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Entries Tagged as 'GeForce 3D Vision'

Mixing Different 3D Monitors for a 3D Vision Surround Setup

July 18th, 2012 · 6 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

I often get asked various questions about the use of different 3D monitors for building a multi-monitor setup for stereoscopic 3D gaming – 3D Vision Surround as well as for non-3D use, the normal Surround. And while the 2D surround mode is much more forgiving to the kind of displays being used, when talking about stereoscopic 3D gaming the requirements for building a 3D Vision Surround setup are much more strict. You are required to essentially use three 3D-capable monitors from the same model in order to ensure perfect compatibility and best experience and this is what Nvidia recommends, however sometimes this can be a problem, or you may find a more practical and cost effective way to get a 3D Vision Surround. So what are the options and what will work and what will not, that is exactly what I’ve wanted to test this time trying to use three different 3D Vision-ready displays in a 3D Vision Surround setup and I’ve found out some interesting things that I’ll share with you.

I have multiple 3D-capable monitors available that I use for testing, from different generations and with different features, however I don’t have three exactly the same models to use them as a 3D Vision Surround. It is not that I don’t like 3D Vision Surround, just haven’t gotten to the point in building such a setup for constant use, so far only making temporary setups for testing various things. And since the initial introduction of 3D Vision Surround as a solution Nvidia has greatly improved it and I believe that sooner I’ll have to do a permanent setup for testing. But for now and especially for the purpose of this article I’ll be using three different 3D Vision-ready monitors as this will give me all the possible scenarios to test various things in regards to compatibility between the different displays used for building a 3D Vision Surround setup.

Now, the requirement to use three exactly the same 3D monitors for 3D Vision Surround is based on a few important things. First the external features of the displays are the same – the same size, the same height, the same bezel size and all of this is very importing when you are arranging the three displays to form one big screen together. Then comes the LCD panel used in the 3D monitors, when it is exactly the same it means that you’ll be getting the same color reproduction, level of brightness and response time across all the displays. And specifically for the proper stereoscopic 3D experience there is also the importance of the same level of crosstalk/ghosting you’ll be getting across all the displays and not more on some and less on the other. You should be aware of the fact that even identical models of monitors can have some slight variation in the image they display, so a bit of fine tuning even in this cases can help in getting even better overall experience, making all three displays seem like a one wide display.

So lets see what will happen if we use different 3D monitors inorder to build a 3D Vision Surround setup. I went for three completely different models in size and capabilities, these are: the 23-inch Panar SA2311W, the 24-inch Asus GN245HQ and the 27-inch Asus VG278H. Due to the various sizes of the displays it is really impossible to physically match the three screens in a one seemingly vertically continuous screen – these have different height, not all have height adjustments, different screen sizes, different bezel sizes. But still putting the 27-inch screen at the center and the two smaller ones on the sides does make the setup useable – you still have nice peripheral vision coverage with the two side monitors and your attention is focused on the center display most of the time anyway. The Planar does not have a built-in IR emitter, the Acer has one and the Asus also has it, but the major difference here is that the Planar and the Acer do not support the new 3D Loghtboost technology for ensuring increased brightness levels like on the newer Asus 3D monitor. The 3D Lightboost technology is a monitor technology, but when you use a display supporting it the active shutter glasses also work in a different way than on older 3D Vision monitors that don’t have support for that technology. This essentially should mean that you’ll not be able to make a 3D Vision Surround setup mixing older 3D Vision monitors with models from the latest generation, it should…

So what happens when you connect three different 3D monitors and enable 3D Vision Surround mode? Actually you can do that, even though the drivers will detect that your 3D monitors are different models, as long as they support 3D Vision you can go over the 3D Vision Surround setup wizard and enable the technology. It is a completely different thing however if things will work properly after that in stereoscopic 3D mode, because the 3D Vision detects the first monitor connected as the one being used and assumes that all three 3D displays are the same make and model. So if it is the Planar you will not be able to use anything else besides 3D Vision discover mode, unless of course you plug in an external IR emitter for the glasses, and that happens even though the other two displays actually do have built-in IR emitters. In this situation if you plug-in an external IR emitter and you run something in stereoscopic 3D mode only the Planar and Acer monitors show 3D and the Asus monitor remains blank when in 3D mode. If you connect the Acer 3D monitor first then when you activate stereoscopic 3D mode you’ll see that the Asus will show in stereoscopic 3D mode and the Acer and Planar monitors will show 2D image. If the Asus 3D monitor is connected first the Planar shows the image in 3D mode with a serious level of ghosting and the Acer 3D monitor shows only 2D image, regardless if you use the built-in IR emitter or an external one. So apparently neither of these variants is a good choice, though if you have the center display running in stereoscopic 3D mode and the two side ones show the same image in 2D it is not that bad as actually with your peripheral vision you can hardly get depth information anyway, so it may be a kind of an acceptable compromise (if you rotate your head however things aren’t going to be that good).

