AMD FreeSync technology is apparently now official, bringing an alternative to Nvidia’s G-Sync. Both technologies are implementations around the industry standard DsiplayPort specifications in their revision 1.2a and more specifically around the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync. AMD’s implementation however does not rely on expensive hardware DRM module like Nvidia (the G-Sync module itself), so it should not increase the price of the display additionally. In theory AMD FreeSync should work on all DisplayPort 1.2a-equipped monitors if you have a compatible AMD GPU, though the company is not very clear on that subject. The list of compatible AMD GPUs with gaming support for FreeSync include AMD Radeon R9 295X2, 290X, R9 290, R9 285, R7 260X and R7 260 (the status of 7800 and 7900 series or 280X is not very clear).
There is still no official WHQL driver available, but apparently AMD FreeSync required Radeon 15.2 beta drivers or newer to be supported. AMD has released a list of 11 gaming-oriented monitors from multiple partners including Acer, BenQ, LG Electronics, Niexeus, Samsung and Viewsonic that come in different sizes and with different features. What AMD is still lacking compared to Nvidia is support for stereoscopic 3D gaming along with FreeSync – there are multiple Nvidia G-Sync compatible models that also support stereoscopic 3D gaming. Should that matter however when Nvidia is apparently abandoning stereoscopic 3D support for some time already and the company is doing this for a second time since it was founded (history repeating itself). We are already eager to see what does AMD have in store for us with their FreeSync implementation…
Update: After trying out Acer ХВ280НК 4K G-sync monitor with AMD Radeon R9 280X and 290X I can say that I’m not very happy with both AMD and Nvidia. The G-Sync monitor works just fine on Nvidia hardware with G-sync and without. On Radeon 280X (not officially compatible with FreeSync according to AMD!) the monitor works just fine, but no option to enable FreeSync in the drivers as expected. Connecting the monitor to a AMD FreeSync compatible GPU, namely Radeon R9 290X the drivers still show no option to enable FreeSync in the drivers, nor the display is detected as capable of supporting it. The problem with Sapphire R9 290X 8GB and the Acer ХВ280НК monitor is that the display is not working properly in this combination, there is picture, but the monitor constantly goes blank for a bit at irregular intervals, just as if it is loosing the input signal and getting back signal – happens in both 2D and 3D mode. The tests were performed using the AMD Catalyst 15.3.1 Beta drivers supplied by AMD for trying out the new FreeSync feature.
Update 2: It seems that if you want to be able to use AMD’s FreeSync technology you would still have to buy a new display that features DisplayPort 1.2a interface and also buy a new graphics card if you are using R9 280X, one of the most popular GPUs from AMD. It will not work on your older hardware as most likely you don’t have DP 1.2a capable monitor anyway, unless you bought a really recently announced model, so you might want to wait for one of the new gaming models that are officially compatible with FreeSync as listed by AMD. Also since Nvidia’s G-Sync technology uses DisplayPort 1.2 interface the officially licensed G-Sync monitors will apparently not work with FreeSync as well.
Tags:3d gaming·AMD FreeSync·DisplayPort 1.2·DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync·FreeSync·G-SYNC·Nvidia G-SYNC·stereoscopic 3d
If you are already a gamer playing in stereoscopic 3D mode or are at least following what has been happening with stereo 3D you have probably noticed that lately stereo 3D gaming is being left aside and both AMD and Nvidia are focusing on 4K gaming as the next big thing in gaming. The question here is if 4K gaming will become the norm in a few years or it will have fate that stereo 3D gaming does currently have – not supported and left to the community hoping that it will keep it alive. Nvidia has done great by reviving its old stereoscopic 3D drivers and pushing both hardware manufacturers and gamers to go and try stereoscopic 3D gaming a few years ago and thus creating the big market for stereoscopic 3D gaming itself. Of course there were also other solutions already available at that time, but they did not have the needed resources and the interest in general in stereo 3D was not that strong back then. AMD on the other hand also supported kind of stereoscopic 3D, but it was “outsourced” to partners such as iZ3D and DDD, because the company never did have very strong interest in stereoscopic 3D gaming. With the boom of the interest in stereo 3D after Cameron’s movie Avatar and because Nvidia already had strong positions in the stereoscopic 3D gaming market that it has helped create, AMD had to do something more and the HD3D technology has been introduced. The problem is that AMD did not try to push game developers to support this technology (this often happens with the innovative technologies they announce) and while Nvidia has done a better job at first, lately they give the impression as they are not considering their 3D Vision technology as something they need to push anymore. So at the moment only DDD are actively developing their TriDef 3D solution and are pursuing not only stereo 3D on the PC, but also on other markets such as mobile devices and they are even offering a beta support for the Oculus Rift.
