High-end PC VR headsets require substantial computing horsepower to deliver immersive experiences, even after Oculus and Valve introduced technologies aimed at reducing VR's hardware requirements. Quantifying how well a PC meets those requirements has been tricky business thus far. Futuremark has stepped into the breech and released VRMark, aimed at benchmarking PCs for VR applications. VRMark is offered in Basic and Advanced Editions.
VRMark can run tests with or without a VR headset. In Benchmark mode, the tool runs on a standard computer monitor. If a PC can run the test at a predetermined framerate without dropping frames, VRMark blesses the computer as ready to use with the Oculus Rift or HTC's Vive. In addition to the binary approval status, the Advanced Edition of the tool provides detailed performance metrics, including frame-by-frame charts of frame rate, GPU frequency, GPU load, and GPU temperature. This higher-end edition also offers users the ability to tweak benchmark settings to make it less taxing or more punishing.
The tool's Experience mode allows users to judge the quality of the VR experience for themselves. This mode allows for free movement and includes spatial audio projection. The user can move their head and wave an interactive flashlight to explore the scene. The Experience mode can be used with a normal monitor or a VR headset.
VRMark Basic Edition includes a single environment, which Futuremark calls the Orange Room. A passing grade in the Orange Room suggests a PC meets the minimum requirements for the Rift and Vive. The Advanced Edition includes a second environment, the Blue Room. Passing the Blue Room benchmark indicates that a computer ought to be able to run the latest VR games and applications at higher settings and may be ready for the next wave of VR headsets.
Futuremark offers VRMark Basic Edition for no charge. The Advanced Edition normally costs $20, but is on sale for $15 during its launch week.