New HTC Vive feature sets resolutions of your games to improve performance

VR headsets have had a shaky start despite their obviously awesome nature: PlayStation VR has sold only about 2 million units since its launch last year, while the golden standard of VR, the HTC Vive, has shipped even less. 

One of the reasons that sales might not be rocketing through the roof is the HTC Vive’s relatively stringent specs list that asks users to have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290, and an Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 CPU.

But a new feature might just help you bridge the gap between your older hardware and that resource-hungry VR headset you’ve had your eye on: It's called Application Adjustment Resolution and it's available right now to try out in SteamVR. 

Specifically, what the latest feature allows games on Steam to do is set custom rendering resolutions, separate of the headset’s own resolution. 

In practice, that means you can render games at a lower resolution to be less hardware intensive - or, if your GPU isn’t hitting max capacity - request that the games be rendered at a higher resolution.

When is the Vive Pro coming out again? 

Now, there could be any number of reasons why Valve is applying this update this week ... but, all things considered, it’s likely because the HTC Vive Pro is due out on April 5. 

The Pro, which offers a higher native resolution of 2880 x 1600 could enable some really high quality performance for those of us with ultra-powerful rigs. 

But, for those with less-than-gaming grade PCs or for pieces of resource-intensive content, the new update will allow your GPU to scale the resolution back to a more appropriate level. 

The software update is just the first of many Valve has planned to coincide the release of the HTC Vive Pro, all of which can be obtained by opting into the SteamVR beta program located inside the system settings in Steam. 

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.