3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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Testing the New GeForce Experience ShadowPlay Beta Feature

November 21st, 2013 · 6 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

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ShadowPlay is an extra functionality that allows the owners of compatible Nvidia Kepler-based graphic cards to take advantage of the built-in H.264 encoder to record gameplay video with hardware acceleration directly into small in size MP4 video files. ShadowPlay is a part of the GeForce Experience software that now comes as a part of the Nvidia video drivers, and although it is still in Beta stage it looks quite promising. And while ShadowPlay was introduced last month with the release of the GeForce Experience 1.7 software I still haven’t been able to try the software, but now I can and since Nvidia just released a new GeForce 331.82 WHQL video driver that comes with an update to GeForce Experience 1.7.1 it is time to try out this feature. Aside from the new version of the Geforce Experience software the new video drivers also come with a 3D Vision profile for the game Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and it is rated as “Good” for playing in stereo 3D with 3D Vision setups.


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Looking at the ShadowPlay interface you can easily see that it is designed with the normal users in mind, by providing you with a simple and easy to understand clickable buttons for configurations. But more advanced users like me will miss some simple things like an option to remap the default ALT + F9 key combination for manual start/stop of the recording for example or an option to control the recording resolution or framerate and so on. Hopefully Nvidia is going to add some more extra controls for the more advanced users as well with upcoming updates.

What I still haven’t mentioned regarding ShadowPlay is if ti supports recording of stereoscopic 3D gameplay videos as this is something that people playing on 3D Vision setups actually do need and can appreciate. Officially before the release of the ShadowPlay feature Nvidia did not say that it will have stereo 3D support, and now that the software is available still no official 3D Vision support. The good news is that ShadowPlay can actually already record stereo 3D gameplay videos, but with one important thing to note – the 3D video you get is also in 1920×1080 resolution meaning that it is essentially recorded in Half Side by Side format (half horizontal resolution per eye). Not that this is a bad thing compatibility wise, but it would’ve been nice if the user can select between Half SbS mode and Full Side by Side (maybe limitation of the hardware H.264 encoder?). FRAPS for example as the only other gameplay video capture software with stereoscopic 3D video recording support does only output in Full Side by Side format, but the major problem with FRAPS is that the video output is hardly compressed and recording 3D video does result in a lot of gigabytes per minute of recording.

So to summarize things, the ShadowPlay feature is apparently intended for gameplay video recording of 2D gameplay, though it also supports 3D gameplay video recording in Half Side by Side format meaning that the two views are squashed in a single Full HD frame and FRAPS on the other hand produces Full Side by Side output when recording stereoscopic 3D video. ShadowPlay does output small H.264 compressed video files that are ready for online sharing, unlike FRAPS that produces multi-gigabyte files for each minute of recorded footage and recording 3D makes the files even bigger, s you need to re-compress them before uploading and sharing them. The performance drop when using ShadowPlay should be significantly less, because the hardware H.264 encoder of the video card is used to compress and output small files, unlike FRAPS where the CPU handles the minimal compression applied and the HDD/SSD needs to handle the serious load caused by the large amounts of data written each second, so the performance drop is more significant. FRAPS has more features and more controls for the more advanced users while maintaining ease of use by the normal user as compared to the way too user friendly and somewhat lacking features interface of the ShadowPlay.

And now for some tests of ShadowPlay and a comparison with FRAPS when both are set to record video at 1080p 60 fps in various conditions in the game Battlefield 4. The game was chosen because it can be quite heavy even for the fastest GPUs when you up the graphical settings to the maximum as in the current case – Ultra Quality with 4xMSAA with a GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card. Battlefield 4 is not recommended by Nvidia to be played in stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision, but it is still Ok for benchmarks and recording, so take a look at the interesting results below.

2D mode:
– 96 fps in 2D mode playing with 3D Vision disabled in the Control Panel
– 90 fps in 2D mode with ShadowPlay recording and 3D Vision disabled in the Control Panel
– 51 fps in 2D mode recording video with FRAPS and 3D Vision disabled in the Control Panel

3D mode:
– 69 fps in 2D mode playing with 3D Vision enabled in the Control Panel, but turned off
– 38 fps in stereo 3D mode with 3D Vision enabled and running
– 36 fps in stereo 3D mode with ShadowPlay recording video
– 25 fps in stereo 3D mode with FRPAS recording video on an SSD drive

File size:
– FRAPS 1 min 2D – 2.8 GB
– FRAPS 1 min 3D – 4.4 GB
– ShadowPlay 1 min high 2D/3D ~ 112 MB (varies based on the content)

As you can see from the results above, by using ShadowPlay you get to loose much less FPS compared to when recording video with FRAPS and also the output video’s file size can be significantly less. Aside from that you can probably notice that Battlefield 4 does not handle that well performance wise with 3D Vision enabled, even when it is not active you still get significant performance drop as compared to normal 2D mode and that is probably half the reason why the game has a Not Recommended rating for 3D Vision and the other half is the visual issues when rendering in stereo 3D mode.