The next step was to play a bit with the monitor identification information using different EDID override drivers in order to trick the OS and the video drivers that we actually have three exactly the same 3D capable monitors available and connected, even though they are completely different in reality. Using Planar EDID override driver for all three displays requires the use of an external IR emitter, but the good news is that all three displays actually work in stereo 3D mode and there are no issues with more than usual level of ghosting shown on any of them. It seems that in this case the Asus display does not make use of the 3D Lightboost mode and works in some kind of compatibility mode with the other to displays, the image you get from it is less brighter this way, but it still works properly. Moving to the Acer EDID override driver things get a bit messy using the built-in IR emitter – all displays show stereoscopic 3D image, but only the Asus shows proper image, the other two displays have a lot more ghosting – plugging an external IR emitter however resolves the issue and you get the same good results as with Planar’s ID. And finally using the Asus EDID override driver for all three monitors makes them work in stereoscopic 3D mode, but only the Asus shows proper image, the other two have way more ghosting than usual, regardless if built-in or external IR emitter is being used.

So what is the conclusion of all this testing with mixing and matching different 3D monitors? For best experience you should stick to the recommendation to use three exactly the same 3D monitors, but if that is not an option, then you have a few somewhat acceptable alternatives available as well, but not recommended unless there is really no other choice. Either using the two side displays in 2D mode and only the center one in stereoscopic 3D mode, if the center one supports 3D Lightboost technology. Or going for a some kind of backwards compatibility mode for 3D monitors supporting 3D Lgihtboost technology to work the same way as older models that don’t support the tech, the opposite is not possible however. But these two alternatives are available only if mixing older 3D Vision displays with newer ones that support the 3D Lightboos tech, for example two Acer HN274H with one Acer HN2674H B, making all the three work like Acer HN274H without the 3D Lightboost active for example. If you have only older generation or newer generation 3D monitors with 3D Lightboost support, then things are actually much easier for you, though with serious physical differences matching them in a 3D Vision Surround setup may still not be that good idea.

And here I can now answer that a 3D Vision Surround setup using one BenQ XL2420TX with two BenQ XL2420T monitors should be something that you can make work as these two models are essentially the same with some of the extra features in the TX stripped from the T model, so this way you can save some cash and still get a great 3D Vision Surround setup. Actually starting with drivers version 304 (currently only beta) Nvidia officially allows you to mix different 3D monitors supporting 3D Lightboost without having to resort to any workarounds, so mixing BenQ XL2420TX with two BenQ XL2420T monitors should be working directly with these drivers without the possibility of having issues that may be caused by EDID overrides. Mixing and matching Asus VG278H and Acer HN274H B is also possible with the latest beta drivers, though this may not be that good idea as mixing the two versions of the BenQ that are almost exactly the same. The only problem with being able to mix a BenQ XL2420TX with two BenQ XL2420T monitors in a 3D Vision Surround setup is if you live in Europe for example where the TX version is still not available.

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Always Have the Latest 3D Vision Game Profiles with Nvidia Update

July 14th, 2012 · 3 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

If you are still not using the Nvidia Update feature of the more recent graphics drivers then it is about time you start doing so as starting this month (July) Nvidia has started to release 3D Vision profile updates through it. By default, Nvidia Update will check for all updates for Nvidia software including drivers and profiles, but just to make sure you can go to the Preferences tab of the Nvidia Update (if installed you should see an Nvdia logo icon in the Windows Taskbar) and see if under Updates the option Program and game profiles is enabled (it should by default).

Thanks to the automatically updated profiles you can always stay up to date and not have to wait for a new driver to be released in order to get better support for a game or to get proper 3D Vision support for a new title when played in stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision. Here is a recent example, the latest WHQL driver did not include a 3D Vision profile for the game The Secret World, the latest beta did have a profile, but it rated the game as Not Recommended and if you are using the Nvidia Update to get the latest 3D Vision profiles there is an updated profile for The Secret World where the game is already rated as Good.

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Playing with Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 in Stereoscopic 3D Mode

July 2nd, 2012 · 2 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

The release of the GeForce GTX 690 by Nvidia has marked an interesting thing happening as this was really one of the best dual-GPU video card released so far – high-performing, working with no problems and keeping everything cool and pretty silent. The GTX 690 is almost as fast as two GTX 680s, runs quite silent and cool considering it is a dual-GPU product and offers really monster performance, making it a great solution for gaming in stereoscopic 3D mode. You can see more detailed specifications of the GTX 690 if you are interested in them, and here I’m going to be going over some quick performance benchmarks that I was able to do with a GTX 690 that I’ve managed to get for a few days from Nvidia.

It is one thing reading about how good the GeForce GTX 690 is, but it is completely different thing to actually have the card and play with it to confirm how good it is indeed. I’ve got the GTX 690 sample unit in a Nvidia branded case with a very nice hardware inside ready for testing, below are the specs of that PC:

– Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Ivy Bridge Processor
– Gigabyte Z77X-D3H Motherboard
– 120GB Intel 520 Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive
– 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2133 MHz
– Cooler Master Stracker 830 Nvidia Edition
– 1000W SeaSonic Platinum Power Supply
– Samsung Blu-ray Optical Drive
– Nvidia GTX 690 board and Asus GTX 680

To tell you the truth I was really surprised how cool and silent the card remains even under a decent load, of course pushing both GPUs to the limit will make the cooling fan rotate faster and the card will become noisier, but still it is surprisingly silent for a dual-GPU solution. Based on my experience with GTX 590 and older dual-GPU video cards from Nvidia I expected that a water cooling solution for the GeForce GTX 690 would be a good idea, but it seems that this time Nvidia has done a really good job not only with the card itself, but with the stock cooling as well. Of course if you already have a good water cooling system it makes perfect sense to add a full cover water cooling block to the GTX 690 as well should you decide to upgrade to it (I’m seriously considering such an alternative should I decie to replace my two GTX 580s running in SLI).

