Stereo 3D Hardware and Displays
This page is hosted by the PyMOL Molecular Graphics Project
Last Updated September 21, 2007.
To do stereo 3D graphics under Windows, or Linux, you will need a 3D
graphics card with a stereo connector, a good CRT display, a stereo
emitter box, and shutter glasses. Normal LCD displays cannot do
stereo, and the few special LCD display which can do stereo 3D do not
do it well enough for routine professional use.
Graphics cards with stereo connectors:
- nVidia: Quadro FX (Macs must have a Quadro FX 4500).
- ATI: Fire GL
Be sure to confirm that the model you buy has a stereo connector (not all do).
Stereo 3D glasses & emitters:
- More expensive: StereoGraphics (NOTE: Get an E2 emitter. An ESGI won't work).
- Less expensive: NuVision3D
Thanks to increasing LCD dominance, it is getting mucher harder to
find a suitable CRT display. You may need to hunt around or buy a
quality "pre-owned" device.
The critical monitor specifications for Stereo 3D are:
- Must be a CRT (not an LCD).
- Flat screen as big as you can afford (20-22 inches).
- HD15 VGA input (DVI very rare).
- Vertical refresh must be at least 120 Hz.
- Horizontal sync frequency must be at least 126 kHz (ideally 130-140 kHz).
Note that this last detail is CRITICAL. Do not buy a CRT monitor for
stereo 3D until you have confired that it can do a horizontal sync
(H-sync) of at least 126 kHz. H-sync is not the same as vertical
refresh, and you usually need to look on the detailed technical
specifications in order to find it. Beware of cheap consumer-market
displays that have H-sync limits of only 80-120 kHz and thus cannot do
stereo well. Also note that image quality degrades at the top of a
monitor's capable range, so look for a little extra cushion above your
target H-sync frequency.
Stereo 3D Resolutions, Refresh Rates, and H-sync Requirements:
1280x960 @ 120 Hz requires H-sync of 123 kHz
1344x1008 @ 120 Hz requires H-sync of 130 kHz
1400x1050 @ 120 Hz requires H-sync of 136 kHz
Acceptable (but may not work under MacOS X):
1280x960 @ 112 Hz requires H-sync of 115 kHz
1344x1008 @ 112 Hz requires H-sync of 123 kHz
1400x1050 @ 112 Hz requires H-sync of 130 kHz
1600x1200 @ 112 Hz requires H-sync of 136 kHz
Some Noticable Flicker:
1280x960 @ 100 Hz requires H-sync of 103 kHz
1344x1008 @ 100 Hz requires H-sync of 109 kHz
1400x1050 @ 100 Hz requires H-sync of 114 kHz
1600x1200 @ 100 Hz requires H-sync of 123 kHz
Too Small To Be Useful:
1024x768 @ 120 Hz requires H-sync of 100 kHz
Good stereo-capable CRT displays (last ones made -- no longer available new?):
- ViewSonic G225fB (H-sync: 130 kHz) ViewSonic, My Simon, ZD Net
- Samsung SyncMaster 1100MB (H-sync: 130 kHz) My Simon, CDW, Insight
- Philips 202P73 (H-sync: 130 kHz) My Simon, CDW, Insight
(possibly discontinued, but stock is still available as of 5/22/2006).
Optimal stereo-capable CRT displays you can buy used on eBay, etc:
- Iiyama Vision Master Pro 514 / HM204DT (H-sync: 142 kHz)
- DELL/HP/COMPAQ p1230 (H-sync: 140 kHz)
- LaCie Electron 22blue IV (H-sync: 140 kHz)
- NEC FP2141SB-BK (H-sync: 140 kHz)
- NEC-Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070SB-BK (H-sync: 140 kHz)
- NEC-Mitsubishi RDF225WG (H-sync: 140 kHz)
- Sun X7149A (H-sync: 140 kHz)
Good stereo-capable CRT displays you can buy used on eBay, etc:
- DELL/HP/Compaq p1130 (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- IBM P275, ThinkVision C220p, SGI C220 (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- NEC FP1370 (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- Philips 202P4, 202P40, 202P45 (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- Sony GDM-C520K (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- Sun X7146A (H-sync: 130 kHz) ComputerGiants.com?
- Hitachi CM815+, CM815uplus-531 (H-sync: 130 kHz)
- ViewSonic, P225fB (H-sync: 127 kHz - 1280x960 @ 120 Hz)
Borderline displays (will exhibit some noticable flicker):
- Compaq P1100, P1210, P1220 (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- Sun X7199A (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- HP P1120 (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- Samsung SyncMaster 1100 DF, 1200NF (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2040u (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- Hitachi CM823F (H-sync: 121 kHz - 1344x1008 @ 100 Hz)
- Apple Studio Display 21 inch
- Iiyama Vision Master Pro 513 / MA203DT
- Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 930SB
- NEC Accusync 120
- NEC MultiSync FE2111SB-BK, FP955, FE1250+, FP1350X
- Philips 109B40, 109B60, 201B40, 201B45
- Samsung SyncMaster 1000 P, 997DF/997MB
- Sony CDP-E500, GDM-F500R
- Sun X7143A, X7124A
- ViewSonic P220f/fb, G220f/fb, E220, G810/B, G90f/fb, P95f+
Also see: My Simon and http://monitors.alege.net.
If you are struggling to get stereo 3D running under Linux, here are
some stereo-capable XFree86 Modelines for the "Monitor" section of
your XF86Config file:
# 1600x1200 Stereo @ 112 Hz
ModeLine "1600x1200" 302.20 1600 1672 2032 2176 1200 1204 1207 1244
# 1440x1050 Stereo @ ... Hz
# 121 Hz: (max refresh, but text is a bit blurry)
ModeLine "1440x1050" 253.19 1440 1504 1824 1952 1050 1051 1054 1103
# 115 Hz:
ModeLine "1440x1050" 242.55 1440 1504 1824 1952 1050 1051 1054 1103
# 110 Hz:
ModeLine "1440x1050" 234.04 1440 1504 1824 1952 1050 1051 1054 1103
# 105 Hz:
ModeLine "1440x1050" 223.40 1440 1504 1824 1952 1050 1051 1054 1103
# 100 Hz: (my favorite: lotsa pixels, stereo works, and text is clear)
ModeLine "1440x1050" 212.76 1440 1504 1824 1952 1050 1051 1054 1103
# 1280x1024 Stereo @ ... Hz
# 122 Hz: (max refresh, but text may be a bit blurry)
ModeLine "1280x1024" 224.30 1280 1336 1616 1728 1024 1024 1040 1070
# 100 Hz: (easier to read)
ModeLine "1280x1024" 185.69 1280 1336 1616 1728 1024 1024 1040 1070
Warren L. DeLano, Ph.D.
DeLano Scientific LLC
540 University Ave. Ste 325
Palo Alto, CA 94301 USA
- Helpful email from Kurt on finding used monitors (May 2008):
I spoke with you about possible sources for CRT monitors with high
refresh rates, so I thought you would be interested to know that I
found a source. The place is called Play It Again PCs (http://www.piapc.com/).
They sell via eBay, but I bought from them directly. They are located
in Livonia, Michigan and have a warehouse full of equipment. In
particular, they have ~200 of the HP P1230 monitors that they are
selling for $39.99/each.
I bought two that look and perform well (so far).