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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 27 September 2010

NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide

An enthusiast's guide to 3D Vision movies, games, and video entertainment resources

The finer things in life aren't always free, just ask anyone who enjoys an aged wine, exotic cheese, or gourmet food. Suffice it to say, there's a world of enjoyment available so long as you can afford it. Consumer electronics have a tradition of improving the quality of entertainment, and cutting-edge devices have paved a path for innovation over the past few years. Video quality has evolved from VHS to DVD, and now Blu-ray Disc offers unparallel resolution. In that same era, televisions transitioned from glass CRT screens to flat-panel technology, helping 1080p HDTV's become the standard. Even audio has made progress, growing out of stereo to 5.1 and later 7.1 surround sound. All of these improvements are closely inter-connected, yet computer gaming technology is actually driving the next stage of home theater enhancements: behold the age of 3D.


Despite several early preview appearances, NVIDIA first introduced their retail 3D Vision gaming kit just before the end of 2008. While the path towards widespread 3D acceptance has been long and difficult, nearly two years later we've arrived at a market rich with 3D innovation. 3D movies are showing in theaters across America, major sporting events are broadcast in 3D, Sony's PlayStation3 has gone three-dimensional, and now 3D HDTVs are a sought-after item. Many would credit NVIDIA's 3D-Vision technology for being the catalyst that launched a new era of visual entertainment, which is why there's a growing support for these features across platforms.

In this article, Benchmark Reviews presents our NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide. Video games are a primary part of this article, and we'll share tips on optimizing convergence settings to produce eye-popping out-of-screen 3D effects. NVIDIA's 3D-Vision kit is capable of much more than video games, which is why we also offer sections on 3D video multimedia, 3D Blu-ray Disc movies, 3D photos, and Sony's PlayStation 3. Some of the information used here is available from the NVIDIA 3D Vision product site, however this guide organizes the topic into one convenient resource.

As of October 2010, the full NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Home kit sells for $183 at Amazon and NewEgg, and spare 3D Vision shutter glasses cost $127.

3D Video Games for PC

Video games are a great way to escape the stress and pressure of real life, and create an alter reality that seems more enjoyable. Video games place the player in past, present, and future timelines, within a world that mirrors our own, or creates a new one. The closer a game can get towards reproducing the realism of its world, the more immersed a player becomes in that game. Without question this is a goal that every video game developer has worked to accomplish since the dawn of shaded graphics, and they're slowly getting there. NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology bridges that gap, and brings real-world depth to the fantasy world of games.

Generally speaking, all PC video games will work fine with NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. It's been my personal experience that games branded with NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played trademark offer an excellent 3D experience, while newer NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready game titles already come optimized for 3D Vision with out of screen effects available with convergence adjustments. NVIDIA rates the 3D experience possible from past game titles, and also maintains an updated list of NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready titles on their site: NVIDIA 3D Vision PC Video Games.

NOTE: Eye strain is a result of playing PC games with poor DirectX depth coding, or lack basic 3D optimizations. Games branded with The Way It's Meant To Be Played and 3D Vision Ready are best suited for extended 3D use.

Convergence Out of Screen Effects

Most modern polygon-based video games utilize the Cartesian coordinate system (X,Y,Z-axis positioning) for objects, which allows a 2D object to be viewed in a simulated 3D space by using shading and shadow effects. Objects can be translated into a 3D depth by the games native Z-direction, giving either positive or negative depth to the axis. Nearly all DirectX-7 and better PC video game titles use various z-axis depth techniques, yet very few games incorporate out-of-screen effects. NVIDIA offers a Stereoscopic 3D Test scene which manipulates the parallax with increased convergence. By default, NVIDIA stereoscopic 3D is configured with neutral convergence settings. For 3D effects that bring objects out of the screen, you'll want to increase convergence:

NVIDIA Control Panel: Stereoscopic 3D → Set up stereoscopic 3D → Set Keyboard Shortcuts → Enable advanced in-game settings


NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Keyboard Shortcuts

During game play or movies, press and hold CTRL+F6 (increase) or CTRL+F5 (decrease) to adjust convergence levels based on real-time feedback. Pressing CTRL+F7 will save these changes to a custom profile, so that you won't have to adjust convergence settings every time. Please keep in mind that NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready titles may not show much improvement, since convergence has already been adjusted in the game.

3D Photos and 3D Screenshots

Most consumers purchase the NVIDIA 3D-Vision kit to play video games, while others like to explore more recreational uses. Professional and amateur photographers alike strive to capture proper depth and focus in their photos, and nothing reproduces realistic depth of field better than 3D technology. NVIDIA offers several samples of user-submitted 3D photos on their 3D Vision Pictures section, which also teaches gamers how to take their own in-game 3D screenshots:

  1. While playing a video game with NVIDIA stereoscopic 3D enabled, press "ALT-F1" to create a side-by-side JPEG screenshot file.
  2. 3D Screenshots are deposited into "C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\Documents\NVStereoscopic3D.IMG\" with *.JPS file extensions.
  3. All JPS, PNS, and MPO file types can be viewed with the included NVIDIA 3D Vision Photo Viewer application.

