About a month ago I had the chance to get my hands for a bit on one of the Asus G51J 3D gaming laptops using 120Hz LCD panel and equipped with 3D Vision shutter glasses. Back then I was able to get some first hand impressions from Asus G51J 3D and how it performs in stereo 3D mode, but did not have enough time to do some benchmarking. Luckily I’ve got a sample of the laptop for a few days to test it a bit more and finally run some benchmarks on the first 3D Vision-enabled mobile computer available as other notebook manufacturers seem to be preparing to follow after Asus’ steps very soon…
The Asus G51J-3D laptop I tested was the one with Core i7-720M processor (quad-core 1.6GHz that goes up to 2.8GHz with TurboBoost) along with an Nvidia GeForce GTX260M (112 stream processors) video card with 1GB of DDR3 Video Memory. The display is 15.6-inch, 16:9 wide aspect ratio, with LED backlight and with resolution of 1366×768 (HD-ready) and not Full HD. I’m telling you this because it seems that Asus will be having a refresh of the model very soon, that will be featuring GeForce 360M video card instead of the currently available GTX 260M. And if you are ready to start complaining that the screen is not with Full HD resolution you should hold it for a bit, at least until you see some performance results, because 1080p resolution in stereo 3D still seems to be a bit extreme for a single GPU mobile computer. So have in mind that when you take a look at the performance results below, measured with 3D Vision disabled and then the application/game running with it enabled and with stereo 3D mode activated.
The results from 3D Mark 2006 on what level of performance you can expect from the Asus G51J 3D laptop when playing games in “plain” 3D and in stereo 3D with the 3D Vision enabled. 10399 3D Marks with 3D Vision disabled and 7077 3D Marks with 3D Vision enabled and active or with other words there is about 32% performance drop with when using stereo 3D mode. And here is the right place for one very important reminder – when you don’t want to play a game in stereo 3D mode you should disable the 3D Vision from the control panel (not just turning it off from the IR transmitter) and then enabling it again when you plan to play in stereo 3D mode! And now for the gaming results…
Avatar the game is the most recent game to feature native stereoscopic 3D support, including, but not limited to 3D Vision so there is no chance in missing to do a test with it on the Asus 3D laptop. The game configured to run at ultra quality, but without any Anti-Aliasing turned on has managed to get around 41 fps in plain 3D mode with the minimum framerate not dropping below 30 per second, so the game actually runs very well. When you activate stereo 3D mode with the 3D Vision with the same maximum quality settings things don’t look so bright anymore, the average framerate drops to about 16 fps and it varies between 11 and 32 frames per second. This means that you need to sacrifice some of the details in order to reach comfortable framerate when playing the game in stereo 3D mode, so going to High details and maybe lowering some of the effects should be Ok for you.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – yet another quite nice and popular game that also plays very well in stereo 3D mode. This game also takes advantage of Nvidia’s PhysX technology which can be quite demanding at times, especially if you want to max everything out in terms of graphic detail and effects. Again with the game set to Very High with all effects enabled and PhysX set to Normal level and no Anti-Aliasing turned on he game did pretty good in plain 3D mode with an average framerate of about 45 frames per second. Enabling the 3D Vision and playing the game in stereo 3D mode however produced only about 27 fps average with the minimum framerate going to 14 frames per second, so in order to make things comfortable you should probably sacrifice the PhysX effects disabling them and leaving the graphics to high.
Battlefield: Bad Company is a very recent game title with support for DirectX 11 that did not play very well with stereo 3D while in beta, but the final game has received a day 1 patch to make it 3D Vision friendly. Of course you cannot play it in DX11 and in stereo 3D yet, especially on the Asus G51J 3D laptop, so it is DirectX 10 with High detail settings, no Anti-Aliasing and HBAO disabled for the test on the laptop. This has resulted in 39 fps average framerate with a minimum of 25 frames per second when playing in plain 3D and dropping to about 20 fps average in stereo 3D mode with 3D Vision enabled. This result is not unexpected, because BFBC2 is indeed quite heavy on high details in stereo 3D mode even on the top desktop GPUs. The good news is that with a little detail level sacrifice it is still playable on the Asus in stereo 3D mode…
Bioshock 2 supposedly a stereo 3D-ready title, but we are still waiting for a patch to fix some of the basic issues it has like a 2D crosshair, may seem like a challenge for this laptop, but it actually turned out not to be. Setting the game to High detail with all of the effects enabled and again no AA resulted in a comfortable and playable framerate of about 40 fps in plain 3D and playing in stereo 3D mode with the 3D Vision on resulted in just only 4 frames drop in the average framerate to 36 fps. This result is pretty interesting as enabling the stereo 3D mode did not decrease the performance so much, just 10%, meaning that the game is probably well designed with S3D in mind, but it was not entirely implemented as it should.
