Virtual Reality

10 VR Games

For this review, we benchmarked the Valve Index using FCAT VR and set the SteamVR render resolution to 100% (2016×2240) which uses a factor of 1.4X (the native resolution is 1440×1600) to compensate for lens distortion and to increase clarity. We are going to compare the performance of the RX 7900 XTX with the RX 4080 and versus the RX 4090 at each game’s Ultra/Highest settings.

Unfortunately, FCAT VR still doesn’t work with MS Flight Simulator 2020 or with Star Wars Squadrons.  Here are the ten VR games we tested.

VR Games

  • Assetto Corsa: Competizione
  • Elite Dangerous
  • F1 2022
  • Kayak Mirage
  • Moss: Book II
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Project CARS 2
  • Skyrim
  • Sniper Elite
  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

Synthetic 

  • Time Spy & Time Spy Extreme (DX12)
  • 3DMark FireStrike – Ultra & Extreme
  • Superposition
  • VRMark Blue Room

IMPORTANT: BTR’s charts use frametimes in ms where lower is better, but we also compare “unconstrained framerates” which shows what a video card could deliver (headroom) if it wasn’t locked to either 90 FPS or to 45 FPS by the HMD.  In the case of unconstrained FPS, measuring just one important performance metric, faster is better.

Let’s individually look at our 10 sim-heavy VR games’ performance using FCAT VR.

First up, Assetto Corsa: Competizione.

Assetto Corsa: Competizione (ACC)

BTR’s sim/racing editor, Sean Kaldahl created the replay benchmark run that we use for both the pancake game and the VR game.  It is run at night with 20 cars, lots of geometry, and the lighting effects of the headlights, tail lights, and everything around the track looks spectacular.

Just like with Project CARS, you can save a replay after a race.  Fortunately, the CPU usage is the same between a race and its replay so it is a reasonably accurate benchmark using the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.  iRacing may be more accurate or realistic, but Assetto Corsa: Competizione has some appeal because it feels more real than many other racing sims.  It delivers the sensation of handling a highly-tuned racing machine driven to its edge.

Here are the ACC FCAT VR frametimes using VR Ultra using the Hellhound RX 7900 XTX, the RTX 4080 FE, and the RTX 4090 FE.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RX 7900 XTX managed 85.77 unconstrained FPS with 6339 (50%) synthesized frames with no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 118.42 unconstrained FPS with 207 (2%) synthesized frames with 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 achieved 164.03 unconstrained FPS together with 1 synthetic frame but with no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The ACC racing experience is best with the RTX 4090 although the RTX 4080 delivers a nearly constant 90 FPS on the Epic VR preset unlike the RX 7900 XTX which requires one-half of its frames to be synthesized.

Next, we check out Elite Dangerous.

Elite Dangerous (ED)

Elite Dangerous is a popular space sim built using the COBRA engine. It is hard to find a repeatable benchmark outside of the training missions.

A player will probably spend a lot of time piloting his space cruiser while completing a multitude of tasks as well as visiting space stations and orbiting a multitude of different planets.  Elite Dangerous is also co-op and multiplayer with a dedicated following of players.

We picked the Ultra Preset and we set the Field of View to its maximum.

Here are the frametimes.

Here are the details as reported by FCAT-VR:

The RX 7900 XTX managed 185.21 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized frames with no dropped frames or Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 230.98 unconstrained FPS with 1 synthesized frame and 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 brings 296.16 unconstrained FPS together with 2 synthetic frames but with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses.

Although the Hellhound RX 7900 XTX has the lowest performance, the experience playing Elite Dangerous at Ultra settings is not perceptibly different on any tested video card.  However, the RTX 4090 has a lot more performance headroom to increase the render resolution or to use a higher resolution headset like the Reverb G2 or the Vive Pro 2.

Let’s look at our newest VR sim, F1 2022.

F1 2022

Codemasters has captured the entire Formula 1 2021 season racing in F1 2022, and the VR immersion is good.  The graphics are customizeable and solid, handling and physics are good, the AI is acceptable, the scenery is outstanding, and the experience ticks many of the necessary boxes for a racing sim.

Here is the frametime plot for F1 2022.