Meanwhile what happened to the market is that people yet again got interested in VR technology and gaming in VR environments mostly thanks to the Oculus Rift project and the really good feedback it got not only by consumers, but by developers as well. And just like stereoscopic 3D the Head Mounted Displays are nothing really new, they are just something that got revived yet again thanks to the recent huge boom in technology for mobile devices that allows you to pack good enough hardware in a small package and most importantly at an affordable price. The revival in the interest in VR gaming has also helped the development of various non-traditional controllers, but while the hardware is here or will soon be available the biggest issue that remains is the availability of software that will support it. With the Oculus Rift things are already moving quite well and with the introduction of the consumer version of the device in 2014 it could really be the next big thing in gaming and not 4K. Even the lower resolution development kits of the Rift have demonstrated that the resolution is not the most important thing for gaming, though it helps, it should not only be all about the resolution. The experience you are getting while gaming is way more important than to have some more pixels and that goes not only when talking about the hardware you are using, but also for the games you are going to be playing.
Let’s get back to 4K gaming and see what is happening there and why. Hardware companies already started promoting the new technology supporting 4K as 1080p or Full HD has apparently gotten old and widely adopted, so the industry needs to provide something new. Obviously increasing the resolution of a display is a good choice as you will need more powerful hardware that is capable of supporting the higher resolution, and before the technology starts to become widely adopted the prices will be high and the profit will be good. Both AMD and Nvidia will want you to buy not just one high-end video card, but two or even three in order to be able to play in 4K resolution at maximum detail levels in the latest games. And it is not only the video card, you will also need a high-end CPU, more memory, faster disk drives etc. so this will be driving the hardware market forward obviously. At the moment however not that many people are readily giving 3-4K USD for a PC and then again that much for a 4K display like the Asus PQ321QE (there are not that many options available yet) just to be able to got higher resolution.
The truth is that you can get much more realism and fun while gaming with either VR or stereo 3D and that can happen at a fraction of a cost that 4K would require at this point, so undoubtedly the question that arises here is if 4K is the next step in gaming or not? This depends a lot on how things move in the following year or two, so we need more 4K monitors becoming available and at a much lower price in order for normal consumers to start buying the hardware. For the moment 4K gaming is only for enthusiasts with deep pockets that love to brag about their PC being top of the line and it will be like that for some time. Sure it was a similar situation with stereoscopic 3D when it was reintroduced with the 3D Vision technology a few years back, it was more expensive, but not as what 4K costs at the moment. With Stereo 3D gaming it was the experience that it provided compared to playing a game on a normal 2D monitor that quickly drove people into adopting it and with 4K it is just more of the same – you get more pixels. And more pixels and higher pixel density just make the image look smoother and hard edges not so apparent even when not using AA filtering, so it does not add that much to the immersion inside the game atmosphere and making the experience more realistic like when playing a good game in stereoscopic 3D or in VR mode. So the future of 4K gaming for now is a bit cloudy and unsure and while you should not totally ignore it for the moment, you should not also jump immediately on the 4K boat either. The industry is not yet completely ready with the technology required for 4K, so it is best to wait and see what happens in 2014 before making a decision, and let us see if the sequel of the movie Avatar in 2016 will bring back the interest in stereoscopic 3D technology or maybe the wide availability of good autostereoscopic 3D solutions (glasses-free) in a few years or…
Tags:3d gaming·3d vision·4k gaming·AMD HD3D·stereo 3d·stereo 3d gaming
