NVIDIA 3D VISION SURROUND Experience

Many have waited for NVIDIA's 3D VISION SURROUND Technology with bated breath. The wait is over and NVIDIA can now give its GPU owners a 3x1 multi-display gaming experience; and in 3D too! Does NVIDIA's implementation live up to the expectations of those that have been using competitive technology for eight months?

Introduction

The wait for many of you is finally over. If you have been anticipating using those shiny new GTX 400 series cards, or even those aging GTX 200 cards for multi-display or multi-display 3D gaming, you are finally in luck! Today NVIDIA is releasing its BETA NV Vision Surround driver to the masses.

THE EVOLUTION OF MULTI-DISPLAY GAMING POWERED BY GEFORCEآ® GTX 400 SERIES GPUS

Imagine expanding your gaming real estate across three monitors in Full HD 3D for a completely immersive gaming experience. With the introduction of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 400 GPUs, you can pair NVIDIA Surround Technology with NVIDIA 3D Vision to get the world’s first multi-display 3D gaming experience on your PC.

We can beat up NVIDIA all day long about it being late to the multi-display gaming party, but we already know that so there is no reason to harp on it. What I can say is that we are thankful that NVIDIA was focused firmly on getting a quality product out the door instead of making all the critics happy by meeting its self-imposed delivery date in April. I have had a lot of experience with multi-display gaming since AMD released its Eyefinity Technology last year. Multi-display gaming kicks ass; I absolutely love it! I am tremendously excited to see NVIDIA enter the fray with its product. From my short time spent with NVIDIA's new 3D Vision Surround BETA driver, it looks to be a very polished piece of software. The driver does not give me that "rushed-to-market" feel at all. There is a great joke there, but let's stay focused.

The WHQL driver is slated for official release on 7/12/2010.

For those of you that live and die by the frame rate, this article will lightly discuss performance, but we are wanting to focus on the NV Vision Surround experience. Sure the gaming experience hinges on framerate, and we will making references to performance, but without the charts and graphs. Brent will be taking the lead with our 120Hz panels next, cobbling together an in-depth performance article with all the real world comparison data points you could want.

About NVIDIA Surround

As many of you expect, I am happiest about NV Surround. When comparing to AMD's Eyefinity, there is some good, and there is some bad. While targeting the same end result, higher resolution gaming across three displays primarily, the technologies are two different animals. But once it is working, you would be hard pressed to pick one out in a "Pepsi Challenge." Unless of course you could see the back of the box the cables were snaking out of.

NV Surround does not require the new GTX 400 generation of GPUs. Those of you with SLI GTX 200 series cards will be able to move into the multi-display gaming arena with two year old technology! You can put SLI GTX 480 / 470 /465 / 285 / 280 / 275 / 260 cards to work for you. This may make your upgrade path easier, depending of course on how many pixels you are planning on pushing. We have not tested older cards at this time, sorry. I am sure we will be posting links today in the news to some sites that have though, so check to see what information Steve has got or in the HardForum.

NV Surround requires two way SLI. No way around it. NVIDIA's current 400 and 200 series GPUs cannot support more than two displays on a single GPU, hence the need for SLI. You have to have at least two GPUs to support three displays. I would suggest we will one day see a dual GPU video card with support for NV Surround, but as of writing this, I have no idea when. GTX 400 thermals are going to stand in the way of that for a while. NVIDIA 3-Way SLI and NVIDIA Quad SLI are both supported in NV Surround and NV Vision Surround modes in this BETA driver with GTX 400 series cards; GTX 200 do not support 3-Way or Quad SLI in this BETA or first WHQL release, but seems like it will be added eventually. Also a note for you GTX 295 owners.

There are two versions of the GeForce GTX 295 card. One card version has two DVI and one HDMI connectors, the other version has two DVI connectors. The card with DVI and one HDMI does work in 3D Vision Surround but only with 3D projectors. It does not work with 3D Vision-Ready LCDs since they require three dual-link DVI connectors on the GPU, which are only available when you are running SLI (two cards).

NV Surround does not require a DisplayPort adapter or DisplayPort monitor. Three "old" DVI displays will do you just fine. This is simply a great thing!

NV Surround does support a maximum of three displays and a maximum resolution in landscape mode of 7680x1600. That is three 30" displays wide. It will also support three displays in portrait mode, a favorite of mine, up to 4800x2560. Again, three 30" displays in a 3x1 configuration. All displays must have a common resolution, refresh rate, and sync polarity.

NV Surround requires either a Windows 7 32-bit or Windows 7 64-bit operating system to function. You XP and Vista users are out of luck. We are not aware of any plans to scale this technology back to either of those operating systems.