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Myths and Reality: Plain 3D vs Stereo 3D Gaming Power Consumption

July 11th, 2010 · 1 Comment · GeForce 3D Vision

When talking about stereo 3D gaming it is often referred to the claim that in this mode the system is more stressed than when playing in plain 3D mode and especially the video card. Now this claim sounds quite reasonable considering the fact the in stereo 3D mode the video card needs to render double the frames, however rendering a separate frame for left and for right eye lowers the total framerate you get. But it seems that it is not like in plain 3D mode the video card is not being loaded as much as in stereo 3D, it is just a bit different load on the GPU. So instead of just talking about it lets see how the load and the power consumption is affected in two different situations when in plain and in stereo 3D mode…

Test 3D PC Configuration

– Intel Core i5 750 processor
– Asus Sabertooth 55i motherboard
– 2x 2GB G.Skill 2200MHz DDR3 memory
– GeForce GTX 480 video card
– 2x 640GB WD Black hard drives
– Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music sound card
– Tenda 300N WiFi network adapter card
– Custom water cooling with some power consuming components



I’m starting with the power consumption of the new 3D test PC (the configuration is listed above) when running a 3D application in plain 3D mode with resolution of 1280×1024 without AA and AF. The average total power consumption of the PC (without the monitor) this way was around 280W…



When running with the same settings, but instead of plain 3D mode in stereo 3D the situation changes a bit and from around 280W total power consumption before it grows to around 316W now. These 36W additional power consumption simply mean that in the low resolution it is hard to push a high-end video card to its limits in plain 3D mode, but using stereo 3D does indeed increase the load…



Now switching to a higher resolution of 1680×1050 and using 16xAA and 16xAF to really push the video card in plain 3D mode changes a bit the things. The average power consumption of the whole system is now around 320W, which is pretty close to what was shown in stereo 3D mode even at lower resolution…



Now going to stereo 3D mode with the same settings as above gets an average of around 321W power consumption which is pretty much the same load as when having the card in plain 3D mode with higher resolution and AA/AF.

So it seems that when the GPU is not stressed hard enough like in the case of using lower resolution and no additional filtering of the image you actually may get lower power consumption, but even in lower resolution you can still push the video card hard enough when switching to stereo 3D mode. But when you play at higher resolution with additional filtering that is enough to push the GPU to its limits using or not stereo 3D mode does not introduce any additional load and power consumption…

Now the next logical question that you should ask is if the 120Hz LCD monitor actually uses more power when displaying plain 3D content in 60Hz or 120Hz and what happens when it displays 3D content at 120Hz. And here you can say something like that watching 3D content might kill the Earth, because of not being so eco-friendly, thanks to using more power and I’m not kidding… with the higher power usage at least. I tried the power consumption of the Samsung 2233RZ and in 60Hz it consumes around 41W, when switching to 120Hz, but still showing plain 3D content the power consumption grows just around 10% up to around 45W. However when switching to displaying stereo 3D content at 120Hz the power consumption grows a bit more up to around 49W which is almost 20% more than the normal power usage in 60Hz mode. This however is with settings of 100 for brightness and 75 for contrast – the ones that are automatically forced when switching to stereo 3D mode by the Samsung monitor. If you lower the brightness and contrast to 50 for both the power consumption when in 60Hz and 120Hz in plain 3D mode is just 31W and 34W which makes the difference much bigger as the monitor goes to around 49-50W when in stereo 3D mode (over 50% increase in the power consumption!!!). And you should be aware that the settings for 3D mode are a bit too bright for normal use of the monitor as they are intended for use with shutter glasses where the glasses block some of the light reaching the eyes of the user.

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