VR Wars: Ampere vs. Big Navi – Is the RTX 3060 Ti the New Bang-for-Buck VR Champ?

Ampere vs. Navi 2 – Introducing the RTX 3060 Ti at $399

The RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition (FE) has arrived at $399 and we want to see how this upper midrange video card performs in VR compared with the new Ampere and Navi 2 cards.  This review presents a VR performance showdown featuring the RTX 3060 Ti FE, the reference RX 6800 versus the RTX 3070 FE, and the reference RX 6800 XT versus the RTX 3080 FE using the Vive Pro and FCAT VR

In pancake games, the $399 RTX 3060 Ti is faster than the Turing GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER which launched originally at $699, and on average 40% faster than its predecessor, the GeForce RTX 2060 Super, the new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is the brand new addition to the GeForce RTX 30 Series.  It delivers 16.2 shader TFLOPs,31.6 RT TFLOPs, and 129.6 Tensor TFLOPs over a 256-bit memory interface using 8GB of GDDR6 and it is based on the same GA104 chip used in the $499 RTX 3070 but with less processing units.

Source: NVIDIA. .

We want to first see where the RTX 3060 Ti fits regarding VR performance and if it is a worthy upgrade from an older video card.  Although a fast CPU is important for geometry and other processing, smooth VR delivery depends mostly on the video card.  An underpowered video card can even cause reprojecting and artifacting for a substandard playing experience that can even lead to VR sickness.

Since we posted our original review, we have benchmarked more than 20 VR games for our follow-up reviews over the past nearly four years.  We have also compared FCAT-VR with our own video benchmarks using a camera to capture images directly from our HMD’s lenses.  For BTR’s VR testing methodology, please refer to this evaluation.

We currently benchmark fifteen VR games using the Vive Pro that features 2880×1600 resolution (1440×1600 pixels per eye), the same as the Valve Index.  BTR’s testing platform is an overclocked Intel Core i9-10900K, an EVGA Z490 FTW motherboard, and 32 GB of Vulcan Dark Z DDR4 at 3600MHz on a clean install of Windows 10 64-bit Pro Edition using GeForce Game Ready Driver, 457.51, and Adrenalin Software 20.11.3 drivers.

It is important to be aware of VR performance since poorly delivered frames can make a VR experience unpleasant.  It’s also important to understand how we accurately benchmark VR games using FCAT-VR as explained here.  But before we benchmark our VR games, check out our Test Configuration below.

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, on loan from HTC/Vive; the Wireless Adapter is not used for benchmarking
  • RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition 8GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • RTX 3070 Founders Edition 10GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • RTX 3080 Founders Edition 10GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • RX 6800 Reference Edition 16GB, stock clocks, on loan from AMD.
  • RX 6800 XT Reference Edition 16GB, stock clocks, on loan from AMD.
  • 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 457.30 (RTX 3080) and 457.51 (RTX 3070/RTX 3060 Ti) Game Ready drivers – High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display, no optimizations, Vsync is off as set in the NVIDIA control panel
  • Adrenalin Software 20.11.2 (RX 6800 XT) and 20.11.3 (RX 6800) – All optimizations are off, Vsync is forced off, Texture filtering is set to High, and Tessellation uses application settings
  • Windows 10 64-bit Pro edition; latest updates v2004.
  • Latest DirectX
  • MSI’s Afterburner, 4.6.3 beta to set the cards’ power and temperature limits to their maximums
  • All 15 VR games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication
  • FCAT-VR Capture (latest Beta 03/04/20)
  • FCAT-VR Beta 18
  • SteamVR – at 100% resolution unless specified

15 VR Game benchmark suite & 4 synthetic tests

Synthetic

  • VRMark Cyan Room
  • VRMark Blue Room
  • Unigine Superposition VR Benchmark
  • OpenVR Benchmark

SteamVR/Epic Platform Games

  • ARK: Park
  • Assetto Corsa Competizione
  • Boneworks
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Fallout 4
  • Half Life: Alyx
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Into the Radius
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Obduction
  • Project CARS 2
  • Skyrim
  • Subnautica
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

The Unreal 4 engine is a very popular engine for VR development, and seven of our fifteen test games are created with it.  The Creation and Unity engines are each used for two games, while the COBRA, No Man’s Sky, Source, and Madness engines are each represented by one game.

