NVIDIAs Surround Gaming on Fermi

It doesn’t matter what you call it, be it GF 100, Fermi or 300 series the new line up of NVIDIA cards are coming, albeit a bit later then we had hoped. What NVIDIA has done though over the past week is added some information on their website about the upcoming series. To have a look at what exactly is going on you can see the page

What we’re seeing are two bits of information, you can check out the white papers that are linked towards the bottom which will give you information that you’ll probably not understand or not be interested in. After reading it you’ll end up with still no idea what kind of performance you can expect from the series.

The other piece of information is normal marketing talk to make the new series sound exciting. To be honest if you’re into computers you don’t need this as you’re probably already getting excited about what NVIDIA is going to offer.

The reason behind this post today though is to quickly talk about NVIDIAs new surround gaming feature and the issues I think it’s going to have when compared to the competing technology from ATI, EyeFinity.

I’m only going to give you a quick run down here for two reasons, one I don’t have the card, and two information on the whole thing is still limited. What I will say though is based on the information we have, of course by the time the card launches this could change.

The biggest pro behind the way NVIDIA have implemented the setup is that it seems you don’t need to have a DisplayPort monitor. With few companies really offering the connectivity, read only Dell really! this is pretty cool. It means you should be able to get into the technology for less from the monitor side of things as the chances are you already have a monitor that doesn’t have DisplayPort. Instead of having to buy three new monitors with DisplayPort so they all look the same you can buy just two more of the monitors you have.

The other pro is that the setup will support 3D Vision, only recently I wrote a big piece about 3D Vision and how I felt about it on TweakTown. To put it in just a few words; “I loved it!” For more information about the technology though I would highly recommend you check out the article I did at TweakTown

For the most part though this is where the pros stop, the lack of DisplayPort and the fact the NVIDIA cards will only offer two DVI ports means that you will require a SLI setup to make use of the technology. From my understanding it also seems that the technology will only support up to 1920 x 1080 @ 120Hz displays. This is the feeling I get from reading the white paper but really there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to run three 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz displays off two cards.

I’m not sure if NVIDIA are choosing to just push the 1920 x 1080 @ 120Hz display support because these ones will support 3D Vision or because this is the limitation of the technology. I have a real hatred for 1920 x 1080 16:9 computer monitors after using 16:10 ones for a long time. For most people though this won’t be a deal breaker, the chances are from a cost perspective 1680 x 1050 @ 60Hz and 120Hz are going to be the most popular option.

One of the biggest cons for 3D Vision is the fact that when you’re using the technology the video card is essentially working twice as hard at that resolution. What this means is that a 1920 x 1080 screen with 3D Vision on will be more intensive then a 2560 x 1600 display without 3D Vision. Now if you’re running three monitors with 3D Vision at 1920 x 1080 the amount of power needed to run that setup would be more than a setup of three 2560 x 1600 monitors without 3D Vision.

We don’t know performance numbers for the next generation series from NVIDIA but you’re going to need some serious juice to push this kind of setup.

To quickly just recap the pros for NVIDIAs surround gaming experience the lack of DisplayPort monitors needed means that you can buy two more of your current monitors and have a really nice clean looking setup, the other big pro is that you’ll be able to use 3D Vision technology with the setup, from an immersion perspective this is just going to be insane.

The con list includes the fact you’re going to need an SLI setup to run surround gaming, be that with 3D Vision or not. This in turn will mean SLI compatible motherboard and bigger power supply which is going to hit the bank account. Now there’s also the fact that if you go for a 1920 x 1080 @ 120Hz Tri-Screen setup to use 3D Vision the amount of raw graphics power needed is going to be insane and exceed that of three 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz displays, getting playable framerates isn’t going to be cheap.

One last con would be the fact that we’ve got this feeling that the maximum resolution for the technology is 1920 x 1080 @ 120Hz. What this means is that 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz, 1680 x 1060 @ 120Hz / 60Hz and lower should be supported but not 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz and above. I write this separate to the last paragraph because I think as we get more information on the technology this won’t hold true but at the moment it doesn’t change the fact that this is how it feels reading the white paper.

For so many people this isn’t going to be an issue as multi monitor display setups are still a rarity; it’s clear the reason NVIDIA has done it though is due to the simple fact ATI offer EyeFinity, unfortunately the solution from NVIDIA feels like a bit of a bandaid one, it’s simply done because the competition offers it, and since NVIDIA didn’t expect it and it was too late to go back to the Fermi drawing board the technology is how it is because it was added last minute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *