VR Wars: the RTX 2080 Super vs. the RTX 2080 Ti using the Vive Pro

Concluding BTR’s September “VR Month”, this review follows up the evaluation in which we upgraded from an Oculus Rift CV1 and compared its performance with a Vive Pro using five cross-platform games.  We present a ten-game VR performance showdown between the RTX 2080 SUPER and the RX 2080 Ti Founders Editions measuring frametimes and unconstrained performance using the Vive Pro and FCAT VR.

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

We currently benchmark ten VR games at maxed-out settings using the Vive Pro.  BTR’s testing platform is an Intel Core i7-8700K at 4.8GHz, an EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard and 16 GB of T-Force XTREEM DDR4 at 3866MHz on Windows 10 64-bit Home Edition.  Here are the ten VR games that we benchmark including five new SteamVR/Viveport games that were just added:

  • ARK: Park
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Fallout 4
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Obduction
  • Project CARS 2
  • Skyrim
  • Subnautica
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

It is important to be aware of VR performance since poorly delivered frames can make a VR experience unpleasant, even leading to VR sickness.  It is also very important to understand how to accurately benchmark VR games as explained here.  Before we benchmark our ten VR games, check out our Test Configuration.

Test Configuration – Hardware

  • Intel Core i7-8700K (HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.8GHz for all cores; Coffee Lake DX11 CPU graphics).
  • EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard (Intel Z370 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0/3.1 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x), supplied by EVGA
  • T-Force XTREEM 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB, dual channel at 3866MHz), supplied by Team Group
  • RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB Founders Edition, stock FE clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • RTX 2080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition, stock FE clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
  • 480GB L5 LTE Team Group SSD
  • 1.92TB San Disk enterprise class SSD
  • 2TB Micron 1100 enterprise class SSD
  • T-FORCE Vulcan 500GB SSD, supplied by Team Group
  • Seasonic 850W Gold Focus power supply unit
  • EVGA CLC 280mm CPU water cooler, supplied by EVGA
  • EVGA Nu Audio stereo PCIe sound card, supplied by EVGA
  • Edifier R1280T active desktop speakers
  • EVGA DG-77, mid-tower case supplied by EVGA
  • Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K
  • Vive Pro, on loan from HTC/Vive

Test Configuration – Software

  • GeForce Game Ready 436.30 WHQL drivers.
  • Unconstrained framerate results show average frame rates where higher is better; Frametime plots show frametimes where lower is better
  • Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
  • Windows 10 64-bit Home edition v1903.
  • Latest DirectX
  • All 10 VR games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication.
  • FCAT-VR Capture v0.9.3202.0 UAC
  • FCAT-VR Beta 17

10 VR Game benchmark suite & 2 synthetic tests

Synthetic

  • VRMark Cyan Room
  • Unigine Superposition VR Benchmark

SteamVR/Viveport*/Epic** Platform Games

  • ARK: Park
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Fallout 4
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Obduction*
  • Project CARS 2
  • Skyrim
  • Subnautica**
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The Unreal 4 engine is one of the most popular engines for VR development, and four of our ten benchmarked games are built with it.  The Creation engine is used for two games while the COBRA, No Man’s Sky, Unity, and Madness engines are each represented by one game.  All of the engines are identified under each game’s description.

It is important to remember that the 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 one important performance metric, faster is better.  When available, we also compare dropped frames in FPS and reprojected synthetic frames in percentages.

Please note that some of the charts only feature frametimes without the interval plots of the more performance-demanding games because of an issue with the way FCAT-VR incorrectly reports synthetic frames as dropped frames using the Vive Pro.  All of our games were benchmarked at 100% resolution.

Let’s individually look at our ten VR games’ performance using FCAT-VR.  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” with opportunities to study genetics, raise baby dinosaurs from eggs, ride and paint them, and even defend the park against attacking dinosaurs in a wave shooter segment.

ARK: Park has very few adjustable settings so we benchmark using its highest preset setting.

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

The unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 198.4 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 228.2 FPS.  There were no dropped frames or production of synthetic frames reported by FCAT-VR making ARK Park a great candidate for increasing the resolution multiplier to improve the visuals.

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.  Elite Dangerous is also co-op and multiplayer with a dedicated following of players.

We picked the default Ultra setting.  Here are the frametimes.

The unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 83.2 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 97.0 FPS.  FCAT-VR gave a combined total of 15% synthetic (including dropped) frames using the RTX 2080 SUPER while the RTX 2080 Ti reported only 3%.

Let’s check out another demanding VR game, Fallout 4.

Fallout 4 VR

Fallout 4 uses the Creation Engine.  We benchmark at its highest settings and with TAA.

Here are the frametimes for Fallout 4.

In Fallout 4, the unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 101.5 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 129.9 FPS.  However, FCAT-VR reported a combined total of 5% synthetic (including dropped) frames using both cards.

Next we benchmark Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a visually impressive game using the Unreal 4 engine.  It is a dark and disturbing game that is far more intense in VR than playing the regular version. We benchmark at the Very Highest settings and with TAA.

