So it makes a lot of sense that rendering two separate and different images frame by frame for 3D stereo gaming will have an intricate and big effect on game rendering performance. As such we'll look at what kind of performance hit we see with a fairly mid-range graphics card.
I opted to test not with a GeForce GTX 295 or anything, as NVIDIA states that you can use a GeForce 9600 GT, which I'm afraid is a joke unless you stick to 800x600 or something low, or gaming wise something really old.
You already have been able to read that we recommend a GeForce GTX 260 or faster graphics card if you decide to take the 3D stereo route. But to prove a point we took the familiar GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. It pretty much offers the same performance level as the GeForce GTS 250 or GeForce 9800 GT series. Polls shows that most of you guys have a card of this caliber. Also we really wanted to test on a fairly normal system.
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
2GB memory @ 800 MHz CAS6
GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
Windows Vista 64-bit
Let's have a look at a couple of games and the performance hit they take with 3D stereo enabled in combo with the 120 Hz Samsung LCD monitor.
Call of Duty 4
Call of Duty 4 is a spectacular title to play in 3D. The good thing is that the game rendering engine is awesome and even the cheaper cards can be used to play the game really well. However as you can see, COD4 takes a serious and massive performance impact and your game rendering performance is roughly cut in half.
Now in all fairness we do use the highest image quality settings and have 4x AA enabled here. Play around with image quality, and you can easily boost your framerate. But the tests on this page are to show what the performance hit roughly is, aka half or a third of a loss in performance. This works out the same for all graphics adapters.
Mind you that this test was conducted in the Ghillie suit level, one of the most difficult to render scenes on the game. Still the performance hit is there, and as such this is why I recommend a faster GeForce graphics card with a GT200 series GPU you can find on the GeForce GTX 260, 275, 285 and 295.
Without a doubt GeForce 3D Vision is good for NVIDIA's business model, as it will create a need for faster graphics cards.
In HAWX we enable DX10 mode with 4x AA, with a mid-range card you might want to select DX9 here, as that probably works a little faster. Well, that or get a faster graphics card really. Again we see a performance hit once we enable 3D stereo, it's not as bad as COD4 though. We see a performance hit of roughly a third, which I consider to be rather good.
World in Conflict: Soviet Assault
I decided to raise World in Conflict from it's ashes again, the recent update and the sheer fact that the game is an awesome 3D stereo title made me want to do that. Now we used the internal benchmark for this title and... it's not representative for in-game performance, as the frame rate would be higher for sure. However it's a good tool to measure the effect of 3D stereo enabled and disabled. As you can see we again drop roughly a third on overall performance.
While that is a lot, I expected it to be much worse really. But I think I made my point clear though, if you like to play your games in 3D stereo with normal image quality settings and then some Anti-aliasing enabled, your graphics card needs to be found in the high-end segment.
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