Nvidia continues to introduce new graphics chips from its Kepler lineup and after the top models are all already on the market it is time to also fill up the middle and lower range of products, and here comes the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. Not too long ago the company has introduced the 660 Ti and it instantly became my minimum must have GPU for gaming in stereo 3D mode at Full HD resolution, so the big question now is where the 650 Ti should be situated. Nvidia positions the GTX 650 Ti as a card for gamers with more limited budget that want to be able to play at 1920×1080 or 1920×1200 resolution with medium to high graphics details, but without pushing for the maximum ultra details and going for high AA settings. And if that is true for 2D gaming, then you should not expect the card to be able to perform great at Full HD resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode, sure you should still be able to play in that resolution, but you’ll have to go for lower detail levels. So instead of trying to push the GTX 650 Ti to the limits at 1080p resolution in stereo 3D mode I’ve decided to test how good the card will perform in 720p resolution in stereo 3D mode. I have the feeling this graphic processor would be a great choice for stereoscopic 3D gamers that are using 3D projectors or 3D HDTVs to play games in 3D mode and there 720p is the typical resolution. Of course the goal would be 720p resolution with some AA and the maximum detail levels, so that the player would not be bothered by the lower resolution being used. But before doing some tests let us see what are the specifications of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti…
Specifications of GeForce GTX 650 Ti:
CUDA Cores – 768 +576
Graphics Clock – 925 MHz +25
Texture Fill Rate – 59.2 GigaTexels/sec +30.4
Standard Memory Configuration – 1024 MB GDDR5
Memory Interface Width – 128-bit -64
Memory Clock – 2700 MHz (5400 MHz effective) +650 (1300)
Memory Bandwidth – 86.4 GB/sec -12
Texture Units (TMU) – 64 +32
Raster Operator Units (ROP) – 16 -8
Power connectors – 1x 6-pin PEG
Power consumption – 110W TDP -6
GPU Thermal Threshold – 98 degrees Celsius -2
* The numbers in red and green represent the upgrade or downgrade of the specific parameter in the GTX 650 Ti as compared to the GTX 550 1GB!
So the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is in overall a good successor for the GTX 550 Ti in terms of specifications and it should be offering a good performance increase as well, though according to Nvidia the people that should upgrade their GPU to the 650 Ti are probably the ones that are still using cards such as GeForce 9600 GT. And when talking about the competition, the GTX 650 Ti should be fighting with AMD’s Radeon HD 7770, but this goes as far as playing games in 2D, so what about stereoscopic 3D gaming?
The benchmark results above were achieved on a mid-range computer – MSI P55 motherboard, Intel Core i5 750 processor, 4GB RAM and Windows 7 64-bit, together with a reference GTX 650 Ti graphics card all of which were not overclocked. They games were ran at 1280×720 resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode with no AA, but the good thing about using AA filtering at 720p resolution is that it is really not as taxing as on 1080p resolution in terms of performance. So activating 4xAA in most games like the ones listed in the table only brings down the average FPS with something like 3-5 frames, and using 2xAA or 4xAA can really help in improving the visual quality at that resolution. So as expected, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is a great card for more budget oriented stereoscopic 3D gamers that want to be able to play in stereo 3D mode on their 3D HDTV or 3D-capable projector at 720p resolution. If you want to be able to enjoy games in stereoscopic 3D mode on a 3D monitor at 1080p resolution you should consider going at least for GeForce GTX 660 Ti in order to get a good experience. On the other hand the GeForce GTX 650 Ti does perform quite well in Full HD resolution in most games if you don’t want to play them in stereoscopic 3D mode, and you can do that as well on a 3D HDTV, though with a 3D projector not all models that support 720p 3D mode do support 1080p in 2D as well.
So in the end the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is a nice card that you can get for $159 USD and be able to get good experience playing in 1080p in 2D mode or 720p in stereoscopic 3D mode. The card is small, does not consume a lot of energy, the cooling is silent and at the same time you get good performance out of it – a perfect combination for the not so demanding gamers or the ones with a more limited budget that cannot afford or just don’t need to buy the top models. Well done Nvidia.
Tags:3d gaming·3d vision·3dtv play·720p 3d·GeForce GTX 650 Ti·GTX 650 Ti·Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti