VR - Pimax 5K+ Impressions for Racing SIMS

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by panjandrum, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. panjandrum


    After gaming stereoscopically for around a decade, I finally invested in a VR HMD. I was waiting for one with almost zero screen-door effect and with a very wide FOV at a somewhat consumer-friendly price point. I ended up with the Pimax 5K+ about 6 weeks ago and have only had probably 20 hours with it on my head in all that time (due to, you know, life getting in the way).

    This is just my impressions now that I have AC and PCars2 setup well. I'm running an RTX 2080 super card with a 4.4ghz quad-core liquid-cooled i7. So a pretty capable machine, but not top-end by VR standards.

    First, it's absolutely a game-changer in racing titles. I'm less fond of it in regular titles, because you get about 90% of the immersions just doing plain-old traditional stereoscopic gameplay without all the problems associated with VR, of which there are many. Unfortunately the tools for traditional stereoscopic gaming are dying in favor of VR, so it's becoming increasingly difficult to game properly in traditional stereoscopic modes.

    But in racing titles, there just can't be any going back. First, you won't need 90fps in a racing title to avoid hurling, so that means fewer quality compromises etc. Second, it's utterly, gobsmackingly wonderful to be able to look around as you drive. It's so, so much more natural. Suddenly I'm hitting apexes I always had problems with before, using my mirrors more efficiently, and generally having a LOT less accidental touching of other cars on track since I have a much better sense of what's going on around me. Ran out of gas in AC the other day and just sat there for about 10 or 15 minutes just watching the cars go by. What fun.

    AC runs brilliantly and is gloriously sharp, crisp and detailed at full FOV and very high frame rates with zero quality concessions. It easily produces double the frame rate of PCars2. PCars2 is fun, but a has that less-crisp look that title has anyway. That's exaggerated a bit because unless you have the gamerig of god you'll have to make quality concessions to maintain acceptable minimum frame-rates - like using post-processing AA. PCars2 also has major performance issues at night with lights coming up from behind you; that scenario will drop your frame-rate by around 1/3 in any scene regardless of all your other quality settings, so 60 will suddenly plummet to 40, for example. Still PCars2 is fun - it's a blast to run through the night/rain etc. Overall I would definitely recommend starting with AC however, since it's a vastly better sim and runs so much better in VR than PCars2. That's especially true if you have a less than top-end VR rig.

    Yeah, I know that's pretty basic, but that's as far as I've gotten! I'm waiting to buy another VR compatible racing title. Maybe ACC (I haven't, simply because it's not the type of car/racing that really interests me. I spend about 90% my SIM racing in classic and vintage cars).
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    klondike, kalakanto, Corsa and 3 others like this.
  2. panjandrum


    A few additional details regarding my setup and the options I've found that work well.

    Brainwarp: For AC you will definitely want it off unless you absolutely have to have it on. It causes ghosting around fast-moving objects. For PCars you may have to use it to get acceptable frame-rates. It'll cause some ghosting but it's not as prominent as it is in AC (maybe because AC is so much crisper in the first place you notice it more).

    FFR: Does not work in PCars2 unfortunately, where it would be of value. Does work in AC but you might not need it.

    FOV: AC works fine with Wide FOV, but PCars2 does not (it works but has quality issues - essentially running PCars2 in wide FOV disables steam SS quality overrides and starts handling them automatically, which can greatly reduce quality). Use Normal FOV for PCars2 if you want to manually control the rendering quality.

    Frame rates: Since these are seated games I've found no nausea or perceived lag issues as long as I keep the frame-rates above 40 or so. That's easy in AC (usually 75+) but harder or impossible in PCars2 unless you really reduce the resolution. But even in PCars2 it only drops into the 30s on extremely rare occasion (lights from behind at night), so if you can live with that on occasion you can run pretty high resolutions.

    Quality settings: Since I'm not trying to achieve 90fps in these racing games I've been able to run Pimax quality at 1 and override Steam's automagic SS settings and set both games at 100% rendering quality. If you need more fps you can turn down these settings in exchange for lower resolution rendering.

    EDIT: Played around with PCars2 a bit more this evening to try and get a bit more performance with lights from behind at night. Unfortunately there really doesn't seem to be a solution. That scenario is just brutal to your frame rates. Nothing I did made enough of a difference to make it worth the quality trade-off. The only thing the finally worked is turning down the Steam VR rendering to 50%, which looks like poo and still only provided frame-rates in the low 40s in that scenario. So if you are going to drive at night you are going to have to make extreme quality trade-offs if you want to maintain a good frame-rate while night racing. On the other hand, the drops are usually only for a few seconds here and there, so it's really not that big a deal as long as it doesn't plummet below too much below 40 (for me anyway, others might have a different tolerance for low frame-rates).

    A couple of settings that make a very large difference overall (but not in light-from-behind scenarios):

    Shadows: Set this to "off". You still have blob shadows, which really aren't that bad.

    FOV: Setting the Pimax FOV to Small rather than Normal also gets you some performance and it's still not too narrow an FOV. Personally I'll keep mine on Normal, but do try Small if you need every frame you can get.

    Steam VR SS Rendering: As usual this does make a considerable difference, especially to average and max frame-rates. Unfortunately it makes little of difference to the all-critical minimum frame-rate, so IMHO keep this as high you can possibly can since you won't get a good frame-rate in the lights-from-behind scenario anyway.

    Or, just don't race at night.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    PzR Slim likes this.
  3. PzR Slim

    PzR Slim Premium

    Have you used any of the other headsets on the market? I'm interested to know how the FOV of the Pimax compares to for example, my Vive Pro.
  4. Corsa

    Corsa Premium

    This guy sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger but provides good graphic Comparisons.

    PzR Slim likes this.
  5. panjandrum


    I've had the Rift and the Vibe Pro on briefly before. The Pimax on wide FOV supposedly provides a 200 degree FOV, but they measure diagonally, so it really isn't a fair comparison. It is, however, still a HUGE difference. For games that work properly in Wide FOV mode it's extremely difficult to notice any intrusion into you peripheral vision whatsoever. Normal is also very good and only in the smallest mode does it feel like you've got a VR headset on. Overall I'm fairly happy with it. (BTW, I do think the YouTube posted above probably exaggerates things a bit).
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    PzR Slim likes this.
  6. Daz555


    I think the ultimate setup for me is to have triple screen and a VR setup. I race a fair few endurance races and I just don't like wearing a headset for too long - for a start it makes taking a few glugs of beer whilst relaxing on the Mulsanne Straight almost impossible!
  7. DamienBlack