Build log: we put together a potent VR-ready PC

The arrival of VR headsets from HTC and Oculus might be one of the main reasons that seasoned and fresh PC DIYers alike are dusting off their system-building chops these days. Those headsets require powerful hardware for a good VR experience, and PCs from even two or three years ago might not have the grunt to provide the necessary pixel-pushing power. As we prepare to dive deep into those headsets ourselves, it only made sense for us to put together a hot new PC of our own to drive them.

Though the Rift and Vive might still carry a whiff of the exotic, the hardware one needs to power them isn’t that unusual. Oculus and HTC both recommend a system with a Core i5-4590 CPU, a GeForce GTX 970-class graphics card or better, and 8GB of RAM or more on board. If you’ve built one of our Sweet Spot systems from our System Guides dating all the way back to December 2014, you already have a system capable of powering one of those headsets. For our VR test platform, though, we’re using some considerably spicier components to build a high-performance PC that should provide an experience above and beyond the Oculus baseline.

To make the fun happen, we enlisted some help from the fine folks at MSI and Corsair, who gave us (mostly) free run of their parts catalogs to put this system together. With great power comes great responsibility, however, and we didn’t want to go so far overboard that our system wouldn’t resemble a typical enthusiast PC from our recent System Guides. As usually happens in our build logs, we’ve gone tastefully overboard in spots while trying to keep our feet on the ground for the most part. Our thanks to Corsair and MSI for helping us make this build happen.

Core components

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K

Oculus’ minimum specifications for a VR PC call for a Core i5-4590 or better CPU, but MSI provided a Z170 motherboard for this build. It only made sense, then, to tap Intel’s Core i7-6700K, the blue team’s most powerful mainstream desktop CPU, for our VR box.

This chip is a staple of the high-end builds in our System Guides. It offers four Skylake cores and eight threads running at 4GHz base and 4.2GHz Turbo speeds. No matter what VR experiences we throw at it, this chip should be up to the task. At $349.99 on Newegg right now, the Core i7-6700K is also reasonably priced for what may be the best all-round CPU for most builders these days.

Motherboard: MSI Z170 Gaming M7

VR headsets demand lots of open USB 3.0 ports for connectivity, and MSI’s Z170 Gaming M7 motherboard supplies plenty of those ports in its rear cluster for our needs. This board has three USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C connectors with a 10Gbps top speed. This board also offers four USB 3.0 ports from internal headers.

Though peripheral I/O was our primary concern when selecting a mobo for this build, the Gaming M7 has plenty of other goodies that aren’t VR-specific. This board includes a premium Realtek ALC1150 audio codec with plenty of EMI shielding in its audio path, Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet, and a physical “overclocking knob” that boosts certain system components when it’s cranked up. We’re not sure we’ll be using that feature much when this mobo is housed in a case, but if you prefer your tweaking to be tactile, MSI says that knob goes to 11. Folks who run this board on an open bench also get a set of dedicated power and reset buttons, as well as a set of voltage monitoring points for extreme overclocking attempts.

Another subtle-but-nice feature of the Gaming M7 is its reinforced PCIe slots, which use a metal shroud that’s soldered to the underlying PCB to prevent the slots from shearing away when a PC with a Gaming M7 board inside is moved with graphics cards in place. That extra peace of mind is important in a VR build that’s going to be moved around a lot—especially once you see what graphics cards are going into this beastly system.

Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3200 (with Airflow kit)

To give our CPU ample RAM to play with, I picked out Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 32GB DDR4-3200 kit. Corsair built its reputation on delivering high-quality RAM, and this Vengeance kit carries on that tradition. The red heat spreaders on this kit look great with our MSI motherboard, and they’re low-profile enough that they shouldn’t cause clearance issues with large tower-style heatsinks.

Corsair sent me the “Airflow” version of this RAM. That kit includes a clip-on fan that’s meant to enhance system stability when the memory underneath is overclocked. Given how fast this memory runs out of the box, however, and given my prejudice against tiny fans, I’ll be leaving the Airflow cooler in the box unless I encounter some kind of instability that can be traced back to the memory in this system.