NVIDIA also offers a detailed user guide with advanced instruction on how to use the 3D Vision Photo Viewer to create 3D photo slide shows and edit MPO 3D photos.


NVIDIA 3DTV Play enables gamers with GeForce graphics solutions to display stereoscopic views on any 3D-compatible HDTV. NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit is not required for 3DTV Play, so consumers maintain their freedom to enjoy games and content on any brand of 3D HDTV with its own bundled eyewear. Any GeForce video card (8800 or newer) is capable of streaming 3D DVD and 3D Blu-ray over HDMI 1.4a, but video games could not stream in 3D over this interface. By using NVIDIA 3DTV Play, 3D functionality is extended from dual-link DVI to the HDMI 1.4 port on GeForce products, enabling 1080p24, 720p60, and 720p50 3D formats. NVIDIA 3DTV Play software comes free with select 3D notebooks and all 3D Vision kits, or as a separate purchase. This will become important for users who plan to use HTPCs for connecting a GeForce video card to their 3D TV.

3D Blu-ray Disc Movies

For many enthusiasts, 3D is a welcome addition to their home theater system. Three-dimensional gaming may interest some consumers, but 3D movies and video multimedia are destined for the masses. NVIDIA maintains an aggressive interest in the computer hardware segment, primarily graphics processor technology, but they've also dedicated their resources towards developing 3D Blu-ray movie technology. 3D Excitement begins with the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit and modern GeForce desktop or notebook graphics processor, but when a compatible 120Hz HDTV, projector, or monitor is connected along with a Blu-ray Disc player there's the opportunity for an exciting 3D cinema experience. The realistic depth in 3D movies is certainly enough to please most viewers, but adjusting (increasing) convergence may also result in eye-popping out-of-screen 3D video effects just as they do for PC video games.

NOTES: Only the latest GeForce 400-series video cards are capable of supporting high definition 24-bit, 96 and 192 KHz multi-channel audio sampling rates for compatible Blu-ray movies. This functionality was added with NVIDIA Release 260 or higher Forceware drivers and compatible movie player software. According to NVIDIA's system requirements website, only their GeForce GTX 460 video card supports DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD audio bitstreaming for compatible Blu-ray movies.

3D Multimedia Video

If you're not interested in investing more money into 3D than you've already got in your 3D Vision kit and 120Hz monitor, there are still several opportunities to enjoy 3D video and streaming 3D multimedia. All you need is the basic 3D Vision kit with compatible video card and display. NVIDIA's streaming 3D Vision Live video content website (in beta test as of October 2010) offers plenty of short clips that showcase 3D video very nicely. There's also a few very good user-submitted 3D video samples for download, driven by enthusiastic amateur and professional movie-makers alike. Users can Submit stereoscopic 3D content to NVIDIA to share with the community. There's also a whole world of 3D resources outside of NVIDIA's website.

Not long ago I watched the 2010 US Open Tennis tournament in 3D thanks to Panasonic's stereoscopic video camera's becoming standard equipment at professional sporting events and NVIDIA's 3D Vision Video Player (free download). The video player also allowed me to watch 3D Vision-compatible broadcasts of NASCAR, the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament, and the 2010 PGA Championship. I'm sure that 3D Major League Baseball and National Football League games in 3D are coming next... it's only a matter of time. While not necessarily compatible with NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology (yet), it appears that YouTube3D could soon provide yet another free source of 3D video multimedia.

3D Vision with Sony PlayStation3

Coming Soon: As of PS3 firmware update 3.50 released on 21 September 2010, the Sony PlayStation 3 gaming console can now play 3D content on Blu-ray 3D discs whenever a compatible 3D display and active 3D glasses are used. As of this update, NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit is not recognized by the Sony PS3. More information is available from the Sony 3D knowledge center for PlayStation 3 owners.

If you've got any 3D Vision questions or requests, please leave your comment in the area below.

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# Why not start with the basics?Olle P 2010-09-27 05:44
Hardware requirements!
- A 120Hz capable monitor (or projector).
- A GF 3D Vision kit, plus additional glasses if more than one person is to watch at the same time.
- A 3D Vision capable graphics card. (What's the minimum for high gaming in 1080p with high graphics quality settings?

The added cost above what's required for not going 3D still makes this a non-starter for the mainstream market...
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# RE: Why not start with the basics?Olin Coles 2010-09-27 07:09
Start over, Olle, and read the very first paragraph in this article.
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# I've read it all, repeatedly...Olle P 2010-09-27 22:47
... and still it says way more about what software settings to use than what hardware (apart from the 3D Vision kit) is required.
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# RE: Why not start with the basics?aberkae 2010-09-28 10:29
yes those are the requirements.

and you can pick up a ASUS 23 inch 1080p 3d lcd with Nvidia 3d kit for $450 today from
plus you can get the gtx 460 1 gig for about $200 and $160 for the 756 mb one

so if you want to play on a console a 3d HDTV cost you around $2000 so playing on the pc is cheaper.
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# RE: RE: Why not start with the basics?aberkae 2010-09-28 10:37
avtually it went up by $15 here
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# Not really.Olle P 2010-09-29 01:27
Cost of a low-medium gaming computer, including a GTX 460 graphics card: ~$1,200.
Add 46" monitor (N82E16824002550) $1,050. (To make it comparable to the console.)
and 3D kit: $200
Assume four friends will keep you company. That's an additional four pair of glasses @ $100 each.
Total: $2,850 with no more than five simultaneous viewers.