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 or to 45 FPS by the HMD.  In the case of unconstrained FPS which measures just one important performance metric, faster is better.

Let’s individually look at our fifteen VR games’ performance using FCAT VR.  All of our games were benchmarked at 100% SteamVR resolution or higher (as noted), although some games were also set in-game to a higher resolution or increased pixel density as described for each game, as we benchmark the RTX 3060 Ti to see where it stands in relation to the other 4 new video cards.

First up, ARK Park.

ARK Park 

ARK Park is a single or multiplayer VR adventure game set in a dinosaur theme park, and it allows gamers to interact with a few of the dinosaurs in ARK: Survival Evolved.  The idea is to explore your own “Jurassic Park”, study genetics, raise baby dinosaurs from eggs, ride and paint them, and even defend the park against attacking dinosaurs in a wave shooter segment.  It’s not a great game with small maps, but its visuals are still worth benchmarking.

ARK: Park has very few adjustable settings so we benchmark it using its highest preset.  We also used SteamVR to increase the resolution from 100% to 200%.

Here are the performance results of our two competing cards using FCAT VR’s generated chart.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 194.95 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 frames were synthesized.  In addition, it suffered 2 Warp Misses.

The RTX 3070 achieved 216.02 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped and 6 synthetic frames together with 1 Warp miss.

The RX 6800 delivered 165.79 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no frames were synthesized.  It suffered no Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 174.25 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frame and 1 frame was synthesized.  In addition, it suffered 1 Warp Miss.

The RTX 3080 achieved 265.48 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped and 4 synthetic frames together with 2 warp misses.

There isn’t any difference playing on any of our cards at our chosen settings using 200% Super Resolution as ARK Park is built on the Unreal Engine and it is just not very demanding.  However, the RTX 3080 has significantly more performance headroom than the RX 6800 XT and even the RTX 3060 Ti is faster.

Next up, Assetto Corsa Competizione.

Assetto Corsa Competizione

BTR’s sim/racing editor, Sean Kaldahl created the replay benchmark run used for both the pancake game and the VR game.  It is run at night with lots of geometry, and the lighting effects of the headlights, tail lights, and everything around the track adds to the feel of racing.

Just like with Project CARS, you can save a replay after a race.  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 against 20 AI drivers.
Although 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.

The race was cut short on the RTX 3070 at 71 seconds instead of the usual 107 seconds.  Here are the VR High frametimes.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti managed to deliver 92.67 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frame or Warp misses, but 3597 (37%) frames were synthesized.

In runs accidentally cut short, the RTX 3070 achieved 103.85 unconstrained FPS with 7 dropped and 668 (10%) synthetic frames together with 7 Warp misses.  If the runs were completed, the unconstrained FPS may have been higher as the first part of the course is more demanding.

The RX 6800 delivered 102.45 unconstrained FPS with 17 dropped frames and 743 (8%) frames were synthesized.  It suffered 17 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 126.67 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses but 125 frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3080 achieved 139.01 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped and 181 synthetic frames together with 2 warp misses.

The RTX 3060 Ti would perform better using lowered settings as 37% synthesized frames are unacceptable for a high quality VR sim experience.  The RTX 3070 and the RX 6800 also suffer many Warp misses so these three cards are next tested on VR Low.

Here are the VR Low details as reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 157.08 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but only 2 frames were synthesized using the lower preset.

In runs accidentally cut short, the RTX 3070 achieved 175.89 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped and 4 synthetic frames together with 1 Warp miss.  If the runs were completed, the unconstrained FPS would probably have been higher.

