Lucid Virtu MVP Tested: GPU Accelerator Doubles the FPS in "World of Warcraft"
Thought that the Origin Eon 17S couldn't get any faster? Think again. Origin announced today that they're going to start shipping all of their notebooks with Virtu MVP Mobile Edition from Lucid. This software increases the efficiency of graphics cards in a number of ways, including simultaneous use of integrated and discrete graphics, breaking the 60 frames per second cap of vertical synchronization (Vsync), and boosting the responsiveness of the mouse and keyboard during play. And best of all? Origin is providing it to their customers free of charge. Full details and our hands-on experience with Virtu MVP below.
Lucid's Virtu MVP Mobile Edition gives both AMD and Nvidia GPUs a boost in three key areas:
GPU Virtualization functions very similarly to Nvidia's Optimus technology -- it optimizes power and performance by automatically using discrete graphics for graphically intense programs such as games and video editing, and using the integrated graphics for less demanding programs such as Internet Explorer. Unlike Optimus, however, Virtu MVP's GPU Virtualization is GPU vendor-independent, meaning it can be used with both AMD and Nvidia cards. What's more, it rides on top of Nvidia's technology, rather than replacing it; users can simply uninstall the software to revert back to Optimus if they choose.
Vsync eliminates "screen tearing" (where images on the screen appear disjointed) by capping the maximum number of frames per second at the screen's refresh rate (typically 60Hz). While this feature can be helpful if tearing occurs, it can be just as frustrating to have your frame rate locked at 60 fps -- especially when you've got a blisteringly fast rig that's ready to flex its muscles.
Virtual Vsync uses the notebook's discrete and integrated graphics to break the 60 fps limit of vertical synchronization while maintaining the game's tear-free frame quality. In other words, players should see frame rates as high as 140 frames per second, without fear of screen tearing. While we didn't notice any screen tearing in our tests, even with Vsync disabled, anyone who has experienced this issue -- but doesn't want to sacrifice their frame rates -- will appreciate this feature.
Virtu MVP's HyperFormance (get it?) feature utilizes both the discrete and integrated graphics to improve the GPU's responsiveness -- theoretically boosting the frame rate higher than the GPU's original maximum performance. HyperFormance will also affect the responsiveness of the keyboard and mouse during gameplay, allowing for even greater precision.
When we tested Virtu MVP's HyperFormance feature on an Origin Eon 17S (2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM CPU, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of VRAM, $3,727 as configured) we saw an immediate jump in performance on our gaming benchmarks. For comparison, we used the Alienware M17x R4 (2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM CPU, 8GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M with 4GB of VRAM, $2,599 as configured).
On 3DMark 11, the Eon 17S notched a healthy 6,770 before enabling HyperFormance; with the the feature turned on, the notebook turned in a whopping 8,169. This blows past the desktop replacement category average of 2,944, and was about 2,000 points higher than the M17x.
3DMark Vantage also saw significant improvement with HyperFormance enabled, jumping nearly 1,000 points from 29,171 to 38,959 -- nearly three times the desktop replacement category average (13,026).
Needless to say, we were excited to see Virtu MVP in action while playing a game -- and we weren't disappointed with the results. We started with the relatively lightweight "World of Warcraft," where we turned all of the settings to the maximum and -- most importantly -- enabled vertical synchronization. Sure enough, our frame rate never dipped below 60 frames per second, but thanks to Vysnc it never exceeded the cap either.
When we enabled Virtual Vsync, our frame rate more than doubled to 121 frames per second with the in-game vertical sync turned on. Turning on HyperFormance gave us a further boost, jumping our frame rate to 140 frames per second.
When playing the more graphically intensive "Batman: Arkham City", we saw more modest improvement. As our baseline, we achieved an average of 52 frames per second when we ran the game at native resolution with Vsync enabled, DirectX 11 enabled, anti-aliasing set to FXAA (High) and the detail level set to Very High.
Turning on Virtual Vsync caused our frame rate to jump from 52 to 65 fps. Enabling HyperFormance as well, however, increased our frame rate by a measly 1 frame per second.
Virtu MVP already boasts compatibility with a huge number of games, and Lucid is constantly adding more to the list. What's more, if a game you want to play isn't on the list, you can add it yourself and manually enable HyperFormance; Origin expects that as many as 8 out of 10 games will be immediately compatible with Virtu MVP's features.
Origin has already set the bar for gaming performance with its incredibly fast notebooks and Indiana Jones-esque shipping crates. Adding software designed to boost gamers' FPS -- for free -- can only add to its reputation as one of the premier manufacturers of high quality gaming machines.
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