GeForce 3D Vision: Gaming Goes Stereo

Conclusion

Talk about a blast from the past with a 2009 twist. Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision kit addresses a number of the issues that plagued active stereoscopic solutions a decade ago. Setup, to begin with, is much less complex. You install the software, connect the hardware, and it’s on, with only one setting—depth—to tweak. Performance is much less of an issue now. Back then, it was all about 800x600 and 16-bit color to help boost performance a little bit. Now graphics processors are capable enough to push 1680x1050 with the settings ratcheted up and still maintain reasonable levels of performance. Finally, the fact that you can get 40 hours of wireless connectivity per charge makes the glasses far less cumbersome than the active solutions of old.

But the GeForce 3D Vision also isn’t part of a bundle deal. And you can’t use it with your CRT that just so happens to support 100 or 120 Hz refresh rates. The active shades come with a $199 entrance fee. We can guarantee you don't have the necessary monitor technology yet (as of January 2009, that is), either. And that will cost you another $399. Already you're at $600 bucks just to get in the door, assuming your PC has ample GPU muscle to drive the whole setup.  

To top it off, AMD has its own stereoscopic response in the works—although it’ll also need a $399 monitor and may siphon off more performance than what we’ve seen here as software support is added to the Catalyst Control Center. We’re not fans of iZ3D’s lack of CrossFire/SLI support or the fact that its monitor eats two DVI inputs. AMD has some catching up to do, given the clean integration of 3D Vision control in Nvidia's driver.

GeForce 3D Vision reminds us a lot of 64-bit processing, multi-core CPUs, and hardware-accelerated transform and lighting (T&L). It’s a product based on technology with the potential to completely change the way you do something—in this case, game. However, the caveats shouldn’t be ignored. The cost of entry is high, enabling the functionality often means turning off other quality-enhancing features, and you’ll need a fairly potent graphics subsystem in order to really enjoy it.

This next line is going to be flame bait, but the ace up Nvidia’s sleeve has to be its The Way It's Meant To Be Played (TWIMTBP) program. TWIMTBP might just give the hardware vendor enough sway on the software side to not only make sure upcoming titles are wholly compatible with GeForce 3D Vision, but that they also include additional features, such as content able to pop up through the latest 120 Hz screens. GeForce 3D Vision cannot truly succeed without some sort of embrace from game developers, and that's what we imagine Nvidia is working on right now. Until that happens, we’d be inclined to let the prices on those brand-new monitors and glasses come down a bit. The technology is remarkably novel—there’s just so much else you can do with $600 right now.

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  • gmt325gh
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :P
    11
  • Other Comments
  • TheGreatGrapeApe
    Interesting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.

    nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so.

    Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.

    I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma... ;)
    2
  • gmt325gh
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :P
    11
  • Anonymous
    Nice article, but you're forgetting about something...Pc's are not only used for gaming, and if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect. Also...besides providing their own hardware and a new Vista compatible driver, what did NVidia came up with that surpasses all the other 3D shutter glasses on the market(eDymensional..etc.), giving to account that all the titles you tested work with/the same(look,FPS etc.)with any stereoscopic glasses?
    -3
  • cangelini
    TheGreatGrapeApeInteresting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so. Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma...


    Grape,

    It's coming. I sent all of the hardware to Thomas, who has a second GTX 295, which means we'll be able to deliver benchmarks of two 295s versus a pair of X2s and so on down the line. I'm over at CES, so all of this had to be finished up before the show. Should be worth the wait. I'm looking forward to see what four-digits worth of graphics horsepower is capable of, to be sure.

    I had the chance to check out Nvidia's competition tonight at the show and am currently working on a news story about it. Not. Impressed.
    1
  • enewmen
    This brings be back to the Asus V6600 GeForce Deluxe card I got in 1999. At that time, the 'Dagoth More Zoological Gardens' with the VR-Glasses was the most awesome sight I've ever seen on a PC. This worked with Ultima9 as well as a nice surpirse :)

    I'm surprised I havin't seen (mainstream) 3-D displays without glasses yet. I've seen some samples of this in the past with small screens.
    2
  • cangelini
    Totally remember that myself. That was actually one of the first video cards I ever reviewed =)
    0
  • Anonymous
    This reminds me that Sony showed a stereo version of Gran Turismo 5 running on a PS3 AND that the RSX is a NVidian board...
    2
  • Anonymous
    LCD shutter glasses again??? Really? Yawn. Where are the glasses that beam images directly onto my retinas or even a set of lcd glasses that are actually 2 tiny HD monitors but still light enough to wear comfortably...
    -4
  • Fadamor
    I need to point out an apparent error in nVidia's statement regarding TV's... I purchased a Samsung 40" LCD TV (Model number LN40A650) just prior to the holidays that has 120 Hz HDMI ports (4 of them) AND has 120 Hz refresh rate. So there ARE large screens out there that should be able to support the 3D technology.
    0
  • GlItCh017
    gmt325ghnice... just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!!


    I would guess that it fits over glasses.
    3
  • hixbot
    120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.
    The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.
    0
  • bounty
    Does it work with other 3d capable apps. Scientific stuff, 3d desktop, media player visualizations/screensavers etc?
    0
  • roofus
    Wow it's been a while since I have seen Elsa mentioned. They made some really good video cards back in the day.
    1
  • coldmast
    so what, Tom's is telling me I need 2X 295 and then everything is good right?

    darn! I think I'll have to stick to a red-blue and rad racer
    -2
  • Fadamor
    hixbot120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.

    So you're saying the problem is based on the fact that the display is an LCD display? Then why were two LCD monitors listed as compatible?

    The TV I purchased lists a 4ms response time for the pixels. That translates to approximately a 250 Hz refresh rate. The requirement for these glasses is 120 Hz which means it is less than half of the TV's rated capability. Are you SURE it's not going to work?
    1
  • hannibal
    It's god to know that if I ever have enough money I can get something guite interesting to my desktop! Even if this will be a niche solution for some time, at least it's nice to know that there is something that you can put your sli cards really to do something usefull. But I really hope that even this feature should be "open" standard to all GPU makers...
    0
  • zodiacfml
    looking from nvidia's perspective, this feature must work really good in order to sell more GPUs since this obviously requires SLI more than crysis.
    I wonder how amd's stereo solution will work, probably performs almost the same but cheaper. :)
    -1
  • Pei-chen
    k_meleon1982....if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect.

    3D is the next big thing in movies after digital projection and HD. Check out Wikipedia's list of future releases in 3D for more info.


    Go see Bolt in Disney Digital 3-D
    0
  • Balshoy
    "and you’ll need a fairly potent graphics subsystem in order to really enjoy it. "

    You people always complain about performance issues... well gotta tell you that things aren't so black and white... well not so black anyway :P
    I have a HD4870 video card, a phenom 9950 processor and 5 GB RAM @ 667Mhz... and I can play Crysis with all the settings turned to VERY high at a 1680x1050 resolution with a playable frame rate. So what I'm trying to say is that with a fairly standard gaming rig you can play the latest games with all the settings turned on/set to very high... just imagine what you can do with just a little more (a 4870x2 instead of the simple 4870... or a tad more ram)
    -2
  • knickle
    I used a pair of shutter glasses a long long time ago. They were pretty cool, but far from perfect. One of the issues I experienced was ghosting (a faint image of what the opposite eye was seeing). This was on a CRT. I would expect such an affect to be more apparent on an LCD.

    So my question to the author is, was there any noticeable (or negligible) ghosting during your tests?
    1