The RX 6800 delivered 186.66 unconstrained FPS with 4 dropped frames and no frames were synthesized.  It suffered no Warp misses on the lower preset.

VR Low shows a noticeable drop in visuals from VR High, and we would suggest lowering individual settings instead of dropping from the High to Low preset to stay out of reprojection.  Unfortunately, there is no “VR Medium” preset.

Next, we look at Boneworks.

Boneworks

Boneworks is a rare game that couples a fair single player campaign with an incredible sandbox and next generation VR physics interactive tour de force.  We benchmark using the ‘Time Tower’ level.

Boneworks made on the Unity engine has average to very good visuals and it particularly benefits by allowing for high levels of MSAA up to 8X which we use for benching. We also enable ambient occlusion and use the highest settings, and in addition, we set SteamVR’s resolution to 160%.

Here are the frametimes testing all 5 of our cards at 160% resolution.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 132.32 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frame or Warp misses, but 2 frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 achieved 145.11 unconstrained FPS with no dropped, synthetic frames, or Warp misses.

The RX 6800 delivered 186.17 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames but 63 frames were synthesized.  It suffered no Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 210.49 unconstrained FPS with no dropped, synthetic frames, or Warp misses.

The RTX 3080 achieved 190.82 unconstrained FPS with 5 dropped and 7 synthetic frames together with 5 warp misses.

As with ARK Park, there isn’t any difference playing on any of our 5 cards at the highest settings even with 160% resolution although the RX 6800 XT has the most performance headroom.  For GeForce cards, we recommend using VRSS for additional visual improvement with only a minor performance penalty.

Let’s check out Elite Dangerous next.

Elite Dangerous

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 (~400 billion).  Elite Dangerous is also co-op and multiplayer with a very dedicated following of players.

We picked the Ultra Preset and we set the field of view (FoV) to its maximum.  Here are the frametimes.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 105.17 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp misses, but 610 (9%) frames were synthesized.  It is perhaps acceptable to play when less than 10% of the frames are synthetic, but others may wish to lower the FoV or adjust individual settings to avoid Motion Smoothing/Reprojection.

The RTX 3070 managed 115.33 unconstrained FPS with 6 dropped, 17 synthetic frames, and 6 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 delivered 122.32 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses and no frames were synthesized.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 141.80 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses but 18 frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3080 achieved 148.08 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses but with 3 synthetic frames.

All of 5 cards tested provide a good Elite Dangerous VR experience although the RTX 3060 Ti requires 10% of its frames be synthesized to deliver smoothly at exactly 90Hz/FPS to the HMD.

Let’s continue with Fallout 4.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 uses the Creation Engine, and Bethesda has dropped all support for it so it remains unoptimized although there are mods that may be helpful.  It’s pretty hard to use the Index controllers with it, so we use the Vive wands instead for this game.  We benchmark at its highest settings and with TAA.  All Fade settings are set to their maximums.

Fallout 4 had some issues on both cards as it is still an unoptimized mess abandoned by its publisher – but it is playable and an amazing full-game experience.

Here is the frametime plot for Fallout 4.

Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 103.28 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no Warp misses, but 1793 (30%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 managed 112.80 unconstrained FPS with no dropped or no Warp misses, but 655 (11%) frames were synthesized.

The RX 6800 delivered 125.19 unconstrained FPS with 12 dropped frames and 12 Warp misses but 824 (14%) frames were synthesized.

The RX 6800 XT produced 153.2 unconstrained FPS with 6 Warp Misses and none of its frames were synthesized probably because 259 (4%) frames were dropped instead.

The RTX 3080 delivered 145.20 unconstrained FPS with 7 Warp Misses and 7 dropped frames, and it required 173 (3%) synthetic frames.

Dropped frames are more noticeable than synthetic frames and the RTX 3080 delivers a smoother VR experience for Fallout 4 although it also suffered warp misses like the RX 6800 XT.  The three lesser cards may benefit by using lowered settings for a smoother experience.

