In order to fully enjoy a PC-based virtual reality (VR) experience, users need a high-end graphics card, such as an Nvidia GeForce 1060 or higher. These cards have seen prices rise and supplies grow low due to demand from cryptocurrency miners. SteamVR have a potential solution for this, which allows lower-end graphics cards to support VR experiences.
The new SteamVR Auto Resolution feature allows users to extract the best performance out of their GPU, and potentially brings VR into reach of people who are unable to afford very high-end cards.
SteamVR runtime measures the speed of the GPU ad then instructs applications to render at the best resolution based upon the available power of the GPU. Many users are not currently able to get the best out of their graphics cards, without needing to spend time manually setting resolution or other graphics settings.
Users who have powerful cards may see their VR experiences be improved as the SteamVR runtime enables higher resolution. Conversely, users with less powerful cards that might be struggling with some of the more visually demanding VR experiences will see images rendered at a lower resolution to lower the demand on the GPU. This resolution will never be rendered any lower than the native resolution of the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
The developers at Steam say this de-couples the requirement to upgrade your GPU at the same time as a VR headset, making the relationship between a headset and graphics card closer to a PC monitor and graphics card.
The resolution update applies to all SteamVR compatible headsets, including the HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift and all Windows Mixed Reality headsets. This update also gives developers of VR content an easier time, as it will no longer be necessary for developers to re-optimise an application when a new headset is added to the SteamVR compatibility list.
The new feature is currently in Beta, and can be made available to users by opting in to the SteamVR Beta. This can be found in the Tools menu in the Steam Library. VRFocus will bring you further updates on new SteamVR features as it becomes available.