Here are the details as reported by FCAT-VR.

The RX 7900 XTX delivered 156.57 unconstrained FPS with 6 synthesized but no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 achieved 200.24 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4090 delivered 254.72 unconstrained FPS together with 3 synthetic frames plus with 3 dropped frames and 3 Warp misses.

The experience playing F1 2022 using the Ultra preset is not very different on any of these video cards but the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 have considerably more performance headroom than the RX 7900 XTX to use 120Hz/144Hz or to use a higher resolution headset.

Kayak VR: Mirage

The outstanding near-photorealistic visual fidelity really sets Kayak VR: Mirage apart from other simulators.  It boasts a wide range of locales with day/night/sunset options offering tropical, icy, desert, and even stormy scenarios with trips to Costa Rica, Antarctica, Norway, and Australia and occasional interactions with wildlife.  It can be played as a relaxing sim or as a strenuous workout with competitive time trials which offer asynchronous multiplayer and ranking on global leaderboards.

We benchmark at 100% resolution with the highest “Cinematic” in-game settings but do not use DLSS or FSR.

Here is the frametime plot for Kayak VR: Mirage.

Here are the FCAT-VR details.

The RX 7900 XTX delivered 198.98 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized frames or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 257.16 unconstrained FPS with 1 synthesized and 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 got 329.35 unconstrained FPS together with 1 synthetic frame and 1 dropped frame plus 1 Warp miss.

Kayak VR: Mirage looks fantastic at 100% resolution with maximum settings and would be well-suited for play on the Reverb G2 with any of our test cards.

Next, we look at Moss: Book II.

Moss: Book II

Moss: Book II is an amazing VR experience with much better graphics than the original game.  It’s a 3rd person puzzle adventure game played seated that offers a direct physical interaction between you (the Reader) and your avatar, Quill, a mouse that bring real depth to the story.  Extreme attention has been paid to the tiniest details with overall great art composition and outstanding lighting that make this game a must-play for gamers of all ages.

Moss II boasts very good visuals and we use the in-game highest settings.

Here are the frametimes plots of our four cards.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RX 7900 XTX delivered 189.29 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 308.44 unconstrained FPS with 1 synthetic and 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 achieved 436.34 unconstrained FPS no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

Unfortunately, the experience playing Moss II on the Valve Index using the RX 7900 XTX is marred by visual issues including artifacting and shimmering.

Next, we will check out another demanding VR game, No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky (NMS)

No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival single and multiplayer game that emphasizes survival, exploration, fighting, and trading.  It is set in a procedurally generated deterministic open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion unique planets using its own custom game engine.

The player takes the role of a Traveller in an uncharted universe by starting on a random planet with a damaged spacecraft equipped with only a jetpack-equipped exosuit and a versatile multi-tool that can also be used for defense. The player is encouraged to find resources to repair his spacecraft allowing for intra- and inter-planetary travel, and to interact with other players.

Here is the No Man’s Sky frametime plot.  We set the settings to Maximum which is a step over Ultra including setting the anisotropic filtering to 16X and upgrading to FXAA. We did not use any upscaling method.

Here are the FCAT-VR details of our comparative runs.

The RX 7900 XTX brought 108.17 unconstrained FPS with 3536 (50%) synthesized frames but no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 159.10 unconstrained FPS with 2 synthesized frames but with no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4090 achieved 201.96 unconstrained FPS together with 17 synthetic frames but with no dropped frames nor Warp misses.

RX 7900 XTX gamers may want to lower some individual settings to remain above 90 FPS.  The RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 have enough performance headroom to increase the refresh rate, render resolution, or to perhaps use a higher resolution headset.

Let’s continue with another VR game, Project CARS 2, that we still like better than its successor even though it is no longer available for online play.

Project CARS 2 (PC2)

There is still a sense of immersion that comes from playing Project CARS 2 in VR using a wheel and pedals.  It uses its in-house Madness engine, and the physics implementation is outstanding. 

Project CARS 2 offers many performance options and settings.

Project CARS 2 performance settings

We used maximum settings including for Motion Blur but picked SMAA Ultra instead of MSAA.

Here is the frametime plot.

Here are the FCAT-VR details.

