Gigabyte GTX 275 SOC
As we stated in the introduction to this review there are really only two ways for manufacturers to approach GeForce sales in the current market. It has to be value or performance and Gigabyte aimed for the latter with their GTX 275 and their attempt has been very successful. The performance of their Super Overclock model is fantastic for a GTX 275 allowing us to play some of the latest games at 2560x1600 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. It also performed very well when processing PhysX workloads and GPU computing tasks such as video encoding.
Build quality is also a highlight of the card with a 2oz copper PCB used in addition to high quality components such as Japanese solid capacitors and Samsung memory. If there is one small issue with the hardware it is the choice of outputs, we would have preferred a second DVI instead of the VGA but media enthusiasts will be very pleased to see the HDMI port.
Gigabyte also offers a good warranty at 3-years in length which matches or exceeds most of their competitors. As far as GTX 275’s go, this is the best we have tested.
There are a lot of positive aspects about 3D Vision such as simple setup which is assisted by well thought out software. Combined with the correct screen we can be gaming in 3D within about five minutes of connecting our hardware. In games which support the technology the quality of 3D is impressive and really should be tried by everyone if they get the chance. It adds a whole new level of immersion to the titles which has yet to be matched by any other manufacturer. It certainly has an initial wow factor. The potential to support 3D Movies at home as they are released in the future is a real plus point also.
There are however numerous downsides to the technology. We shall get to those shortly but before we do there is one aspect of the product which needs clarifying. In the past 3D experiences have tended to be about objects being brought towards the user, out of the screen. Those reading who are old enough to remember Jaws 3D will recall the scene where the shark mouth comes out of the screen towards us. The 3D Vision ready logo also seems to indicate this is the idea behind the technology with a plane flying out of the screen. This really isn’t what we experience though, 3D Vision is really all about depth within the display, objects within games stretching away from us with varied distance although in-game text often looks as if it is closer to us. This is not a flaw, we just feel that the actual experience is not communicated well by Nvidia, those expecting planes flying “out of the display” will be disappointed.
So, what are the downsides to this impressive technology? Well firstly it has a significant performance hit, the ideal cards for use of 3D Vision are the GTX 285 and 295, though our massively overclocked 275 actually did very well. Ideally an SLI system would be perfect and allow us no compromises in game settings when experiencing 3D.
There are also problems with some of the more interesting in-game effects used in recent titles. Motion Blur regularly has to be disabled for 3D Vision to work convincingly and in games where heavy post processing is used we often have to reduce aspects such as bloom lighting or shadow quality which contradicts Nvidia’s claims of exceptional image quality. Something which also doesn’t tie in with the PR is the fact that while the glasses do offer far better image quality than other methods, they do reduce the brightness of the display and real world which means in low light conditions it can be hard to see things such as letters on our keyboard - if you are a FPS pro however, the W, A, S, D keys are second nature. In our testing the lenses were never perfectly transparent which meant they are not really suitable for desktop use unless we want to change the brightness of the display - every time we enter or exit games.
Finally we have two practical issues; the first is that while the glasses are designed to fit over prescription versions they are not comfortable to wear with over the ear headphones. Secondly there is the issue of what can only be described as motion sickness. This is not limited to 3D Vision, some of our staff have experienced this with 3D Movies but in our first few sessions using 3D Vision it became apparent that some people will suffer from sensations similar to motion sickness when playing. As the main tester for this review, I felt ill for several hours after my first gaming session on 3D Vision. Unfortunately there is no way to know who would be affected by this so where possible try before you buy!
Nvidia have created an interesting product with 3D Vision, when it works it really is impressive but it is heavily reliant on the games being played. One for enthusiasts only, especially considering the price, but as the technology matures we can see it gaining a lot of fans.