- Review Price: £879.00
nVidia recently launched an initiative that aims to provide us, the computer buying public, with faster, cheaper PCs. The name of this scheme is Balanced Computing, and as the name suggests, the idea behind it is to educate PC vendors and consumers alike on the values of constructing and buying PCs that consist of a balanced set of components, rather than the traditional view that the fastest CPU is best.
It’s a system that’s been built with this initiative in mind that I’m reviewing today but before I get onto the review I’ll explain a little more about the Balanced PC concept.
Of course, with nVidia being a company that designs and manufactures graphics card and chipsets, it should come as no surprise that it isn’t encouraging you to go out and buy a bigger hard drive or invest in more memory. Instead it would like to shift the emphasis from buying a PC with the fastest CPU to getting the nippiest graphics card for your money.
Now although this sounds like a whole load of marketing fluff, there are actually a fair number of reasons why this is a sensible suggestion for many people, not just gamers.
It goes without saying that gamers are going to be the main beneficiaries, at least in the near future, as system vendors will now stock lower cost PCs that still feature cutting edge graphics. However, with projects like nVidia’s CUDA, and ATI’s CTM GPGPU implementations gaining more ground and even Intel muscling in on the graphics party, it is clear that the huge parallel processing power of the GPU is soon going to be utilised by more and more software. This should not only speed up games but also many other aspects of everyday computing.
For instance, one of the first mainstream products that has seen GPU acceleration is the lowly PDF-reader, Adobe Reader. As anyone who regularly uses PDFs will know, they can be slow to scroll and generally a bit sluggish on less powerful PCs (or notebooks). But with the release of the GPU accelerated Adobe Reader 8 a lot of the work of reading PDFs has been taken off the CPU’s hands to make reading PDFs easier and quicker than ever.
Other examples are Cooliris’ PicLens and Google’s Picasa image viewer and its Earth global mapping software. These already utilise graphics card acceleration to give these graphics-rich programs that real-time, instant response we all crave from our computers.
(centre)”PicLens’ 3D image search already takes advantage of your PCs graphics card.”(/centre)
Further down the line, the next iteration of Adobe Photoshop is also set to gain GPU acceleration. This will enable previously time consuming tasks like image rotation and filter application to be performed in real-time. We’re not talking little web-size images like we use in our articles, either. You’ll soon be able to spin round a 15-megapixel RAW file like it were a spinning top.
Essentially, in the future, any computing task that involves some sort of image manipulation or visual interaction could benefit from GPU acceleration. So, look out for new versions of your favourite web browsers, video editors, image viewers, and more, as you may find they take on a whole new level of usability that you never thought possible. It’s also worth remembering that most new graphics cards from the last six to twelve months incorporate dedicated video playback acceleration, which takes the burden of decoding and playing back high-definition video away from the CPU, giving you smooth high-quality video.
Although nVidia has formally announced this initiative and you can read up about it on its website, you won’t start seeing PCs branded with some kind of Balanced PC logo any time soon. For now, nVidia is keeping things low-key, concentrating on working in the background with system vendors like Scan to start encouraging them to offer systems that remain great value but also give the best possible, balanced, computing experience.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Scan 3XS GTX.