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How to ensure the best VR performance from your PC

How do I get the best performance out of my computer?

Low frames per second (FPS) while PC gaming is your worst enemy — but in VR it can also be literally sickening. What better reason to give your old hardware some care and keep it performing up-to-snuff for another few months?

Choppy graphics, lagging audio, slow load times all contribute to a bad time, and right now the budget doesn't allow for new hardware. Starting with some easier tips and moving onto some more complicated stuff, here's how to eke the most performance out of your existing hardware.

  • How to use the Oculus framerate tray tool
  • Clean out your case
  • Update your OS
  • Update your graphics card drivers
  • Purge and defragment your hard drive
  • Enable TRIM on your SSD
  • Optimize your graphics card with GeForce or AMD apps
  • Change your power plan
  • Change your virtual memory page file
  • Make some changes in your registry
  • SSD users: disable hibernate
  • Get rid of unnecessary Windows animations
  • Ensure asynchronous reprojection and interleaved reprojection are enabled on Vive
  • Disable f.lux
  • Enable Aero on Windows 7
  • Consider overclocking your graphics card and processor

How to use the Oculus framerate tray tool

Reddit-user ApollyonVR created a tool that can be used to monitor framerates while in Oculus Rift. This can help you determine how well your PC is performing, and it can confirm that ASW is kicking in when it should be. Here's how to get the Oculus framerate tray tool working.

  1. Navigate to the Reddit page containing the tool.
  2. Click the download link. This will take you to a Dropbox page.

  3. Click Download.
  4. Click Direct download.

  5. Click Save.
  6. Click Open folder.

  7. Right-click the compressed OculusTrayTool file.
  8. Click Extract All.

  9. Click Extract.
  10. Double-click Oculus Tray Tool.

  11. Double-click Oculus Tray Tool.
  12. Click More > >.

  13. Click the dropdown menu in the Visual HUD Overlay section.
  14. Click Performance or any other display option. Performance will show you the FPS of the current app.

You can now place the Rift on your head and you'll see a graph that monitors your performance.

Clean out your case

Removing the cover to your PC's case can sometimes be a very frightening ordeal, especially if you're a pet owner. All the dust and hair that collects in corners also collects near your PC and gets blown in when your fans are running.

Dust and hair in your PC case aren't just unwanted — it leads to increased temperatures in all your hardware, and it will thus slow things down. Your PC isn't like your car's engine; it doesn't run better when hot.

Using a can of compressed air is generally the best way of removing loose dust and hair from the case. Ensure you're not too aggressive with the air as you don't want to knock anything loose — a better method of removing caked-on dust (e.g. on your fan blades) is to use a cotton swab.

Update your operating system

Using an outdated version of, say, Windows, can lead to decreased PC performance. Applications designed for a certain build won't work their best, and malware can find its way through easier on an OS that isn't updated with the latest security measures.

Here's how to search for available updates in Windows 10:

  1. Click the Search Windows field in your taskbar.
  2. Type update.

  3. Click Check for updates.
  4. Click the Check for updates button in the Settings window.

Any available updates for Windows 10 will begin to download automatically.

Graphics card drivers are generally designed for the latest build of Windows, so if you update one you'll want to update the other.

Update your graphics card drivers

Drivers are what allow your hardware to speak to your operating system. Imagine your graphics card (GPU) is speaking Mandarin while your OS is speaking English; there is a chance for confusion if an able translator — the driver — isn't around.

Nvidia and AMD, the two big GPU makers, update their drivers regularly, and especially when new games are released. If you're experiencing some sub-optimal graphics, definitely check out Nvidia's GeForce Experience app or AMD's Gaming Evolved app.

To update drivers in GeForce Experience, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Search Windows field in your taskbar.
  2. Type GeForce.
  3. Click GeForce Experience.

  4. Click the Drivers tab at the top of the window.
  5. Click either Express installation or Custom installation depending on your preference.

Nvidia will take things over from here if you choose Express installation — you will be able to choose your own settings if you choose Custom installation. AMD's Gaming Evolved app works very much the same and is equally easy to use.

