trying to nurture here.

If you want to go even deeper down the latency rabbit hole, this highly technical Nvidia explainer describing the Reflex suite of technologies is highly recommended.

This story, "Tested: How Nvidia Reflex can make you a better esports gamer" was originally published by PCWorld.

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