We did mount the Airflow cooler to our system while it was still in its formative state on our test bench, and it’s worth taking into account the sheer size of this thing if you’re intending to go all-out on RAM cooling. The Airflow intrudes on the CPU socket in its default centered position, so cooling a quad-DIMM setup like ours with this module may be best left to liquid-cooled builds. The “legs” on the Airflow can slide left and right for extra clearance if you do insist on pairing it with a giant air cooler, though.

 

Core components, continued

Graphics cards: Two MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4Gs

 No, you’re not reading that wrong. We’re using a pair of Maxwell graphics cards to power this particular VR build, not the latest and greatest from AMD or Nvidia. Hear us out. One of our goals when planning this build was to represent a PC that might be typical of the systems sitting on enthusiasts’ desks today, not bleeding-edge machines with a rare-as-hens’-teeth Pascal chip inside. The GTX 980 Gaming 4G cards that MSI sent along serve that goal admirably, and hey—two is better than one, right?

 The fully-enabled GM204 chips under the heatsinks on these GTX 980s are a nice step up from the GeForce GTX 970 that’s the recommended baseline from Oculus and HTC, and having a pair of these cards inside our system might afford us the opportunity to play around with nascent technologies like VR SLI once they become more common. Our VR PC will also run quietly when its graphics cards are running at full tilt, thanks to MSI’s excellent Twin Frozr coolers.

Compared to a reference GTX 980, MSI boosts the GTX 980 Gaming 4G’s clock speeds from 1126MHz base and 1216MHz boost speeds to 1216MHz base and 1317MHz boost clocks in the card’s most aggressive mode. (That’s a 90-MHz base bump and a 101-MHz boost increase, if you’re curious.) We also get 4GB of GDDR5 RAM running at a brisk 7 GT/s.

If we decide these GTX 980s aren’t up to the task of delivering great VR performance down the line, we’ve got a great platform to work with shoud we decide to swap out these Maxwell twins for something more powerful. Once again, however, our goal isn’t to build something on the bleeding edge of today’s hardware. We’re trying to get a VR experience typical of a system built within the past couple of years for our VR experiences. Had we been building this system with parts from the open market, the story might be different, but this is one case where we’re going against the grain a bit to satisfy some whims that we might not have otherwise made sense to indulge.

Power supply: Corsair RM850x

To power our top-end CPU and graphics cards, we’re turning to Corsair’s RM850x PSU. This 80 Plus Gold unit offers all the connectors we’ll want for our pair of graphics cards. Corsair also uses slick all-black cabling with mesh covers that’ll make our extensive wiring job stealthier when it’s all in place.

The RM850x’s fully-modular design means we only have to plug in the cables we need for our build and nothing more. The RM850 won’t contribute a lot of noise or heat to our system, either, thanks to its 80 Plus Gold efficiency rating and a semi-passive design that lets the fan inside shut off at low loads. The PSU experts at JonnyGuru give the RMx series outstanding marks for voltage regulation and ripple suppression, so our system should get nothing less than superb power from this unit.

CPU cooler: Corsair H110i GTX

In our experience, Skylake CPUs are notoriously difficult to cool once the clocks start climbing, and the Core i7-6700K is especially ornery in that regard. To squash any chance of running out of thermal headroom for our CPU, I asked Corsair for the beefiest CPU cooler in their parts catalog, and they offered up the H110i GTX. This 280-mm closed-loop cooler should have no trouble keeping our CPU frosty at stock clocks, and it should also have more than enough overclocking headroom if we decide that the i7-6700K’s stock clocks just aren’t enough.

The “i” in the H110i GTX’s name means this cooler can be hooked up to the motherboard using an open USB 2.0 header. That connection gives builders full control over the H110i’s fan and pump speeds within Windows using Corsair’s Link software. Link also gives us control over the RGB LEDs in the H110i’s pump head. This degree of control might not be necessary for every system builder, but we think it’s nice to have.