Next we look at Half Life: Alyx:

Half Life: Alyx

Half Life: Alyx uses an adaptive/dynamic scaling algorithm which uses a card’s performance headroom to subsample in demanding scenes and to supersample in less demanding scenes. We used its console commands to lock the SteamVR resolution to 200% so that it did not supersample or subsample.

Here is the frametime plot for Half Life Alyx.

Here are the details as reported by FCAT-VR.

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 104.51 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but 1431 (22%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 managed 117.88 unconstrained FPS with no dropped or no Warp misses, but 276 (4%) frames were synthesized.

The RX 6800 delivered 114.68 unconstrained FPS with 10 dropped frames and 10 Warp misses but 306 (6%) frames were synthesized.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 138.18 unconstrained FPS with 44 dropped but no synthetic frames nor any warp misses were reported.

The RTX 3080 delivered 157.26 unconstrained FPS with 4 dropped and 21 synthetic frames and with 4 warp misses.

Half Life: Alyx isn’t particularly demanding until the Super Resolution increased to beyond 150% in SteamVR settings, but unless console commands are used, the game will automatically subsample or supersample as needed and it will run fine with Ultra settings on all five cards that we benchmarked.

Next, we look at Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a visually impressive game built using the Unreal 4 engine.  It is a dark and disturbing game that is far more intense in VR than the pancake version. We benchmark at its very highest settings and with TAA, and we also increased the resolution to 150% and also to 170% in-game.

First with the highest settings and at 170% resolution as set in-game, here is the frametime plot for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Here are the FCAT-VR details.

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 70.31 unconstrained FPS with 4 dropped frames and 4 Warp misses, but 3184 (50%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 delivered 79.12 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped frames and 3 Warp misses, but it also required 3184 (50%) synthetic frames.

The RX 6800 delivered 85.80 unconstrained FPS with 673 (11%) dropped frames and 7 Warp misses, but with no synthesized frames.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 96.81 unconstrained FPS with 33 dropped and 1558 (24%) synthetic frames along with 33 Warp Misses as it also could not deliver 90 FPS to the HMD at 170% resolution.

The RTX 3080 delivered 109.51 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped and 94 synthetic frames (1%). It also suffered 3 Warp Misses.

Hellblade becomes demanding after the in-game resolution is set to above 130% although it looks great. Since 170% Super Resolution is too demanding for our test bed, here is Hellblade at 150% resolution with the three lesser cards.

Here are the details at highest settings/150%.

The RTX 3060 Ti produced 81.41 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped frames and 3 Warp misses, but 3186 (50%) frames were still being synthesized.  We would suggest dropping the resolution to around 130% or experiment with the in-game settings to achieve a steady 90 FPS smooth framerate delivery to the HMD.

The RTX 3070 managed 93.86 unconstrained FPS with 5 dropped frames and 5 Warp misses, but 2238 (35%) frames were synthesized.  Drop the resolution by 10% or experiment with lowered in-game settings.

The RX 6800 delivered 100.30 unconstrained FPS with 15 dropped frames and no Warp misses or synthesized frames.

Next we look at Into the Radius.

Into the Radius

Into the Radius is a hardcore single player stealth survival adventure/exploration game, and it pays homage to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series by being set in the dangerous large open world of the Pechorsk Exclusion Zone. 

Into the Radius has decent visuals using Unreal Engine 4 that really add to its spooky and intense atmosphere, and its performance demands on the video card are also higher since its a huge open world game with a decent draw distance.

There are no user options for changing individual graphics settings other than High, Medium, and Low presets. There is also a slider to drop or subsample the resolution down to 65%, or to increase the resolution to 110%.  We benchmarked our cards at High Quality and with 110% resolution.

Here is the frametime plot for Into the Radius.

Here are the FCAT-VR details.

The RTX 3060 Ti managed 102.27 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but 665 (8%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 produced 147.67 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no Warp misses nor synthetic frames.

