3 Best Graphics Cards (GPUs) for Half Life Alyx (2020)

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Winner
Asus ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080TI Overclocked 11G GDDR6 HDMI DP 1.4 USB Type-C Gaming Graphics Card (ROG-STRIX-RTX-2080TI-O11G)
Best Price
Gigabyte Gv-R57XTGAMING OC-8GD Radeon Rx 5700 Xt Gaming OC 8G Graphics Card, PCIe 4.0, 8GB 256-Bit GDDR6, Video Card
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB GDRR6 256-bit HDMI/DP G-SYNC Turing Architecture Overclocked Graphics Card (RTX 2060 Super Gaming X)
Model
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti
Gigabyte Radeon Rx 5700 XT
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent May 2020
Test Result 9.5/10 Very Good May 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good May 2020
Manufacturer
ASUS
Gigabyte
MSI
Performance
Video Memory
11 GB GDDR6
8GB GDDR6
8GB GDDR6
Clock rate
1665 MHz
1400 MHz
1695 MHz
Memory bandwidth
448GB/s
448GB/s
336 GB/s
Displayport
HDMI
Value for money
Pros
  • Capable of 4K gaming at 60fps
  • DLSS is another exciting feature with a ton of potential
  • Sets a new bar for single-GPU performance
  • Great connectivity
  • Great mid-range 1440p graphics performance
  • Large performance improvement, beats RTX 2070 and is nearly as fast as the Radeon VII
  • Good design
  • Best price-performance ratio
  • Better value than other RTX cards
  • More, faster memory than before
  • DVI port for legacy monitors
  • Well overclocked
Cons
  • Price
  • No real-time ray tracing
  • Ray traced games make the 2060 Super work louder
Recommended by us?
Winner
Asus ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080TI Overclocked 11G GDDR6 HDMI DP 1.4 USB Type-C Gaming Graphics Card (ROG-STRIX-RTX-2080TI-O11G)
Model
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent May 2020
Manufacturer
ASUS
Performance
Video Memory
11 GB GDDR6
Clock rate
1665 MHz
Memory bandwidth
448GB/s
Displayport
HDMI
Value for money
Pros
  • Capable of 4K gaming at 60fps
  • DLSS is another exciting feature with a ton of potential
  • Sets a new bar for single-GPU performance
  • Great connectivity
Cons
  • Price
Recommended by us?
Best Price
Gigabyte Gv-R57XTGAMING OC-8GD Radeon Rx 5700 Xt Gaming OC 8G Graphics Card, PCIe 4.0, 8GB 256-Bit GDDR6, Video Card
Model
Gigabyte Radeon Rx 5700 XT
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Very Good May 2020
Manufacturer
Gigabyte
Performance
Video Memory
8GB GDDR6
Clock rate
1400 MHz
Memory bandwidth
448GB/s
Displayport
HDMI
Value for money
Pros
  • Great mid-range 1440p graphics performance
  • Large performance improvement, beats RTX 2070 and is nearly as fast as the Radeon VII
  • Good design
  • Best price-performance ratio
Cons
  • No real-time ray tracing
Recommended by us?
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB GDRR6 256-bit HDMI/DP G-SYNC Turing Architecture Overclocked Graphics Card (RTX 2060 Super Gaming X)
Model
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good May 2020
Manufacturer
MSI
Performance
Video Memory
8GB GDDR6
Clock rate
1695 MHz
Memory bandwidth
336 GB/s
Displayport
HDMI
Value for money
Pros
  • Better value than other RTX cards
  • More, faster memory than before
  • DVI port for legacy monitors
  • Well overclocked
Cons
  • Ray traced games make the 2060 Super work louder
Recommended by us?

Finding the Best Graphics Cards (GPUs) for Half Life: Alyx

Half-Life: Alyx relies on its own Source 2 engine, which is also used in DOTA 2, among others. This means that the basic framework has been around for several years, but the result works perfectly in virtual reality. DirectX 11 is used as API.

Although the graphics can’t keep up with heavyweights like Doom Eternal or Red Dead Redemption 2 in many respects, graphics in VR works differently than on screen. And what you see in Half-Life: Alyx under the glasses looks quite impressive. In order to enjoy the game to the fullest you need enough graphics power. There is a huge difference between playing Half Life: Alyx in 60Hz or 140Hz. The right graphics card helps you to get the most out of the game and you don’t have to spend a fortune if you are happy with good graphics performance instead of top performance.

The game Half Life Alyx is incredibly atmospheric, which is largely due to the graphics. In combination with the good animations and the many details the result would be just about okay on the screen, but under the VR-glasses it works very well and contributes an enormous part to the absolutely successful immersion.

A simple graphics menu

Half-Life: Alyx offers a simple graphic menu without much option variety or luxury. In the end, there are only four graphic presets and a few individual options. There are also no comfort options, descriptions of the individual options or sample screenshots. The menu could be from Half-Life 2. All this is not a break a leg, but other games are now doing much better. This would be all the more important because Valve tries to achieve the VR breakthrough with the game.