Storage: Corsair Neutron XT 480GB SSD and Corsair Force LE 960GB SSD

While we still recommend spinning disks in most of our System Guide builds, our preferred approach when drawing up parts lists for our personal systems is to do away with mechanical storage entirely. Moving to an all-solid-state storage setup means that we’re cutting out another source of noise and heat in our system, and it also means that anything we’re storing on our VR PC will load much faster than it would from a spinning drive.

To make the best use of all of these NAND cells, we’re storing our OS and main programs on the high-performance Neutron XT SSD from Corsair. This 480GB drive boasts sequential read ratings of up to 560 MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 540 MB/s, as well as 100K random read IOPS and 90K random write IOPS.

The Force LE 960GB drive isn’t quite as much of a barn-burner, but its 560 MB/s sequential read and 530 MB/s sequential write numbers are pretty close to the Neutron XT’s. Random I/O isn’t quite as fast on this drive, at 85K read and 60K write IOPS, but this bulk storage disk should still be more than fast enough for our purposes.

Case: Corsair Carbide Series 400C

We enjoyed our time with the enormous Carbide Series 600C when we tested it out a while back, so Corsair’s Carbide Series 400C seemed like a natural choice for our VR build. This case offers plenty of room for our dual graphics cards and 280-mm radiator in a compact ATX footprint. The large side window lets us show off the beefy graphics hardware and slick red-and-black color scheme of our build, and filtered vents at the front and top of the case will keep those fancy parts clean with time, too.

The 400C is designed with modern builds like ours in mind. It’s only got room for two 3.5″ storage devices and three 2.5″ drives, but that’s not a problem now that high-density hard drives and SSDs are becoming the norm. The only drawback to choosing the 400C over the 600C for this build might be the smaller case’s lack of 5.25″ bays. Some graphics cards, like Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming, come with front-panel breakout boxes for USB 3.0 and HDMI outs. If you’re considering a VR-ready graphics card of your own with one of those breakout boxes included, the 600C might be a better choice.

 

The build

One of the nice things about picking out high-quality parts is that it lessens the chances of unpleasant surprises during the building process. Even so, I did run into a few unexpected potholes over the course of building our VR PC.

For one, the 3.5″ hard-drive cage that hides beneath the plastic beauty shroud sits quite close to the front of our lengthy 850W PSU in its default position, leaving little room to route or even insert cables into our modular PSU. Since we weren’t relying on any spinning disks for this build, I simply removed the cage. Folks trying to cram exceptionally lengthy power supplies and big liquid coolers into the 400C will probably have to sacrifice 3.5″ storage space to make them work. The forward mounting position for the hard drive cage doesn’t leave any room for the 280-mm radiator stack with our particular build.

The handsome aluminum shroud over the port cluster on our MSI motherboard is attached in an unexpected way, as well. MSI ran two bolts through the standard ATX mounting holes at the upper left corner and midde left side of the board, a move that certainly makes the shroud feel secure but results in instant clearance issues with any case that has pre-installed motherboard standoffs—like our 400C. Corsair doesn’t include a standoff installation tool, either, so I had to go digging in my parts pile before I could remove the offending standoffs.

The paper cuts from our MSI motherboard didn’t end there, either. I certainly appreciate the fact that MSI has started including its own take on Asus’ Q-Connector with its higher-end motherboards, but the screenprinted pinout on that pin block reversed the power LED and power switch pin positions relative to their actual location in the motherboard’s front-panel pin block. I ended up having to double-check that pinout in our motherboard’s manual, so plugging in the front-panel connectors actually ended up being harder than it shoud have. Whoops.

The next challenge for this system was to install our Corsair CPU cooler. Anybody who’s ever installed a liquid-cooling stack on a vertical mount with an intake fan setup knows that it can be a frustrating experience. I was preparing for a careful balancing act until it occurred to me that I could use Scotch tape to temporarily secure the fan hubs to the crossbars that span the front of the 400C’s frame. With that extra bit of adhesive support in place, I had no problem securing the H110i GTX to the front radiator mounts of the 400C.