Purge and defragment your hard drive

Having a PC full of old, unused apps, temporary internet files, cookies, and cached images can slow things to a grind.

Using the Programs and Features tool in Windows 10 is an easy way to remove unwanted apps:

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click Programs and Features.

  3. Click any app you want to remove.
  4. Click Uninstall near the top of the window.

The app will be uninstalled cleanly. If you want to remove temporary internet files, cached files, and other junk, use Disk Cleanup:

  1. Click the Search Windows field in your taskbar.
  2. Type disk.

  3. Click Disk Cleanup.
  4. Click the dropdown arrow to choose which disk to clean.

  5. Click OK.
  6. Check off any items you want to delete.

  7. Click OK.
  8. Click Delete Files to permanently remove the files from your computer.

When files are written to a hard disk drive (HDD), they sometimes get partially written in a bunch of different spots. Your OS has to search different places to access a whole file, slowing things down. If you have an HDD rather than a solid state drive (SSD), you can use the Windows 10 defragment tool to put files back together and thus access them much faster.

  1. Click the Search Windows field in your taskbar.
  2. Type defrag.
  3. Click Defragment and Optimize Drives.

  4. Click the drive you want to defrag.
  5. Click Optimize.

The defrag tool will take over from this point. Note that you may experience decreased performance while the tool is running.

Enable TRIM on your SSD

TRIM is the garbage collector of your solid-state drive and is a good alternative to a hard-disk drive defrag. Here's how to enable TRIM:

  1. Click the Search Windows field.
  2. Type cmd.
  3. Right-click Command Prompt.
  4. Click Run as administrator.

  5. Type fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify and hit Enter on your keyboard. If the result is DisableDeleteNotify = 0 you already have TRIM enabled. If the result is DisableDeleteNotify = 1, you don't have TRIM enabled. Proceed to the next step.
  6. Type fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0 and hit Enter on your keyboard to enable TRIM.

Optimize your graphics with GeForce or AMD software

Nvidia and AMD come with some great apps that let you optimize settings for optimal in-game performance. They also take some of the guesswork out of the sometimes intimidating settings menus found in blockbuster titles.

Here's how to optimize settings in the Nvidia GeForce app:

  1. Click the Search Windows field in your taskbar.
  2. Type GeForce.
  3. Click GeForce Experience.

  4. Click the Games tab at the top of the window.
  5. Click the scan button. It is the green square with a rounded arrow within.

  6. Click OK when the scan has finished.
  7. Click the Optimize button for the game you want optimized. It is located to the right of the window.

Nvidia will automatically change the in-game settings to best suit your hardware. AMD's Gaming Evolved app works very much the same way and is equally easy to use.

Change your power plan

Windows 10 has some built-in power options that help balance your PC against energy use and performance. If you don't mind burning a bit more energy, you can set your power plan to high performance:

  1. Click the Search Windows field next to the Start button.
  2. Type power options.
  3. Click Power Options.

  4. Click the drop-down arrow next to Show additional plans.
  5. Click High performance.

Change your virtual memory page file

Enlarging page files frees up space to use as RAM when your PC runs low. Page files should not be set to more than 1.5 times more than the total amount of RAM in your PC.

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click System.

  4. Click Advanced system settings.
  5. Click Settings in the Performance field.

  6. Click the Advanced tab.
  7. Click Change.

  8. Click the checkmark beside Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.
  9. Click Custom size.

  10. Click the Initial size (MB) field.
  11. Type 4096 on your keyboard.

  12. Click the Maximum size (MB) field.
  13. Type 4096 on your keyboard.

  14. Click Set.
  15. Click OK.

You want to make sure you set all other drives in your PC to No paging file unless you want to record Error info. In this case, leave your C: drive (if this isn't your main paging file drive) with about 300MB.

Make some changes in your registry

Warning: Performing registry edits can cause serious problems with your PC. Proceed at your own risk.

