MSFS: Hardware

This page contains notes on some of the hardware you may be interested in for upgrading the VR experience.

This article is a subsection of
How to Optimise MSFS for VR

Note: This article is currently being edited. When the article is fully realised this notice will be removed.

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VR Headset Rough Guide Comparisons

Notes on the Figures

Please bear in mind the following with respect to the comparison list:

  1. Treat this information as a rough guide only. Always check multiple product reviews. Do not base purchasing decisions on this information alone.
  2. Thanks goes to Sebastian of MRTV for his FOV measurements. His measurements replace the published measurements where they differ and are marked’ (MRTV)’. Note that the FOV measurements will affect the PPD values given.
  3. I have calculated horizontal or vertical values for FOV or PPD, which is simple enough to do but since the figures diverge from what the manufacturers want you to think by a fair margin, I’m a little hesitant to say my figures are 100% correct.
  4. Please let me know if you find any errors.

Notes on the Measurements

I assume manufacturers are using the diagonal FOV and PPD measurements as a way of hiding the lowest values present in either axis. It has plausible deniability but not much in the way of integrity. Whatever the average PPD on the diagonal is, you will be highly likely be buying a lower FOV or PPD in one of the axis and that will be the one that you will be most acutely aware of and disappointed with. For this reason I have calculated the X & Y axis values in each case that it hasn’t been given, and used the worst case as the measure of the headset.

Human Eye – 60 PPD, 130° FOV

  • Horizontal field of view: 130°
  • Pixels per degree: 60
  • X-axis pixels: 7800

The quite conservative 60 PPD figure originates from Apple’s concepts for ‘retina’ displays (i.e. Steve Jobs), which in turn are derived from high resolution printing rules of thumb using pixels per inch (PPI). According to AnandTech.com, the true capability of the human eye could take into account image features that are discernible by specialised functions of the eye in which case 120+ PPD would be more appropriate and could go as high as 1800 PPD. However, the retina display derived PPD is a good-enough target from a commercial VR point of view for now.

Varjo Aero – 35 PPD, FOV 69°-115°

The 35 PPD is due to eye tracking directing the positioning of a high res image on top of the background image. It represents the best you can get currently although the FOV is most likely to become wider in the next few years and the main reason to look for an upgrade (note: supposition on my part).

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 115° (manufacturer)
    • Pixels per degree: 25.04
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2720
    • FOV: 68.78° (calculated)
    • PPD: 39.54
  • Pixels per degree: 35 via eye tracked image panel
  • Pixels per degree: 25 via background image panel
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: not supplied
  • Controllers: not supplied
  • Audio: not supplied
  • Pros: superb headset
  • Cons: expensive, no controllers, no base stations, no audio, some image distortion

Pimax Crystal QLED – 26 PPD, FOV 110°-48° (normal)

Coming in Q3 of 2022, details to be confirmed.

Their promo video suggests a PPD of 42 for the ‘normal’ view and is probably derived from diagonal measurements. If you average the vertical and horizontal PPD derived below it comes to 43.15.

However, the calculations below assume the pixels are arranged into rows an columns that have a specific PPD in each direction. The lowest figure is used to illustrate the worst-case scenario.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • PC connection: supplied cable or wireless
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: supplied
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros:
  • Cons:

Normal – 26 PPD, FOV 110°-48°

The FOV is calculated, please let me know if you think they are incorrect.

  • Diagonal FOV: 120°
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 110°
    • PPD: 26.2
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 48° (calculated)
    • PPD: 60.1

Wide – 24 PPD, FOV 120°-72°

The FOV is calculated, please let me know if you think they are incorrect.

  • Diagonal FOV: 140°
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 120°
    • PPD: 24.04
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 72° (calculated)
    • PPD: 40

HP Reverb G2 – 18.9 PPD, FOV 98°-114°

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 98° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 22.04
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 114°
    • Pixels per degree: 18.9
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes, 7 hour battery life :0(
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: good value for money
  • Cons: 7 hour battery life in controllers

Pico Neo 3 Link – 18.7? PPD, 98°-?° FOV

Basically a Quest 2 with the cable thrown in for free.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 1832
    • FOV: 98°
    • PPD: 18.7
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 1920
    • FOV: unknown
  • PC connection: cable
  • PC connection: wireless degrades resolution
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: affordable quest 2 competitor includes link cable as standard
  • Cons: not a useful upgrade for flight sims