The Carbide 400C offers ample aids for clean cable routing, but the cable pass-through on the bottom shroud of this case is composed of two separate holes in two pieces of overlapping plastic. Any cable that you want to run through this hole first needs to be run through the hole on the first shroud, then threaded through the hole on the forward shroud before one is able to install both pieces—and that installation procedure has to happen all at once. While that might sound simple in theory, it was actually rather difficult to keep two PCIe power cables, the H110i’s USB header cable, the front-panel connector, and the HD audio connector in position while I was reinstalling those shrouds. I much prefer the approach of Cooler Master’s MasterCase series in this regard.

Our MSI GTX 980s were the last components to go inside the case, and I didn’t have any issues getting those cards into position. One SLI bridge and four PCIe power connectors later, our build was complete. Our Carbide Series 400C case might be a little on the tight side for this system, but there’s no denying that we ended up with a clean build that looks great.

 

All together now

Despite some minor headaches during the build process, I’m quite pleased with the finished aesthetics of this particular VR build. The red-and-black accents of the MSI motherboard we picked, the subtle LEDs of the Corsair cooler and twin MSI graphics cards we chose, and the expansive side window of the Corsair case we used make this one of the best-looking PCs I’ve ever built. This system isn’t any good if it can’t deliver a good VR experience, though.

While we’re saving VR performance with this system for a series of future articles, we do have one benchmark to share now. The SteamVR Performance Test is probably the quickest and dirtiest way to get a bearing of a PC’s VR-readiness, and it also offers convenient support for multi-GPU setups, as well. Thanks to that nascent SLI support, we can get a feel for how the system behaves with VR in both its single- and multi-GPU modes.

Run the SteamVR performance test with multi-GPU support off, and a single GTX 980 delivers a solid, if not spectacular, performance. The SteamVR test delivers an index and a visual quality graph, and while the GTX 980’s 8.8 index score is fairly impressive, the SteamVR test clearly had to step visual quality up and down to achieve that number. We’ve run this same test with a GeForce GTX 980 Ti, among other cards, and that GM200-powered card easily turns in a flat 11 on this result.

With the “-multigpu” flag enabled, though, the SteamVR test does enjoy some performance scaling on our system, turning in a 10.9 index score and remaining at the highest visual quality level throughout the test. That’s the kind of performance we’re interested in seeing if VR engine developers start incorporating SLI and CrossFire support into their applications.

Now that we have a baseline for our system’s performance in synthetic tests, it’s possible that even a pair of GTX 980s isn’t powerful enough for the kind of buttery-smooth, high-fidelity VR experience we want. Graphics cards can easily be switched out, though, and we’ve got all sorts of different configurations we can test with this base system. GTX 980 Tis in SLI? Sure. A single GTX 1070 or GTX 1080? Totally doable. A single GTX 970 or Radeon RX 480 might also be worth trying, although the VR experience those cards offer might not be the best given our experiences with the GTX 980 so far.

No matter which road we eventually take with our graphics setup in this VR PC, we’ve got a great foundation to work with. Look for this system in future VR articles as we explore the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Our thanks once again to the fine folks at MSI and Corsair for helping us make this build happen—it’s a stunner.

Comments closed
    • richardjhonson
    • 3 years ago
    • elmopuddy
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t get the appeal or logic of putting the rad in front of the case.. blowing hot air over the GPU and motherboard doesn’t seem like a good idea.

    Top of case is best IMHO, works with natural flow of air too.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 3 years ago

      The Carbide Series 400C doesn’t support top-mounted 280-mm radiators.

        • BoilerGamer
        • 3 years ago

        You’d think Corsair would have considered that incompatibility before sending you the 400C and the H110i GTX?

    • floodo1
    • 3 years ago

    Jonny Guru still PSU testing champions!

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      undisputed p4p champ too.

        • floodo1
        • 3 years ago

        p4p?

    • selfnoise
    • 3 years ago

    What’s the situation with you guys and Nvidia? I feel like we’ve reached the point of “we’re bending over backwards not to do anything with Pascal parts on this site”. Someone building a VR rig should assuredly not build it with SLI 980s, that sounds like a recipe for frustration.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 3 years ago

      You…do realize we reviewed the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 (along with a Gigabyte partner card) already, right? We also have a GTX 1060 review in the works. I’m not sure on what basis you’re making this comment.

