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Intel’s Z77 Express And Lucidlogix MVP: New Features For Gamers

MVP Is Much More Than Virtu

Lucidlogix Virtu software is famed for its ability to combine the performance of Intel's Quick Sync media encode/decode capabilities with a 3D-performance boosting add-in GPU. When its I-mode configuration, which saw all display output run through processor graphics to cut power consumption from the discrete GPU, resulted in small performance and game compatibility issues, the firm added D-mode to let the graphics card operate natively. And all was well in the world of gamers with a penchant for converting their favorite video files to more easily digestible sizes and formats.

MVP retains the familiar Virtu GPU-tasking capabilities, while adding a couple 3D features: Virtual Vsync to reduce screen tearing and HyperFormance to increase frame rates.

Screen tearing is a phenomenon where more than one frame is displayed within a single draw on the screen. Traditional v-sync addresses this by aligning each frame’s output to a single draw cycle, reducing the maximum frames per second to the refresh rate of the monitor (typically 60 Hz). All frames are first completed by the GPU, and those that aren’t synchronous to the display refresh are removed from the output after completion. A frame must be displayed multiple times whenever the GPU’s output capability drops below 60 FPS, resulting in stuttering.

Virtual Vsync attempts to accomplish a similar task without the 60 FPS cap by analyzing rendering time, then instructing the GPU not to start the process on frames that might be later dropped. Preemptive frame elimination reassigns the rendering time that would have been spent on a dropped frame to the next frame, theoretically reducing stuttering. Yet, because this isn’t actual v-sync, it’s still possible to send two frames in a single refresh cycle, and the monitor only displays the first, resulting in an image that appears synced at 60 FPS, even though an app like Fraps will report performance greater than 60 FPS. In fact, this is the test scenario Lucidlogix prefers, reminding us that games that run slower than 60 FPS won't see any benefit from Virtual Vsync.

HyperFormance goes a little further than Virtual Vsync by attempting to preemptively remove any frames that wouldn’t be finished before the next frame is scheduled, again reassigning that rendering time to the next frame. Ideally, average FPS should be increased since partial frames don't tie up rendering resources. The only potential problem with this technology is game compatibility.

While the majority of games are HyperFormance-capable, a few notable exceptions include Battlefield 3 and Metro 2033. HyperFormance can still be enabled in those unvalidated titles by checking the “H” column box next to the game in Virtu MVP Control Panel.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.