VR Bang-For-Buck Performance Guide

VR Bang-For-Buck Performance Guide: What each setting does in VR, and how it impacts your framerates.


Introduction:

Hey folks, I’ve done some test with VR to hopefully help some of you get the best bang-for-buck. I’ve tested all settings listed under the VR Graphics tab, and I hope that this guide will be able to help you improve performance!


Disclaimer:

The VR mode in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is still in active development, and the findings displayed in this thread are subject to be inaccurate at a future date. This thread is intended to help provide information on how each setting can affect performance in VR.


How I achieved my results:

My testing methodology could be considered quick and dirty, but that is because there is no benchmarking tool other than an FPS counter in MSFS 2020. But here is everything you need to know about my setup:

VR Specs

Acer AH101 Specs:

  • Resolution: 1440x1440px; 2.07 mil. Effective pixels
  • Refresh Rate: 60/90hz
  • Effective Pixel Bandwidth: 60hz: 124 mil px.; 90hz: 186 mil px.
  • I plan on testing this on the Reverb G2, once I get my hands on the device.
PC Specs
  • GPU: GTX 1080 FE; 1870 MHZ Core, +90 mhz Mem. Offset @ 0.850 mV Undervolt.
  • CPU: i5-8600k @ Stock mV.
  • Memory: 16GB Corsair LPX DDR4 @ 3200mHz.
  • Storage: 512 GB NVME PCI-E Gen. 3 SSD
  • PSU: 600W Flex-ATX; ENP-7660b
How I performed the tests

Here is the benchmark that I used to measure my results. I also had Devmode on and FPS counter enabled.

  • World Flight.
  • Default Flight Settings; Broken Clouds.
  • Direct Flight over Tokyo Skytree.

When in-flight:

  • As soon as control is given to the aircraft, pause simulation and enable VR mode.
  • when VR boots, set all General settings to the base-line(This can be done before-hand.)
  • Have VR headset placed on a desk/stationary object to capture performance
  • Individually adjust each setting and record the FPS, and making sure to capture the baseline FPS for each setting recorded. Reset headset position by pressing Spacebar between each recording to capture an objective result.

**Note: Some settings have a large incremental value, such as Rendering Resolution, these will be addressed in each setting.

Baseline settings:

During this benchmark, I have all traffic settings at the lowest values, and each VR Graphics setting is tested on an individual basis, by setting every other VR Graphics settings to their lowest value (except Rendering Resolution, which stayed at a constant 100% value to retain consistency. This setting was individually tested as well).


VR Graphics Performance Impact:

Each setting is order by which they appear in the VR Graphics tab menu. Each settings section will give the results that I evaluated, and a final verdict and recommendation. The verdict and recommendation will be both in each setting and in a round-up near the end of this thread. Also my recommendation is subjective, but it will be based on my findings in FPS drops.

For a great thread that visualizes each setting and goes into greater detail about what each setting does, check out Graphics Settings and Performance Guide.

Also of note is the spreadsheet that I compiled to analyse the results. You can find the FPS information here

This guide is for VR performance, and may not necessarily translate to non-VR testing.

Settings

Render Scaling

The most impactful setting in MSFS. Lowest can give you insane performance, and highest can give you terrible performance. The visual degradation below 60% is not worth the extra FPS in my opinion. Use native resolution for the best visuals, or do 80% - 60% with TAA. Render Scaling also depends on which VR headset you use, and the display resolution in the headset, with the HP Reverb G1/G2 having the highest, and 1st Gen WMR having the lowest. This test was run on the Acer AH101, which is a 1st gen WMR headset. Expect much more drastic changes in FPS when moving up in display resolution.

Recommendation
Depends on Display: Native, or for more performance: 60% - 80% with TAA

Anti-Aliasing

This is one of those magic settings that can change how you tune performance in MSFS. FXAA and DLAA do no appear to drastically improve the visuals of jaggies or detail. TAA is the magic setting that I am talking about. It can be use to help gain FPS whilst keeping the integrity of most of the image quality in tact, smoothing out jaggies and sharpening visuals to compensate for added blurriness.

Recommendation
Off for performance; TAA highly recommended, especially with lower render scaling for the best performance combination, at the cost of a bit of bluriness.

Terrain Level of Detail

Terrain LOD is important for long-distance viewing in VR. Going from 10% to 100% nets a fairly inconsequential loss in performance.

Recommendation
50%; with headroom: Higher.