Four presets for better performance

Half-Life: Alyx comes with four different presets to adjust the graphic quality to your own computer. “Low”, “Medium”, “High” and “Ultra High” are available. All changes are applied without a restart, which is unfortunately not always the case nowadays.

The optical differences between Medium, High and Ultra High are minimal. On screenshots you can hardly see any at all, in motion you will notice a slightly stronger flickering and a more aggressive LOD. The differences are nevertheless minimal. The low preset, on the other hand, dispenses with ambient masking in places, which costs a good bit of atmosphere. The lowest setting should be avoided if possible.

Test Results: Best Graphics Cards (GPUs) for Half Life Alyx

Ranking First: ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti

Pros

  • Capable of 4K gaming at 60fps
  • DLSS is another exciting feature with a ton of potential
  • Sets a new bar for single-GPU performance
  • Great connectivity

Cons

  • Price

Best performing graphics card for Half Life: Alyx

For the start of the new RTX-2000 series, many partner cards (custom designs) are available in addition to reference cards (Founders Edition). With Asus’ Geforce RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix OC, we directly tested an ambitious custom design of the 2080 Ti, including a board and cooling specially designed by Asus, as well as a somewhat higher clock rate.

The RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix OC is equipped with the TU102 chip of the Turing generation and has, like Nvidia’s Founders Edition, a base clock of 1.515 MHz. However, Asus increases the boost clock and delivers the graphic card with 1.650 MHz. An increase of only 15 MHz compared to the (90 MHz overclocked) Founders Edition. The OC mode can also be activated via GPU Teak II, which increases the chip clock by another 15 MHz to 1.665 MHz, increasing graphics performance for Half Life Alyx.

Asus has also revised the power supply, whereas the Founders Edition relies on an 8-phase model, there are 16+3 phases for the RTX 2080 Ti. At the same time, it has two 8-pin power connectors; the manufacturer indicates the TDP with 260 watts. The power limit can be increased by 25 percent for better overclocking.

The DirectCU-III cooling has been revised compared to the last generation. In opposition to the GTX 1080 Ti ROG Strix OC or GTX 1070 Ti ROG Strix Advanced, the cooling surface is supposed to be 20 percent larger according to Asus. The rotor blades of the three 90 millimeter axial fans are connected to an outer vertical ring for the first time and should allow for less air turbulence (and thus less noise) as well as more air flow and pressure at the same time. As usual, Asus relies on a two-part aluminium radiator with six heat pipes.

Asus doesn’t take a big risk in terms of design, the ROG-Strix models look almost identical across generations, but this time Asus is relying more on matt black. On top of that, a metal mount installed between the back and the slot bezel stabilizes the custom design, which weighs around 1.4 kilograms.

Completely new in the ROG-Strix series is a BIOS switch on the upper side of the graphic card in order to switch from performance to quiet mode, which is great for Half Life Alyx. This does not directly affect the clock rates, but only the fan curve. In performance mode it is set more aggressively, so that the temperatures are lower and clock rates and fan speeds are slightly higher. By the way: If you want to have idle fans in idle, you’ll have to switch to quiet mode, but Half Life Alyx is quite graphics intensive.

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti

To change modes, you’ll need to flip the switch and restart while the system is running. If you switch off your PC or use shutdown and reboot, the desired mode will not be recognized, at least not for our samples.

The RGB-illumination of the ROG Strix OC is identical to the previous models, but there is a new switch to deactivate the illumination, which is placed on the backside of the graphics card and is not used by the backplate.

In the review of the Asus Geforce RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix OC, it becomes clear that manufacturers of custom designs will find it harder to stand out with pure performance in comparison to Nvidia’s Founders Edition with the new Turing generation. Because although the Asus card’s cooling strongly cools the TU102 chip, Nvidia seems to have a clearer say in the maximum possible clock rates than it did with the previous Pascal generation.

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080Ti

This is not only shown by the only 15 MHz higher boost clock, but also the clock rate under load. The ROG Strix OC is only 60 MHz above Nvidia’s Founders Edition with 1.800 MHz; the performance increase turns out correspondingly marginal. However, the Founders Edition’s cooling system has also increased considerably in the Turing generation and thus also allows a higher boost clock rate than in the GTX-1000 generation.

Verdict: Best performance graphics card for Half Life: Alyx

So, if you can hardly be faster, you can at least distinguish yourself with a better cooling system, which keeps the graphic card cooler and quieter than the Founders Edition manages. The ROG Strix OC manages this impressively in both performance and quiet mode, if it weren’t for the mentioned problems (probably with the fan control), which express themselves in slightly annoying background noise and increase the volume a bit, but better performance for Half Life Alyx.

All in all the 2080Ti is the best performing graphics card for Half Life Alyx, if you do want to get the best perfromance in Half Life Alyx you need to get this graphics card.