Dark Void, a yet another 3D Vision-ready title that looks and plays great in stereo 3D mode and being able to take advantage of PhysX-capable hardware. With highest detail levels set and all the effects enabled and with PhysX set to Medium Dark Void performed very well in plain 3D mode with an average framerate of about 65 fps. The drop in framerate with the same settings with 3D Vision active resulted in average of 35 fps, but with a moments when the minimum framerate drops to about 5 frames per second with the reason for that being the PhysX effects. So again on the Asus G51J 3D you’ll need to sacrifice PhysX effects by disabling them in order to get the game comfortably playable in stereo 3D mode just like in the case with Batman: AA.
Far Cry 2 is the next in line for testing on the Asus G51J. This FPS game also plays nice in stereo 3D mode and is not that demanding even on high details while at the same time provides very realistic looking virtual world. Set to Ultra High in the settings and with all the additional effects enabled Far Cry 2 has managed to squeeze an average of 50 frames per second framerate and drops to about 30 fps average when you enabled the stereo 3D mode. So you’ll have to go for High or Very High details in order to make the S3D playing experience more comfortable which is still Ok.
Need for Speed: SHIFT is a popular racing game that can look and feel really great when played with in-cockpit camera and not with the default outside view of the car, although even then it is Ok in S3D, but the experience is not as realistic as it can be. This game also takes advantage of PhysX, but it does the calculations on the CPU and not on the GPU, even if you have a compatible graphics card that can do that. This can be considered either a good thing or not so good, but in the case of Asus G51J 3D that has a fast quad-core CPU it is not such a problem as it can easily handle the additional load. With the game configured to High detail level and all effects enabled, no AA as with all the other tested games, the result was an average framerate of 64 fps in plain 3D mode with the minimum not dropping below 50 frames per second. With stereo 3D mode active the average framerate drops to about 35 frames per second with the minimum not going below 20 fps, so a little lowering of the effects or detail levels is a good idea for comfortable S3D playing experience.
Tomb Raider: Underworld is the last game I tested with on the Asus G51J 3D laptop, a game that has been released at the end of 2008, but is one of the best looking titles in stereo 3D mode and can be quite demanding at times. With detail level set to high and all effects enabled, no Anti-Aliasing of course, the game managed to work out about 56 fps average in plain 3D mode and just about an average of 30 fps in stereoscopic 3D mode. So a little sacrifice in terms of effects or detail level may be needed for a comfortable playing in S3D mode again, something which I should say that kind of surprised me, but then again these are the real results.
As a conclusion I can say that the Asus G51J 3D laptop with its current GPU and CPU configuration and a screen that is not Full HD is quite well put together in order to provide you with satisfying results when playing event he latest and most demanding games. When you play in plain 3D mode at the highest detail levels, but with no AA you can manage to get very satisfying average framerates even with the latest “heavy” game titles that just came out. And that is almost true in stereo 3D mode too, but for some games you might have to go one or two levels of details below the absolute maximum or disable some very heavy effects. So instead of Ultra High or Very High detail level you’ll have to be playing on High detail levels in stereoscopic 3D mode and that achieved on a gaming laptop is not bad at all if you ask me, if you are more demanding than you should go for a high-end desktop computer where you have more powerful GPUs available and options to group them together. In the end I can say that I really loved reviewing and benchmarking the Asus ROG G51J 3D Vision gaming notebook and although it is not perfect in every aspect I would still recommend it to anyone in need of a stereoscopic 3D-capable mobile solution… and that goes not only for gaming needs ;)