Terrain Vector Data

Not really sure what Terrain Vector Data does, but increasing the setting appears to be neglible for framerates. May affect performance in some areas, but further testing will need to be done.

Recommendation
Any.

Buildings

Buildings causes a fair amount of performance the higher the setting is set. Medium or High give you the best balance in performance and distance that buildings can be viewed from.

Recommendation
High.

Trees

Trees can affect performance in some ways, especially in forest-dense regions.

Recommendation
Medium.

Grass And Bushes

I did not test this setting in a grass dense area, as the testing scenario was in the city. From what is shown here though, Grass can have a small impact in performance in cities, and possibly a larger hit whilst in more forested areas.

Recommendation
Medium.

Volumetric Clouds

Volumetric Clouds has the most impact on VR performance besides from Render Scaling. Low or Medium give you the best bang-for-buck performance and visuals.

Recommendation
Low; with headroom: Medium

Texture Resolution

Textures does not affect performance in any meaningful way. Just make sure to have enough VRAM, as the peformance hit will come from there, but on a GTX 1080, the hit was negligible.

Recommendation
Ultra

Anistophic Filtering

Anistrophic filtering did not affect performance in any meaningful way until around 8x - 16x. Recommendation: 4x

Recommendation
4x.

Texture Supersampling

Texture Supersampling’s performance, like Texture Resolution, seems to be based on the amount of VRAM your GPU can provide. Would recommend leaving this setting off anyhow, as it could be a cause for less performance on the table.

Recommendation
Off.

Texture Synthesis

Texture Synthesis’s performance could be dependent on the GPU’s VRAM or memory buffer, but futher testing would need to be completed. It appears to have minimal framerate loss as the setting is incremented.

Recommendation
Any.

Water Waves

Water Waves impact on performance is fairly small, but crucial. Medium nets a neglible performance dip.

Recommendation
Medium.

Shadow Maps

Shadow Maps can affect performance a bit, although the hit is fairly small until you hot 1536, where it can dip performance.

Recommendation
1024; with headroom: 1536.

Terrain Shadows

Terrain Shadows can cause a hefty dip at the highest or near highest resolution. Similar to Shadow Maps.

Recommendation
1024

Contact Shadows

Contact Shadows performance hit scales fairly linearly, but turning them on causes a performance dip. If you have the headroom, they are good for improving realism a bit. Recommended: Off; If there is headroom to increase graphics: Ultra

Recommendation
Off; with headroom: Ultra.

Windshield Effects

Windshield Effects had a neglible performance draw.

Recommendation
Ultra.

Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion has a massive performance hit at the highest setting. Turning it on causes a sizable performance hit. This is because of how screen-space effects performance hit scale with increasing resolutions, though the visuals improve drastically, adding a fair bit of realism. AO can be a make or break setting Recommendation: Off or Low if there is headroom

Recommendation
Off; with headroom: Low.

Reflections

Reflections has a noticible hit, similar to AO. This could be due to the screen-space nature of reflections.

Recommendation
Off; with headroom: Medium.

Light Shafts

Light Shafts has a decent hit on performance, but it can be a decent way to add realism to the game.

Recommendation
Off; with headroom: Ultra

Bloom

Bloom can add a bit of realism, but it can be visually annoying and the performance drop can be a deterrent for having it on.

Recommendation
Off.

Depth of Field

Depth of Field seems to not affect performance in any meaningful way, which means that this setting can be set to personal preference. Recommendation: Any

Recommendation
Any.

Lens Correction
Lens Flair

Lens Correction seems to not affect performance in any meaningful way, which means that this setting can be set to personal preference.

Recommendation
Any.

Use Generic Plane Models (AI)

This setting could be important enough to warrant being enabled, although the testing conditions do not enable AI to be a big enough factor to warrant a set recommendation.

Recommendation
Any.

Use Generic Plane Models (Multiplayer)

This setting could be important enough to warrant being enabled, although the testing conditions do not enable AI to be a big enough factor to warrant a set recommendation.

Recommendation
Any.

Glass Cockpit Refresh Rate

This setting appears to have no performance drop.

Recommendation
Ultra.