The RX 6800 delivered 104.25 unconstrained FPS with 15 dropped frames and 15 Warp misses, but with 601 (7%) synthesized frames.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 135.89 unconstrained FPS with 11 dropped frames, but no warp misses were reported and no synthetic frames needed to be synthesized.

The RTX 3080 achieved 151.01 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped and 7 synthetic frames. However, it suffered 3 Warp Misses.

The RTX 3060 Ti provided a similar VR experience playing Into the Radius as using a RX 6800 whereas the RTX 3070 offers more performance headroom over the RX 6800 XT.  Surprisingly, the RTX 3080 is just slightly faster than the RTX 3070.

Into the Radius becomes demanding on the High preset when the resolution is set at 100% or 110%.

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

No Man’s Sky

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 High which is above Enhanced but below Ultra, and we also set the anisotropic filtering to 16X and upgraded to FXAA+TAA.

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

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 83.06 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses, but 3202 (50%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 produced 93.83 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames nor any Warp misses, but it required 2678 (42%) synthetic frames.

The RX 6800 managed 91.57 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames nor Warp misses, but with 3215 (50%) synthesized frames.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 108.90 unconstrained FPS with 4 warp misses and 187 (3%) dropped frames probably because none of its frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3080 achieved 126.48 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no warp misses, and it only required 39 synthetic frames.

The RTX 3080 edges out the RX 6800 XT and delivers more performance headroom and a smoother experience.  We do not recommend using Ultra settings for either card, however, and the Enhanced Preset may be better suited for the 3 lesser cards.

Next, we will check out another VR game, Obduction.

Obduction

Obduction is considered  to be the spiritual successor to Myst and Riven. It is an adventure game developed by Cyan Worlds using the Unreal 4 engine and it has very good visuals.  There is an emphasis on puzzle solving which get more and more difficult as a player progresses.

Here is Obduction’s frametime plot.

Here are the details.

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 92.22 unconstrained FPS with 5 dropped frames and 5 Warp misses, but 2591 (40%) frames were synthesized.  Dropping the resolution to 100% or 110% should keep it from needing Motion Smoothing.

The RTX 3070 delivered 107.61 unconstrained FPS with 4 dropped frames and 4 Warp misses but 617 (10%) synthetic frames were generated.  Again, lower the in-game resolution down from 140%.

The RX 6800 delivered 93.67 unconstrained FPS with 634 (10%) dropped instead of synthesized frames and 8 Warp misses.  Lowering the resolution to 120% or 130% would probably be a good starting choice to avoid reprojected, synthesized, or dropped frames.

The RX 6800 XT produced 112.83 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped frames, 191 synthetic frames (3%), and 3 warp misses.

The RTX 3080 delivered 130.54 unconstrained FPS and with 3 dropped frames, 10 synthetic frames and 3 warp misses.

Next we will check out another demanding VR game, Project CARS 2 that we like better than Project CARS 3.

Project CARS 2

There is a real 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.  We are disappointed with Project CARS 3, and will continue to use the older game instead for VR benching.

Project CARS 2 offers many performance options and settings and we prefer playing with SMAA Ultra.

Project CARS 2 performance settings

We used maximum settings including for Motion Blur although it looks best to us on Low or Medium.  For lesser cards, we would also recommend lowering grass and reflections to maximize framerate delivery as motion smoothing or reprojection tends to cause visible artifacting.

Here is the frametime plot.

Here are the FCAT-VR details.

The RTX 3060 Ti managed 77.45 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames but 4814 (50%) frames were synthesized.  It suffered no Warp Misses.

The RTX 3070 achieved 87.61 unconstrained FPS with 4 dropped and 4581 (47%) synthetic frames together with 4 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 delivered 106.35 unconstrained FPS with 19 dropped frames and 498 (5%) frames were synthesized.  It suffered 19 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT produced 123.10 unconstrained FPS, with 5 dropped frames, 5 warp misses but 210 of its frames (2%) had to be synthesized.

