Updated 06/01/2012: We had originally published this review one month ago. Our results showed no performance improvement by using the Virtu MVP technology with video cards using graphics processors from AMD. Lucid, the developer of the Virtu technology, contacted us saying that the 2.1.110 driver we used (which came on the motherboard’s CD) had a bug and didn’t work correctly with AMD’s Catalyst 12.4 driver. They provided us with a new driver, 2.1.113, which presumably corrects the bug. Therefore, we redid all our tests with this new driver version. Let’s see if it really corrected the problem.
The Virtu Universal MVP is a software-based technology that is available on most motherboards that use the Intel Z77 chipset. It brings two major improvements for games: one related to image quality and another related to performance.
When a game doesn’t limit the number of frames per second the video card is generating to match the video monitor’s maximum refresh rate (or if this limitation, called VSync, was disabled by the user), flaws on the image, popularly known in the gaming community as “artifacts” or “tearing,” may be generated on the screen. This happens because while the monitor is still drawing the current frame, the video card has already sent out the information of the next frame, and the monitor may finish drawing the current frame with information of the next frame, making the image “broken.” Limiting the number of frames per second the video card generates solves this problem, but it limits the performance of the game, and users may perceive the game as being slow.
Virtu Universal MVP implements a technology called “Virtual-VSync” that solves this issue. It allows the video card to generate as many frames as it can and, at the same time, prevents “artifacts” from being drawn on the screen.
The Virtu Universal MVP also allows you to combine the CPU integrated graphics processor to your regular video card, increasing gaming performance. This feature is called “HyperFormance.” This is similar to what occurs with the NVIDIA’s Hybrid SLI and AMD’s ATI Hybrid technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs or CPUs of a specific manufacturer. In this review we will see if this technology really works and how much performance you will gain by using it. We will also take a look at the performance of the integrated graphics processor available on the Core i7-3770K (“Ivy Bridge”) CPU.
Other features available on the Virtu Universal MVP are listed here, while a more in-depth explanation of the Virtu Universal MVP can be seen here and here.
We measured the effects of the Virtu Universal MVP technologies using four video cards at different price ranges, the Radeon HD 6570 with 512 MB GDDR5, the Radeon HD 7750, the Radeon HD 7850, and the Radeon HD 7950. We ran four games on each video card, first without the Virtu Universal MVP driver installed, and then with it installed, to see if there was any noticeable performance gain. We also measured the performance of the Core i7-3770K integrated graphics for comparison purposes.