It has been over a month already since the official introduction of the GeFocre GTX 680 video card and the demand is still quite high, so that these models are still out of stock in most places and you can usually find them in places that sell them for more than the recommended end user price. It would be strange is Nvidia is still not able to provide enough supply a month after the initial launch, so I’m going to be benchmarking the GeForce GTX 580 here. The idea is to find how well the GTX 580 card performs in stereo 3D mode with the more recent games and if it really is already outdated or you can wait a few more months for better availability and pricing of the GTX 680, or maybe even skip the GTX 680 and go directly to GTX 685/690 or why not even 7xx…
I’ve started doing the following tests with the idea to see how well is the GTX 580 handling 720p resolution with 4xAA (Anti-Aliasing) in order to see if the card is still powerful enough for people using 3D-capable projectors or 3D HDTVs for gaming in stereoscopic 3D mode. You know that the 3D-capable TV sets and 3D-capable projectors limit you to 720p resolution with high-enough (50/60Hz) refresh rate for gaming in stereo 3D mode, unlike 3D monitors, most of which do support 1080p 3D mode with 60 fps. And in the process I’ve decided to also compare with 1080p mode using no AA as well as to give a stereoscopic 3D rating to the games I test with. And the list of games grew to 20 popular and more demanding game titles released roughly in the last 6-8 months, regardless of them being 3D ready or not. So in the end I’ve managed to do a few things, do some performance comparison using a single GTX 580 card in 720p and 1080p 3D mode and check the situation of the 3D support for some of the popular games released recently.
In the table above you can see the results from my testing that took quite a while more than I initially have planned, and I do plan to extend it even further in the next few weeks of time. Note that the fps listed in the table are the ones achieved in stereo 3D mode with 60 fps being the maximum (120 frames per second in total, 60 for each eye to get the 3D effect). The benchmarking at 1080p 3D mode is with the games running at high detail settings with no AA, unless the game does not allow you to completely turn it off. For 720p 3D mode the games were running again in high details, but with 4xAA applied in order to compensate for the more easily visible jagged edges that the lower resolution produces. Have in mind that some games had a frame caps and others needed to have the AA forced trough the Nvidia control panel in order for them to work, so have in mind this when you see the lower framerates with some games. The 3D Rating is something that I quickly devised based on my personal requirements for a good stereoscopic 3D experience, the things that I expect to see in a game, with the maximum rating being 10 points and the minimum 1. A game with a rating of 1 would be actually unplayable in stereoscopic 3D mode, a rating of 5 is on the edge of ensuring decent playability in stereo 3D mode with some tweaking of the settings in the game and a rating of 10 would mean perfect stereoscopic 3D experience. As you can see there are no tens, but there is a game with a rating of 1 and quite a few with 5 or less, but there are also a lot with higher ratings as well, meaning that things are not so bad when talking about stereoscopic 3D compatibility.
Have in mind that all the benchmarking has been done using the games with no tweaks, mods or fixes of any kind in order to give an idea about what experience the user can get out of the box when he gets a game and tries to play it in stereoscopic 3D mode. There are some annoying things and limitations that could easily be overridden like the 30 fps frame cap limits in Alice Madness Returns or L.A. Noire, or get a better experience in stereoscopic 3D mode using user mods like the ones available for Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 that can help in getting much better experience. Not to mention different performance tweaks and optimizations that can help you get better looking graphics, more details or even higher fps without sacrificing visual quality. But as I’ve said, the idea was to get an adequate overview of the situation with out of the box game compatibility and performance in stereoscopic 3D mode and I think I’ve managed to do it quite decently.
And now for a bit of statistics. Out of 20 games that I’ve tested with 10 are with rating of 8 or 9 out of 10, meaning that they are looking very good in stereoscopic 3D mode and that is half of the titles that I’ve used and I did not specifically go for games that are being optimized for 3D, but instead for games that were released roughly in the last 6-8, are more popular and generally more demanding in terms of performance. There are some games that are on the edge with a rating of 5-6, but for some of them such as Mass Effect 3 using some user made modifications you can get much better stereoscopic 3D experience. There are also some games with very low rating that are practically unplayable in stereo 3D mode due to some serious issues and I’m actually quite disappointed, because sports simulators such as NBA or FIFA could benefit a lot from proper stereoscopic 3D support and that also goes for other sports games as well. Other games like Alan Wake for example started quite bad in terms of stereoscopic 3D support (although the developer of that particular one was claiming good S3D support), but they have been improving the situation a bit by bit with updates, so in a few more updates the game might actually movie among the titles with twice as high 3D rating than the one it currently has. Some other games have already walked this way, for example Dirt 3 and Hard Reset weren’t working very well in stereo 3D mode at first, when they were released, but with updates the experience in S3D mode that they now provide has been significantly improved.
And now back to the GTX 580, definitely still more than capable for stereoscopic 3D gaming and will be for quite a while actually. Have in mind that the results in the table above have been made on a system running Intel Core i5 2500K CPU on an Asus P67 motherboard and neither the processor, not the video card have been overclocked for the testing – they were running on stock speeds. So you can get even higher framerates after overclocking your hardware and if you already have a second GTX 580 in SLI, then unless you are using 3D Vision Surround setup, there is even less reason to upgrade at the moment. However if you are still using a GTX 480 or a slower card form the 400 or 500 series, then upgrading to GTX 680 or the upcoming slightly slower models might be a good idea, especially considering the fact that the latest GeForce 600 series GPUs are coming with some new useful features, along with the improved performance and the reduced power consumption.