        • zqw
        • 3 years ago

        Will you run VR benchmarks on these SLI 980s against a 1070 and/or 1080?

      • drfish
      • 3 years ago

      I think [url=https://techreport.com/search_google.x?cx=013722762777297270298%3Alhssy6jrho4&ie=UTF-8&q=pascal&sa=<]Pascal[/url<] has [url=https://techreport.com/news/29946/pascal-makes-its-debut-on-nvidia-tesla-p100-hpc-card<]gotten[/url<] a [url=https://techreport.com/review/30048/exploring-nvidia-pascal-architecture<]fair[/url<] [url=https://techreport.com/review/30281/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1080-graphics-card-reviewed<]amount[/url<] of [url=https://techreport.com/review/30413/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1070-graphics-card-reviewed<]coverage[/url<]. [url=https://techreport.com/review/30362/gigabyte-geforce-gtx-1080-xtreme-gaming-graphics-card-reviewed<]Yep[/url<]. Probably more to come too... [i<]Edit: Ha, ninja'd by Jeff... Well, not exactly ninja'd, but I was distracted...[/i<]

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    I like how Corsair gave you their high-end gimmick RAM with the silly fan and rather than rolling over with a “thanks very much” you rip into how pointless their silly fan is.

    <3 TR; Never change.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      I was going to say the exact same thing. It’s totally silly and I love that Jeff said so.

      • vargis14
      • 3 years ago

      PC memory has not needed cooling for a long ass time:)

    • geniekid
    • 3 years ago

    Wouldn’t you prefer using blower style cards for any SLI setups (or watercooling)? I would be interested in the noise profile of this case under load. Maybe you will need that RAM cooler after all…

    • colinstu12
    • 3 years ago

    10 fans? really? whew.

      • Redocbew
      • 3 years ago

      What? I can’t hear you.

    • Black Jacque
    • 3 years ago

    This does not look like a VR box an [i<]Enthusiast[/i<] who works for a living might want to build. Why run SLI on obsolescent GTX 900-series parts, when a single GTX 1000-series part would work? (A single GTX 1070 Founders gives an '11' Steam VR score.) A smaller, less expensive PSU could be used with single 1000-series GPU. Why run 32GB of RAM when 16GB is more than enough? Why have expensive SSDs for [i<]C:\[/i<] and [i<]Media[/i<]? For the price of that Force LE 960GB, you could have 6TB of fast hard drive for sequential workloads. This box is way overbuilt for [i<]state-of-the-art[/i<] VR is some places and just too costly in others. I'm not sure the features and performance of this build will pay for themselves for two years or more. To me, this build looks more like, [i<]Lets feature the parts of two vendors that buy our advertising in a build.[/i<]

      • Convert
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<] Lets feature the parts of two vendors that buy our advertising in a build.[/quote<] That's exactly what it is. Jeff seems fond of this style of article but I can't entirely fault him for it, it helps pay the bills. Still, I don't really understand them because I assume they aren't targeted at the educated members but instead hoping to influence the casual readers and new builders. I would expect more moral fiber from TR though if that were the case. We can see the questionable (not strictly talking about this article, mind you) choices for what they are, advertising, but the new people? They might just trust the article and spend their hard earned money. Oh well, I guess it's not like such a build wouldn't work for the intended purpose so it has that going for it. This is also just a precursor to the VR articles so this will be their test machine, makes sense to cover the building of it and a way to thank the companies who contributed. Seems like more than a fair trade in the end, don't you think?

        • DrDominodog51
        • 3 years ago

        [quote<] This is also just a precursor to the VR articles so this will be their test machine, makes sense to cover the building of it and a way to thank the companies who contributed. Seems like more than a fair trade in the end, don't you think?[/quote<] That's what I took from it as well. I think Jeff has some good ideas about how he wants to change the face of TR (and possibly revolutionize the tech news industry), but I don't think the build logs are one of them. If I want build logs that exist solely for one particular purpose, I'll go on Youtube. I did appreciate the Damagebox build logs though.

