The experience in unsupported games
All three games we've tried so far have been validated by Lucid. They have their own entry in the Virtu MVP Mobile control panel, and they work without issue, visual artifacts, or instability.
Lucid can't validate every game, however. The official support list is long ("hundreds" of titles long, the company says) but it's largely made up of older games—titles like BioShock 2, Fallout New Vegas, Metro 2033, Left 4 Dead 2, and Unreal Tournament 3. Newer games are fewer and farther between. We've seen Battlefield 3 and Skyrim are in the list, but many fresher releases like Borderlands 2, Dishonored, and Sleeping Dogs haven't yet been added.
That said, users are free to add titles to the list manually and see how things work out. The results are by no means guaranteed, but Origin tells us it's had good luck with that approach. We felt like giving it a try, too, so we did.
We picked Borderlands 2, DiRT: Showdown, and Max Payne 3 as our guinea pigs. You might have seen those games featured in our last GPU review. Virtu MVP Mobile has official support for the original Borderlands and DiRT 3, so we were hopeful that the sequels would behave themselves with HyperFormance enabled.
Borderlands 2 dashed those hopes. Switching on HyperFormance in the game causes random objects to disappear from the scene every time the mouse is moved. Too bad. In all fairness, though, the game's controls do feel quite responsive even with regular vsync enabled.
DiRT: Showdown plays much nicer with Lucid's tech. Enabling it doesn't cause any visual artifacting that we can see. At 1366x768 with the "High" detail preset and 2X antialiasing selected, HyperFormance causes frame rates to rise from around 50 FPS to as high as 80 FPS. However, we can discern no palpable difference in responsiveness, and HyperFormance incurs the same side-effects as in other games we've tried so far: jerky animation and a general sense of grittiness. The game feels totally smooth and fluid without HyperFormance.
Max Payne 3 is the best behaved of our three unsupported games. HyperFormance doesn't cause any visual artifacts that we can see, and it appears to improve input responsiveness to some degree. Yet again, however, animation fluidity is compromised.
In this case, the downsides clearly outweigh whatever small responsiveness improvement we can discern. Max Payne 3 already feels plenty responsive at the default settings, so impairing animation fluidity for a minor responsiveness boost just isn't worth it.
Virtu MVP Mobile vs. Optimus
Before we move on to our conclusion, let's address one final question: does Virtu MVP Mobile incur any drawbacks compared to Optimus? As we noted earlier, Origin says Lucid's virtualization scheme runs on top of Nvidia's switchable graphics technology. Origin also told us battery run times should be as good or better with Virtu MVP Mobile than with Optimus.
That claim was easy to put to the test. Disabling Virtu MVP Mobile simply involves uninstalling the software through the Windows Programs and Features control panel. So, that's exactly what we did. (Virtu MVP's desktop implementation has an on-off switch, but the mobile version works differently.)
With Virtu MVP Mobile uninstalled and Optimus the sole master of the EON11-S's graphics hardware, we recorded a battery run time of 3 hours and 26 minutes. This was in our web browsing test with Wi-Fi on and the display brightness pegged at 50%. When the Lucid software was installed and operational, the run time dipped slightly to 3 hours and 24 minutes. In other words, we're looking at a sub-1% difference, which probably isn't statistically significant. Virtu MVP clearly doesn't reduce battery life substantially compared to Optimus, but it doesn't bring about any improvements, either.
Nor does it compromise the seamlessness of graphics switching. The screen doesn't flash when you unplug the laptop's AC connector, and there's no visible switch that occurs when high-definition video or 3D games are launched. The system skips back and forth between the integrated and discrete graphics in a way that's entirely transparent to the user, just like when Optimus is left to its own devices. The two technologies seem to complement each other nicely.
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