The RX 7900 XTX delivered 194.77 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized nor dropped frames or Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 got 200.88 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized frames nor dropped frames and no Warp misses.

The RTX 4090 achieved 253.50 unconstrained FPS together with 3 synthetic frames plus 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses.

The experience playing Project CARS 2 using maximum settings is similar for all three video cards.

Next we will check out a classic VR game, Skyrim VR.

Skyrim VR

Skyrim VR is an older game that is no longer supported by Bethesda, but fortunately the modding community has adopted it.  It is not as demanding as many of the newer VR ports so its performance is still very good on maxed-out settings using its Creation engine.

We benchmarked vanilla Skyrim using its highest settings plus we increased the in-game Supersample option to maximum.

Here are the frametime results.

Here are the details of our comparative runs as reported by FCAT-VR.

The RX 7900 XTX provided 218.2 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 achieved 239.08 unconstrained FPS with 2 synthetic frames plus 2 dropped frames and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 delivered 337.76 unconstrained FPS together with 2 synthetic frame and with 2 dropped frames plus 1 Warp miss.

All cards deliver an identical vanilla Skyrim VR experience with a ton of extra performance headroom to add mods and, in addition, to raise the render resolution using the two faster cards.

Next we check out Sniper Elite VR.

Sniper Elite VR

Sniper Elite VR’s visuals are decent with good texture work that is well-realized.  The building architecture and panoramas look good, explosions are convincing and the weapons convey a sense of weight, although not achieving realism.  It is primarily an arcade style sniping game featuring its signature X-Ray kill cam, but it offers multiple ways to achieve goals including with explosives and by using three other main weapon choices besides your rifle.

We benchmarked using the Highest settings.

Here is the frametime plot.

Here are the details:

The RX 6900 XT delivered 197.98 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 delivered 223.33 unconstrained FPS with no synthesized or dropped frames nor Warp misses.

The RTX 4090 brought 318.03 unconstrained FPS together with 1 synthetic and 1 dropped frames and 1 Warp miss.

All three cards deliver a similar playing experience on High with the RTX cards offering more performance headroom.  We recommend that any performance headroom be used for increasing the SteamVR render resolution.

Last up, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinner is the last of BTR’s 10 VR game benching suite.  It is a first person survival horror adventure RPG with a strong emphasis on crafting.  Its visuals using the Unreal 4 engine are very good and it makes good use of physics for interactions.

We benchmarked Saints and Sinners using its High preset and we left the Pixel Density at 100%. Here is the frametime chart.

Here are the details as reported by FCAT-VR.

The RX 7900 XTX delivered 198.93 unconstrained FPS with no synthetic nor dropped frames or Warp misses.

The RTX 4080 got 260.94 unconstrained FPS with 1 synthetic frames and 1 dropped frames and 1 Warp miss.

The RTX 4090 achieved 366.41 unconstrained FPS together with 6 synthetic frames and with 4 dropped frames and 4 Warp misses.

The RX 7900 XTX experience was marred by artifacting and shimmering.

Let’s check out synthetic VR tests and unconstrained framerates.

Unconstrained Framerates & Synthetic VR Benchmarks

The following chart summarizes the overall Unconstrained Framerates (the performance headroom) of our three cards using our 10 VR test games. In addition, we added recent RTX 3080 Ti and 6900 XT results for comparison.  The preset is listed on the chart and higher is better.  In addition, we present three synthetic VR benchmarks.

Although synthetic VR benches (except for OpenVR benchmark) predicted good VR performance, we were disappointed with our 7900 XTX VR experience, unlike with pancake games.  In at least two games, we experienced distracting visual artifacting and texture shimmering.  The 7900 series may benefit from some attention to VR from the Radeon driver team as in many cases it even falls behind the RX 6900 XT.

At AMD’s press event in Las Vegas, the presenters noted that AMD drivers continue to improve for the entire life of the architecture – generally with an up to 10% performance gain – often compared to “fine wine” aging well.  However, for VR enthusiasts today, the RX 7900 XTX is disappointing and it performs well behind the RTX 4080 not logging a single performance win.

We next look at creative, pro, GPGPU, and workstation apps.