A 46" '3D-ready' TV (LN46C750) cost $1,400 at Newegg.
SP3 cost $225.
Total: $1,650 with unrestricted number of viewers.
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# RE: Not really.aberkae 2010-09-29 08:09
1)Aren't you miscalculating? what happened to the glasses for the console LCD if you add 5 pairs of glasses because thats what you have for the pc it adds $750 off of as well!
2) Nvidia considers the gtx 460 as a higher end (gamer gpu) not midlevel. capable of directx 11 level of visuals, thats 2 generations over the consoles.
3) whats a PC? its a personal computer not a multiple personal computer its meant for one person /computer, you could run a lan party if you want.
4) instead of adding 4 extra pairs of glasses you can add 2 extra screen and play with 3d vision surround with 3 screens! similar price and 3 times the resolution as a console.
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# RE: Not really.aberkae 2010-09-29 08:10
5) plus HDMI 1.4 is only capable of running 3d content @ 24 fps for 1080p and 60 fps @ 1080i for the console. while PC LCDs are capable 120hz over all three monitors! you do need an extra gpu that will run you $150-$200 for 3d vision surround but you can subtract that from the 5 pairs of glasses you added to the top.
6) you gave us the requirements, i gave you the prices of those requirements, meaning if you wanted just to experience 3d you can experience it on the pc by your self and not with you whole school!
plus EVGA is sampling off the Samsung 3d lcd with Nvidia 3d kit for free!
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# Nvidia 3D Vision support on PS3 ??Michael 2010-09-27 06:59
Where does it officialy confirms that Nvidia 3D Vision will be supported by PS3 ? Apart from some unsyncronized diy attempts I've read on other forums. Give us a link to that info, please.
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# RE: Nvidia 3D Vision support on PS3 ??Olin Coles 2010-09-27 08:52
Sorry Michael, but as of firmware update 3.50 it appears that NVIDIA 3D Vision is not supported by the PS3. You'll need a 3D HDTV that comes with its own 3D glasses to enjoy this feature on the PS3.
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# It's a matter of importance,.....RealNeil 2010-09-28 04:56
I'm just not that into it. The prohibitive costs associated with adopting this tech have guaranteed that I (on my never changing retirement income) will not be able to enjoy it, unless I happen upon it at a friend's house, or see it set up at a store to try out. But that's OK with me, I'll get over it, and I really like the way my games look on my simple little system. I'm glad for the lot of you that can adopt this and I hope you never run into any snags that keep it from working properly.
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# RE: NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource GuideAdam 2010-09-28 06:40
3d vision gets a massive 'meh' from me, I'll take up 3d technology when it's affordable and fully supported. Getting in early might be fun, but it's a bit of a waste of money.
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# Been there, done that!Olle P 2010-09-30 10:31
I jumped on the 3D vision gaming train a full decade ago, shy a few months.
What a dump it was!
As I bought myself a new computer I picked an ASUS GF256 DeLuxe graphics card, that came with active 3D glasses (attached by a cable to the card).
The problems I encountered were:
1) Lack of compatibility, even though it was supposed to function with all D3D games. Some wouldn't run at all with stereo mode on.
2) Lack of performance. Since 3D requires the graphics card to keep up with two viewing angles the framerate is effectively halved. That meant that to keep the framerate at least somewhat useful I had to a) reduce the resolution (to 640x480), b) cut down on the eye-candy to a bare minimum, and finally c) use interlaced stereo mode, where only every other horizontal line was drawn.

I did see the potential and marvel of 3D, but the cost of doubling the graphics power was (and for me still is) prohibitive.
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# RE: Been there, done that!Adam 2010-10-04 06:54
Shows how much I know, never realised there was available PC based 3d technology that far back!

Really want to get in to 3d, but it's just not that viable yet. It's on the edge of being something really great, just needs to be pushed that little bit more.
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# NVIDIA 3D Vision also works in 2D without the glasses?rodolfo 2011-09-05 15:00
I am Brazilian and was wondering if the product arrived in Brazil, and also wanted to know if this product works in 2D without the glasses, awaiting response
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# essa placa de video funciona em 2d ou so 3d?rodolfo 2011-09-05 15:03
eu queria saber se essa placa ja esta vendendo no brasil e se funciona em 2d ou so em 3d, e queria saber se dar para qualquer jogo, e tambem se o msn funciona sem usar oculos
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