The RTX 3080 delivered 117.70 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames, 2 warp misses, but it only required 18 synthetic frames.

The experience playing Project CARS 2 on our maximum VR settings is similar on the top three cards, but we would recommend lowering settings for the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti.

Let’s benchmark 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 Skyrim VR using its highest settings, and we also increased the resolution to its in-game maximum.

Here are the frametime results.

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

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 124.01 unconstrained FPS with 8 dropped frames and 8 Warp misses, and 57 frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 managed 131.56 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped frames, 19 synthetic frames, and 3 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 achieved 118.83 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or synthesized frames and no Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT produced 134.93 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no synthetic frames, and no warp misses.

The RTX 3080 delivered 158.87 unconstrained FPS with 5 dropped frames, 5 synthetic frames, and 5 warp misses.

Many players may prefer adding more mods to the game rather than increasing the resolution, and the RTX 3080 gives a bit more performance headroom than the RX 6800 XT.  All 5 cards can play Skyrim at its maxed out in-game settings including using maximum in-game Supersampling.

Let’s check out Subnautica next.

Subnautica

Subnautica uses the Unity engine.  As the sole survivor of a crash landing, the player ventures into the depths of a visually impressive alien underwater world. Here you can explore, craft equipment and build bases, pilot underwater craft, and solve mysteries all while attempting to survive a hostile environment.  It is an unoptimized mess, but the VR experience is well worth it.

We benchmarked Subnautica using its highest settings plus TAA, but we left its resolution at 100%, and here are the frametime results.

Here are the details.

The RTX 3060 Ti managed 70.35 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but 3323 (50%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 achieved 79.82 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses, but 3077 (47%) frames needed to be synthesized.

The RX 6800 delivered 97.6 unconstrained FPS with 16 dropped frames but 2956 (46%)  frames were synthesized.  It suffered 16 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 111.20 unconstrained FPS with 20 Warp Misses, and although it required no synthetic frames, it reported 2001 dropped frames instead.  There could be issues with Adrenalin drivers.

The RTX 3080 delivered 102.13 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no warp misses, but 37% (2380) of its frames had to be synthesized.

The experience playing Subnautica using its highest settings is not ideal as it doesn’t appear to be very well optimized and there are obvious stutters at times which may also be driver related.

Next up, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an older game which is built on the Unreal 4 engine and it still boasts amazing visuals although it is not demanding.  Although it is considered by some to be a walking simulator, it is also an excellent detective game with great puzzles.  But be aware that its style of locomotion tends to make some of its players VR sick.

There are just a few in-game graphics options available, so we set 100% resolution in-game with TAA and then set SteamVR’s resolution to 200%.

Here is the frametime plot.  The charts state +100% resolution incorrectly – the game is benchmarked at 200% Resolution.

Here are the FCAT-VR details at 200% Resolution.

The RTX 3060 Ti delivered 183.38 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but 2 frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 managed 210.15 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames, 3 synthetic frames, and 2 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 delivered 222.55 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frames but no frames were synthesized and it suffered no Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT achieved 250.76 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no warp misses and no synthetic frames.

The RTX 3080 produced 258.67 unconstrained FPS with 8 dropped frames, 8 warp misses, and 8 synthetic frames.

Although it is a beautiful game visually, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter isn’t particularly demanding even after the Resolution is increased to 200% using SteamVR.  The VR experience playing on all 5 cards are similar.

Last up, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinner is the last of BTR’s 15 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 outstanding and it makes good use of physics for interactions.

We benchmarked Saints and Sinners using its highest settings, but this time we increased the Pixel Density to 150% in game.  Here is the frametime chart.  Please note that the Pixel Density is 150%.

Here are the details as reported by FCAT-VR. Please note that the Pixel Density is 150%.

The RTX 3060 Ti produced 79.80 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss, but 3265 (50%) frames were synthesized.

The RTX 3070 managed 97.48 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses but 2048 (32%) synthetic frames were generated.

