Lucid Logix VirtuMVP First Look: Integrated And Discrete Join Forces
Introduction, Virtual V-Sync Testing
In my recent review of the Origin EON11-S portable gaming laptop I noted that the performance of the laptop was far behind that of a larger 15.6” or 17.3” model. The laptop won a gold award despite this, as all laptops of this size are bound to physics, but it was an issue worth nothing.
Origin surprised me by responding that they had something in the works that might buff up performance. This confused me. Were they going to cast a spell on it? Would they beam in a beefier GPU? What could they possibly do that would increase performance without changing the hardware?
Now I have the answer. It’s called Lucid VirtuMVP and it uses your existing integrated GPU to improve performance. As with Lucid’s other products, VirtuMVP makes it possible for two different GPUs – in this case, your integrated GPU and your discrete GPU – to work together. It’s not magic – just ingenuity. Let’s take a closer look.
Becoming Familiar With VirtuMVP
VirtuMVP is implemented via two features – Virtual V-Sync and HyperFormance.
Virtual V-Sync is an attempt to get around V-Sync’s disadvantage – the fact it caps frame-rates. Virtual V-Sync circumvents a game’s V-Sync setting, which is left on, and tacks on additional performance using the integrated GPU. This ensures that gameplay is smooth but throws out the framerate cap.
HyperFormance, on the other hand, is a performance boost. Turning on HyperFormance lets the integrated GPU throw in with the laptop’s discrete GPU, which should increase framerates. It won’t defeat a game’s native V-Sync, but you can use Virtual V-Sync and HyperFormance at the same time.
VirtuMVP is mobile GPU vendor independent, but will only work with laptops that have an Intel Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge IGP with an AMD/NVIDIA discrete GPU. There’s no plan to offer it on products with AMD processors. Lucid’s investment from Intel may be part of the reason, but the fact AMD already pairs its IGPs with discrete GPUs in CrossFire surely is another factor.
Virtual V-Sync Testing
The Virtual V-Sync feature works by engaging the integrated GPU to assist in rendering frames that otherwise would be excluded when V-Sync is turned on. This makes it possible to eliminate screen tearing while also running at a framerate above V-Sync’s normal limit of 60 FPS (or some smaller multiple thereof). This, like NVIDIA’s Adaptive V-Sync, is meant to provide a smoother and more responsive gaming experience.
I tested the feature in Civilization V, Skyrim and Battlefield 3 to see how well it worked. I of course used the Origin EON11-S for this test, as this the system being used to debut the feature.
As you can see, the Virtual V-Sync feature does its job. Average framerates normally V-Sync limited to about 60 FPS have the chance to go beyond, which resulted in about 10 to 15 additional frames per second. The less demanding the game, the more additional frames you’re likely to receive. An older title like Modern Warfare could see performance improve by 50% or more.
While this is a technical victory, I do wonder if there’s a point to it. Lucid consistently uses the word “responsiveness” to describe the advantage of Virtual V-Sync. But I’ve never had any problem with games running with V-Sync on and, to my brain, all of these games felt the same with Virtual V-Sync on as they did with the feature turned off.
The main advantage will be the same as NVIDIA’s Adaptive V-Sync. If you’re running a game that constantly fluctuates between 30 FPS and 60 FPS with V-Sync on, and you find that you notice the switch, Virtual V-Sync can eliminate that problem. I have not, in my experience, found it to be a common problem – but it is real, and worth addressing. The fact Virtual V-Sync also lets a game run above 60 FPS is icing on the cake.