The Hard NumbersI promised our loyal readers that although benchmarks are not nearly as important for this type of review, I would include a few sets of them. To be fair, performance CAN still be an issue since the GPU is now effectively being asked to render twice as many frames (at least 60 per eye) and has the additional software overhead of going through the 3D software, etc.
For these tests I ran the system under three different scenarios: 1.) 3D Vision enabled, 2.) 3D Vision disabled with Vsync enabled and 3.) 3D Vision disabled with Vsync disabled. Vsync is important because while many gamers today do NOT use it in order to get the highest possible frame rates, it is a REQUIREMENT of the 3D Vision technology in order for it to work correctly. The frame times must be perfectly synchronized with the active shutter glasses and so that aspect of the display needs to be controlled. Line-tearing on the screen (typical with vsync-disabled gaming) would be a disaster for 3D stereo effects.
Also, because the resolution on the 22-in LCD monitor was 1680×1050, that was the top setting we could use in our tests at.
Let’s see the results:
With Vsync enabled and 3D stereo mode enabled, the effect maximum refresh rate of our display is 60 Hz and thus the frame rates on all games with 3D enabled are 62 FPS or so. When 3D is disabled on the monitor, the maximum refresh rate is 120 Hz allowing a vsync-enabled system to bump up to a frame rate as high as 120 FPS while a vsync-disabled system should be able to scale to as high a frame rate as possible. Obviously there was a slight issue with Far Cry 2 where even with vsync enabled in the game and control panel it refused to sync with the monitor when the 3D mode was disabled.
With 3D Vision enabled, Call of Duty 4 showed a performance level that is just under half of the scores brought in by the non-3D system with vsync enabled. While that alone is not problematic, the minimum frame rate of 13 FPS is a bit of a concern though I must admit that while playing the game it never really appeared to “bog down” that slowly.
Far Cry 2’s performance results were pretty similar and we see that the 3D Vision enabled system is definitely running slower overall than either of the two 3D disabled configurations.
Left 4 Dead performance also proved to be nearly exactly cut in half when running in 3D mode though with a title like this, the GTX 280 is able to push nearly 60 FPS average even at half speed.
My final thoughts on the performance aspect of the GeForce 3D Vision technology is that the improved gaming experience itself is able to override modest degradation in frame rates. Now this can only take you so far; if for example you were used to playing Crysis at 1280×800 at were only getting 35 FPS on average in your system then you will definitely have to compromise on quality (either in-game settings or resolution) in order to match that same level when using 3D Vision. On the flip side, moving from 90 FPS to 45 FPS won’t be a show stopper.
On the bright side, this does give NVIDIA another way to sell super fast graphics cards like the new GeForce GTX 295. Hmmm…