TweakTown strives to provide our readers with a reasonable expectation of what they can expect in terms of real-world performance in our gaming tests. Instead of testing all systems and titles at, say, 1280x768 with 4xAA and comparing framerates, we determine a particular system's maximum playable settings and report those settings along with the resultant framerates. Even though this makes direct comparison between systems a bit more difficult, we feel it best reflects how the typical gamer uses a system. Most players aren't interested in getting framerates in the 100s at 1280x768 if the title is still playable at 1680x1050.
Let's talk a little bit about 3D Stereoscopic gaming. 3D Stereoscopic gaming works by rendering two separate, slightly offset layers of the same image on a compatible monitor. With NVIDIA's system, the player wears a set of glasses that has a shutter in each lens. The shutters are synchronized with the computer via a small transmitter connected to the PC by USB. Each shutter rapidly opens and closes a set amount of times per second, allowing one layer of the rendered image to pass to one eye and then, a split-second later, allows the other layer of the image to the other eye.
These cycles happen faster than the human eye can register them (a phenomenon known as "persistence of vision"), which creates the illusion of motion. Each eye sees one layer of the image from a slightly different angle than the other eye (a phenomenon known as "parallax"). When done correctly, the human brain combines the two sets, creating the illusion of three dimensions.
As a result, for the most realistic 3D effect, these cycles have to happen at a precise rate (usually, 30, 60, or 120 cycles per second, or Hertz [Hz]). Therefore, when gaming in 3D mode, the GPUs attempt to keep the framerates as close to one of these rates as possible.
So, for the purposes of this review, we measured both framerates in 3D mode as well as framerates in regular gaming mode. This gives a more accurate summation of the system's stereoscopic performance, while still allowing us to compare the Avenger's performance to other, non-3D capable, systems.
When launching a 3D title, the system displays a text overlay describing which settings should be reduced, increased, or turned off completely for optimal 3D image quality. We've noted those settings below, when applicable.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Using Arkham Asylum's built-in benchmarking tool (included in Patch 1.1), we achieved maximum playable settings at 1920x1080 with 16xAA and "Very High" performance settings.
Frame rates in regular mode were as follows: 190 max, 81 min, with an average of 137.
In stereoscopic mode, with Motion Blur turned off as advised, the Avenger delivered a max of 60, with a low of 47, and an average of 57.
Of all our test titles, Batman: Arkham Asylum probably looked the best in 3D. It gave us the most convincing and immersive sense of depth of the games we tested. The Joker also looked quite cool in all his lanky weirdness rendered in 3D.
Far Cry 2
We ran Far Cry 2 with all the settings maxed out at 1920x1080, 8xAA, and Ultra High detail level.
It averaged 170 fps, with a high of 363 and a low of 101 in normal gaming mode.
For the 3D experience, we turned off Bloom lighting and knocked FX Post-Processing and Shadows down from "Ultra High" to "High." This got us an average fps of 59, with a min/max of 55 and 62, respectively.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
At 1920x1080, the Avenger delivered an average of 85 fps, with a maximum of 111 and a minimum of 58.
In 3D mode (this title didn't require any changes to the settings), the Avenger delivered an average of 50 fps, with a maximum of 63 and a low of 32.
This title was also quite enjoyable to play in 3D, although the new sense of depth was sometimes a bit jarring. For instance, zooming your rifle sight (right mouse button) made the rifle look super long - so long that the end of the barrel (and front sight) was somewhat blurry.
The system cranked out an average of 438, with a max of 727 and min of 257 at 1920x1080 and Very High detail level.
In 3D mode, it delivered an average of 29, with a max of 42 and min of 21. In addition to these low framerates, the recommendation to disable Shadow Maps, High Detail Post-Processing, and Distortion noticeably affected image quality. It looked better and was far more enjoyable to play in non-3D mode.
For an in-depth discussion of what an overclocked GTX 480 can do, see here.