Rumor: Valve Index Dev Video Apparently Reveals Render Resolution And Refresh Rate

by David Heaney • April 1st, 2019

The apparent contents of the SteamVR Settings panel opened by a developer seemingly using the Valve Index headset could reveal the headset’s resolution and refresh rate. Just to note, this isn’t an April fools- at least we’re pretty sure.

YouTube allows channels to trim videos, and Zulubo seems to have now trimmed out the parts of the videos showing these settings, if they were there in the first place. But eagle eyed users on Discord and reddit screenshotted the settings and from them we may be able to derive details about the Index headset.

steamvr panel

screenshot distributed across Discord & Reddit

During this video from Zulubo Productions the developer apparently quickly opened the SteamVR Settings window. A mysterious icon of a headset that resembles Index is shown, as well as the Knuckles controllers. In the video settings the render resolution slider for the headset can be seen, as well as the frametime indicator.

Zulubo is also the studio behind the ‘Moondust’ demo used by Valve itself to test and demonstrate the upcoming Knuckles controllers. Zulubo’s close partnership with Valve does add credence to this report.

Render Resolution & Refresh Rate

SteamVR by default automatically sets your render resolution based on your GPU. However users can alternatively manually select the render resolution. The scale is set so that “100%” is the headset’s default render resolution, which varies between headsets. Here’s an example of how this looks for an Oculus Rift with a GTX 970:

Here’s the same tab from the Zulubo video using Valve Index:

screenshot distributed across Discord & Reddit

While the image is low resolution, it’s still possible to make out the details by looking closely. The headset name seems to be ‘Unidentified HMD’ and the frametime indicator is clearly up to 11.1ms- meaning a refresh rate of 90 Hz

Zooming in shows the current render resolution as 1913×2125 per eye. However, the render resolution is set to 90%, meaning at 100% it would be 2016×2240.

It’s very important to note that a headset’s default render resolution is not the same as its panel resolution. In order to overcome the inherent image quality loss from barell distortion PC VR headsets by default render at a higher resolution than the panels.

The original HTC Vive uses 1080×1200 panels and its default was 1512×1680. The Vive Pro upgraded to 1440×1600 panels and upped this default to 2016×2240- exactly what the video’s 90% resolution scaled to 100% would be. Both headsets used a render resolution 1.4x the panel resolution on each axis.

So What Panel Resolution?

The same default render resolution as the Vive Pro seems to indicate Index uses the same 1440×1600 OLED panels as the Vive Pro. Back when Index was first leaked a source told us the headset would have “Vive Pro resolution”- but it was unclear whether they referred to panel resolution or something else.

However the other possibility is that Index’s render resolution for some reason has a different relation to the display resolution than the previous headsets. The original leaks of Index showed labels on the headset. One of these labels had a heading called “Display” with two options: BOE and JDI.

valve index display sticker

BOE and JDI are both display manufacturers. BOE makes the 1440p LCD for the Oculus Go also used on Rift S, and JDI is rumored to be making the 2160×2160 LCDs for the HP Reverb

Both companies have 2K LCD panels for VR releasing this year that could be suitable for Index if the headset will indeed improve resolution. BOE has a 90Hz 2160×2376 panel. JDI has a 2160×2432 120Hz panel.

Both panel resolutions are similar to the 2016×2240 default render resolution suggested by the Zulubo video.

We tried JDI’s panel at DisplayWeek last year and were highly impressed. JDI claimed the panel will “start commercial shipments by the end of March in 2019”- which is pretty close to the “May 2019” of Valve Index.

Conclusions

If these Zulubo Productions video screenshots are accurate, Index likely has a refresh rate of 90Hz and the same default render resolution as the Vive Pro. What we cannot say however is whether this is because it uses the same panels, or whether the relation between render and panel resolution has changed.

We’ll keep you updated with any further hints or reveals about Index.

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