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Nvidia 3D Vision Surround: Is This The Future Of Gaming?

Conclusion

Let’s start with what 3D Vision Surround does well. In games that are “3D Vision-ready,” the experience is as profound as going from a 2D VGA card to a 3D graphics accelerator. I BS you not. If this technology didn’t have such a steep barrier to entry in its cost, I can guarantee you’d be all over it. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Just Cause 2 are perhaps the two poster children of what 3D Vision Surround can do. They’re simply stunning. Trying to describe going from 3D gaming on a 2D screen to a three-dimensional experience is really an exercise in futility. You have to experience it. And if you have your doubts, find someone with the setup and try it yourself.

And while I might sound like a flowery fan boy after that paragraph, the technology is of course not without its faults—the most grievous of which is the fact that not all games are as well-optimized as Battlefield and Just Cause. In fact, there are six playable games listed as 3D Vision-ready on Nvidia’s site (others are either demos or not yet available). The rest have varying degrees of issues that require addressing. Sometimes that means turning off quality-oriented features. Sometimes that means putting up with an anomaly that can’t be worked around.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. requires a hefty sacrifice in the lighting dept. to get 3D Vision looking right.

Factor in the fact that 3D Vision Surround is an expensive proposition, indeed. Three monitors, some number of glasses, a pair of GeForce GTX 480s, if you’re doing this right, and maybe even a stand. That’s $2,500+ before you even start in on the rest of your machine (which had better also be beefy, by the way). No doubt that’ll be one the most significant inhibitors. Though again, this is Nvidia’s big “look at me” technology, similar to AMD’s Eyefinity 6 Edition card.

For those of you who don’t mind throwing down big bucks, 3D Vision Surround is a sight to behold in a handful of games. In others, you’ll want to run in Surround (2D) mode. As we’ve already seen from AMD’s Eyefinity capability, that’s cool technology too. It's just a shame that AMD doesn’t have anything to compete with in the realm of stereoscopic gaming. We were told to expect results back when single-screen 3D Vision launched, and have since conceded that this is a one-horse race.

At the end of the day, the conclusion I reached back in January of 2009 about 3D Vision is still eerily applicable:

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.

Hopefully Nvidia is still cranking hard on the developer support it needs to engorge that list of 3D Vision-ready titles. Those are the ones that’ll sell 3D Vision Surround. Once you sit down in front of a properly-optimized game, it’s truly hard to get back up.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • killerclick
    What are those lines between the screens? Oh yeah, it's the black plastic the monitors are made of! Three monitor gaming = FAIL.
    Reply
  • meat81
    Without sounding ignorant like killerclick, they do need to start producing mainstream monitors that have little to no bezel. If not then i might as well buy a 32-40 inch TV that does 120-240hz and go with that.
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    Hell you might as well go all out and connect 3 32 or 42 inch samsung series 6-8led tvs and tri sli or crossfire 5970's..... one would definitly need watercooling systems and core i7 6 core chips, with an ROG x58 board with ssd's max RAM, win 7 64bit, and 1000watts... this machine would then have to played in full airconditioning and with crazy sounds with some amps and extra lighting effects.....

    You would then have total fun playing games like Crysis, Resident evil, left for dead, Dirt, and Cod MW2..... one can imagine
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    all for the cost of around $7500... this would last you for about 3years of fun.... then after, youd have to get rid of it
    Reply
  • gxpbecker
    better yet, a single fold out (nearly bezel-less) display.
    As the article says, this is all nice and dandy but the costs are high, to say the least. However as time passes this technology will be more affordable for us average joes. Good too see GRFX companines are pushing new toys
    Reply
  • gxpbecker
    liquidsnake718Hell you might as well go all out and connect 3 32 or 42 inch samsung series 6-8led tvs and tri sli or crossfire 5970's..... one would definitly need watercooling systems and core i7 6 core chips, with an ROG x58 board with ssd's max RAM, win 7 64bit, and 1000watts... this machine would then have to played in full airconditioning and with crazy sounds with some amps and extra lighting effects.....You would then have total fun playing games like Crysis, Resident evil, left for dead, Dirt, and Cod MW2..... one can imagineAnd will cost as much in power to run that machine as an Air COnditioner during the Houston Summer.
    Reply
  • Onus
    The scales are way too big. Too much money, too much power needed (which means more money), and way too much physical space. Cost and power usage may come down, but space? In the mainstream, I'd sooner expect the VR headset to make a return.
    Reply
  • Reynod
    I wish I could afford all of that hardware ... alas not.

    The Samsung 120HZ 24" monitor, glasses and GTX card cost us arond $780.

    Played it for a few days and got sore eyes.

    Gave it to the kids.

    They played with the glasses for a week.

    Now the glasses are in a drawer.

    Not much more to tell really.

    The whole experience with the glasses reminded me of:

    The yoyo
    The pogo stick
    The hat with the beer cans on top of it and the tubes
    The Bling "Gaming" case with neons that I disconnected
    The Superfloppy
    The external CD Burner
    The ex-wife

    All terribly short experiences of delight (dynamic quality) followed by a feeling of bewilderment and a sense that I had been played by a consumerist market.

    C Wright Mills please save me ... from myself.

    Chris ... is there a cure ?
    Reply
  • ravnoscc
    I have a question:

    Could you explain how the bezels are compensated for in 3D Surround mode? I am trying to imagine how having 2-3 inch spaces in between each projected image would look in 3 dimensions... Having difficulty, but maybe a short explanation?
    Reply
  • theroguex
    So long as there is a bezel, there is no point to having surround in games. None at all.

    Well, racing games could get away with it.
    Reply