And one interesting observation that I made while testing was the fact that as long as 3D Vision is activated from the Nvidia Control Panel then when you record gameplay video with ShadowPlay you are getting a stereo 3D recording in Half Side by Side format, regardless if you have pressed CTRL+T to enable or disable the display of 3D data on the screen. So you need to be careful when you want to play and record gameplay video in 2D mode you will have to disable the 3D Vision stereoscopic 3D support form the Control Panel before running the game and for recording stereo 3D gameplay video the good thing is that you may not actually play in stereo 3D mode while recording in it.

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BenQ XL2720Z, a New 3D Vision-ready and 144Hz 2D Gaming Monitor

November 20th, 2013 · 2 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

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Earlier this month BenQ has announced their new monitor XL2720Z, the first 27-inch gaming monitor that BenQ releases with support for 144Hz refresh rate as their previous model XL2720T was up to 120Hz. BenQ XL2720Z is also 3D Vision ready, though when using it in stereoscopic 3D mode you are being limited to 120Hz (60Hz per eye) like with other 144Hz 3D-capable models. And while the 3D Vision compatibility also comes with 3D LightBoost technology support that can help improving the brightness level in stereo 3D mode and also help reduce motion blur in 2D mode, BenQ has also introduced a new Motion Blur Reduction technology of their own that essentially does what 3D Lightboost does – strobing backlight, but BenQ’s solution does not require “software hacks” to work like you may need to do to enable Nvidia’s 3D Lightboost for motion blur reduction. It will be interesting to see how will BenQ’s blur reduction solution will compare to Nvidia’s 3D Lightboost approach that was originally designed for stereo 3D use. Other interesting things about the BenQ XL2720Z is a new Low Blue Light mode that allows gamers to adjust the blue light levels of the monitor that is considered to be the cause of eyestrain for example when using computers for long periods of time. Another new feature introduced a this monitor is the Gaming-comfort Flicker-free technology that is supposed to eliminate noticeable flickering of the backlight when you lower the brightness level of the monitor (no PWM dimming of the backlight).

If you want to be able to use the BenQ XL2720Z for stereoscopic 3D gaming you would need to get a pair of 3D Vision glasses with IR emitter kit, as they are not bundled, and BenQ’s target is probably not stereo 3D gamers, but 2D gamers interested in the higher refresh rate. Unfortunately this monitor does not feature the recently announced G-Sync technology from Nvidia, so if you are looking for a new gaming monitor you might want to wait a bit more for the first G-Sync enabled monitors to come out (probably early next year). BenQ is one of the partners of Nvidia for the G-Sync technology along with Asus, Philips and ViewSonic. By the end of the year Nvidia is supposed to start offering the Nvidia G-SYNC Do-it-yourself upgrade kits for owners of the ASUS VG248QE monitors. So now may not be the best time to go for the BenQ XL2720Z, unless you don’t care about the elimination of screen tearing, input lag, and stutter that Nvidia’s G-Sync technology promises. If your interest is mostly in the new BenQ Motion Blur Reduction technology, then you might also want to check out the EIZO Foris FG2421 gaming monitor that also features similar strobing backlight technology helping eliminate motion blur, but Eizo also has a VA-type LCD and not a TN panel like on this BenQ display.

For more information about the BenQ XL2720Z 3D Vision and 144Hz 2D gaming monitor…

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GeForce GTX 780 Ti Game Benchmarks in Stereo 3D and 120Hz 2D Mode

November 14th, 2013 · 14 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

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Just a few days ago Nvidia has updated their highest-end single GPU with the new GeForce GTX 780 Ti replacing the previous top model in the form of GTX TITAN. The new graphic cards based around the GTX 780 Ti are out in the wild already, but the question that needs to be answered is if a single GTX 780 Ti graphics card is enough for comfortable gaming with maximum detail levels in the latest games in stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision as well as what you cane expect if you play on a 120Hz+ 2D monitor instead of in stereoscopic 3D mode. That is exactly what I tried to do here, by picking up some of the latest bigger game titles that were released in the past 4 months and testing them in stereoscopic 3D mode as well as in 2D mode. I’ve ended up with 12 game titles which should be more than enough to give you a good idea about the performance you can expect and before starting with the tests let us look at the official Nvidia 3D Vision ratings of these games.


