Multiple monitors are cool - but could they be hurting your VR experience?

If you own a desktop gaming rig, it's becoming increasingly common to hook up extra monitors. Opening up supplementary on-screen real estate, this can hugely improve productivity and multitasking across multiple windows. However, with additional power being fed into other monitors, do they influence the performance of your virtual reality headset?

Should I use multiple monitors?

With additional resources dedicated to outputting a second or third monitor, there may be a slight difference in performance if we're being pedantic. In almost all cases a second screen will have little to no effect, potentially dropping a couple of frames per second as a result. Considering virtual reality already requires a relatively high-end GPU in the first place, extra monitors shouldn't noticeably impact your experience in any way.

However, depending on the content displayed on the other monitors, taking the focus away from your VR game may result in a performance drop. Especially on lower-end VR hardware, using resources on unnecessary browser tabs, video editing suites and other hefty programs may absorb some much-needed resources. To prevent this, we simply recommend closing unused programs before booting up your VR headset.

While it might save you a couple of frames, it's not worth the time of unplugging/disabling your monitors ahead of a VR session. The performance benefits are close to non-existent unless taxing programs running on these displays are weighing down your system.

If that isn't the problem, why am I having VR performance issues?

If you came here looking to solve performance issues when in virtual reality, it's likely that additional monitors are the least of your problems. Here are some quick pointers to get you started with the troubleshooting process.

  • If you're running (or have recently run) multiple programs, make sure to close any taxing background processes. The demanding software can needlessly drain processing resources and may influence your VR experience. Make sure to also close any unwanted background processes that may be unnoticeably running behind the scenes.
  • For all high-end GPUs, it's recommended you also keep your graphics card drivers up to date. Providing optimization for a wide range of titles, this can give you the much-needed FPS bump the games you enjoy. AMD and NVIDIA GPU drivers can be found on their official sites.
  • In several VR titles, we also recommend tweaking graphics settings to better suit the capabilities of your hardware. A number of games now come with graphics options, with higher-end settings only stable on top tier rigs. If performance issues are isolated to a certain game, this is a likely issue.
  • If you're really wanting to drain every slither of power from your PC, overclocking is also a valid route to pursue. While not recommended by many manufacturers, this can farm some extra power out of that VR-Ready PC.

Still having problems?

If you're experiencing issues with your PC, make sure to let us know in the comments! Have you tried any of the above steps? Let us know how they worked for you!