The most impactful settings, in order of most to least impactful

Based on the average FPS loss from changing the value from the lowest to highest available. Based on this spread:

Settings % Average FPS loss from Lowest to Highest Value
*Render Scaling 88.89%
Volumetric Clouds 30.59%
Ambient Occlusion 17.00%
Buildings 16.72%
Reflections 10.43%
Terrain Shadows 9.60%
Anti-Aliasing 8.13%
Light Shafts 5.33%
Bloom 5.33%
Terrain LOD 5.12%
Contact Shadows 3.75%
Grass & Bushes 2.63%
Water Waves 2.16%
Anistrophic Filtering 1.88%
Depth of Field 1.60%
Texture Supersampling 1.34%
Terrain Vector Data <1%
Trees <1%
Object LOD <1%
Texture Resolution <1%
Texture Synthesis <1%
Windshield Effects <1%
Terrain Vector Data <1%
Lens Flare <1%
Lens Correction <1%
Use Generic Plane Model (AI) <1%
Use Generic Plane Model (Multiplayer) <1%
Glass Cockpit Refresh Rate <1%

*Included Render Scaling to show impact that resolution has.

From this, we can see that lowering Volumetric Clouds from Ultra to Low can net you an insane 30% increase in framerate, followed by a short distanced second with Ambient Occlusion!

With that, here are my personal VR-optimized settings:

Note: These settings were tested on a GTX 1080 and i5-8600k. Your performance may vary!

Recommended Settings:

These settings are what I personally feel provide the best visuals with the least impact on performance.

Setting Value
*Render Scaling 80% / (50% with TAA for huge performance)
Anti-Aliasing TAA / Off at native Render Scaling
Terrain LOD 50%
Terrain Vector Data Low / Medium with headroom
Buildings Medium
Trees High
Grass And Bushes Low
Objects LOD 50%
Volumetric Clouds Low
Texture Resolution Ultra
Anistrophic Filtering Off
Texture Supersampling Off
Texture Synthesis Low
Water Waves Medium
Shadow Maps 512 / 1024 with headroom
Terrain Shadows 512
Contact Shadows Off
Windshield Effects Medium
Ambient Occlusion Off
Reflections Off / Low with headroom
Light Shafts Off
Bloom Off
Depth of Field Off
Lens Correction Off
Lens Flare Off
Use Generic Plane Models AI Off
Use Generic Plane Models MP. Off
Glass Cockpit Refresh Rate Low

*This is what I personally tested on my system. What you may have to set it to could vary. Still testing.

Net FPS Loss from Baseline (All VR Graphics to lowest values, consistent Render Scaling) to Recommended

Lowest (Render Scaling 80%) FPS Recommended (Render Scaling 80%) FPS % Loss
49.1 FPS 40.1 FPS 23.01%
  • There is a sizable dip with the recommended settings, but the graphics quality in the cockpit dramatically improves. If you’re targeting 30 reprojected, you have a bit of headroom even with a GTX 1080

Redneck DLSS: How you can combine TAA with lower Render Scaling to get some nice FPS gains:

  • Here is some performance numbers that compare Render Resolutions that I consider comparable. I personally feel that 80% no TAA and 50% with TAA are fairly close visually, with 50% TAA being a bit blurier and with minor artifacts.
Setting FPS % Increase/Decrease from 80% No TAA
80% No TAA 45.5 N/A
50% No TAA 69.5 +35%
80% TAA 40.5 -12.3%
50% TAA 55.5 +18%
Why you should consider lowering Render Scaling and enabling TAA for performance

Note: The appearance of jaggies and pixels is more apparent in VR. The screenshots are purely for demonstration.

  • 50% Scaling with no TAA


    The jaggies in this image are fairly noticeable in the screenshot, and is much worse in VR.

  • 50% Scaling with TAA


    With TAA on, the jagged edges are smoothed over quite well, and some detail is recovered with the sharpener. This has a drastic improvement to the visual quality of 50%, and could even be compared to 80% with no TAA.

  • 80% Scaling with no TAA


    80% Scaling is where the jagged edges become much more tolerable, but the performance drop is pretty noticeable, albeit with a fair bit of added clarity.

The effect that TAA has is quite nice at lower Render Scaling, causing the image to become smoother and more consistent, it does have a decent performance cost however. Combining it with higher Render Scaling could be a cause for performance hits.

Target Framerate with these settings that GPU’s can reach:

I plan on laying out what minimum GPUs/settings you would need to have in order to hit these framerates:

  • 30 Reprojected
  • 45 Reprojected
  • 60 Reprojected (Valve Index)?
  • 60 Native
  • 90 Native
  • 120 Native (Valve Index)?

I will lay out my methodology once I test out my GPU. Won’t be able to test with Index.


Conclusion

I hope this guide can give you an idea of what settings can effect VR the most, and how to work around them in the meantime!