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As you can see from the 12 games only one is rated by Nvidia as 3D Vision Ready – Batman Arkham Origins, and Shadow Warrior has an Excellent rating as the game does support stereoscopic 3D mode natively and it works great with 3D Vision. On the other hand there are four top games that are sequels to popular franchises and all of them have a Not Recommended rating, these are: ARMA 3, Battlefield 4, Saints Row IV and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist. The rest are rated Fair/Good and only WRC 4 FIA World Rally Championship does not have a profile, but the interesting thing is that the the latest WRC game does work quite well even without a profile and is playable even with some rendering issues in stereo 3D present.

Furthermore there are community fixes available thanks to the Helix Mod available to improve the stereoscopic 3D playability using 3D Vision for some of these games already available, these are: Castlevania Lords of Shadow Helix Mod Fix, Lost Planet 3 Helix Mod Fix and WRC 4 FIA World Rally Championship. This way we get 5 out of 12 games that are looking really good when played in stereo 3D mode (only 2 officially), the other games could be further improved witch patched or user fixes as well.


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So what is the goal of these tests? Essentially to see if the GeForce GTX 780 Ti can provide 100fps or more in 2D mode as well as 60 fps per eye in stereo 3D mode at 1080p resolution with maximum details and some AA. As you can see the AA of choice was 4xMSAA where available as at 1920×1080 resolution it is more than enough to smooth the edges while not bringing way too much of a performance hit. After all the idea is to stress the GTX 780 Ti a lot in order to see what you can expect and you should have pretty high expectations for a high-end video card like this one.

As you can see the worst results in terms of framerate we are getting are in ARMA 3 and Total War ROME II. The case with ARMA 3 is that the game itself is really demanding, especially if you want to push the details to the maximum and have really long viewing distance in the game. The case with Total War ROME II is similar – the game can also be pushed to unreasonably high graphics details, but it also has a really stressful benchmark mode that probably represents a worse case scenario you can get when playing the game with a serious battle going on. Another important thing to mention is the result in 2D mode in the game Saints Row IV, as you can see getting 64 fps seems a bit too low, but that is due to some sort of frame capping inside the game (even though vsync is disabled), the actual achievable framerate is about 100 fps with these graphical settings. All other games do manage to provide great performance on the GTX 780 Ti, regardless if you want to play in stereo 3D mode or in 2D mode with higher refresh rate. If you want to play in 2D mode at 144Hz refresh rate on a gaming monitor supporting this you might want to consider going for a SLI with GTX 780 Ti and the same suggestion applies for larger resolution displays.

In the end, looking at the results, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti can perform really well when playing some of the top latest games with maximum graphic details and extra AA filtering both in 2D mode with a 120Hz+ LCD monitor and in stereoscopic 3D mode using 3D Vision. The card is great, but what we actually need are more games with official support for 3D Vision, because as you can see from the list of games tested here only 2 were ready to be played in stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision out of the box. And thanks to the Helix Mod and the active stereoscopic 3D gaming community there are fixes for additional three, and some of the other games can turn out to look great when played with 3D Vision with patches. For example Battlefield 4 and considering the fact that the previous Battlefield 3 had a patch to add stereoscopic 3D support it is a bit of a disappointment that the sequel does not support it.

If you are still using an older series of graphics cards from Nvidia like me with two GTX 580 in SLI or even a single GTX 580 or GTX 680 you might as well consider going for an upgrade to a GTX 780 Ti in order to get the best performance with a single GPU, the same applies for slower or older cards as well. If you already have a GTX 780 or a GTX TITAN, then there is not that much need to upgrade to the new GeForce GTX 780 Ti, but you might consider adding a second card of the same type. I’m definitely upgrading my water cooled GTX 580 SLI setup to a single GTX 780 Ti and I do plan on adding a full cover water block to the card to make it cooler and quieter compared to the standard air cooler. Unfortunately going for water cooling would only help in reducing the operating temperatures, but not that much for overclocking as the most limiting factor on the GTX 780 is the power limiter maximum you can set and not the temperature. The good thing is that the GeForce GTX 780 does perform great even without additional overclocking thanks to the GPU Boost that tries to maintain the maximum clock frequency for the GPU Boost, the only thing that I’m not that happy with is the default high temperature target of 83 degrees Celsius, but as I’ve already mentioned with a water cooling setup the high operating temperature “problem” is easily resolvable.

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