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Basemark's VRScore Benchmark Suite: 6 VR HMDs Tested

Performance Tests

Make sure your HMD is connected to your PC, launch VRScore, and select the test you wish to perform. If you start the benchmark before plugging in an HMD, VRScore will launch in desktop mode. If the software detects a Rift or Vive, it will also find the corresponding driver on its own. However, you must launch the OSVR Server before VRScore to measure an OSVR HMD. And if you want to run the VRTrek Test, make sure you have the VRTrek latency tool plugged into the mic input jack on your motherboard first.

The Official System Test scene features high-resolution textures far beyond the resolution of modern HMDs. Again, the software allows the runtime to set its resolution, making it difficult to compare headsets to each other. Still, Basemark calculates the results of each test to generate a number used for comparing to other systems. 

The Oculus, HTC, and OSVR headsets operate at different resolution settings in VRScore. SteamVR facilitates the highest resolution; although the Vive natively runs at 2160x1200, Valve’s runtime allows settings as high as 3074x1680. The Rift CV1 offers the same visible resolution as the Vive, but Oculus' runtime sets VRScore's resolution to 2664x1586. Both resolutions exceed what you actually see on-screen, but remember VR is rendered to a larger target. What Valve sets as a target requires more horsepower in order to maintain smooth performance. Consequently, the Rift CV1 consistently returns higher scores than the Vive.

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The Oculus Rift DK2 sets a higher resolution too, but it's lower than other HMDs. As a result, we see the DK2 return a better VRScore. Oculus’ second developer kit featured a single 1080p panel with a 75Hz refresh rate, which explains why it doesn't need the same class of hardware as the consumer headsets. The single display in the headset also causes each eye to update at a different pace, which affects score.

"Some of the older HMDs still utilise rolling display update (right-to-left, up-to-down) instead of just global one time flash for whole display," said Arto Ruotsalainen, Basemark's Co-Founder and CEO. "When using VRTrek with rolling displays the measurements can vary depending where the sensors are pointing. VRScore PC with VRTrek will give you Application-to-Photon latency measurement. This is the time from submit of image to HMD to the time when it actually appears as a photon.In general, there are two kinds of displays: global flash (all pixels at the same time) and rolling display (up-to-down, right-to-left, etc). All major brands already have global flash (HTC Vive, Rift) as rolling displays also affect to user experience (nausea, looks like wobbling effect)."

Our sample GPUs come from different performance classes. Gigabyte's GTX 1080 G1 Gaming has no trouble maintaining roughly 90 FPS with the Rift and Vive, but PowerColor's RX 480 struggled to keep up. Conversely, AMD's GPU didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the DK2's 75Hz display.

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VRScore is compatible with OSVR, so we included our OSVR HDK 1.4 kit featuring a 60Hz, 1080p display.

After the DK2 kicked back a higher score than the Vive or Rift CV1, we were surprised to see the OSVR kit return a lower result. OSVR's runtime sets a resolution of 2880x1620 pixels, which is quite a bit higher than the DK2's chosen resolution. Our GeForce GTX 1080 does deliver ample performance for this test. Unfortunately, though, the OSVR headset refused to interface with AMD's Radeon RX 480. OSVR’s driver indicates support for AMD graphics cards, but the headset would not activate in Direct or Extended mode. AMD did release a new software package the day after we received the review copy of VRScore, so perhaps it introduced an incompatibility.

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The VRTrek test includes part of the System Test's VR sequence to measure dropped and duplicated frames. It also features the aforementioned latency test to determine application-to-photon latency. The latency test sends pulses of white light to the headset’s display, and the VRTrek device records when the signal reaches the display. The process is similar to the latency test from Futuremark, which we tested more than one year ago.

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The results page in VRScore doesn’t yield a lot of information, but Basemark provides a full report for each test that you can view online. These numbers feed into a bar graph that compares where your system stands against other configurations, and line graphs that indicate Per Frame Results, Time Taken By Frame Submit, and From Submit To Photon metrics. Basemark allows you to zoom in on the three line graphs to get a better perspective of the data.


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Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.