Nvidia Geforce 3D Vision Review

ccokeman - 2008-05-10 19:06:26 in Gaming
Category: Gaming
Reviewed by: ccokeman      
Reviewed on: January 8, 2009
Price: $199

Introduction:

How many of you are old enough to remember going to the movies on Saturday afternoon or the drive in on Saturday night to watch the latest 3D movie? The usher would give you the 3D glasses that consisted of a paper frame with one red and one blue lens that barely hung onto your face. Then you would get to watch the movie and be less than satisfied with the technology that was being employed to create the effect. I know I'm old enough to remember those times and have been patiently waiting for the technology to actually catch up to make 3D a thing of the present, not an unpleasant memory from the past.

Nvidia now has that technology and is bringing it to the masses with the Geforce 3D Vision system. The Geforce 3D Vision is a package that allows games as well as movies and 3D images to be viewed in full stereoscopic 3D. This should bring all of the action on your favorite PC games to life, so you are no longer just a player but feel as though you are immersed in the action. The system is not for use with just new games, as Nvidia has completed profiles for well over 350 different games so that you have no worries when it comes to the games you play. If that's the case I can't wait to see how this all plays out and whether the technology actually works.

Closer Look:

The 3D vision system comes in the traditional lime green and black themed packaging. The front panel gives a glimpse of the goggles and features a flip panel that looks much like the 3D images you can get in a Cracker Jacks box, turn the image slightly and it changes. The rear panel gives more information on the system.

 

 

 

Inside the box the the contents are divided into two smaller boxes, one for the cables and documentation and one for the hardware. The hardware is protected in foam so that the 3D Vision system will not incur any damage in shipping. The contents include the 3D goggles, IR emitter and spare nose pieces.

 

 

The contents of the package includes both the software and hardware needed to get the 3D Vision installed and operating on your choice of display panels. The hardware includes the goggles, IR emitter, 6 and 10 ft USB cables, a DVI to HDMI cable, VESA 3 pin stereo cable, cleaning cloth and pouch as well as interchangeable nose pieces.

 

 

In order to make this technology work you will need to use one of the just released 120Hz refresh rate monitors such as the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ  or Viewsonic FuHzion VX2265wm. These monitors allow a full 60Hz per eye when used with the 3D Vision system to reduce flickering and flashing and provide the best possible experience. Additional support is available for large 120Hz LCD displays and 3D projection systems .

 

 

 

Let's see what the Nvidia Geforce 3D Vision system consists of at the most basic level of the hardware.

 

Closer Look:

The hardware side of this system uses a set of stereoscopic goggles that are worn just like a regular pair of sunglasses. But these goggles are far from your ordinary set of glasses. The 3D Vision goggles use an active shutter design that provides 2x the resolution per eye and provides a wider display angle than conventional glasses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left side earpiece contains the power button and power indicator lamp. The right side has the power connection to charge the unit via a usb connection to the PC. The stated life per charge is 40 hours. On the front frame of the 3D Vision system is the IR reciever that receives commands from the emitter.

 

 

The goggles come with a total of two additional nose pieces. This allows you to adjust the comfort level when wearing the 3D Vision goggles by changing the nosepiece to fit your nose and features.

 

The IR Emitter sends the signals from the PC to the 3D Vision goggles to enable them while in game. The effective range of twenty feet should cover just about any circumstance. The Emitter is easily set up and features a built in depth of field adjustment via the dial on the back side of the emitter. The front of the emitter contains the power button while the rear contains the USB connection and depth of field adjustment dial. This adjustment is handled on per game basis by the profiles set up by Nvidia in the drivers.

 

 

The primary means of connecting the system to the PC is the USB connection on the IR Emitter. Included are 2 USB cables of 6 and 10 feet respectively. To connect to a 1080p LCD display there is a DVI to HDMI cable.

 

Closer Look:

The first thing you will want to do is to remove the current driver for your Nvidia GPU so that you can start with the driver that is delivered with the 3D Vision system. This driver contains not only the GPU driver but the driver package for the 3D Vision all in one. Nividia has built in profiles for SLI in the driver package and they have built on this capability by adding game profiles for the 3D Vision to the same driver package. This means no additional software to interface with or work through, which could cause slowdowns in gaming performance. It's all in one and configurable through the Nvidia control panel. But first you need to install the software. After allowing the disk to spin up you are greeted with an installation GUI. Using this application you will install the latest Nvidia driver , the 3D Vision software and can view a quick start guide and the users manual.