        • HERETIC
        • 3 years ago

        Don’t think they’re trying to “influence casual readers”
        More like-“We use what we can get for free…………”

        Individually all were quality parts(we can just snigger at the ram cooler)
        Not like the cra**y PSU they try to push on the budget box………………….

          • MrJP
          • 3 years ago

          I agree with your first point, but what’s wrong with choosing the Corsair CX PSU for a budget build?

            • HERETIC
            • 3 years ago

            When you take away all other costs and profits-you’ll be VERY lucky
            if there’s $10 worth of components there-CHEAP ONES………………

            Be nice to your components-use a reasonably quality PSU.

            • Voldenuit
            • 3 years ago

            I guess you know better than jonnyguru, [url=http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story5&reid=239<]who gave the CX430 a 'Recommended' rating[/url<]? I ran my main rig with a CX500M for 2 years with no issues, other than wishing the PSU fan was a little quieter under load. Upgraded to a Seasonic X-650 because I could, not because I ever felt I had to. CWT makes solid PSUs.

            • HERETIC
            • 3 years ago

            CWT makes some great PSU’s but also makes some piss poor ones.
            If you’ve read as many of Jonny’s reviews as I-you’d know he regularly
            picks them on build quality on their cheaper units.

            It’s all comparative-
            Best $30 PSU out there-probably 100% correct when you look at some of the
            rubbish out there.
            Compare it to say a $45 Seasonic-then you see the difference in quality.

            If your happy using a PSU with about $10 worth of cheap components fine
            I’m not-my line in the sand is a little higher………………………………..

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      Some of those answers to your questions were explained in the article.

      Did you even read, bro?

        • Black Jacque
        • 3 years ago

        I read it very closely [i<]bro[/i<]. You don't understand my point, the way [b<]Covert[/b<] did, [i<]bro[/i<]. Do you think this build should appear [i<]as is[/i<] in the next [i<]TR System Guide[/i<], [i<]bro[/i<]?

    • Freon
    • 3 years ago

    1070 stock has been easy to come by for at least a month, more like 6-7 weeks.

    The 1080 is now turning the corner.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    They aren’t [i<]that[/i<] rare. [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487244[/url<]

      • Tirk
      • 3 years ago

      Either are 480’s using newegg……

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&IsNodeId=1&N=100007709%20601203793[/url<] Plus, since AMD advertised the 480 bringing VR to the masses it'd be nice to see how it performs in a VR system. I'm sure you'd support checking AMD's claims right?

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah, where’s the $199 4 GB Rx 480 in that list?

        I mean, I see the 4GB Rx 480 alright. It’s just that it’s $250 and not $199. $250 is strangely the exact same price that I paid for my 6GB (not 3GB) GTX 1060 over a month ago, but for some reason only Nvidia parts are ever overpriced and AMD performed a miracle by launching the Rx 480 with questionable availability.

        For those prices all the whines about AMD bringing VR “to the masses” because nobody ever pays more than $200 for a GPU you sure don’t seem to have a problem with recommending inflated price parts that don’t meet your own claims for what AMD does.

          • Tirk
          • 3 years ago

          Never made the claim no one buys a gpu for over $200, I definitely have bought GPUs for over $200. Where are these, “Claims” that you say that I have for AMD only offering parts sub $200. Oh that’s right only in your imagination. AMD even mentioned in their own statements that their MSRP for the 480 ranged between $200-250 depending on the configuration, its not my fault some people didn’t listen. Although, $250 is sure as hell of a lot more reasonable a price point for the majority of the market than the $650 card you propose in your initial post.

          You used Newegg for availability so I used Newegg for availability to show parity in source. I guess that source is only valid when it is used by you?

          Do you wish to take AMD for its word or wouldn’t you like to test whether the 480 is suitable for VR?

