What About 3D Gaming?

I've already spoiled the surprise and stated up front that 3D gaming on this particular system is not going to make the cut. Outside of a few titles, most games have frame rates cut in half by enabling 3D, which means even at low/minimum detail there are plenty of titles that can't break the 30FPS threshold—that's not even highly fluid, but at least most people will consider 30FPS decent. Even with a low resolution 768p display, the GTS 350M is an albatross around 3D Vision's neck, and NVIDIA knows this. If you really want a 3D notebook, my advice would be to get something that's at least twice as fast as the GTS 350M, and three or four times faster would be ideal. You know, something like the GTX 480M (in SLI if you're really shooting for the stars).

In order to get an idea of the 3D Vision Gaming experience, we went to NVIDIA's site and looked at all the 3D Vision Ready titles. These are the games that are built from the ground up to support 3D Vision, which means 3D should just work out of the box without any extra work. Other titles might require you to disable motion blur or certain effects for an optimal 3D experience. So, we rounded up copies of all the games on that list, which is pretty easy since at present there are only seven actual games. We then tested each game at low, medium, and high detail settings at the native 1366x768 LCD resolution, with and without 3D enabled. Yeah, we're gluttons for punishment. Here are the results.

Batman Arkham Asylum

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Just Cause 2

Lost Planet 2 (Bench A)

Mafia II

Metro 2033

Resident Evil 5

Out of the 3D Vision Ready games, only Batman is able to reach 30FPS at higher detail settings (note that NVIDIA recommends turning off motion blur for 3D Vision). As a game with no crosshair, Batman also lends itself very well to the 3D experience and was the most enjoyable of the titles. Resident Evil 5 also manages to post decent frame rates at medium detail. We should mention that there are still scenes in both of these games where your performance will drop into the teens, so even though the average frame rates are acceptable you may want to use the CTRL+T shortcut to disable 3D Vision at times. BFBC2 also breaks the 30FPS mark at minimum detail, and the 3D effects look good while doing it, but the graphics quality overall takes a pretty sharp dive at "low" compared to "medium". The rest of the games definitely don't reach playable performance with 3D Vision. It's too bad, because after hearing Brian say how cool Metro 2033 was in 3D, I couldn't do much other than watch the 15FPS slide show and wish for a faster GPU. It was a very nice looking slide show, though.

There are a lot more "Excellent" and "Very Good" 3D Vision games on the list, and we obviously didn't test the majority of those. If our pattern holds, you can probably estimate losing half your performance with 3D enabled, which means you'll want to use game setting combinations that can run at over 60FPS normally (and preferably closer to 100FPS). However, there's no guarantee it will only be half. Left 4 Dead 2 (a "Good" game) runs 3.6 times faster at low detail without 3D, and STALKER: Call of Pripyat runs 3.1 times faster (at Low + Object Lighting) without 3D. If you really want a 3D Gaming notebook, I think the GTX 460M is probably the minimum I'd recommend at this point—and that's for a 768p display. If you want 1080p in 3D, you'd better plan on going the full Monty and grabbing a GTX 480M (probably even 480M SLI), or else you'll be turning graphics settings way down to get acceptable performance.

Toshiba A665-3DV with 3D Multimedia The Rest of the Story: Applications
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  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    What a horrible resolution. 1366x768 on a 15.6" display!? This res is almost usable on a 12-13" display (And thats pushing it), but on a 15.6"?? Is this machine tailored towards old people with vision issues or something?

    Ok, back to reading. Had to vent :)
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    I agree that 768 vertical pixels is not very much to work with, but the screen here is still 100dpi, which is slightly better than the standard 96. Reply
  • nubie - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    I for one think it is the correct choice.

    How is the video card to push more pixels than that anyway?

    Buy a different laptop, or upgrade the panel yourself if it bugs you.
    Reply
  • blackshard - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    Thanks a lot for the hwmonitor readings! :)
    It's really interesting to see expected temperatures and real battery capacity in such notebooks!
    Reply
  • Michaelsm - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    Yes, Thanks a lot for the hwMonitor readings. As I commented the other day, my Toshiba (M645 with a 6 cell) had an initial wear of 36%!!! 3 cycles later it is down to 7%. Reply
  • cknobman - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    until the industry gives up on the freaking 3D gimmick. Reply
  • nubie - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    Have you tried it?

    I have made several 3D setups myself and favor passive glasses and dual monitors or projectors (1 per eye).

    In many situations the 3D is stunningly immersive. Racing games for example have a fantastic feeling of speed as the depth of objects hurtle toward you.

    Watching the apex of a corner approach and searching the distance for your braking point feel good. As does overtaking a slower car.

    Even if you personally feel it is a gimmick, how is the industry or how are you personally caused any harm?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    If you missed it in the text, we're looking to replace Peacekeeper with something that feels more relevant. Does anyone have a good "Internet benchmark" they want us to start using? Something that captures the speed of page loads, transitions, etc.? Reply
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    I have looked around a bit for my own reasons, and outside of the ones made by the browser makers (which are all pretty biased one way or another), there isn't much to choose from.

    I think I pretty much came up with just needing to write one from scratch using the browsers API with FireFox or the like.
    Reply
  • alphadog - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    I'm getting pretty tired of the lack of properly-sized LCDs on laptops. I know the LCD is one of the more costly components in margin-thin laptops, but really? 768 vert?!? Reply

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