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Using 3D Vision with Quadro Graphics for Professional Applications

February 1st, 2010 · 18 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision


When talking about Nvidia’s 3D Vision active shutter glasses the usual association is with stereoscopic 3D gaming, but you should know that they can be used for professional purposes too. But in order to do that you’ll need to have a professional Quadro graphics board instead of the consumer GeForce series of video cards. And besides the shutter glasses and the Quadro card you’ll still have to use a 3D-ready display of some kind and then there is also the professional application that needs to support stereoscopic 3D mode… and that is something very important!

One of the requirements for the 3D Vision is to have a GeForce 8xxx series video card or newer, meaning that the 3D Vision driver uses the stream processors architecture introduced with this cards and thus cannot function on the older models. The consumer stereo 3D support for 3D Vision is currently limited only to Direct3D and requires you to use full screen mode, although it seems that Nvidia is working on improving things and removing some of the limitations. There is yet another one significant limitation and that is the lack of support for older Windows versions like Windows XP – the 3D Vision driver is available only for the users with Windows Vista or Windows 7…

On the other hand, when using Quadro graphics, you may have more options available to you depending on what model is your Quadro card. Now you have two options for Quadro and 3D Vision – too use the same mode as with the consumer GeForce cards with the same limitations with the help of the 3D Vision drivers, or to use the professional stereo 3D mode with the Quadro drivers. Have in mind that the Direct3D support requires you to have a more recent Quadro card based on the stream processors architecture and Nvidia lists only the following models as supported: Quadro FX 5800, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX 3800, Quadro FX 5600, Quadro FX 4700 X2, Quadro FX 4600, Quadro FX 3700, Quadro CX, Quadro FX 1800, Quadro FX 580, Quadro FX 380, Quadro FX 380 LP, Quadro FX 1700, Quadro FX 570, Quadro FX 370. But as I already said the D3D mode is the consumer mode needed in order to play games in stereoscopic 3D mode and you probably are not very interested to do that with a Quadro card, right? The other mode you can use with a Quadro is the one available only in the professional applications and it is called Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode. This mode has been available for years and Nvidia and ATI support it for years in their professional line of products, but don’t think you’ll be able to lets say play OpenGL games with it – you won’t, because this is a specific mode and not general OpenGL stereoscopic 3D support as with the Direct3D 3D Vision Driver. The advantages of the Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode is that it is supported on much wider array of products than the listed above as it does not require you to have a specifically stream processors architecture GPU. Aside from that it can also work in applications in a window, there is no need to have the application in full screen mode to active the stereo 3D mode and it also does work with Windows XP with the respective Quadro driver. The reason for that is that the mode is integrated in the Quadro driver itself and does not need additional software like the 3D Vision driver, but if you have a newer Quadro (one of the above models) you can use both Direct3D and Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo modes just by switching between the two drivers.


So even if you have an older Quadro video card you still might be able to use it with Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode and the 3D Vision active shutter glasses in applications that do support it. You need to download and install a Quadro driver version at least 186.18 as this one was the first to introduce the support for the USB IR transmitter that comes with the 3D Vision glasses. So if you have an older Quadro with old video drivers you just need to update them to the latest version to get the new hardware support and you should be able to make things work. Along with the Quadro driver update, you’ll have to install the USB driver for the IR transmitter that is now available as a separate package, but previously you had to get it from the 3D Vision package. Then you need to open the NVIDIA Control Panel, go to the Manage 3D Settings tab and select the right mode for Stereo Display Mode – Generic Active Stereo (with NVIDIA IR Emitter) or On-board DIN connector (with NVIDIA IR Emitter) if you are using the external 3-pin DIN connector for synchronization. And them you need to enable the Stereo – Enable by selection the ON mode in the respective place in the settings panel and that is it, you are ready to use the Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode. Just don’t forget to disable the 3D Vision driver if you have it also installed when using this mode and you can enable it again (if your card supports it of course) to use stereo in Direct3D when you need it.