The multimedia class scheduler is used by some games to ensure background processes can have enough processing power to keep running efficiently, but you want full power toward gaming! Here's how to change the class scheduler to give games the most processing power possible:

  1. Hit Windows key + R on your keyboard to bring up the Run window.
  2. Type regedit and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  3. Double-click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

  4. Double-click SOFTWARE.
  5. Double-click Microsoft.

  6. Double-click Windows NT.
  7. Double-click CurrentVersion.

  8. Double-click Multimedia.
  9. Click SystemProfile.

  10. Right-click SystemResponsiveness.
  11. Click Modify.

  12. Type 0 on your keyboard.
  13. Click OK.

You can also set the priority of games above other processes in your PC to ensure your games are running as good as possible. Here's how to do it:

  1. Hit Windows key + R on your keyboard to bring up the Run window.
  2. Type regedit and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  3. Double-click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

  4. Double-click SOFTWARE.
  5. Double-click Microsoft.

  6. Double-click Windows NT.
  7. Double-click CurrentVersion.

  8. Double-click Multimedia.
  9. Double-click SystemProfile.

  10. Double-click Tasks.
  11. Click Games.

  12. Right-click GPU Priority.
  13. Click Modify.

  14. Type 8 on your keyboard.
  15. Click OK.

  16. Right-click Priority.
  17. Click Modify.

  18. Type 6 on your keyboard.
  19. Click OK.

  20. Right-click Scheduling Category.
  21. Click Modify.

  22. Type High on your keyboard.
  23. Click OK.

Solid-state drive users: disable hibernate

Hibernate allows hard-disk drives to load apps faster and is unneeded if you use a solid-state drive. Here's how to disable it:

  1. Click the Search Windows field.
  2. Type cmd.

  3. Right-click Command Prompt.
  4. Click Run as administrator.
  5. Type powercfg -h off and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Get rid of unnecessary Windows animations

Moving windows, opening the Start menu, and many other motions have visual effects that can slow down your computer's performance. Here's how to disable animations:

  1. Click the Search Windows field.
  2. Type performance.

  3. Click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  4. Click any animations you'd like to disable. The check disappears when it's disabled.

  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.

Ensure asynchronous reprojection and interleaved reprojection are enabled

If you're using a Vive on an older machine, you want to make sure you're taking advantage of these technologies — they will provide better framerates in the event that your hardware can't quite keep up.

  1. Launch SteamVR from your desktop, Start menu, or taskbar.
  2. Click the dropdown arrow next to SteamVR.

  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Performance.

  5. Click the checkbox next to Allow asynchronous reprojection so that a checkmark appears.
  6. Click the checkbox next to Allow interleaved reprojection so that a checkmark appears.

Disable f.lux

Anyone who has used f.lux knows how great it is — no more blinding light, no more eye strain, and no more blue light keeping you up at night. The problem is that a bunch of VR users who have f.lux enabled on their PC find that it can interfere with performance.

Before you head into VR, make sure you either close the program completely or enable safe mode in the Settings menu.

Enable Aero on Windows 7

We were tipped off by ymo1965 in the comments section of this article to enable Aero if you're still using Windows 7. Why? Without it, any overlapping windows will cause performance issues. Something something blame it on Microsoft. Thanks for the tip ymo1965!

Consider overclocking your graphics card and processor

Overclocking, if you don't know, is the process of increasing your hardware's clock speed so that it performs better. It's a great way of getting a few more months out of an aging GPU or CPU, but there are risks involved.

Hardware like your CPU and GPU come with cooling systems in place based on the heat they create while performing at stock speed. Raising that speed with overclocking will also raise the heat, and, if not properly cooled, your hardware can become damaged or even experience a full failure (more common on old hardware than newer hardware). Overclocking will also quite often void the warranty on your hardware.

Each piece of hardware has different overclocking thresholds (if it's even possible), so creating a one-fits-all guide is almost impossible. There are, however, plenty of existing discussions populating the internet — overclock.net is a great place to ask questions and receive informed answers.

Overclocking your CPU and GPU is arguably the best way to eke the most performance out of your hardware, but there is no free lunch. Heed the risks, and proceed at your own caution.

How's your hardware?

Do you have an aging computer that struggles to keep up with VR demands? Did you just upgrade your PC? Are you someone who lives for overclocking? Let us know all about it in the comments section below!

Updated August 17 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting the absolute best ways to eke the most performance out of your PC.

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