Nvidia launches 3D Vision Surround

AMD might have the ultimate gaming penis extension with its six-monitor EyeFinity gaming tech, but Nvidia has now upped the ante by enabling stereoscopic 3D gaming across three monitors.

Unlike ATI's EyeFinity technology, however, 3D Vision Surround doesn't require DisplayPort connectors, and it's also supported by Nvidia's last-generation GPUs. As such, you can run it on anything from a GeForce GTX 260 to a GTX 480. The only snag is that it requires alternate frame rendering, and therefore an SLI configuration, which might turn out to be a bit expensive if you've already forked out for a Fermi card.

Then again, if you can afford three monitors, you can probably afford an extra graphics card.

As well as supporting standard dual-card SLI configurations, 3D Vision Surround also supports 3-way and Quad SLI, and support will shortly be coming for dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 cards too.

In order to set up a 3D Vision Surround system, you'll either need three 3D Vision-ready projectors, or three 3D Vision-ready 120Hz displays, which will need to be identical. You can find the full list of compatible hardware here.

It's also worth bearing in mind that you only need three identical monitors to get the stereoscopic 3D effect. As an alternative, you can select 2D Surround gaming in the driver control panel and run games across three different monitors, as long as they have the same resolution, refresh rate and sync polarity.

As with EyeFinity, Nvidia's multi-monitor gaming system also features bezel compensation in the driver control panel, and it supports monitors in either portrait or landscape mode too.

A number of different resolutions and configurations can be set up, as well as various aspect ratios. For example, you can chain three 4:3 displays together with a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 in landscape mode, resulting in an overall resolution of 3,840 x 1,024. Or, at the other end of the scale, you could link three 1,920 x 1,200 16:10 displays together with a combined resolution of 5,760 x 1,200.

If you're lucky enough to have several 120Hz LCD monitors or 3D Vision ready projectors, and have at least two Nvidia graphics cards and a 3D Vision glasses kit, then you can try the system out for yourself now.

You just need to download the latest 258.69 Nvidia Beta driver, and you should be good to go. However, Nvidia warns that the Beta driver doesn't currently work with all the theoretically supported configurations. For example, 3-way SLI is only supported on GTX 400-series cards, but the company says a future driver will enable 3-way SLI support on GTX 200-series chips.

Fellow tech site [H]ardOCP has already had a play with the technology, which looks like it's pretty impressive. However, it's worth noting that it may soon be possible to achieve a similar effect using ATI GPUs too. ATI board partner Sapphire has already demonstrated 3D gaming across three monitors using EyeFinity.