Time for a comparison as promised in the post about the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost GPU that looks very promising as an affordable solution for people willing to play in stereo 3D mode at a resolution of 720p. The direct competitor for the GTX 650 Ti Boost is the Radeon HD 7790, so I took one of these cards and compared the results it provides in 720p stereo 3D mode using the latest TriDef 3D driver to the results of the GTX 650 Ti Boost using 3D Vision. I’ve also compared both cards in 1080p 2D mode with the same games, because the Radeon HD 7790 is also a good option for people with tighter budgets that want to be able to get high detail levels at 1080p resolution in non-stereoscopic 3D mode, just like the GTX 650 Ti Boost is.
Starting with 720p stereoscopic 3D results, you ca clearly see that apart from Far Cry 3 where the average framerate is very close for both cards and the game Tomb Raider where the Radeon is slightly faster in the other games the GTX 650 Ti Boost performs significantly better. The reason for that is the fact that the TriDef 3D driver is not as efficient performance wise as compared to the 3D Vision, so you might want to consider a slightly faster Radeon video card than the 7790 for playing in stereoscopic 3D mode at 720p resolution or sacrifice some of the detail levels and go for lower settings. Another interesting things that has turned out is the weird out of video memory message that we’ve got when trying to run Resident Evil 6 with TriDef on the Radeon HD 7790, apparently the 1GB video memory that the card had on-board was not enough.
Moving to 1080p non stereoscopic 3D tests the results turn out completely opposite than what we’ve had for the 720p stereo 3D tests. Here in Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3 the Radeon is a bit slower, the average framerate is the same in Bioshock and in the other three games the Radeon is faster. SO while both the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and the Radeon HD 7790 offer very good performance for playing games in 1080p resolution with high detail levels, the Radeon might be the slightly better choice. At the same time the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost is definitely the better choice for stereoscopic 3D gaming at 720p resolution.
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been playing mostly with the Oculus Rift Dev Kit since I’ve got my unit and the good thing is that even though so far only about 2K development kits were shipped the community is very active and there are new development around the Rift all the time. Now, since the Rift covers your vision completely and when you put on headphones for the sound you kind of get completely cut off from the “real world”, and though that this has advantages it also brings some disadvantages. Like having a hard time finding the keyboard or the mouse on your desk without taking off the Rift, so I’ve decided to see what can we do to easily get around this problem. The solution is actually quite simple – add a webcam with a wide angle lens so that when you are wearing the Rift you can switch to the camera and see your desk or what is happening around you. I’ve had a suitable webcam around and by replacing the standard lens with a wider angle one I got this simple and easy to use solution working almost perfectly.
I’ve mounted the camera with Velcro in the center of the Rift and then fired up the Stereoscopic Player with Live Video mode on and the monoscopic camera input set to output using the Oculus Rift viewing method. The web camera is with 640×480 resolution and 30 fps and that seems to work quite well, it also has a set of LEDs for use in dark environments (including a set of IR LEDs) and plugs via USB, it also has a microphone, though I was not able to make it work under Stereoscopic Player. Now, you can easily extend this solution by adding two web cameras f the same model on your Rift to get a stereoscopic 3D video input with the help of the Stereoscopic Multiplexer dual-camera capture solution developers by Peter Wimmer, the author of the Stereoscopic Player. You need to run the Stereoscopic Player in full-screen mode and you can switch between it and the currently running Oculus Rift-compatible game or application by the key combination ALT + TAB. The only drawback here is that you need to be able to hit the key combination, but you can thing of something more creative to be mapped to that combination to make it easier two switch between the two. It works surprisingly well and is a modification that everyone should be able to easily make, even with two cameras for stereo 3D video input (placed at the right distance based on your IPD), the key thing is to use a wider angle lenses instead of the standard ones that would probably be with a narrower angle.
If we get integrated stereo camera solution with an easy to activate overlay or switch between the camera input and application input or combining them both in a future version the Oculus Rift it would also be able to become a device capable not only of VR with stereo 3D support, but for AR applications as well. Meanwhile, the next thing to try out for me is to get rid of all the cables and make the Oculus Rift completely mobile and wirelessly connected to the PC – the display and the headtracker, along with suitable wireless controllers and wireless headphones as well powered by a battery and all inside a backapack on the user’s back. This however would probably take some more time to complete…
Even though the main focus of the Oculus Rift is virtual reality experiences, many users would also want to be able to use this HMD device for other simpler things like playback of 2D and 3D video as well. The good news is that the latest version 2.0.5 of the Stereoscopic Player released earlier this month brought support for 2D and 3D video playback on the Rift, of course there is no support for the head tracker, but you don’t need it for video playback anyway. To enable the right viewing mode just select Oculus Rift in the Settings under the Playback Options panel and the videos you open either in 2D (monoscopic) or in 3D mode (stereoscopic) will be rendered with the correct optical distortion required by the Rift.
The playback of both 2D and stereo 3D videos with the Stereoscopic Player on the Rift works quite well with 3D videos obviously being more impressive than the flat 2D ones that just show the same image for each eye. A stereo 3D video with more depth can look quite impressive when viewed with the Oculus Rift. The only drawback however is that when viewing 1080p 3D videos they need to be scaled down and there is quite a lot of vertical screen space left unused because of the wide aspect. As a result you may be able to notice the top and bottom edges of the video frame when watching the video with the Rift, so have that in mind.