Here is the frametime plot for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

The unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 131.1 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 157.4 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported no synthetic frames with either card although the RTX 2080 SUPER dropped 10 frames while the RTX 2080 Ti dropped 6.  Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is another good candidate for increasing the resolution multiplier to improve the visuals.

Next we will check out another very 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 only with 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 their spacecraft allowing intra- and inter-planetary travel and to interact with other players.

Here is the No Man’s Sky Frametime plot.

The No Man’s Sky unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 90.0 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 106.3 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported a combined total of 10% synthetic (including dropped) frames using the RTX 2080 SUPER while the RTX 2080 Ti reported 8%.

Next up is another demanding VR game, Obduction.

Obduction

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

Here is Obduction’s frametime plot.

Obduction’s unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 91.5 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 116.7 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported a combined total of 17% synthetic (including dropped) frames using the RTX 2080 SUPER while the RTX 2080 Ti reported only 3%.

Next we will check out another demanding VR game, Project CARS 2.

Project CARS 2

There is no way outside of the virtual reality experience to convey the incredible 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, and we prefer playing with maxed settings using SMAA Ultra but with Motion Blur set to Low.

Project CARS 2 performance settings

Here are the results of our FCAT-VR benching.

The Project CARS 2 unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 78.5 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 92.7 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported a combined total of 43% synthetic (including dropped) frames using the RTX 2080 SUPER while the RTX 2080 Ti reported using only 7%.

Let’s benchmark Skyrim VR.

Skyrim VR

Skyrim VR is an older game that is not as demanding as many of the newer VR ports so its performance is very good on maxed-out settings using its Creation engine.  We played for over 40 hours to complete the main quest in VR with a much higher sense of immersion than playing the pancake game.  Casting fireballs from ones fingertips and feeling the thunk of arrows into one’s shield is a great experience unique to Skyrim VR.

We benchmarked Skyrim VR using its highest settings.

Skyrim’s unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 175.7 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 215.0 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported no synthetic or dropped frames using either the RTX 2080 SUPER or the RTX 2080 Ti.  We would recommend increasing the resolution multiplier or installing mods to improve the visuals of the game.

Subnautica

Subnautica uses a heavily modded version of 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 while attempting to survive a very hostile environment.

We benchmarked Subnautica using its highest settings.

Subnautica’s unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 63.7 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 75.5 FPS.  FCAT-VR reported a combined total of 55% synthetic (including dropped) frames using the RTX 2080 SUPER while the RTX 2080 Ti reported using 49%.  This is the only game out of ten tested where settings for the RTX 2080 Ti should be lowered to avoid reprojection.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is built on the Unreal 4 engine and it boasts amazing visuals.  Although it is considered by some to be a walking simulator, it is also an excellent detective game with great puzzles.  Be aware that the style of locomotion tends to make some of its players VR sick.

There are just a few in-game graphics options available, so we picked 100% resolution with TAA.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’s unconstrained framerate of the RTX 2080 SUPER was 271.75 FPS and the RTX 2080 Ti gave 295.8 FPS.   No synthetic or dropped frames were reported.

When there is performance headroom, we recommend increasing the resolution multiplier as far as a player’s card can handle without needing to generate synthetic frames.  The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is the last of our ten tested games, so let’s look at the summary charts.

Unconstrained Framerates

The following chart summarizes the overall Unconstrained Framerates of our ten test games.  Included are two synthetic benchmarks, Superposition and VRMark’s Cyan Room.  We also compare the RX 5700 XT, the RTX 2060 SUPER, and the RTX 2070 SUPER on recent drivers with five games using the Vive Pro.  The Unconstrained Framerates are given in bold text.

Open this chart in a separate window or tab for best viewing.

Only the RTX 2080 Ti is able to deliver at least 90 FPS/90Hz in 9 of our 10 of our tested games.  Let’s check out our conclusion.

Conclusion

The RTX 2060 SUPER, the RX 5700 XT and the RTX 2070 SUPER are in approximately the same class when it comes to VR performance and they are well-suited for playing demanding games at high settings on the Oculus Rift CV1 and the original Vive although they also meet or exceed the recommended specification of a GTX 1070 for the Vive Pro.  However, the RTX 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti are in a higher class and are well-suited for maxed-out demanding VR games and higher resolution HMDs.

The RTX 2080 Ti is the world’s fastest gaming video card and it also holds the crown for VR performance.  Using a relatively high-resolution HMD like the Vive Pro, the RTX 2080 Ti often has sufficient headroom to increase the resolution of a VR game resulting in improved visuals similar to using SuperSampling for PC games.

We have recently transitioned from performance benchmarking using the Oculus Rift CV1 to the Vive Pro and from benching Oculus Store games to SteamVR and Viveport games.  BTR’s 10-game VR game benchmark suite is a start and we would appreciate it if our readers would let us know what games they would like us to add using Disqus.

Next up, we are testing the Team Group PD400 external SSD drive.  Stay tuned!

Happy VR gaming!