There might be some issues if you are using a Quadro FX 1800 or Quadro FX 580 card. When you setup everything and try to run an application in Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode and the display shows the right image (doubled), but the glasses refuse to start flicker in sync don’t worry. This is most likely not a software issue resulting from you doing something wrong, actually it might be a problem with the Video BIOS of your video card, you need to check for an updated VBIOS and flash the card to fix it. You can see your current VBIOS version with a program like GPU-Z and then check the manufacturer website for an updated version or contact the support requesting such VBIOS if there isn’t one publicly available. After reflashing the Quadro card with the latest VBIOS it should work just fine in stereo 3D mode.


If you have some of the higher-end Quadro models your card might be equipped with an external connector for cable synchronization with the IR transmitter of the 3D Vision glasses. This 3-pin DIN cable plugs in the Quadro and at the back of the IR transmitter and it cam also used by 3D-capable DLP HDTV sets. The problem here might arise from the fact that the European 3D Vision kit for example does not include this cable, but you might’ve received it with the Quado card, otherwise you have to buy it separately and it can be quite expensive, although it is nothing special actually. Just have in mind that even though your Quadro card might support the external cable synchronization that you may still use it without this cable by selecting the Generic Active Stereo (with NVIDIA IR Emitter) instead the one with the On-board DIN connector. This however might lead to some annoying flickering according to Nvidia in some rare cases, but I haven’t seen this problem so far.


And one last thing at the end, even if you can only use the Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode on your older Quadro graphics card you still will be able to use the 3D Vision for watching 3D movies and looking at 3D photos. What you need is just the right viewing software that does support the Quad Buffered OpenGL Stereo mode as a viewing method such as the Stereoscopic Player (not the 3D Vision stereoscopic player!) or the StereoPhoto Maker. So the only thing you will not be able to do is play games in stereoscopic 3D mode with an older Quadro…

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18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 CrystalCowboy // Feb 1, 2010 at 21:05

    The Linux drivers do not support USB connection to the IR emitter, so for Linux only cards with the 3 pin mini-DIN connector can currently be used.

    The Quadro FX3800 will support the 3 pin mini-DIN stereo connector, but on most OEM versions it is sold as a separate part which plugs into a header on the card and occupies a PCI slot blank. See for example the PNY 900-50762-0000-000.

  • 2 Dave G. // Feb 1, 2010 at 21:34

    I use Pro/Engineer in my day job. I’ve been poking around to see if it was possible to use 3D Vision shutterglasses to see my designs stereoscopically. The two issues are – Pro/Engineer’s compatibility. It is Open GL, but I don’t know if it support quad buffered stereo Open GL. I have seen unconfirmed comments that it can.

    The second issue is that most businesses and engineering outfits still use Windows XP. Most wouldn’t touch Vista with a ten foot stick, and the changeover to Windows 7 will take some time. Until today I thought I’d have to build a special Windows 7 machine to use 3d Vision, but I am pleased to know that Windows XP will work with the Quadro cards and quad buffered open GL.

    Since 3d CAD/CAM design can be very complex, being able to design while seeing the part/assembly with true stereoscopic depth is a huge, huge asset when trying to comprehend complex 3D geometry in a clear manner. The use of shading and lighting techniques, or spinning a CAD model around are hoaky, compromised methods of representing 3 dimensional depth on a flat screen.

  • 3 Nicola // Apr 30, 2010 at 13:42

    3D vision kit for quadro dosn’t work with quadro fx 3400/4400. I tried that. Nvidia support said that this occurs because 3D vision kit is not supported by others graphic cards than the ones listed on nvidia web site. This dosn’t mean that stereo is not supported by all quadro FX cards (in fact it is), but 3d vision glasses are not!

  • 4 Bloody // Apr 30, 2010 at 14:26

    Nicola, I’ve personally managed to make the 3D Vision work on some Quadro cards that are not listed as supported. They use the same driver and the driver level support for 3D Vision is there, try using the latest driver if you are not. Of course if it is not in the list then there is also a chance that the card might not work or might have some issues, but there is also a chance that it may as well work just fine ;)

  • 5 Nicola // May 3, 2010 at 20:47

    I tried. there was no way to make it work…moreover Nvidia support was clear, in their opinion 3D vision was not working because of the incopatibility between the Glasses/IR emitter and the graphic card. Maybe you have been more luky than me…

    Anyway, a FX 3700 is coming so that problem should be pass…

    NEXT STEP: try to make 3D vision work with Matrox TripleHead2Go! XD XD (At a lower frequency i mean) I dont’t realy think i will make it! ^_^

