AMD Ryzen Proves VR on Integrated Graphics Isn’t Far Off
In mid February of 2018, AMD released the first two Ryzen desktop processors with integrated Vega graphics. As we saw in testing, the Ryzen 3 2200G and the Ryzen 5 2400G deliver impressive performance for budget gaming. Both are capable of delivering impressive 720p performance in modern games (for integrated graphics silicon), and passable 1080p performance in somewhat older titles. It’s fair to say that AMD’s first round of so-called "Raven Ridge" processors live up to the expectations that AMD set for these budget-friendly parts. We’ve already demonstrated their traditional gaming capabilities, but we wanted to know if these chips could handle something a little bit more immersive--namely virtual reality.
To be clear, the Raven Ridge processors fall far short of the necessary performance threshold for the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive platforms. In fact, the chips' VR gaming performance is so poor that we didn’t even include VR Mark results in their respective reviews. Indeed, we have no delusions about running one of those headsets with AMDs integrated graphics--at least, not this generation. However, the performance threshold for Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform is much lower.
Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality (which in its current form is really just VR by another name) demands the lowest system requirements of any desktop/laptop VR platform currently on the market. And that's important in these days of expensive RAM and even more expensive high-end graphics cards. The HTC Vive requires a minimum of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290, and the Oculus Rift supports cards that rank as low as the GTX 960/GTX 1050 Ti from Nvidia or the RX 470 from AMD. By contrast, Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality “Ultra” specification calls for GPUs from a tier lower, such as Nvidia’s GTX 1050 or AMD’s RX 460 cards. The Vega GPU cores in our Raven Ridge chip are no comparison for most of the GPUs mentioned above. However, Microsoft also offers a lower spec option with WMR that works with Intel’s HD Graphics 620 integrated graphics. The low spec option doesn’t support many games, but it does offer an immersive productivity environment, and that’s the experience we’re after--at least for starters.
Microsoft doesn’t yet officially support AMD’s Ryzen processors with Vega graphics for mixed reality. However, the performance potential of the Ryzen 5 2400G far surpasses that of Intel's integrated HD Graphics 620 silicon, which is expressly supported. Despite not having an official nod from Microsoft, we wanted to find out first-hand: Can a system powered by a Ryzen 5 2400G run a Windows Mixed Reality HMD to any reasonable degree?
On the Intel side, Microsoft worked closely with the company to ensure that 6th, 7th, and 8th generation Intel Core i processors with integrated graphics would be able to drive the Windows MR headsets, but Microsoft had to cut serious corners to make it work. Intel’s HD Graphics 620 can’t reliably deliver the 90 frames per second (fps) that's been the standard smooth VR for a while now. So the Windows MR headsets operate at a lower 60Hz refresh rate when powered by Intel's integrated graphics. We suspected that the extra graphics capability of AMD’s Ryzen G processors could deliver a better Window MR experience than Intel’s integrated graphics, but there was only one way to find out. So we gathered some parts together and started building and testing.
MORE: Virtual Reality Basics