Today we are excited to introduce a new feature in SteamVR Beta that allows customers to get the best visual experience out of their GPU, lowers the cost of VR, and makes developer’s lives a little bit easier. We’re doing this by custom-tuning application resolution so that it is optimal for each customer’s GPU and VR headset.
How it works is simple. The SteamVR runtime measures the speed of your GPU and tells applications to render at an appropriate resolution based on the power of your GPU. There are many customers right now with GPUs that aren’t being fully utilized. These customers will now automatically have their VR application resolution up-res’ed – the end result being a clearer and better looking VR experience.
Customers who have GPUs that can’t quite render the native resolution of their headset will automatically see images rendered at a slightly lower resolution that is more appropriate for the speed of their GPU. More clarification about this at the bottom of the post.
The best part is that customers won’t have to do anything to get the correct resolution settings. The SteamVR runtime does all the hard work. Of course, if one prefers a different resolution, it’s easy to manually override this by editing the Video settings in SteamVR (previously known as supersample settings).
This resolution update applies to all SteamVR compatible headsets including the Vive, Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, all Windows MR headsets, etc. In addition, this resolution update is fully compatible with all reprojection techniques and will work with all future rendering improvements to SteamVR.
Lowering the Cost of VR
With higher resolution headsets being released, like the Vive Pro and Windows MR headsets, many customers worry about needing to upgrade their GPU. This is no longer the case. All GPUs will be set to render at an appropriate resolution for the attached headset based on the GPU in their machine. So if you already have a "VR Ready PC" or a "VR Ready GPU", that hardware will work fine even with the newest high resolution VR headset on the market.
This is exactly what most PC games have done for decades for different resolution monitors and TVs. We are now applying this same logic to the SteamVR runtime that will then set the resolution for all VR applications running through Steam on your system.
This means you can keep your current GPU if you don't want to upgrade both your GPU and headset at the same time. Of course, a more powerful GPU will provide a higher fidelity experience in-headset, but you can choose when to upgrade your GPU independent of when you upgrade your VR headset.
Making Developers' Lives Easier
Before today, developers would have to test every supported headset on every supported GPU and make difficult tradeoffs for how to render at the higher resolutions of next-gen headsets. While that sounds like a reasonable thing for developers to do, developers can’t accurately predict the future. And with over 2,000 VR applications on Steam today, it's unreasonable to ask developers to update all of their existing applications to support every new headset with a higher resolution or faster refresh rate as it hits the market. This feature does not require developers to update their applications.
This new auto-resolution system takes the headset out of the equation for developers. Developers can now test their application against the GPUs they support without worrying about what future headsets will require. The same GPU attached to different headsets will render at the exact same application resolution regardless of which headset is attached. And if a headset has a faster refresh rate than older headsets, the resolution will be scaled down based on the difference of refresh rates between headsets. Ultimately, we set the resolution based on how many "VR megapixels per second" we believe your GPU is safely capable of for the majority of applications available.
Currently in Beta
This feature is currently in beta and is available by opting into SteamVR Beta. To opt into SteamVR Beta, find SteamVR under Tools in your Steam Library. Right click to bring up Properties, then select 'beta' from the dropdown in the Betas tab. We look forward to hearing your feedback.
- This feature takes the setting previously known as supersampling, and automatically adjusts it on startup based on the performance of your GPU with your headset.
- This setting does not dynamically adjust per application or during application use.
- If your GPU can't make native resolution on Vive Pro or Windows MR headset, it will scale down and bottom out at the equivalent megapixels per second as a first generation Vive or Rift.
- If your GPU can't make native resolution on a first generation Vive or Rift, it will not automatically be set below native resolution (and it will perform the same as it did before this update).