The Pro 2 Experience & Hardware Configuration

The Pro 2 VR Experience & Test Configuration

Over the past 4 weeks, we have formed impressions of the similarities and differences between the Pro 2 versus the G2 and also versus the Index and the Pro. The Pro 2’s new LCD panel offer higher contrast and brightness than the original Pro while reducing pixel persistence while also offering better consistency in brightness and in color consistency from one pixel to the next. The Pro 2’s LCD panel improvements allow for better looking text and overall clarity than the older headset and it at least matches what the G2 provides.

The Pro 2 and G2 text are significantly clearer and easy to read over the Pro/Index mostly by virtue of their higher resolution.  Higher resolution makes a real difference to overall clarity, and the screendoor effect (SDE) is gone.  On the other hand, god rays emanating from high contrast elements are present in all high resolution HMDs that use Fresnel lenses.  It is about the same as the Pro/Index.  The Pro 2’s field of view appears to be slightly wider than the Index and noticeably wider than the G2 or the Pro.

Comparing simple shooter-type games created for VR, the higher resolution of the Pro 2 over the Index or Pro doesn’t make too much difference – especially since the older headsets can use Supersampling with less demands on the video card.  However, games with a lot of detail or text; or even old games like Skyrim – especially when you are looking off into the distance – the Pro 2’s increased resolution makes a big improvement to realism and immersion.  It is almost as if a fog lifts by playing with the Pro 2 over playing with the Pro/Index as everything becomes clearer and more detailed.

After much experimentation, we found the visual “sweet spot” for the Pro 2 is better for us than for the G2 or for the older headsets.  The only advantage of the original Pro has is its deeper blacks by virtue of its OLED display.   In practice, however, we didn’t have any issues playing games like Elite Dangerous and Star Wars: Squadrons where the deep black of space is required.  Overall, the image quality of the Pro 2 is better than the Index, the Pro or the G2.   However, the G2 wins as the most comfortable of the three headsets due to its comparative lightness although the Pro and the Pro 2 are the most balanced.

VR Gaming with the Vive Pro 2

The Vive Pro 2 is a much more demanding headset than the original Pro or the Valve Index by virtue of its higher resolution.  Image resolution has been increased per eye from the Pro’s (or Valve Index’) 1440 x 1600 to 2448 x 2448.  This higher resolution gives it exceptional clarity with no screen door effect, but it is also demanding on video cards.  By default at the Ultra or Extreme preset, the Vive console uses 150% SteamVR Render Resolution for the Vive Pro 2 which appears to be set to 3900×3900 per eye for high end GeForce cards RTX 3080/3080 Ti/3090 at the time we benchmarked our games.

Some VR gamers prefer to lower the SteamVR Render Resolution which is set at 150% which is often used to compensate for a headset’s lens distortion instead of lowering a game’s preset or by dropping individual settings.  At 50% SteamVR Render Resolution, there is a clear degradation of visuals which indicates that the SteamVR Render Resolution slider is working properly.  However, at 150% Super Resolution, the frametimes go up and framerates are cut in half (which is bad introducing dropped frames and judder) but the variable way that Motion Compensation adds to visible artifacting precludes us from using it.

Ultimately we decided to test – depending on a games performance – at a SteamVR Render Resolution of 150%, 100%, and even at the panel’s native resolution to try and find the right mix of the best playable settings to remain above 90 FPS.

Please note that FCAT VR doesn’t distinguish dropped frames from synthesized (Motion Compensated/reprojected) frames using the Pro 2 (or the Reverb G2) like it properly does for the Valve Index and the Vive Pro.  It is likely that FCAT VR is not fully optimized for the Pro 2 although its results appear to be accurate and in line with fpsVR and the SteamVR developer console overlay.

Test Configuration – Hardware

  • Intel Core i9-10900K (HyperThreading/Turbo boost On; All cores overclocked to 5.1GHz/5.0Ghz. Comet Lake DX11 CPU graphics)
  • EVGA Z490 FTW motherboard (Intel Z490 chipset, v1.3 BIOS, PCIe 3.0/3.1/3.2 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x), supplied by EVGA
  • T-FORCE DARK Z 32GB DDR4 (2x16GB, dual channel at 3600MHz), supplied by Team Group
  • Vive Pro 2, on loan from HTC/Vive; the Wireless Adapter is not used for benchmarking
  • RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition 12GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • 1TB Team Group MP33 NVMe2 PCIe SSD for C: drive
  • 1.92TB San Disk enterprise class SATA III SSD (storage)
  • 2TB Micron 1100 SATA III  SSD (storage)
  • 1TB Team Group GX2 SATA III SSD (storage)
  • 500GB T-FORCE Vulcan SSD (storage), supplied by Team Group
  • ANTEC HCG1000 Extreme, 1000W gold power supply unit
  • BenQ EW3270U 32″ 4K HDR 60Hz  FreeSync monitor
  • Samsung G7 Odyssey (LC27G75TQSNXZA) 27″ 2560×1440/240Hz/1ms/G-SYNC/HDR600 monitor
  • DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX AIO 360mm liquid CPU cooler
  • Phanteks Eclipse P400 ATX mid-tower (plus 1 Noctua 140mm fan)

Test Configuration – Software

  • GeForce 471.11 Game Ready drivers – High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display, no optimizations, Vsync is off as set in the NVIDIA control panel
  • Windows 10 64-bit Pro edition; latest updates
  • Latest DirectX
  • All 6 VR games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication
  • FCAT-VR Capture (latest non-public Beta)
  • FCAT-VR (non-public Beta 18)
  • SteamVR – at variable render resolutions specified on the charts
  • fpsVR

6 VR Game benchmark suite 

SteamVR/Epic Platform Games

  • Assetto Corsa Competizione
  • Elite Dangerous
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Project CARS 2
  • Skyrim
  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

Please Note: It is important to remember that 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/120 FPS or to 45 FPS/60 FPS by the HMD.  In the case of unconstrained FPS which measures just one important performance metric, faster is better.

Next let’s look at the Pro 2’s performance using a RTX 3080 Ti to find the best playable settings for 6 games to maintain framerates above 90 FPS.

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7 COMMENTS

    • Relative clarity depends on many factors.

      Make sure you set the Vive Console setting to Ultra (or Extreme) and work very hard to find your sweet spot. You may have to move the Pro 2 headset higher up on your face (or lower) to find it – and play with the fine tuning to get the lenses at the right distance from your eyes.

  1. Thanks for a thorough review! Loving your VR content, as always! Can I suggest you add MSFS2020 to your suite?

    • Thank-you. We plan to add MSFS 2020 to BTR’s benching suite later this year. It takes significant time to create a good repeatable VR benchmark. We plan to add newer games as they are released.

  2. I recently brought a Reverb G2, and on the whole been very pleased with it’s performance/ for it’s price. I appreciate that there’s always going to be a better product on the way. As I have trouble getting any MSFS2020 VR time in, as both my kids jump in when my back is turned (Beatsabre, half-life Alex etc) I find I’m drawn towards buying a second HMD, this looks like a good candidate.

  3. No comments on the controllers? Considering that’s on of the G2’s weaknesses you’d think it’d be worth mentioning in hmd reviews.

    • They are the same Vive Wand controllers and were originally covered in the Pro (1) review linked in the unboxing. Fortunately, Valve Index Knuckles controllers (or any SteamVR controller) work great and they are an excellent choice.

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