AMD and NVIDIA GPU Vive VR Performance in Raw Data

Author:Kyle Bennett

Date: Monday , August 01, 2016

Both AMD and NVIDIA have had a lot to say about "VR" for a while now. VR is far from mainstream, but we are now seeing some games that are tremendously compelling to play, putting you in middle of the action. Raw Data is one of those, and it is extremely GPU intensive. How do the newest GPUs stack up in Raw Data?

What is Raw Data?

Raw Data is an early access first person shooter PC game that is available on Steam. It was built with VR head mounted displays in mind and currently requires an HTC Vive with tracked motion controllers in order to play.

We at HardOCP have been watching the VR gaming category intensely and most of our readers know we have a penchant for first person shooter games. We have also been on the lookout for GPU-intensive games, and Raw Data fits that bill. Minimum requirements specify Windows 10, 8GB RAM, an Intel i5-4590 (3.7GHz 4C/4T), and a GeForce GTX 970 video card. Recommended specifications spell out Windows 10, 16GB RAM, an Intel i7-4770 (3.9GHz 4C/8T), and a Geforce GTX 980 video card. Yes, there are some other games (The Gallery-Ep.1, Hover Junkers) with similar recommended specs, but after spending some time with Raw Data we have found that you can scale its visual quality beyond what even brand new GPUs can handle. Actually far beyond what those can handle.

Raw Data is not a game that you will be sitting behind your desk playing either. You need a "room scale" space in order to play, and Steam stats show that most VR users are going this route.

If you are wondering where a single GTX 1080 will get us in terms of IQ scaling in Raw Data, it does not get us to its maximums, but it does come very close.

There is a very good interview about Raw Data over on the site that is worth a read.

The HTC Vive Experience & Image Quality

If you have not experienced a First Person Shooter using Virtual Reality hardware like the Vive, it is truly hard to explain exactly just how engrossing the experience can be. We bought the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift for the VR testing that we wanted to do here at HardOCP. Keep in mind that the Oculus currently does not support room scale play, and does not come with hand held controllers, although those are on the way...some day. The Vive already has room scale support and hand held controllers available. After using the Vive in a room scale environment that allows use of the hand held controls along with a bit of movement, the Oculus has never been removed from the box it came in due to it not supporting this type of gameplay currently.

While there have been times that the high end gaming PC gaming community has been extremely focused on image quality, always pushing towards photo realism, even games that have had great graphics have been panned hard in terms of reviews and sales. Content has always been king in PC desktop gaming, and the Vive will make it utterly clear just how true this is. You can run Raw Data at low enough IQ settings, that it looks "horrible" in terms of current day desktop IQ expectations...and the gaming experience is still immersive and compelling. Wielding a single pistol and experiencing the environment in a full 360 degrees around you is enough to make you forget about how aliased and blurry everything looks. For the game testing I did in this in this article, I have mostly been leaving my headphones off so I have not had in-game sound, and experiences in Raw Data still immerse me... even at the lowest IQ settings.

There is one thing in this game that does suck at low IQ settings and that is the fact that everything is so aliased, that lining up the front sight on your pistol for a long shot can be futile at best, and that can somewhat break the immersion. I would love to see the gun sights issue addressed somehow so gamers with lower end GPUs can have just as an immersive VR experience as guys that shell out the big bucks for GPUs.

That said you can also turn up the IQ settings in Raw Data, if you are lucky enough to have possession of GTX 1080, and it looks extremely good. It still looks like a game, but it is very easy on the eyes and it goes a long way towards making the game that much more immersive, even when you are not in one of those tense moments where everything in the room is trying to kill you from every possible angle of attack. (Side note: HordeZ is another fun VR game that is worth looking into as well if you like the first person shooter genre and I have found it extremely immersive as well.)

One thing that I have learned is that you should not expect any game to look as good as the video trailer you saw for it, especially not in VR...except for NVIDIA VR Funhouse, at least for now. VR Funhouse looks exactly like the trailer if you have the cards to push it. VR headsets, at least the Vive, and from what I read the Oculus Rift as well, just are not the best screens in the world. You get artifacting at the edges and "screen door" pixels among other things, but the moment the shit hits the fan in your VR game, you will no longer care about how "bad" things look. At least that is my experience. There are a number of posts in our VR & Head-Mounted Displays Forum that cover a lot of these visual fidelity issues. Some impact users more than others, while some seem to have no impact at all. Suffice it to say, if you are thinking about shelling out the big bucks for VR, I would read up on the user experiences in that forum as there is a lot of good information to be gleaned from there.

As you can probably tell from what is written above, we have gotten to be big fans of VR in the last couple of months. The Vive has gotten me as excited about gaming as AMD Eyefinity did back in March in 2010, and that was pretty damn excited. And in a few ways, I personally see the Vive and Rift being Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround killers. Between VR, the appearance of 4K TVs with low input lag gaming, and Pascal generation GPUs being able to easily drive these devices, Eyefinity’s and Surround’s days are numbered in my opinion. I have personally used 3-display Eyefinity and Surround for over 6 years and I just recently replaced it with a single Samsung 48" JS9000. Now that I have the Vive I will never again deal with a multi-monitor desktop where gaming is involved.