Lucid Virtu MVP while being an exciting technology is not one without its flaws at the moment. We are finding that the cons are outweighing the pros at the moment and let me cover them. The thing we love is the added performance, some of the gains you see are simply amazing considering nothing is being overclocked. To see gains of 50% at a click of a button or two is really quite amazing.
Let's cover the issues we have with the technology in this early stage of Virtu MVP's life. The first is that when we really need the extra FPS in certain areas, not only do we not see it, but we're seeing a negative impact in performance in some cases. As always we aim for that 60 FPS mark and under Mafia II for example, we see our 74 FPS average move to 101 FPS at 1680 x 1050. This is great, but I'd say we're already at a playable level with a strong 14 FPS over that 60 FPS average being seen. At 2560 x 1600, though, we move from 47 FPS, a number we consider unplayable, to 37 FPS, not only still an unplayable number, but a lower number! It's not just Mafia II either; in our small sample pool here you can see that when we need the extra FPS in important areas, we don't get it.
Another issue is that I've never had to reboot my system more times for testing than I have in the two days it took to test this. It's reminiscent a bit like in the early days of SLI and CrossFire and their profiles. It just feels like it's not all there yet.
The other thing is during Metro 2033 when we ran our benchmark we got weird graphics corruption that was only seen when HyperFormance was set to on. You can see it below.
You'll have to excuse the image quality; it was taken in haste with my iPhone when I saw it pop up on the screen. It helps give you an idea of what was going on with it. There wasn't really anything else that stood out as clear as this in our other tests, but I really felt like the shadows in Mafia II were acting a little weird, too.
The other issue is that of course the applications list doesn't have all the games you might be playing. Sometimes when we'd try to add an ".exe" as well, the software would crash out.
Something else that I need to mention is that we haven't contacted Lucid about these issues because we know that the back and forth nature of the conversation would drag this article out. The simple fact is that the technology worked so we knew that there wasn't really anything "wrong" with it or our setup. I know that over the coming days, though, we're going to hear from not only Lucid, but some motherboard partners as well.
When we first had a chance to look at the technology we were shown the Street Fighter IV benchmark. Not only is it a little old, but it's not very taxing on your system. I remember walking out and turning to Cameron saying, "that's great, but what about a game which actually needs the extra FPS". When moving from 250 FPS to 350 FPS, while sounding impressive, is ultimately useless and a waste of time, as to begin with, the game was already perfectly playable.
What I thought would happen with the technology then was proven today. When we need the gains, we just don't get them. Unfortunately at the moment we're getting a bit of a negative effect. It seems that "HyperFormance" helps remove stuff like your CPU bottleneck. The issue is, at 2560 x 1600 under really intensive games, there is no CPU bottleneck - it's all a VGA bottleneck.
Under something like 3DMark 11 and Unigine Heaven the performance increase is cool, but at the moment it seems that HWBot, the standard for record keeping when it comes to benchmarking, is choosing not to embrace Virtu MVP. While it also seems that Futuremark is choosing to embrace it, we'll probably head down a path of when Futuremark chose to embrace PhysX. We'll end up testing with the technology switched off to make for an even playing field.
Rumor has it that NVIDIA are also going to put a stop to the technology being able to work in future driver releases. The thing is, based on 3DMark 11 scores, you could see how all of a sudden cheaper and last generation video cards could make new more expensive cards seem like a waste of money. If you really examine it, though, there's more to it, in the times we need the extra performance, it just doesn't exist. The problem is, any half decent marketing company can run with certain numbers and make the technology sound amazing. Going from 100 FPS to 150 FPS, though, doesn't help gamers. It does sound impressive, though, and that can be an issue for both AMD and NVIDIA.
Virtu MVP and HyperFormance is both interesting and quite spectacular. It's not there yet, and I'm not sure how it will go in the long run. It seems Lucid have got a step in the right direction when it comes to motherboard partners, but they need software partners as well, and I'm not sure how they're going to do in that department.
Of course the Virtual Vsync technology is great where we can see more than 60 FPS on a 60Hz monitor without any tearing. It's not the stand out feature to Virtu MVP, though. The coming six to nine months will be interesting as we see the technology mature and move forward. We have all intensions of keeping an eye on it and will keep you updated with what's going on. For now, though, we're excited about Virtu MVP in one sense, but not all that interested in making use of it at the end of the day, at its current maturity.
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