            • chuckula
            • 3 years ago

            Just let the butthurt over the fact that TR not only ignored your holy Polaris but even chose the supposedly “gimped” Maxwell for this rig go. You didn’t get your Vega October surprise and you’re just going to have to live with paying for Polaris.

            • Tirk
            • 3 years ago

            You are great at projecting your perception on others aren’t you? You made the initial post trying to dispute TR’s build decision to use Maxwell by posting your “holy” Pascal newegg availability. I merely balance your post with similar availability for AMD chips and you go all crazy that somehow I’m the “butthurt” one? I didn’t even mention Vega availability so I’m not sure where that part of your post came from. But at this point I shouldn’t be all that surprised from your responses.

            But continue on your diatribe insulting and imagining responses to you that were never made. You are indeed your own worst enemy at this point. derFunkenstein, Meadows, raddude9, etc. have already admonished your comment section etiquette but I’m surprised more direct responses to you by the TR staff haven’t been leveed considering your general lack of respect towards others and even to TR itself.

            • synthtel2
            • 3 years ago

            Are you trying to give Nvidia a bad name by association? Because that’s more what it sounds like at this point.

            The loyal opposition is cool and all, but you’re just maliciously imagining things, and this would be a better place if you stopped.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 3 years ago

      I’d guess they are easily less rare than multi-GPU systems, but unfortunately it’s hard to get reliable stats for that.

    • xeridea
    • 3 years ago

    Issue with the logic of using 2 980s is that there are about 15-20 different models of 1070s in stock on Newegg, not even that rare, typically limit 5 per customer. It is hard to find one that is NOT in stock. I don’t see that being “rare-as-hens’-teeth”. It is actually somewhat difficult finding a 980 to buy from Newegg.

    With pretty much identical price, better performance, and a lot less power draw, I fail to see why anyone would ever think about getting a 980. Also, we are talking about VR, and there are potentially big VR performance improvements with Pascal.

      • neverthehero
      • 3 years ago

      Even a quick look at nowinstock I see a sea of green for even the 1080 Models.

        • xeridea
        • 3 years ago

        The once hard to find 480s are also available with various third party coolers, with some prices pretty close to reference design MSRP. They are still limited quantities, but I wouldn’t say any Pascal or Polaris cards are hard to find.

          • Tirk
          • 3 years ago

          Indeed, they gave a reason why they are not currently using Pascal or Polaris in the current build which does give them more general impartiality then they would otherwise have had if they had chosen a Pascal or Polaris solution inevitably getting the criticism of choosing one side or the other by some.

          Also, 980 single and multi-gpu performance can be had by both AMD and Nvidia solutions using both current and previous gen hardware so it starts to become analogous of a common performance metric that both a user of AMD and Nvidia hardware can both compare to and it be useful for.

          I can imagine in a year they’d update to something more current but for now it does make overall sense.

      • synthtel2
      • 3 years ago

      I’d still rather a 980 for this testing, because it’s a lot closer to what’s been billed as min-spec VR. It might just be a matter of focus, but I’m much more interested in how viable the low end of VR actually is than I am in what could be accomplished with more powerful hardware. For the latter kind of testing, the two cards will be interesting, and it’s easy enough to drop something top-end into the rig for specific testing (as Jeff said).

    • DancinJack
    • 3 years ago

    1. Is multi-GPU not an issue for VR games? It just feels that if they can’t get SLI to work properly for regular games, getting everything to work in VR would be a larger hassle. Maybe unless you’re rendering one GPU per “eye” and have some serious software magic going on. Which I doubt.

    2. Tiny little fans + high RPMs = Oh god no.

    edit: Also, any reason why you didn’t go for two sticks of RAM instead of four?

      • drfish
      • 3 years ago

      A [url=https://developer.nvidia.com/vrworks<]GPU per eye[/url<] is exactly how it's supposed to work.

        • Billstevens
        • 3 years ago

        As it stands right now I don’t believe any VR games successfully uses SLI, aside from this solitary steam benchmark. I think a single 980 Ti would have been a better pick for high end cross generational VR.

