Blu-ray 3D On The PC: The Tom's Hardware Review

Test Systems And Benchmarks

We were sent two very different test platforms for our exploration of Blu-ray 3D: a laptop and a home-theater PC. Let's start with the laptop:

The laptop appears to be a variant of Asus' G51J-3D. It employs an Intel Core i7-720QM processor and 8GB of RAM, and sports a GeForce GTS 360M with 1GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory for graphics. The 15.6" display isn't full 1080p HD, but instead features a 1366x768 native resolution, which is a little better than 720p. Regardless, it provides a great picture and fantastic 3D effects for a portable PC. Rumor has it that the final model will feature Blu-ray 3D compatibility from the factory, in addition to an integrated 3D Vision IR emitter.

The home-theater PC is a custom-built Maingear system intended for demonstrating Blu-ray 3D and 3D Vision. The platform is decidedly entry-level, as far as processing and graphics muscle are concerned. Maingear goes the quiet, energy-efficient route with a dual-core Pentium G6950 and GeForce GT 240 GPU. Of course, the GT 240 is the least-expensive and least-powerful graphics card on Nvidia's list of desktop GPUs that support Blu-ray 3D playback. Because we're interested in this GPU's fixed-function video decode logic, however, it's on equal footing with the higher-end GeForce GTX 480 and 470 graphics cards.

The display is an Acer GD235HZ, a 3D Vision-ready 23.6" LCD monitor with a native 1920x1080 resolution and an HDCP-compliant DVI input. This monitor can be found for about $380 online.

The Blu-ray 3D disc we use for testing is one of the only discs available for the budding new format: Monsters vs Aliens 3D. It is not a bad flick, with lots of laughs for the adults as well as the kids. Seth Rogen rocks.

For our objective testing, we ran Blu-ray 3D on our own test systems:

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Header Cell - Column 0 Athlon II Test SystemCore i7 Test System
CPUAMD Athlon II X3 440 (Deneb) 3.0 GHz, FSB-200 MHz(forth core unlocked for some tests)Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem)2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8MB Cache
MotherboardGigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P BIOS F7, AMD 790XASRock X58 SuperComputer Intel X58, BIOS P1.90
NetworkingOnboard Gigabit LAN controllerOnboard Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryMushkin PC3-10700 4GB Dual-Channel 2 x 2,048MB,DDR3-1340, CL 9-9-9-24-1TKingston PC3-10700 3GB Triple-Channel 3 x 1,024MB,DDR3-1066, CL 8-8-8-19-1T
GraphicsZotac GeForce GT 240600 MHz GPU, 1460 MHz shaders, 1GB GDDR5 RAM at 1,000 MHzAsus GeForce ENGTX260 Matrix576 MHz GPU, 1242 MHz shaders, 896MB GDDR3 RAM at 999 MHz*all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA500GB, 7,200 RPM, 8MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s
PowerThermaltake Toughpower 1,200W1,200W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 10
Graphics DriversNvidia GeForce 257.01
  • Annisman
    The big issue I have with Blu-Ray on the PC is this: There is no free, or reasonably priced software to play Blu-Ray disks. I was pretty much forced to purchase Power DVD 10 Ultra for 110$, as there is no other application that I have found to watch Blu-Ray with. Of course you can 'screw the man' and go pirate Power DVD, but that's probably the main reason I have to shell out over a hundred bucks for the software in the first place. We need an integrated software solution for BD as it is becoming more mainstream. What happened to Blu-Ray playback being included with WMP for Windows 7 ? VLC doesn't even have a solution, what is the reason we don't have 3rd party BD software yet ? Until that is addressed, I can't see Blu-Ray on the PC being viable.
  • joytech22
    I gotta say i own Nvidia's 3D vision kit + a BD drive + a GTX470 and i just cant wait until the 3D Blu-Ray's are released but first i need to replace my Samsung 2233RZ since the top 15-20% is no longer in 3D.

    So far i have had a Very positive experience with Nvidia's solution!
  • ajy0903
    And also we need to have bigger 3D monitor for PC then what they have currently!!!!!!!!!
  • jrazor247
    seems most 3d movies are cg currently. probably the entire tool chain to edit and post process digital film has to be upgraded. adding stereoscopic cameras to production is probably the easiest. in a computer generated movie, all the processing can be converted to 3d almost natively in the rendering software. I went to a see the 3d vision setup at a blockbuster near my house. it showed games and animated movies in 3d. the real wow effect came watching footage of people skydiving in 3d. once 3d video production ramps up, its here to stay. i would be addicted to watching sports and performances in 3d. the next road block would be distribution, as the cable and sat providers would have to double bandwidth - artifacts from over compression would def ruin 3d.
  • johnb4467
    If the hardware settles 7 stabilizes, this is something I would be interested in, whether it's for the PC or the upcoming PS3 firmware update.
    I do agree, however, that there needs to be more built-in support for software. I'm sure that will find its way into apps such as XBMC and Plex eventually.
    This is going to be hardest for consumers to adopt who have sunk a lot of money into existing HDTV's...especially ones who 'claimed' 120hz refresh rates -- but won't work with 3D. My own TV is a low-end Westinghouse 1080p, so down the road I wouldn't mind upgrading...if the material and quality is there!
    FYI: I had older shutter glasses on my old PC & CRT display -- with a fast enough refresh headaches; it's really not an issue (current demos have confirmed this).
  • toxxel
    I wear glasses already, wearing another pair of glasses over my own is an annoyance. I've never really been a fan of 3D since my eyesight mostly keeps me from seeing anything 3D. I can see nearly perfect out of one eye but the other is another story. My first experience of a 3D polarized movie was Avatar. What I saw didn't impress, blurriness, strange effects from pronounced objects on the screen, felt distracted and ruined many scenes. I understand it's my eyesight that caused problems but I feel 3D won't become main stream simply because of the glasses, but if it were to I'd feel completely alienated seeing I don't have the same experience.
  • gti88
    Unfortunately, I don't expect the 3d to come to Formula 1 soon. At least, until Ecclestone is no longer in charge.
  • jsm6746
    this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday... i must say i found his article much more informative... the benchmarks were all that was needed in this... the opinion piece was unnecessary... O_o,2632.html
  • cleeve
    jsm6746this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday...
    I disagree with you there. Tom's article is a great Blu-ray 3D white paper, but it's not a Blu-ray 3D review. We did have to duplicate some of the information briefly so this article could stand on its own, but the focus of either article is quite different.
  • cknobman
    3d at home can suck it.

    New tv's, special glasses, limited viewing angles, new media, new monitors, special software to play them, new blue ray players, etc.., etc...

    Not to mention the general discomfort associated with having to watch things in 3d, the fact that 3d is NOT suitable for all situations, many people in the general public have an impairment that wont allow them to enjoy 3d, etc.., etc...

    Let this fad fade away and quickly!!! Im not reinvesting thousands and thousands of dollars into this new marketing gimmick. Its another way for the entertainment industry to make even more money off us. Now the push it to make all movies 3d and charge a mandatory 15-20 bucks per ticket to see it.

    Its just sad there is such a large portion of the population that mindlessly follows anything presented to them and like zombies will pay what they are told without regard to the cost/benefit ratio.