  • 6 Dmitry // May 19, 2010 at 10:06

    Some one can tell me how do yourself 3Din to 2.5mm stereo cable? (wires connection scheme)

  • 7 Peter Murphy // Aug 14, 2010 at 02:17

    I got a Quadro fx3400/4400 working with 3d vision eventually but it is not really very usable. There is something wrong with Win7 drivers support of this card for Opengl stereo (independent of 3d vision) as stereo Opengl apps report no Opengl stereo available (with all versions of the driver Ive tried). But you can get Opengl stereo apps working ok with it with XP. Then if you install the 3d vision usb driver you can get the glasses working with the apps — badly (dim with ghosting) at 120 Hz or sort of Ok at 100Hz. The same PC works fine with a Geforce 9600GT with Win 7 with 3d Vision — but no Opengl stereo of course.

  • 8 francisco // Oct 2, 2010 at 22:33

    Hi Guys,

    i have 2 quadros running (linux and windows7) and i would like to acquire stereo glasses. Do i need to have a 3d lcd to work with them?
    thanks in advance.

  • 9 Bloody // Oct 3, 2010 at 20:23

    Francisco, yes you will need a 3D-capable monitor, but you can also try it out on an old CRT with high refresh rate if you have one lying around.

  • 10 sergio // Oct 25, 2010 at 04:25

    Hi there,

    I have a fx3800 and I bought 3D vision to use with it….can somebody to help me config it….



  • 11 Puddy // Nov 18, 2010 at 15:21

    I have a very large cinema sized 3d visualisation room that works with quad buffered stereo using one of the Nvidiva Quadro cards.

    I’d love to be able to play a game on the screen like you can do with the 3D vision glasses, do i just need to swap the quadro driver for the 3d vision driver and then games will work in stereo 3d? I am confused! please help.


  • 12 Bloody // Nov 18, 2010 at 16:16

    Puddy, yes, but it also depends on your Quadro model. Older Quadros can still work in QB OpenGL mode, but are not compatible with 3D Vision, but newer models are fine.

  • 13 Puddy // Nov 18, 2010 at 19:55

    I have a Quadro 5600 in the system, i’ll try installing the driver and see what happens!


  • 14 hzming // Dec 13, 2010 at 17:01

    My system: WinXP, FX3400, ASUS VG236H, Nvidia 3D vision (via usb)

    Most things work, but the IR emitter refuse to function when I run a quad-buffer app. The monitor was actually drawing the left and right frame right, but the IR emiter remain dim-green (not active). I don’t have a din-to-3.5mm cable. It may work if I have one. Anyone know how to buy one or make one?

  • 15 Bloody // Dec 13, 2010 at 19:14

    Are you using the latest Quadro drivers, they should have support for the IR emitter, although your GPU is rather old, so without a cable connection it might not work. Try contacting Nvidia support to see where you can get a cable from.

  • 16 Alex // Aug 4, 2011 at 15:52

    Hi there,
    Thanks for this post!

    I am trying to use opengl quad buffering so that I can present images stereoscopically. 3d vision does not support opengl quad buffering so i have to use 3d vision pro but the Nvidia components for it are bloody expensive…

    I currently have an ATI 6850 video card (which is one of those introducing the ATI HD3D technology) and I cannot see any option to enable quad buffering. Is that possible with ATI at all?

    If yes, what monitors should I use?

  • 17 dgrambo // Sep 1, 2011 at 04:25

    Trying the Acer 27in monitor with the built-in emitter but no luck with QB OpenGL app (pymol) The monitor never issues a sync as its probably OGL unaware. How does it get tripped into 3D mode without a USB or DIN connection to the emitter? It does have a HDMI 1.4 connection. Im using a Dual Link DVI at 120hz. It ships with Nvidia 3D Vision glasses. Ive tried under Win7-64 and XP-32. Just no luck..

  • 18 kostas // May 1, 2014 at 18:38

    Have same problem with dgrambo / with ASUS VG278HR (built-in emitter) and Quadro K2000.
    Photogrammetric software Photomod (quad-buffered stereo) doesnt fire the emitter.

    Is there a solution after almost 2 years ?

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