          • synthtel2
          • 3 years ago

          The two 980s allow TR to test how well the SLI VR magic actually works, which would be good to know (though I’d expect this tech to be a lot more reliable and consistent than normal multi-GPU use).

            • psuedonymous
            • 3 years ago

            [quote<] (though I'd expect this tech to be a lot more reliable and consistent than normal multi-GPU use).[/quote<]Nope. Unlike regular SLI/Crossfire, VR multi-GPU [b<]CANNOT[/b<] be retrofitted to games at the driver level. That means that unless a developer goes through the non-zero effort to implement [i<]and optimise for[/i<] multi-GPU, then adding an extra card does naff-all at best, and adds latency at worst. TR were rapped for this exact fault when they announced the VR build 3 months ago back in May, so it's sad to see them making the exact same mistake the second time around.

            • drfish
            • 3 years ago

            It is non-zero effort but [url=https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2016/03/15/gdc-2016-unity-vr/<]it doesn't have to be much more than zero[/url<] as I understand it. Also, there are plenty of other cards available to test with it for single GPU. Why [i<]wouldn't[/i<] you want to know how your system might perform if you already had a 980 and were thinking about picking up another from eBay for cheap? It's an important feature to be able to test and the impact could be more significant for cards on the lower end of the VR spectrum.

            • Tirk
            • 3 years ago

            It is surprising that complexity and effort given are reason’s not to pursue advancing performance in PCs.

            Without making PCs more complex and putting effort into designing ever more powerful PC solutions we’d never have the performance levels we have now for computers.

            We could go back to using an abacus but I’m sure most everyone would agree they like the complexity and power given by modern computers.

            Thumbs up to you drfish

            • psuedonymous
            • 3 years ago

            Unity and Unreal Engine have both implemented the [i<]functions[/i<] for VR Multi GPU. But that's a world away from it actually being implemented by developers and providing performance improvements in games. To gain performance, a developer needs to decide how rendering jobs are dispatched between GPUs. Some will need to be duplicated (i.e. zero speedup) because transferring the data between cards would be a net latency LOSS. It's a different optimisation path than the single GPU case, for a very small subset of the market, for a speedup that does not come close to a direct scaling ([url=http://i.imgur.com/9zurVEV.png<]closer to 30%-35% than 100%[/url<]).

            • synthtel2
            • 3 years ago

            You’re still thinking of normal multi-GPU, not VR multi-GPU. In VR multi-GPU, the fiddly bits you’re talking about might be good for another few percent, but it’s entirely possible to put default support in an engine and get the +30% no questions asked (usually more, especially with newer pipelines and higher settings). To be fair, I don’t know what the Unity and Unreal implementations look like right now.

            • synthtel2
            • 3 years ago

            It doesn’t take much effort if you’re using an engine with support (as drfish pointed out), and it’s a helluva lot less fiddly to optimize once it’s in place, because the data that needs to be synced between cards is a lot less interesting and there are no AFR timing shenanigans.

            Yes lots of games are liable to not have support for it one way or another, but for the games that do support it, it shouldn’t be half as messy as we’re used to multi-GPU being.

        • DPete27
        • 3 years ago

        No [url=https://techreport.com/review/30281/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1080-graphics-card-reviewed/2<]SMP[/url<] is how it's supposed to work. There's no need to require double the horsepower just to render two nearly identical perspective views.

          • drfish
          • 3 years ago

          For sure, but Maxwell can’t do that, as far as I know.

          • synthtel2
          • 3 years ago

          SMP and VR multi-GPU can work together, to some extent. SMP helps a ton with rasterization, but it can’t do anything for screen-space effects (including the main lighting pass for most modern pipelines).

          I’ll bet you could see pretty great gains through something like generating the G-buffers on GPU1 while GPU2 handles shadows and reflections, moving one of the Gbufs to GPU2 and copying the shadowmaps / reflection probes to GPU1, then continuing from there in one-GPU-per-eye mode. That would be too much implementation to be widespread unless it were part of a popular engine, but it’s entirely possible with Vulkan/DX12, and it should be significantly faster for most games than either SMP or VR multi-GPU alone.

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