Update, 7/11/16, 9:50pm PT: We received a reply from Nvidia's Senior PR Manager, Brian Del Rizzo, about the issue. Nvidia was aware of the problem and already has a solution. Del Rizzo said that the new driver that is due later this week will solve the Boost clock issue as well as the Display Port to Vive incompatibility.
Last week we reported that there is a compatibility issue between the HTC Vive and Nvidia’s Pascal-based graphics cards. Nvidia said that a solution is coming this week, but we’ve now discovered another problem.
Nvidia released GeForce Game Ready Driver 368.69 on July 6 in preparation for the impending release of Codemasters’ Dirt Rally VR update. Though this driver is meant to prepare your system for a VR game, the update (rather ironically) broke the ability for the GTX 1080 to put its impressive boost clock to work. We tested the driver to see if the Vive display port issue was corrected, but we had no reason to monitor boost clocks at the time.
Over the weekend, people started reporting on the GeForce support forums and the Oculus community support forums that the boost clock of GTX 1080 cards wasn’t activating in VR games. This morning, a similar report surfaced on the r/Oculus sub-Reddit. We performed a few tests to verify the issue ourselves, and we can confirm that the problem is real.
When both SteamVR and the Oculus Rift display are activated, our GTX 1080 constantly runs the GPU at the base clock. Even with just the compositor open, the GPU never fluctuates from the base clock speed while SteamVR is running.
We can’t say for sure if this will happen with the GTX 1070, because we don’t have one at the lab where our VR equipment is. However, we can verify that this does not happen with Maxwell-based cards.
We ran a couple of spot check tests on two SteamVR games, Space Pirate Trainer and The Brookhaven Experiment, and one Rift game, Lucky's Tale. We also tested Unigine Heaven to verify that regular content isn’t affected by the locked boost clock. We used a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming and a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming for comparison.
The Heaven benchmark test demonstrated that the boost clock for both cards worked as it should, but as soon as we started SteamVR, things changed. The clock speed of the 1080 immediately jumped from its idle clock (close to 250 MHz) to the base clock of 1,696 MHz. The Oculus Home software had a similar reaction, but this happened only when the Rift was off. When the proximity sensor detects something and the displays turn on, the boost jumps to 1,696MHz and remains there. Our GTX 980 Ti was not subject to either of these concerns. It boosts happily with the latest driver installed.
We also tested the previous version of the GeForce display drivers. Version 368.39, which was released with the GTX 1070 in June, doesn’t suffer from any of the aforementioned issues, so it may be a viable solution until Nvidia sorts this out. Nvidia said it will be releasing a new Game Ready driver this week. Perhaps the company already has a solution in the pipeline. In the meantime, don't forget to close SteamVR when you aren't using the Vive, unless you decide to roll back to last month's GeForce release.
We’ve reached out to Nvidia for comment.
|Graphics card||GTX 1080 G1 Gaming - Driver 368.39||GTX 1080 G1 Gaming - Driver 368.69||GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming - Driver 368.69|
|Heaven GPU Clock||1,938 MHz||1,938 MHz||1,443 MHz|
|Space Pirate Trainer GPU Clock||1,823 MHz||1,696 MHz||1,443 MHz|
|Brookhaven Experiment GPU Clock||1,936 MHz||1,696 MHz||1,443 MHz|
|Steam VR GPU Clock||1,696 MHz||1,696 MHz||1,215 MHz|