Project Cambria – 18.6 PPD, FOV 92°-116°

Coming in 2022, details to be confirmed

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 92° (rumour)
    • Pixels per degree: 23.5
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 116° (rumour)
    • Pixels per degree: 18.6
  • PC connection: Wireless
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros:
  • Cons:

Pimax 8K X – 17.4 PPD, FOV 124°-140°

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 3840
    • Field of view: 140° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 27.4
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • Field of view: 124°
    • Pixels per degree: 17.4
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: not supplied
  • Controllers: not supplied
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: wide field of view
  • Cons: requires base stations

Oculus Quest 2 – 16.5 PPD, FOV 92°-116°

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 1832
    • FOV: 92° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 19.9
  • Vertical
    • Y-axis pixels: 1920
    • FOV: 116°
    • Pixels per degree: 16.5
  • PC connection: cable
  • PC connection: wireless degrades resolution
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: affordable
  • Cons: low resolution, worse on WiFi

Oculus Rift S – 13.1 PPD, 86°-110° FOV

This is where I am until I can find a decent upgrade path.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 1280
    • FOV: 86° (MRTV)
    • PPD: 14.9
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 1440
    • FOV: 110°
    • Pixels per degree: 13.1
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: an excellent first-time headset
  • Cons: not available

Other Headsets

  • Vive Cosmos 82°/112° (horizontal/vertical)
  • HTC Vive Pro 98°/126° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Valve Index Max 108°/130° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Valve Index Min 100°/112° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Odyssey+ 102°/130° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Pimax Artisan 128°/124° (horizontal/vertical)

Check Your Bios Settings

It may be worth checking your BIOS to ensure its set or still set the way you want and/or expect it to be. If you are not sure what to do, find out before you go into the BIOS and don’t change things you don’t fully understand or you may regret it (specifically don’t change voltage levels).

In my case I have two preconfigured options for the CPU and memory, so I just ensure that these are enabled and then exit.

Note 1: without the memory speed ‘boost’ it would not be running at the advertised speed.

Note 2: The CPU speed boost sets the clock speed to maximum

Note 3: Consider the USB power mode setting – this controls the power state of the USB ports when the rest of the computer has been switched off.

Here is a useful video that might help.

The MSI built-in CPU boost option
The MSI built-in memory speed support

How to Overclock an Nvidia Graphics Card

NOT FOR LAPTOPS
(EXTRA HEAT WILL BE GENERATED)

MSI Afterburner is a free utility for basic overclocking. The electrical limits on the UI are defined by the manufacturer and are adhered to by Afterburner.

I don’t think this is completely risk free so unless you have ready access to a replacement graphics card and/or motherboard should anything go wrong you would be better leaving it alone.

MSFS VR overclocking
The MSI Afterburner
  • The instructions for the MSI Afterburner are in a blog post on the MSI site and can be found here. The skin shown in the instructions is called MSI Cyborg Afterburner Skin White.
  • MSI Afterburner can be used to:
    • Create and maintain a fan speed profile
    • Create a one-click GPU overclocking profile
    • Overclock your graphics memory
  • The Apply button is shown as a tick icon and you must press that button to confirm that you are saving or using a profile each time you make a change.
  • The storage areas marked 1 to 5 are accompanied by a padlock icon. You must open the padlock in order to save a profile to one of the storage areas.
  • In order for MSI Afterburner to be able to do its job it must be configured to start with Windows and left running. You can hide it away in the taskbar system tray area by selecting the appropriate options.

You can find an entertaining explanation of the process here.

How to Enable the Resizable BAR

Note: at the time of writing, MSFS does not yet support the Resizable BAR.

BAR stands for Base Address Register. The Resizable BAR is an optional PCI technology that allows much larger chunks of data to be transferred by the CPU directly to the frame buffer of the GPU and also allows for transfers to occur in parallel. Nvida and AMD claim a 12% increase whilst independent measurements are more like 8% probably due to the selected game, resolution and hardware. In some cases it can decrease performance and so its important to verify that MSFS is on the list before you make any changes.

Technology from 2022 onwards will have this feature enabled by default. To enable it you will need supporting technology in the form of:

  • A compatible motherboard and BIOS
  • A compatible Graphics card and VBIOS
  • A compatible graphics card driver

You can find Nvidia’s web page about the resizable BAR here or get an overview of what’s involved from this video:

A useful video from MSI to show you how to enable the resizable bar for their products. The method will be similar for other manufacturers.

References

This article is a subsection of
How to Optimise MSFS for VR

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