What’s the best card for VR porn?
Well, let’s discuss a few different things.
- What you want to do.
- What you need out of a card.
- Card Specs.
- Price range.
- What you can realistically expect.
What do you want to do?
Well, if you’re looking to get into 3d video in either 180 or 360-degree formats, with GTX 960, you won’t need a lot of muscle. Even a mid level 960 is more than enough to push out video footage all day long without any hiccups, or any exessive heat either.
If you’re looking to get into 3d VR games like CM3D2, or Illusion’s Honey Select / VR Kanojo, you’re going to need a bit more muscle. The Nvidia GTX 1070 will cruise through CM3D2 with ease, and Honey Select will be very playable. There will be a couple large area scenes which will still cause the card to chug a bit, especially if you add mods to improve the visuals, but the GTX 1080 will run it flawlessly.
What do you NEED out of a card?
For video, you need to be able to push pixels. Plain and simple. There really isn’t a whole lot of processing going on other than decoding the video. As long as the rest of your system is up to snuff, even a 2600K processor and a GTX 960 will deliver more than enough pixels to fill the screen without flinching.
For gaming, you need to be able to push a lot more because you’re calculating textures, polygons, lighting, shadows, etc. That means your card has to do a whole lot of calculating every fraction of a second and then update everything on the screen. On top of that, it needs plenty of memory to hold things like textures, which the cards use to “paint” the 3d objects that they’ve just generated.
Card Specs – Oversimplified.
We’re going to oversimplify this. I don’t want to get into which specific card does what, because there’s way too many to list, but a basic idea of what a card is capable of can help you make a better decision on the next step and give you an idea of whether it’s worth saving up a few bucks extra to buy a “better” card.
GigaTexels / second… There’s a whole wiki that explains this far better than I can.
GTX 960 = 84 GT/S
R9 380X = 112 GT/S
GTX 1070 = 193.8 GT/S
GTX 1080 = 256.6 GT/S
Basically, this is how quickly the pixels can be filtered with regards to things appearing in front or behind them, and then how quickly they can appear on your screen, this affects things like refresh rate and how smooth video can be displayed when there’s a lot of action going on. Higher = obviously better.
My old GTX 960 was more than capable of delivering smooth video playback. If that’s what you’re looking for, it’s an excellent entry-level card that can be had very cheaply. If you’re trying to get an idea of what a card can do and where they stand against each other performance wise, this is a good number to look at.
Obviously, the easiest thing to understand… What things cost…
GTX 960 – $ 129.99 – Yes, that number is legit. Newegg puts them on sale at this price.
R9 380 – $ 150.00 – Yep, they’re out there on E-bay for just $21 more than the 960.
GTX 1070 – $ 399.99 – Or less if you can find one on E-bay. I’ve seen them go for $300.
GTX 1080 – $ 439.99 – Again, I’ve seen them go for around $350 on E-bay.
Budget winner – R9 380
With the somewhat recent drop in price, the R9 380 is your best value numerically. It’s also an outdated card that’s being phased out. However, if you’re building a VR system on a budget and just want something that you can use until you can afford an upgrade? It will do the job and give you an excuse and some motivation to put in a few extra hours at work for a couple weeks.
Real Winner – GTX 1080
For roughly 10% more out of pocket, you’re getting 25% more video card and all of the processing power that comes with it. Don’t make my mistake. Skip the 1070 and get the 1080 if you’re that serious about VR or porn in general. As small as the price difference has become nowadays, you might as well skip lunch at Taco Bell for a couple days or cut out the energy drinks for a week.
What you can expect.
At the GTX960 level, you can expect to see smooth video playback, and some of the lower end VR programs will run smoothly and be very playable. You won’t be able to crank the graphics and shader settings, but you can at least enjoy VR. The Lab and all of its mini-games were very playable.
At the R9 380 level, you can expect smooth video playback and most VR games will be playable. Larger areas or areas with extreme detail will still give this card pause though, and you won’t want to try Skyrim or FO4 with this card for long. Warthunder on lower detail settings will be quite playable, however.
At the GTX1070 level, you can expect to be able to watch and play pretty much anything. Elite dangerous, Warthunder, Skyrim, Fallout 4 all run smoothly except in a couple of extreme instances. Markarth and some of the open world areas in Skyrim come to mind, but even those areas are still very playable at 60FPS+ with just a hint of flickering. Video playback is crisp, smooth, and quality is limited only by the source of the video you’re watching.
If you’ve got a GTX 1080 with even more power, feel free to max the detail settings, download pretty much any texture pack imaginable, and you still shouldn’t have any issues staying above 90FPS, and a perfectly smooth VR experience.
At the end of the day,
A more powerful video card is always the better choice when it comes to VR, but don’t neglect other important things like memory. Also, a good SSD can make even a computer with a mediocre processor feel like an entirely different machine.
Odds are, if you’ve spent $500+ on a VR setup and have the room to enjoy it, this probably isn’t news to you. However, if you’ve got an older computer and you’re on the fence about getting a VR headset, but don’t want to spend a ton upgrading everything, rest assured, you don’t have to meet steam’s “recommended” specs to have an enjoyable VR experience. As long as you’ve got a 960 or better, go ahead and buy the VR system you want.