The RX 6800 delivered 103.99 unconstrained FPS with 12 dropped frames but 500 (11%) frames were synthesized and it suffered 11 Warp misses.

The RX 6800 XT delivered 116.32 unconstrained FPS with 18 dropped frames and 18 warp misses, and 213 (3%) of its frames had to be synthesized.

The RTX 3080 achieved 120.28 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp Misses, and it required 46 synthetic frames.

Playing The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners using the in-game maximum settings and the highest Pixel Density is difficult for 3 of our cards, so lets lower the resolution to 100% and check the frametime plot with this less demanding scenario.

Here are the details at highest Ultra settings/100% resolution. The RTX 3060 Ti produced 146.58 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp misses, but only 3 frames were synthesized so there is plenty of room to increase the resolution as long as it is below 150%.

The RTX 3070 achieved 167.41 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frame and 1 Warp miss, but only one frame was synthesized.  Increase the resolution but stay below 150%.

The RX 6800 delivered 187.23 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no Warp misses nor synthesized frames.  Again, increasing the resolution is a good option to improve visual fidelity.

Let’s look at our overall Unconstrained Framerates Chart.

Unconstrained Framerates

The following chart summarizes the overall Unconstrained Framerates (the performance headroom) of our two cards using fifteen test games and four synthetic benches: Superposition, VRMark’s Cyan and Blue Rooms, and the OpenVR benchmark.  Higher is better.  Synthetic benchmarks are only useful for ranking cards.  They don’t predict how any game will actually play in VR on any particular video card.

We don’t give percentages of change or percentages of increase between competing cards since unconstrained framerates are just one metric of performance headroom that is useless without the accompanying frametime charts.  The RX 3060 Ti Founders Edition at $399 is well-suited for VR in this company of brand new elite Ampere and Navi 2 cards.

Let’s check out our conclusion.

Conclusion

It is great to see AMD delivering two cards that are performance competitive with the RX 3000 series.  However, the RX 6800 XT only delivers higher unconstrained framerates in 4 of the 15 games we benchmarked versus the RTX 3080 although the RX 6800 does much better than the RX 3070 winning more than half of the benchmarks.  It will also be interesting to see what AMD brings to this price segment with the upcoming RX 6700/XT.

The RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition (FE) sits in a very unique position as the fastest $399 video card available for VR and it offers very good bang-for-buck for use with a HMD like the Vive Pro or the Valve Index.  It may not be as fast as the other cards, but it can max out most of the games in our benching suite if the resolution is left at 100% or the in-game settings lowered a bit.  If someone is going to spend $1000 for a Vive Pro Eye, Valve Index, or another premium HMD it makes sense to pair it with a quality video card.

The RTX 3060 Ti is a great card for high quality PCVR at a rather bargain price of $399.  The RTX 3070 is faster but it also costs $100 more at $499 and the RX 6800 costs $179 more at $579.  It is very impressive and a real step forward toward more widespread VR adoption that a $399 card can power a high-end HMD satisfactorily!

BTR’s next video card review will compare the performance of the EVGA RTX 3070 FTW3 versus the RX 6800 reference version in 35+ games, and will also compare ray tracing performance, overclocking and features to help determine relative value.  All of us are eagerly awaiting Cyberpunk 2077, and afterward we will return to a full review of the RTX 3060 Ti.

Stay tuned to BTR!

Happy VR Gaming!

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hey, thank you for the very detailed and thorough benchmarks!
    The results are also very well presented and give a good understanding of the smoothness of the VR experience that the cards provide.

    I have a couple of questions, first one is that in the system configuration, ‘all optimizations are off’ is mentioned in regards to the drivers for both GPU vendors.
    What does this mean in practice (changed settings are not mentioned), and why is this?
    It would make more sense to me to run all cards at default settings, since that is what 99% of users will run them at.

