the next couple of years
we're bound to start seeing
more and more MMOGs that push the graphics envelope above and beyond
anything we’ve witnessed so far with the current generation
of titles. While certain upcoming games like href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/swtor">Star
Wars: The Old

are being built with lower system specs in mind, there are
still plenty of others like href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2079">Final
Fantasy XIV

and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2339">TERA
that will no doubt push
the upper limits of what current tech is capable of at the highest
settings. While it remains to be seen exactly which of the upcoming
games will spark the next massive wave of upgrade fever among PC
gamers, at PAX East 2010 the team from Ten Ton Hammer got a preview of
the new GPUs that could very well become some of the hottest sellers
whenever that wave finally hits.

Having led our team of L4D 2
survivors to safety at the end of our
demo of the Immerz KOR-fx forced
feedback unit, Mattlow and I
discovered we had a little bit of time before our next appointment. The
massive NVIDIA booth was close by so it seemed like a no brainer to hop
on over to see what kind of tech they brought to the show. I knew they
would be heavily promoting their 3D Vision technology, but I had no
idea we’d be getting a chance to experience it on demo
stations decked out with dual GTX 480s running in SLI.

border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
style="text-align: center; width: 309px;"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/82923" width="300">

The NVIDIA GTX 480 style="width: 309px; text-align: center;"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/82922" width="300">


Now, normally I wouldn’t consider myself to be much of a
‘graphics whore’ but I have been known to be one of
those PC gamers that
buys new graphics cards more often than a new pair
of shoes. After all, you can still walk around in an old beat up pair
of combat boots, but once your GPU starts to show signs of aging
it’s only a matter of time before you realize that shiny new
game you want to buy simply won’t run until you drop down
some cash for an upgrade, and I typically try and at least stay
of that curve.

That said, I was already intrigued by what I saw graphically at the
various demo stations NVIDIA had set up throughout their booth, but
then learning the price points for the new GPUs - $499 for the GTX 480
and $349 for the GTX 470 – was certainly an unexpected
surprise. Especially when you consider that NVIDIA’s current
high end cards are still selling at around the $500 range for the GTX
295 and $350 for the 285s (which, by the way, we discovered will soon
be phased out, so if you’ve been considering picking up a
second or third 285 for your SLI rig, you may want to consider doing so
sooner rather than later… though then again soon
you’ll be able to pick up the new 470s for roughly the same

The majority of games on display were set up with NVIDIA’s 3D
Vision, which is one of those things that may sound like a gimmick in
print, but as it turns out genuinely does add a hefty amount of
immersion to your PC gaming experience for most newer titles. Certain
MMOGs still have a ways to go before all the kinks are worked out
– for example in href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2">EverQuest

character and NPC names
don’t always properly render in 3D mode – but then
other titles such as href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow">World
of Warcraft

can look pretty awesome,
especially in dungeons and raids where there’s a lot going on
visually at any given point and there are plenty of spacial
reference points thanks to interior architecture etc. Many FPS titles
also benefit from players having a much more realistic perspective on
their surroundings. So rather than assuming relative distance of your
targets, with a little bit of trial and error you can begin to more
accurately pinpoint their range relative to that of your current

src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/82921" width="400">

Later that same day, the full Ten Ton Hammer team made our way to the
main lecture hall to see the official unveiling celebration for the new
NVIDIA cards. Apparently we weren’t the only ones curious to
learn more about the new GTX 400 line, as somewhere around 3,000 gamers
were on hand as well. Throughout the hour long presentation, General
Manager of GeForce NVIDIA Drew Henry revealed many of the details on
what makes these new cards so powerful, as well as announcing that they
would be available through their various retail partners on April 9th.

One feature highlighted both in their booth demo and during the
celebration event is the PolyMorph engine, which will feature
prominently in games supporting DirectX 11 and uses GPU-accelerated
tessellation. In laymen’s terms, tessellation allows for a
much more cinematic graphical experience, as environments and
characters will appear much less blocky and can be highly detailed
without causing framerates to drop.  Drew Henry also explained
just how powerful the new 480 GUPs are noting,
“It’s got 3 billion transistors in it. And to put
that into context, 3 billion transistors is the same as 4 Intel
QuadCore Core i7 CPUs.”

If 3D Vision weren’t enough, the 400 series will also be 3D
Vision Surround ready with the NVIDIA Driver Release 256 due out
sometime next month. During the live stage presentation it was hard to
really get a good impression of how 3D Vision Surround enhances
gameplay enough to be worth the much higher barrier for entry. (3x
120Hz ready monitors or DLP TVs are required to get the full surround
effect, as well as 2 or more graphics cards in SLI mode) but it did at
least provide us an interesting glimpse into what the technology is
capable of.

While much of what was shown likely won’t be fully utilized
in many MMOGs in the short term, looking ahead at the long list of
titles currently in development I expect that many of the 400
series’ features will play a sizable role in the high end
graphics department over the next couple of years. For those of you
interested in seeing the full list of specs for the GTX 480 and 470, be
sure to head on over to the href="http://www.nvidia.com/object/GTX_400.html">official
NVIDIA site, and then share your
thoughts on the newest of the new in GPUs right here in our forums!

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Sardu 1
Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.