SteamVR are Resolving The Resolution Problem

The update comes just as VR headsets are starting to branch out in terms of resolution; the new Vive Pro will offer a 3K resolution, for example, beating the optics on the original headset and the Oculus Rift and matching some of the new Windows VR headsets. Now, however, SteamVR will able to "up-res" an application resulting in a "clearer and better looking VR experience".

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. That automatic resolution downscaling will never dip below the 1080×1200 per eye minimum set by the Vive and Rift, though, and can be overridden in Steam's Video settings if you want to push your hardware a bit more than the recommended level. All GPUs will be set to render at an appropriate resolution for the attached headset based on the GPU in their machine.

SteamVR 2.0 may still be a ways off but Valve is introducing a new innovation on the software side today that should help VR owners get the most out of their headset.

Details aside, Valve writes, the point of the update is to essentially "take the headset out of the equation for [VR] developers". 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.

On the other hand, if the checks find that your GPU is struggling to render at the native resolution of the headset you're using then apps will use a lower resolution, allowing for better performance. Rather than having to tune VR performance for a wide array of different display resolutions and refresh rates, those developers can now "test their application against the GPUs they support without worrying about what future headsets will require". Steam suggests that any "VR Ready" PC or GPU will now work properly with the latest high-resolution VR headsets, freeing users from the need to upgrade GPUs and headsets at the same time. You can experience the feature for yourself by opting into the SteamVR Beta from your Steam library.

"This is exactly what most PC games have done for decades for different resolution monitors and TVs", Valve writes.

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