Surprise! Not all VR headsets are the same

(Source: SEGA circa 1993)

One of the determining factors that killed S3D was the lack of standards and the incompatibility between 3D glasses from one brand to another. That risk isn’t as great in the VR segment due to DisplayPort and HDMI, and the scalability (by resolution) of the Window-based content. But differences do exist, and they can make one experience quite distinct from one HMD (head-mounted display) to another.

Probably anyone reading this either suspected or even knew that, but it took Mark Poppin to make the investment to document it and produce a definitive analysis. He’s been testing VR HMDs, and recently he compared the Vive Pro versus the Oculus Rift CV and used five games: Fallout 4, Hellblade: Sennua’s Sacrifice, Project CARS 2, Skyrim, and Subnautica for the trials.

Although the Vive Pro has the same 110 degree field of view (FoV) like the Oculus Rift CV1, it features 78% higher resolution than the original Vive or the Rift, and it is aimed primarily at the enterprise market, priced at $799 for the Pro’s HMD or for about $1399 for the complete system. The Oculus Rift CV1 and now the Rift S at $399 and the original Vive at $499 are direct competitors.

The differences reveal themselves. Mark discovered that The Pro needs a faster AIB than what just appears superficially—2880 × 1660 total resolution versus the Rift’s 2160 × 1200 resolution. Because of the ways that HMDs render distortion, there is a per axis multiplier involved. There a 1.4× per axis multiplier and the default render resolution of the Vive Pro is 2016 × 2240. The Rift CV1 uses a ~1.25× scale because of the different lens design with less distortion. Here is a rough pixel comparison of the Pro versus the Rift.

  • Vive Pro—1400 × 1.4 × 1600 × 1.4 ~ 4.5 MP
  • Oculus Rift CV1—1080 × 1.25 × 1200× 1.25 ~ 2.0 MP

Despite the significantly higher demands of the Pro, the HTC Vive, Vive Pro and the Oculus Rift CV1 all require the same minimum video cards—an RX 480 or a GTX 1060.

Mark found that the Oculus and the SteamVR platforms simply cannot be compared apples-to-apples even using the same games. Oculus uses its own runtime while SteamVR uses OpenVR.

His favorite? Well you’ll have to go read his in-depth and very informative article to find out at: VR Wars: The Vive Pro vs. the Oculus Rift – Cross-platform Performance – the RX 5700 XT vs. the 2060/2070 Supers