NVIDIA GTX 275 Reviewccokeman - April 2, 2009
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Just because you put that shiny new GTX 275 into your computer does not mean that it will work as intended. For that to happen you need to install the drivers to make it work correctly. To do this insert the supplied driver disc, or better yet, go on over to nVidia's website to download the latest drivers for your specific operating system and hardware. Start the install by chosing the autorun feature if using the disc or double clicking the file you downloaded from nVidia and it will run. Make the choices that are applicable and then click finish and you will need to restart the computer to finish the installation process.
Once the drivers are installed you have access to the nVidia control panel. Here is where you can adjust the performance and visual quality settings to the level you like. The first tab is labeled "3D Settings." The first section "Adjust image settings with Preview" offers pretty granular adjustments for performance vs quality. The second section allows for fine adjustments by and adjusting by application. A new feature in this section is Ambient Occlusion. This feature is added with the 185 series drivers. What this feature does is simulate shadows where ambient lighting should be blocked by an object. Something as simple as a pay phone on a wall will have its shadow cast on the wall when rendered with this option enabled. You can see examples of this in use on the Extras page. The last part of this section is the option to enable or disable PhysX.
The second section is strictly about managing the display. Setting the resolution, flat panel scaling, custom resolutions and managing the color profiles are all done here.
Last in line on this installation is the video and television settings. If you had the Geforce 3D Vision installed on your system this option would be available to you.
There are a few technologies that can be used with nVidia graphics cards to take advantage of the massive performance potential designed into the company's cards. First off there is CUDA, a programming language that takes advantage of the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU. There are already many applications that take advantage of this technology. Badaboom from Elemental Technologies uses the technology to reduce the time it takes to convert media files between different formats. There is Arcsoft's Total Media Theatre that uses CUDA technology to upscale video to HD levels by leveraging the performance of the GPU to increase the frame rate to a steady 30 plus FPS. When run in the compare mode, CPU usage peaks in the high 80+ percent range and offers reduced performance. When using CUDA technology to get the GPU to do the work, the CPU load drops to the 2 to 3% range, resulting in far superior performance.
One of the other application that uses the technology is one that is near and dear to our hearts, Folding@Home. What this program does is use the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU to simulate protein "folding." What is this, you ask? Well, when proteins don't fold correctly the result is some really heinous diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, BSE (Mad Cow), and Cystic Fibrosis. By simulating how chains of amino acids fold or misfold, researchers hope to find cures for these diseases and more. You can find more information here. If you decide to join the ranks of the people looking for a cure, make sure you select team 12772.
One enhancement that nVidia has had success with is PhysX technology. This technology is used to enable a more realistic gaming experience. Glass that shatters and stays in the environment instead of just fading away into the floor, curtains and cloth that move realistically and react to impacts and the wind, realistic smoke and bullet fragments and ricochets that do more than just flash on a wall. All of these things are visual enhancements that PhysX acceleration brings to the table. As of the end of 2008, there were three major game manufacturers commited to developing games using PhysX technology. These manufacturers are Take Two Interactive, Electronic Arts and THQ. One PhysX heavy title already out is Mirror's Edge