Last year when Nvidia released the GeForce GTX 650 Ti it has turned out to be a decent budget card for 720p stereo 3D gaming that could also perform well in 1080p 2D mode, though with some compromises in details and no AA filtering for the higher resolution. Recently Nvidia has released an updated version of the GTX 650 Ti, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, a new GPU that promises a bit better performance and some extra features. If you remember the GTX 650 Ti did not support Boost Clock and SLI and the new GTX 650 Ti Boost model adds support for these and though the number of CUDA cores remains the same, there are a few extra ROPs, and the GPU is running with a bit higher frequency along with a wider memory bus and faster memory.
* The numbers in red and green represent the upgrade or downgrade of the specific parameter in the GTX 650 Ti Boost as compared to the GTX 650 Ti!
The stereo 3D benchmark results above were achieved on a mid-range computer – Biostar A960A3+ motherboard, AMD FX 4130 quad core processor, 4GB RAM and Windows 7 64-bit, together with a reference GTX 650 Ti Boost graphics card all of which were not overclocked. Testing on a few of the more recent and popular games in both stereoscopic 3D mode at 1280×720 resolution with high details and at 1080p resolution in non stereoscopic mode has shown very promising results, but you should forget about being able to play in 1920×1080 resolution in stereo 3 mode with this video card. I still recommend as a minimum for 1080p S3D gaming a GTX 660 Ti video card in order for you to have a good framerate and get a good overall experience when gaming with 3D Vision. Thanks to the SLI support that the GTX 650 Ti Boost however the option to use two of these cards in SLI might also be an interesting alternative to using a single GTX 660 Ti. Also enabling AA filtering at 720p resolution isn’t as taxing as on 1080p resolution in terms of performance drop, so you can get better quality without significant fps drop in order to compensate for the lower resolution.
As you can see you are also not going to have trouble playing most games in 1080p resolution in non-stereoscopic mode with high detail levels, though in some more demanding games you might have to sacrifice a bit to get more comfortable framerate. So if you are looking for a GPU in the price range of the GTX 650 Ti, then you should go instead for the replacement GTX 650 Ti Boost mode. It has enough performance for stereo 3D gaming at 720p resolution on a 3D HDTV for example and it also works quite well in 1080p 2D resolution for most games with the High detail levels. Again if you want a card capable of providing comfortable framerates for stereoscopic 3D gaming at 1080p resolution for a 3D Vision monitor you should start from something like GTX 660 Ti as a minimum.
Coming up next is to see how does the GTX 650 Ti Boost compare to the competition in the face of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 graphics that is in the same price range of about $150 USD and should be offering very similar performance…
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.