SteamVR adds Motion Smoothing for best experience of Hi-Fi VR games

Donna Miller
October 21, 2018

Steam explains that the feature "dramatically [lowers] the performance requirements", allowing PCs with lower end hardware to "produce smooth frames".

The implementation of Motion Smoothing will make virtual reality games on Steam less demanding at the hardware level, allowing players with more modest graphics cards to enjoy the RV experience.

It's in the latter category that Valve's SteamVR Motion Smoothing fits.

The feature, which is rolling out to Steam VR beta on Windows 10 PCs this week, reduces the amount of rendering needed to create realistic virtual reality: Instead of asking your GPU to render at 90Hz, the software enables your PC to render at half the rate and fills in the gaps with synthetic frames that are interspersed between rendered images.

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If this sound familiar to you, you might know the term from the TV world where motion interpolation is incredibly common.

To get the ideal HTC Vive experience, for example, players will need some pretty beefy hardware - an Intel i5-4590 and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or better are ideal, according to Vive's official website. Similar to the Motion Smoothing function available on many TVs, and the Asynchronous Spacewarp for Oculus devices. This smooths out the frames and increases framerate, but it also adds latency - providing passable results for TV but definitely not the right way to go in VR.

According to Valve, SteamVR's version of Motion Smoothing doesn't suffer from the same problems. "Synthesizing new frames keeps the current application at a full frame rate, moves forward and avoids stuttering".

SteamVR's new Motion Smoothing feature will detect frame drop and sub-par performance and automatically generate interpolated frames which means the end user always sees 90 fps. It's now only enabled for PCs running Windows 10 with an Nvidia GPU and HTC Vive, as Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality drivers handle things differently.

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