The GeForce GTX 690, much like the single GPU vesrions based on the new Kepler architecture also supports simultaneous control of 4 independent displays in total and of course can work with a 3D Vision Surround setup along with a 4th accessory display. Now, while I would not recommend going for a single GTX 670 or GTX 680 for a 3D Vision Surround setup, going for a single GTX 690 video card is actually a good solution. In terms of performance a single GTX 690 video card should offer just slightly slower performance compared to two GTX 680’s in SLI, this however does not necessarily mean that a GTX 690 will be as twice as fast in terms of performance compared to a single GTX 680 due to the way that SLI works. So when looking at the results from the benchmarks below don’t be surprised when you see that the performance you get from a single GTX 680 is not half the one achieved by GTX 690 in stereoscopic 3D mode.

Now, my idea with this test was to put the GeForce GTX 690 under some heavy load with some of the more recent and at the same time most demanding games in terms of performance. Furthermore I’ve really pushed the games to the maximum detail levels including of course the use of AA filtering, so don’t be surprised by the results achieved by the GTX 680 in stereo 3D mode in some situations where the framerate drops around 30 fps. You can say that going for such settings in some of the games is a bit overkill, especially when going to play them in stereoscopic 3D mode as well, but hey, when you go and buy the GeForce GTX 690 something that you’d expect is to be able to really push everything to the max in the games you play even in stereoscopic 3D mode and still get playable framerates.

All of the games used for the test were ran in 1920×1080 resolution with the maximum detail level possible from the game options with the exception of some extreme things. For example Crysis 2 running at Hardcore, though it is definitely not the most demanding game even in stereo 3D mode due to the way that the rendering has been implemented natively in the game’s engine. With Batman for example all the DX11 extras were enabled and everything was se to max level, the FXAA was set to High as well as the PhysiX also set to High and this is probably the reason that the framerates are not that high. Battlefield 3 running at Ultra with 4x MSAA, Max Payne 3 running at Very High with FXAA set to Very High as well, Skyrim running at Ultra settings with 8xAA, and the Witcher 2 also running at max settings with AA and the only thing disabled was the UberSampling that really kills the performance even on really high spec systems. From the results in the table you can see that the GTX 680 has some trouble offering really high fps on all other games besides Crysis 2 with the settings pushed really high, but the GTX 690 has no trouble with only Batman Arkham City struggling a bit. Have in mind though that the number of fps you see listed in stereo 3D mode is the number of frames you get per eye, so the GPU actually renders twice that number of frames in order for the user to actually see the 3D effect.

Besides measuring the performance in the form of FPS I also did measure the GPU load for both graphics processors in the GeForce GTX 690 in order to see how well does the SLI technology scale as well as if the games I used to test can really fully utilize the monster performance that the GTX 690 offers. I did measure the GPU load for both graphics cores (the value is in percent) for both 2D and stereoscopic 3D mode due to the fact that when in S3D mode you get the VSync forced to on and you are essentially limited to 60 fps (per eye), while in 2D mode you can disable the VSync and easily go over 120 fps. Now, thanks to some of the new features introduced in the Kepler-based graphics chips actually using VSync may not be a bad idea, especially on 120Hz 3D-capable displays (regardless if they are used in 2D or stereo 3D mode). I’m talking about the GPU Boost functionality that allows you to push the card a bit in order to squeeze some additional performance when you need it, but also to save on power and keep the card cooler and silent when you achieve the desired framerate without having the card loaded to the maximum it can handle. So if you want to hear the cooling fan of the GTX 690 running at maximum you may run Max Payne 3 in 2D mode with VSync off, but as I’ve said already even then the noise coming from the card is totally acceptable.

As a conclusion I can say that the GeForce GTX 690 was really a pleasant surprise for me for the short time I’ve had to play with the card – it works really well and offers great performance. But even the GTX 690 can be pushed to its limits if you play with the settings of some really demanding games, of course when talking about playing them in stereoscopic 3D mode and that goes for a single Full HD 3D Vision-ready monitor. That does not mean a 3D Vision Surround setup with GTX 690 is not a good choice, you’ll just have to stay at a more reasonable settings and not try pushing things that may improve the visual image quality just a tiny bit, but you’ll hardly be able to notice it while playing the game normally anyway. I would of course need to do some GTX 690 testing with a 3D Vision Surround setup at a later time as I haven’t tested a multi-monitor 3D setup for a while now. Anyway, the GeForce GTX 690 is now here, so we just need some new good stereoscopic 3D-ready game titles to come out to play on it…

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