June 25, 2000: They did it! The wait is over! ASUS D3D-stereo-driver breakthrough!
(updated July 5: game list)
ASUS Win 95/98 driver 5.16d RC2 - for VANTA2000/V3800/V6600/V6800/V7700 series - download here
With the latest driver release ASUS takes a leap forward in D3D-stereo quality and finally starts to close the gap to ELSA.
There are still some minor problems, but this is the first driver from ASUS to impress me!
Please keep in mind that this is beta-stuff, so it may not work for your configuration yet. I tried V6600 and V3800. The V6600 works better.
Here's how ASUS describes the new driver:
1. New algorithm for stereoscopic computation.
2. New histogram chart in OSD for games utilizing Direct3D 6.0.
Ohh, yes I believe there is a new algorithm. Overall D3D-stereo quality improved strongly and thanks to the histogram you're able to get the settings right this time.
Like in the ELSA OSD (on screen display) you can see the Z-values of all objects on the screen. The monitor plane, marked with an E (for embossment) is also visible. Basically the new Asus OSD comes close to the one from ELSA, but doesn't match it yet.
The task of the user is to adjust the 'foreground' value in a way that most on-screen objects are distributed equaly over the z-range. The objects are represented as green columns. Usually the background has to be kept at 100, while the foreground has to be adjusted somewhere between 0 to 95. The histogram reveals that many (most?) games require a foreground-setting of 80 to 95!
What's missing in the ASUS driver is an option to do this adjustment automatically and dynamically throughout your whole gaming session. ELSA has this 'autopilot' and calls it 'Dyna-Z'. Don't jump to the conclusion that ELSA is therefore superior. Direct3D on ASUS now looks equally terrific. It's not natural if the z-value-setoff changes all the time, so without it you may be closer to reality. Anyway ASUS should offer a similar feature in the next release.
You may check out ASUS own short-documentation for the D3D features here.
Here are the titles I've tried:
V6600 (GeForce) V3800 (TNT2) Tomb Raider 3 demo O.K. not tested yet 3D Mark 2000 (DX7 - histogram didn't work, but great 3D) O.K. O.K. Tower of the Ancients - demo O.K. O.K. Rally Masters demo O.K. not tested yet NFS - Porsche demo O.K. hangs for a moment every 2 seconds Ultimate Race Pro retail O.K. not tested yet House of the Dead O.K. O.K. System Shock 2 retail (HUD compressed in upper half of screen) O.K. scrambled menu Croc 2 demo (state of the art, a must see, even the menu is perfect, try this: D50 E50 F88 B100) O.K. not tested yet Driver O.K. not tested yet Klingon Academy demo (HUD compressed in upper half of screen) O.K. not tested yet Codename Eagle demo O.K. not tested yet Quake 3 (OpenGL) O.K. some missing or wrong textures
All looked terrific!
Older, pre-DX6 programs which looked poor on prior ASUS-driver releases now show great effects.
The Gunship! demo produced heavy graphics errors, but maybe this can be salvaged by changing some settings.
By the way, the NFS-Porsche demo is great for showing off stereo. Red is the dominating color and there is very little contrast, there's almost no ghosting.
There are some details which still bug me:
- The OSD keys still collide with most game control keys and there seems to be no way to reconfigure them. The game keys aren't suppressed as long as the OSD is up. It's so hard to get the settings right while the whole screen is spinning and Lara jumps off the cliff.
- The OSD seems to work in alternate line format even in page-flipping-mode, so each eye sees only half of the lines.
- The histogram doesn't work in DX7 titles yet! All older DX-versions are supported though.
- There seem to be no stereo on/off hotkey, you have to go to the OSD and level down the depth to achieve this.
- There are only presets for a few games and they use out-of-screen effects heavily, which looks spectacular at first, but may lead to eyestrain over time. Better find your own settings, which is much easier now thanks to the new OSD.
- HUD (head up display) bugs
OpenGL was already good in earlier versions of the ASUS drivers. In OpenGL there is no histogram, but GL never caused as many troubles as D3D. There seems to be no need for for z-value range set-off as in D3D to get good results.
ASUS still requires the user to set up special modes here, for example you have to choose 1600x1200 to get 800x600 stereo! Don't be afraid, the performance is much better than mono-1600x1200, it's just a trick to reserve video-memory for the flipping.
The handling isn't as good yet, but in terms of D3D-stereo-quality ASUS now plays in the same league as ELSA. Too bad it took them so long.
Terminology of OSD's
ASUS ELSA parallax-level/eye-distance Depth Depth virtual window/plane of zero parallax Embossment Monpos (monitor position) z-value 0 plus x set-off Foreground Z-front z-value 1 minus x set-off Background Z-back automatic z-value set-off not available Dyna-Z stereo reverse Direction not available image error disguise on the left and right boarder of the screen blind not available !? (automatic)