 

 

 

 

 

By choosing to install the driver the installation completes for both software requirements. Then the GUI takes you through some base configuration and setup steps that find out if the computer, as well as the end user are capable of using the 3D Vision system. The first test tests each eye to see what image you see and the second test checks the combined vision capabilities. If you as the end user cannot pass the tests the software will not let you use the 3D Vision system.

 

 

The configuration for the 3D Vision system is carried out under the Nvidia Control Panel under the Stereoscopic 3D tab. You can set Keyboard shortcuts, Game profiles and choosing a different cursor for your game. This is a useful feature when the in game cursor does not track correctly due to the 3D imaging.

 

 

The hardware installation of the Nvidia 3D Vision to your system is as simple as plugging in a 120Hz display device to a capable Nvidia video card and plugging the IR emitter into a USB port and going gaming. It really is that simple. You will want to make sure that there is line of sight availability from the emitter to the 3D Vision goggles. When powered up the goggles and emitter will glow green with the light on the glasses, then turning off after the initialization.

 

Features:

 

 

 

Information provided by Nvidia

Testing:

What better excuse do you need to spend some time gaming in front of the computer than to test out the 3D Vision system. The only way to test a product such as this is to simply dig in and play games to find out just what they have to offer in the way of immersion, as well as the performance of the system. To do just this I will play a selection of games that have had profiles predefined for them, ranging from 1 being the least immersive and 3 being the most immersive. To test out this set of games I will be using the standard Overclockersclub test rig to see just how the 3D Vision set up works.

Test setup:

 

First off there is no loading up additional software for the setup of the 3D Vision system. After the driver setup I completed the installation of the IR Emitter in less than a minute. Then I got to playing several games to see just how the experience was.

 

Call Of Duty 4:

I started out playing just my normal benchmarking run through the map and found the experience to be quite different from what I normally see. When the goggles become active they darken slightly so that the screen itself is darker (just as if the lights were turned off). Playing a couple of rounds I decided to turn the lights up in the room and the images cleared up and the 3D effect with the as delivered preset worked quite well. The image of the character played is much clearer in relation to playing without the 3D Vision goggles. Even though the game rating is a one on Nvidias scale the game was more enjoyable. I did not notice any issues with the in game cursor, which was something alluded to in some documentation.

 

Left 4 Dead:

In Left 4 Dead I played through all four of the single player missions and found that the 3D effect offered something new to the game. While it took a little while to get used to the effect it makes you feel a little closer to the action. Again the 3D Vision got you closer to a real 3D experience. This game ranks a 1 on Nvidias scale of games that in their estimation are not the best to check the system out on.

 

Dead Space:

This game rates a 3 on the scale of games that show the 3D Vision technology in the best light. As good as Left 4 Dead looked, Dead Space looks phenomenal when coupled with the 3D technology. It brought in some additional crispness to the character while allowing the background and character Isaac to separate and become more than just an image on the screen.

 

Call of Duty WaW

As enthralling as this game is when viewed in 2D mode it really comes to life for me in 3D. The flames and effects are just great. I played the pacific mission through to the Peliliu campagn and was captivated the whole way through. I found myself replaying scenes to catch something a second time.

 

Conclusion:

The Nvidia Geforce 3D Vision system is far ahead of the the old 3D technology that we all grew to know and some to love. It offers a new level of immersion to keep you interested while adding that next dimension to your gaming experience. Going through the 3D Vision setup was no more difficult than hooking up a monitor and USB cable, because out side of the software setup that is it for the hardware. The game profiles for the games tested seemed to be pretty much spot on during my testing, allowing me more time to actually get into the games rather than search for that elusive perfect setup. Now just because there is a good setup does not mean that it is the only setup. You can configure the software profile to your individual tastes and can adjust the depth of field on the fly with a dial on the back of the IR Emitter. The only issue that came to light in my testing was in Call of Duty 4 where I had a slight performance hit it seemed, like during intense firefights that did not show up in other games. Maybe the reason for Nvidia's 1 rating. Easy installation, easy configuration and some wicked 3D gameplay add up to a positive gaming experience with the Nvidia Geforce 3D Vision. I can't wait to have 6 degrees of freedom added into this concept.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: