3D is all the rage this year in entertainment. Avatar is now the #1 grossing film of all-time, in large part due to its 3D visuals. 3D is coming soon to your home as well, as 3DTVs have begun to roll off the line and go on sale at your local retailer. As 3D moves to more areas of home entertainment, it will eventually come to PCs. Nvidia recently released firmware updates that made its video cards compatible with some 3D imaging. However, the cost will likely prove to be a significant barrier to many wannabe early adopters.
Nvidia uses stereoscopic 3D technology which involves alternating the eye that you see out of. In order to make this work, you need some special equipment. Here’s a brief rundown of what you’ll need if you decide to take the 3D plunge.
Inexpensive Video Cards
The Nvidia video cards that support 3D aren’t horribly expensive. The 8800, 9600, 9800 and 200 series all support 3D gaming onboard. These cards don’t cost a whole lot to purchase and install. They’re readily available from almost any hardware retailer and don’t require anything too special. However, you will need more than the video card alone to get 3D gaming to work on your machine.
In order to make Nvidia’s form of 3D gaming work properly, you must use a 120Hz monitor. A 120Hz refresh rate is needed to alternate the images properly. If the refresh rate is too low, you will see stuttering images and you will quickly get a headache. These monitors are significantly more expensive than their 60Hz counterparts, running around $600 for a decent gaming optimized rig. However, the prices on monitors with these specs should drop significantly as the technology becomes more widespread. Wait it out and things should become more reasonable.
Nvidia’s Special Equipment
If you want to see the 3D images, you will need a special set of add-on equipment from Nvidia. This 3D Vision Kit consists of a special pair of glasses and an infrared emitter that tells the glasses when to close one lens. You will notice when you put the glasses on that one lens will close at a time, breaking your vision into sides. You will only see the image on the left when the left lens is open, and vice versa. This happens rapidly enough that the two images combine in your brain to create depth. One of the nice things about the emitter is that you can modify the settings based on your distance from your monitor, keeping your field of depth appropriate for your setup. This kit is $200 alone.
All in all, getting 3D gaming now will be a significant expense. Most games are backwards compatible with 3D as the graphics are processed differently, rather than altering the source code for the game. Some games will work better than others and Nvidia rates compatibility on their website.
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