I plan on expanding this to include targeting framerates, how you can use reprojection to boost graphics, or target 60hz or 90hz non-reprojected to have a smooth experience.

Let me know if you have any feedback on my results.


Credits

  • Thank you Asobo for allowing us, the Community, to test out your games!
  • Thank all of you for having the concerns about performance of the VR mode. It was a real motivation for making this guide!

Contributions

  • TBF
113 Likes

Oops… accidentally replied too early!:stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Guess it can happen to anyone! :wink::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

:grin::ok_hand::+1:

2 Likes

Okay I actually finished it now :sob:

1 Like

Thanks for time and effort, definitely this will help everyone to have the right performance/visual balance, based on own rig.

I’ll go though it and use it for sure.

1 Like

Thank you for this. Your hard work will help

Have you encountered any crash to desktop problems? I have a 9700k, 1080, and Odyssey+ and I crash to desktop within 1 minute of takeoff with all settings absolutely minimized with any render scaling above 30.

Are you leaving Vsync on, btw?

I’ve not encountered a crash. All I can say is make sure you have GPU drivers up to date. Does MSFS crash outside VR?

V-sync does not have an effect in VR.

Drivers are up to date. I did some testing and I’m crashing to desktop in non-VR mode, too.

There could be several things then:

  • Try turning off data streaming options off
  • Try messing with rolling cache?
  • Make sure your GPU/CPU are not overclocked. This could be an issue, as MSFS could be pushing your hardware quite a bit, maybe enough to hit a thermal limit. If you’re not sure how to do this, I can elaborate. Might even need to try an underclock.
  • What PSU do you have? Do other games Crash to Desktop?

I’m not really sure how to help further. You’ll have to ask for help from Asobo support if these don’t work.

1 Like

I do understand the cloud setting will impact performance alot - however surfing clouds in ULTRA setting is just soooo nice. The immersion is unbelievable and I feel like I am actually in a real plane.

2 Likes

Great post! Thank you or your effort and time. This is exactly what I was searching for as a starting point for performance tweaking.

As every rig is different it is important to find out, what is limiting your perfomance (GPU or CPU) and which setting affects which of the both. So when you are limited by your GPU you may be able to switch to higher values in CPU-limited settings without noticeable impact on performance.

:rofl:… And now my reply looks utterly random…Thanks! :joy: :joy: :joy: :laughing: :+1:t2:

Dont worry, it was well worth the wait, great work indeed :wink:

Thankyou so much for putting this together, I can only imagine the time it must have taken! This is an excellent starting point.

1 Like

Thank you!

Yeah I completely understand! Clouds @ Ultra are super sexy!

Amazing effort, thanks very much! Should help me tune things in a bit better before testing.

This as awesome, thank you so much, I have similar specs but a 1080ti and 32GB of RAM and using a Dell Visor.

Using your settings as a guide I set everything the same other than Terrain LOD which I maxed out at 200% and that, for me is the big thing, being able to see into the distance and make out airfields by eye is something I was really missing but this helps a lot!

I don’t have an FPS count, as I don’t really care as long as it works without any stuttering. All seems good, did a number of Landing Challenges (and get my best scores in VR) and a leg of the Balkan bush trip all ok. So thanks again for your hard work on detailing what the settings do! Much appreicated!

1 Like

Wow great job! Thank you for taking the time for this. Much appreciated.

Hey guys, i’ve done a fair bit more testing on my Recommended settings. Some of the settings were set a bit lower, or have added caveats added to clarify what settings could impact your performance more.


I also added a new sections labeled Redneck DLSS, which goes over how you can combine both a lower Render Scaling and TAA to get massive FPS gains, although with a small amount of added blurriness and some artifacting (where the TAA is trying to determine subpixel detail). The TAA that MSFS incorporates is actually quite robust, and can help smooth jaggies and re-add detail to a scene, with the downside of having a small bit of artifacting and bluriness. Think of it as Redneck DLSS!

Let me know what you guys think of the new section, I hope it explains the idea I’m trying to convey really well!

4 Likes

Turned off all data but the main switch ( VR won’t work without it), increased rolling cache from 8 to 16 Gb to no avail.

As for the CPU/GPU overclock and PSU, I can beat the hell out of the rig using DCS World in VR and nothing crashes, just drops frames. The GPU certainly isn’t crashing and the PSU isn’t loadshedding (it’s 650W).

I feel like the CTD behavior isn’t normal, so I’m hitting up Zendesk at this point.