The latest SteamVR release has a long-awaited feature for the VR gaming masses

HTC VIVE
Valve Software updated SteamVR on Wednesday to include three general changes and fixes, improvements and additions to Compositor, and around 10 HTC Vive-specific updates, feature additions, and so on. However, the big news with the update could be the added support for asynchronous reprojection for the entire SteamVR community after first appearing in a beta in late October.

If you are not familiar with this tech, consider that rendering a frame for each eye at an undetected rate multiple times a second to suspend reality takes a lot of computing power. If the base hardware cannot handle the output, then the framerate drops and the illusion breaks. The whole point of virtual reality is to suspend disbelief and jump into a realm or scenario that is currently impossible or unobtainable, and a broken framerate can ruin that.

However, virtual reality requires the imagery to be rendered at 90 frames per second for each eye to prevent visual discomfort (aka motion sickness). Keep in mind that not only is the connected PC working to render the specific environment, but also keeping track of the user’s head to alter that environment to match the user’s line of sight. In other words, there is a lot of computational work going on behind the scenes.

But some hardware configurations struggle to keep that pace, dropping frames each second like a child running with an overflowing basket on Halloween. To fill the framerate holes created by underpowered hardware and retain the 90 FPS rate, asynchronous reprojection grabs an older, already-used frame and alters it to match the current head-tracking data before rendering it on the screen if the rate dips below 90 frames per second.

Previously, Valve Software implemented interleaved reprojection into SteamVR as a temporary fix, which limited the base rendering to 45 frames per second and re-rendered every other frame to meet the 90 frames per second requirement. This worked great in regard to keeping up with the user’s head tracking but had a negative impact in performance regarding animations and positional movement.

Thus, the difference between the two is that interleaved is locked and automatically re-renders every other frame whereas asynchronous alters an old frame to match the current head data on-the-fly when the framerate dips. The result of the latter is a smooth and comfortable experience overall given that frame rates will quickly fluctuate whether the PC meets the minimum requirements or not.

The new support for asynchronous reprojection currently only works on graphics chips provided by Nvidia using driver version 372.54 or newer; AMD graphics chips are not compatible with this version. The feature can also be manually disabled if needed in the Performance section of the SteamVR settings by unchecking “Allow asynchronous reproduction.”

Here are additional notes regarding the asynchronous reprojection feature provided by Valve:

  • Current status is listed in the lower left section of SteamVR Settings (Async Reprojection On/Off). If you have “Allow asynchronous reprojection” checked, but are still seeing “Async Reprojection Off” on the left, this means it is not supported on your current setup — see above for requirements.
  • The frame timing graph has been updated to show the number of times each frame has been presented (white line in the stacked CPU graph) and the number of times each frame has been reprojected to a different Vsync than originally rendered for (red line on the stacked GPU graph).
  • “Allow interleaved reprojection” checkbox still applies in Async mode. It controls whether the application is dropped to 45Hz when not making framerate, or if it is allowed to get further and further behind until a frame winds up getting presented twice. This leads to less positional judder, but that judder is more random (which tends to be more annoying).
Home Theater

At $650, LG’s 65-inch UJ7700 is a killer deal for Prime Day

With HDR (with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision support), wide color gamut via LG's True Color Accuracy system, and four HDMI ports with HDCP 2.2 support, LG's 65-inch UJ7700 is a great way to upgrade your living room on Prime Day.
Gaming

Do it in ‘Dubly’: Dolby Vision HDR comes to Xbox One S and Xbox One X

The latest Preview system update for Xbox Insiders is rolling out now, and it adds support for Dolby Vision HDR. The feature is limited to streaming at the moment, and HDR10 will still be needed for games.
Gaming

Zombie campaigns in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ to support local split-screen play

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may have ditched its campaign this year, but the game will still support local cooperative play in its popular Zombies campaigns. Three will be available at launch.
Gaming

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Is the costly upgrade worth the money?

The Xbox One X is officially here and pretty much everything rumored about it was true. Is the higher price point worth it, or does it put it out of reach for most consumers? Here's how it matches up to the Xbox One S.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses - something no phone…
Computing

What is G-Sync? If you’re a gaming fan, you’ll want to know

If you're buying a new computer monitor, you may have noticed the label "G-Sync" in the specifications. It's an important feature in modern gaming monitors that fixes a major issue with the way they sync refresh rates with graphics cards.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

The 25 best SNES games

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games, including A Link to the Past and Chrono Trigger.
Outdoors

Rough it in absolute comfort with the best sleeping pads available

Shopping for a sleeping pad for your next backpacking trip? Don't buy something that feels like a cold slab of stone. Narrow your selection with our carefully selected list of the best sleeping pads available.
Home Theater

The 7 best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Virtual Reality

Got a Gear VR headset? These are the apps and games you've got to try

Before you put on your new Gear VR headset, you should know which apps and games are worth downloading. Whether you're a fan of documentaries or arcade games, here's a list of the best Gear VR apps and games to be had.
Mobile

Apple's third iOS 12 beta may help you save a lot of data

At this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system, iOS 12. From app updates to group FaceTime, ARKit 2.0, and more, here are all the new features in iOS 12.
Mobile

Samsung’s moon-hopping VR experience in NYC is like space camp for adults

For the next year, Samsung will let you simulate walking on the moon, thanks to the Gear VR, Galaxy S9 Plus, and a complicated harness system that was developed in partnership with NASA.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Photography

With flip-out lenses, the Vuze XR transforms from 360- to 180-degree VR camera

The Vuze XR is a compact, dual-lens camera with an integrated handle and a neat party trick: The back-to-back lenses can flip forward to transition from 360-degree two-dimensional video, to 180-degree three-dimensional video.
Emerging Tech

World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

An amusement park in Germany unveiled the world's first waterslide that requires riders to wear a virtual reality headset. Here's what went into making this waterlogged VR dream a reality.
Computing

Your next virtual reality headset will require just one USB-C cable to connect

Microsoft, Oculus, AMD, Nvidia, and Valve are joining forces to create a new VirtualLink specification. The new tech is designed to replace the HDMI, USB, and power cables needed to connect a VR headset to a PC with a single USB-C cable.
Emerging Tech

New VR horror game gets scarier if your heart rate isn’t fast enough

In new VR game Bring to Light, players can strap on a heart rate monitor to personalize the fear factor. Get too comfortable, and the game’s A.I. will know to ramp up the terror.
Emerging Tech

Nintendo Virtual Boy emulator lets you enjoy VR like it’s 1995 again

Compared with today's VR headsets, Nintendo’s ill-fated, head-mounted Virtual Boy display now looks massively dated. However, thanks to modern Oculus Rift headsets, you can now relive it.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.