New Tech Allows Lower-End PC’s To Run Smooth VR Despite Low Framerates.
Like any new technology hitting the consumer market for the first time, virtual reality is currently a pretty expensive form of entertainment. Headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive alone will run you anywhere from $600 to $800 depending on your set up. The real financial investment however is in the beefy PC hardware required to even turn these headsets on. At the end of the day you could end up spending roughly $1,500 to $2,000 just to get everything up and running. Well, Facebook and Oculus heard your concerns and yesterday they took a pretty significant step towards a more reasonably priced VR future.
So what suddenly changed that now the Oculus Rift doesn’t need such a crazy-powerful gaming rig to run? The answer is in a new technology called “asynchronous spacewarp.” What does that mean? I’ll do my best to explain: Normally VR needs to run at a constant 90 frames per second on average in order to deliver a smooth, pleasant experience that doesn’t result in nausea or headaches. That kind of frame rate, head tracking, processing power, requires a powerful system to run everything simultaneously. This asynchronous spacewarp technology uses “frame interpolation techniques” to generate a smooth experience at framerates as low as 45 frames per second. Basically, Oculus just slashed the amount of power required to operate its headset by half by allowing low frame rate support. That. Is. Awesome.
In terms of graphics cards, the Oculus Rift previously required at least an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon 290 GPU to operate correctly. Now, you’ll be able to access VR with any NVIDIA 900 or 1000 series GPU (including the GTX 960), or AMD RX 400 series card. The company is doing its best however to make it clear that this new technology is NOT a replacement for a decent gaming rig. This is merely a stepping stone for consumers with lower-end PC’s looking to purchase an Oculus Rift. Once you upgrade to an appropriately-powered PC, asynchronous spacewarp will be unnecessary. Still exciting nonetheless.
Next to the lack of AAA gaming titles currently available, virtual realities biggest hurdle is its high price. Hopefully these kinds of advances will continue to drop initial investment prices down, making VR more accessible to the general public.