    Other question is about the RTX 3070 performance in ‘Into the Radius’. Generally the 3070 is 10-15% faster than the 3060 TI, but in this game the difference is over 44%! 3070 is also almost as fast as the 3080, so something seems a bit odd here. Can you retest this one? To me it seems like perhaps the rendering resolution was at 100% for the 3070 and 110% for the other cards.

    Also for the final results, it would be helpful to take geometric averages of the game results for each card. Then put the slowest card’s performance as 100% and calculate the % increase for each card and add these values to the results chart. This way it would be easier to compare the relative overall performance of the cards, instead of analyzing individual game results.
    Geometric average is important to use instead of other average calculation methods, to avoid giving unnecessary weight to games that run at 200fps vs others that run at 90. This is also why I would display the average performance results as percentage differences instead of FPS.

    • You’re welcome. Sorry for the late reply. BTR’s staff are all playing Cyberpunk 2077 and there will be a mini-review/contest/blog about it tomorrow.

      All optimizations off mean that AMD’s Surface Format optimization and Morphological Filtering are turned off. If left on, they sacrifice a tiny bit of image quality for extra performance. You can read about what they do here:

      https://www.amd.com/en/support/kb/faq/dh-012

      We also found this rather odd with Into the Radius and will revisit it in our next VR review. Care is always taken to insure settings are identical for all cards.

      The reason we don’t give percentages is because Unconstrained FPS is too rough of a metric to use to rank cards by itself. It must be takes with the other data. But it is the closest thing that VR has to an “Average” frame rate metric and we present it by itself as a very rough guide.

  2. For average users yes, I mean for kids whose parents buy them pc’s for “learning” and don’t want to spend extra cash. $399 for rtx 2080 performance cards would be awesome. I personally would get the 3070 series instead considering the benches. The Quest 2 does bring a big clarity advancement, but less so than the Reverb G2(which has 33% more total pixels and better lenses, less god rays).

    Facebook announced that they are no longer going to be making PC native headsets and instead are concentrating on the Quest/2 platform – with optional PC link cable(though that introduces additional lag, artifacts and more PC processing load due to compression required by the USB connection it uses).

    Thus, you can’t run PC games through the Quest 2, at as high quality settings or with as super sampled resolution as you could with a native headset(such as the Reverb G2, that doesn’t need any compression).

    For the Quest 2 link you need a beefier PC than a native PC headset, effectively, or you need to reduce the quality/resolution rendered. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid some additional lag especially with the controllers, due to the additional time spent compressing the image on PC before sending it to the Quest 2

  3. Also, great comparison on these cards. It still seems nvidia is king, considering you cannot get a hold of Radeon cards and the reference design are discontinued. i would not overpay for an AMD card. sorry.

  4. hello again. was thinking what are the thoughts that facebook must be broken up, the US government says in a groundbreaking lawsuit. Oculus might remove facebook requirements? do you think this is possibly a huge win for VR? Or it could be a huge loss, if the headsets and development costs are heavily subsidized by FB and, if split off into a child company, would not be a viable business?

    cheers. Magnus.

    • One thing to keep in mind is that lawsuits like this proceed very slowly and it may take many years to reach any settlement or conclusion.

      VR is going to progress with or without FB/Oculus. It is entrenched fully into industry and government, and gaming will follow. There is money to be made in PCVR – HL: Alyx sold 2 million copies. And now we have the new GPUs whose $400 midrange can deliver a great VR experience to an Index or a Pro. And soon we will have the next gen of HMDs – there is eye tracking/foviated rendering, higher resolution/higher FOV, and wireless to look forward to! And on the SW side, we can expect further progress with DLSS and ray tracing.

  5. Very nice benchmarks. I always check this site when a new graphics card arrives. It would be great to see here higher resolution headset like HP Reverb G2 as it is much more demanding for graphics card at 100% Steam SS.

    • Thank-you. The G2 has a lot of issues and it is also almost impossible to buy. However, Sean purchased a G1 which has the same resolution as the G2, and he will be using it in his VR reviews along with his Rift S.

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