Valve today released an update to SteamVR Beta that introduces a new system that automatically adjusts the VR game’s resolution in accordance with your GPU’s rendering ability. Presented by Valve Graphics Programmer Alex Vlachos in an official announcement, the auto-resolution tuner is, according to Vlachos, designed to squeeze the best possible visual experience out your GPU, lower the cost of VR, and also make developers’ lives a little bit easier.

For users opted into the beta branch, SteamVR Beta now measures the speed of your GPU and tells applications to render at an appropriate resolution based on its power. The update effects all SteamVR-compatible headsets including Vive, Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, and all Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets, and doesn’t interfere with reprojection techniques and will also work “with all future rendering improvements to SteamVR.”

For users with higher-spec GPUs, this effectively means SteamVR will automatically engage supersampling depending on how fast your GPU is. Vlachos explains that users with less-capable GPUs unable to to render at their headset’s native resolution will also see images “rendered at a slightly lower resolution that is more appropriate for the speed of their GPU.” Application resolution will never be automatically set lower than the Vive or Rift’s native resolution, he says, a 1080×1200 per display resolution.

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The ability to manually edit the app’s resolution is still possible though, found in the ‘Video’ settings in SteamVR (ex-supersample settings).

As for newer headsets with higher display resolutions such as Vive Pro or Samsung Odyssey, the automatic resolution tuner will in effect allow today’s recommended VR-capable GPUs to drive these graphically. According to Vlachos’ previous statement, it appears applications will ostensibly downsample to Rift/Vive’s 1080×1200 per display resolution to achieve this. This, at least, provides a stopgap until you buy a GPU that can render the headset’s higher native resolution.

Photo by Road to VR

“This is exactly what most PC games have done for decades for different resolution monitors and TVs,” Vlachos says. “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.”

Developers should also see some ease-of-use come from the new beta update, as devs won’t need to go through the time intensive process of updating their applications to accommodate for newer VR display resolutions.

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“The same GPU attached to different headsets will render at the exact same application resolution regardless of which headset is attached,” Vlachos says. “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.”

Since the auto-resolution tuner is still in beta, you’ll have to opt in by navigating to ‘Tools’ in your Steam Library. Right click to bring up ‘Properties’, then select ‘beta’ from the dropdown in the ‘Betas’ tab. To opt out, simply return to the stable branch and all beta upgrades will be removed.

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  • brubble

    Sounds like a balanced step forward.

  • Luke

    is good only if never go under the 1.0x super sampling. I hope we can turn it off anyway.

  • Miganarchine Migandi

    This looks cool, after all this time I no longer bother with getting the max setting and just go with 1.5 ss on a 980ti, but to have it done on the fly for each game will be a boon.

  • Raphael

    I’d prefer ASW.

  • psuedonymous

    “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.”
    “This setting does not dynamically adjust per application or during application use.”

    That kind of sucks. SteamVR is already monitoring dynamic render time changes (in order to trigger/exit their version of TimeWarp). Why not do what many games ALREADY do (and have done for decades) and dynamically alter render resolution per-frame depending on available spare render time? A per-GPU whitelist based on average performance seems like a kind of half-arsed solution.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      that’s propably for a next itteration..

    • HybridEnergy

      Yea, I wonder if it conflicts with in game SS if available. Since it can’t scale on the fly.

  • Firestorm185

    I own a 1070 and I have to say after updating to the newest beta for SteamVR I do feel like things are looking a little bit better!

    • Tammy

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  • Raphael

    Tried it last night with Elite Dangerous. It has never looked so good before! At first I wasn’t sure if i was imagining it… then I realised the cockpit displays were all very sharp on my Vive. I had supersampling manually set to various levels before but it still wasn’t too sharp unless I went insane and then my 1070 couldn’t handle it. When I went back to ED main hanger menu last night I was in awe. The detail on the SRV and everything in the hangar.

    • NooYawker

      Anytime Raphael likes something, I take notice.

      • Raphael

        Generally I disagree with stuff. I have tried the updated steamvr with IL2 and DCS World 2.5 and it brings performance improvement to both. With IL2 I can see when the resolution drops a little but it’s very subtle. Previously I’d have frame drops and even a little judder.

        The valve tech have done a great job with this new code.

  • impurekind

    Seems to have just broken my VR headset when used with Steam because now when I try to run something on my Rift it says it cant find the resolution or something to that effect.

    • Raphael

      Did u update your GPU drivers?

  • Ian Shook

    That heil Hitler graphic tho

  • HybridEnergy

    This is really just adaptive super-sampling (like roborecall and arktika1 and some games already have, where you can set as an example something like .7-.1.6 in-game). It just does it in the steam SS instead. However, it’s not as precise and sometimes over-shoots or drops to low causing re-projection or not using full potential. I still set it to manual and do it myself, you know what they say….if you want something done right you gotta do it yourself.

  • Icebeat

    Question, what happens if the game X that I am playing at the begin gives 120 fps and then the frame rate goes to 40? is it going to dynamically adjust the game or what? if not , I will prefers to use the old way.

  • Cool