Ranking Second: Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT

Pros

  • Great mid-range 1440p graphics performance
  • Large performance improvement, beats RTX 2070 and is nearly as fast as the Radeon VII
  • Good design
  • Best price-performance ratio

Cons

  • No real-time ray tracing

Best price-performance graphics card for Half Life Alyx

AMD wants to score with the Radeon RX 5700 XT in comparison to Nvidia in terms of graphic cards. We test the chip in a graphics card of gigabytes. After we looked at the MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio, a representative of the current graphics card generation from Nvidia, it’s now AMD’s turn. The current GPUs from the Radeon series are available in three relevant groups: the RX 5500, the RX 5700 and the RX 5700 XT. All of them are DirectX 12 compatible and are especially designed to convince gamers.

Our test starts with the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming OC 8G. The RX 5700 XT has a few differences compared to the RX 5700: It has more computing units (CUs), more arithmetic logic units (ALU) and a higher clock rate, resulting in great performance for Half Life Alyx. The RX 5700 XT is thus quite comparable to GPUs from Nvidia’s RTX-2070 Super series – simply graphics cards for the upper class. The big difference: AMD doesn’t install any hardware-sided ray tracing, which Nvidia currently relies on heavily.

The Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming OC 8G is almost 10 inches long, so it takes up a bit less space than the tested MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio, although it also has three fans. It is almost 4 inches high and about 2 inches wide. Like the Nvidia graphics card, it has four connections for displays, but only one of these is an HDMI connection. So if you want to connect both an HDMI-VR headset and an HDMI monitor, you’ll have a problem.

Performance in Half Life Alyx

Let’s throw ourselves into the benchmark performance. We start with our synthetic benchmarks, the 3DMark and the VRMark. It’s noticeable that the RX 5700 XT doesn’t quite come close to the performance of the RTX 5700 Super. Even the older GTX 1080 Ti still delivers more performance in 3DMark than the new RX 5700 XT.

A similar picture emerges in VRMark, which evaluates the cards’ capabilities in VR environments. There are three different benchmarks for this, so-called rooms. The Orange Room evaluates the performance of the graphics card for current headsets. The Cyan Room uses DirectX 12 and has higher requirements. Finally, the Blue Room really challenges the card with its 5K resolution (even though suitable headsets are not really available in stores yet).

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT

The RX 5700 XT easily beats the Nvidia 1660 Ti as well as the old Radeon RX 580, but has to admit defeat in all RTX 2700 Super benchmarks.

Let’s go to the gaming-based benchmarks, the picture changes a bit here. The RX 5700 XT looks especially good with the AMD optimized Far Cry 5. In the three benchmark runs (Full-HD, 1440p and UHD, all graphics settings on Ultra), the AMD graphics card manages significantly more frames per second than the RTX 2700.

But it’s different with Metro: Exodus, which is not explicitly optimized for AMD. Here, the RX 5700 XT delivers nice results, but lacks a bit of performance to catch up with Nvidia.

If you play Borderlands 3, the card moves between 38 and 40 FPS during gaming at a UHD resolution and with the “Badass” graphics option (everything up). The RTX 2070 Super also manages this, but it is significantly more often at or above 40 FPS. In contrast, the difference is crass with Doom: Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super achieves between 60 and 120 FPS with UHD and all graphics options on Ultra, while the AMD RX 5700 XT delivers between 50 and 70 FPS. This is of course grumbling on a high level, but it still shows quite well where the limits are.

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT

There are also differences in power consumption and temperature. In the benchmarks, the RX 5700 XT got up to 85 degrees, the Nvidia card stayed at 69 degrees. The power consumption is also somewhat higher. However, and here AMD and Gigabyte really deserve praise: The fans of the RX 5700 XT work very well and comparatively quietly. They shovel the heat away well without the card, like the RX 580, booming out of the case. Even during longer benchmarks, the fans didn’t attract unpleasant attention.

Verdict: Best price-performance ratio graphics card for Half Life Alyx

No, the RX 5700 XT cannot push the RTX 2070 Super off its performance throne. But it sneaks up to almost arm’s length. The card delivers decent values in the synthetic benchmarks as well as in practical use. The tested card costs comparably low, other manufacturers even offer cards under 400 Dollar. For the cards with RTX 2070 Super you put a good 100 Dollar more on the counter. That’s why the RX 5700XT wins our best price-performance ratio for Half Life Alyx.

Ranking Third: MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super

Pros

  • Better value than other RTX cards
  • More, faster memory than before
  • DVI port for legacy monitors
  • Well overclocked

Cons

  • Ray traced games make the 2060 Super work louder

Great lower budget graphics card for Half Life Alyx

Pricewise MSI sorts this card at the top of the internal RTX 2060, it would be thus instead of the current approx. 455 Dollar for this model with security also clearly more favorably, if it is to be a smaller one of the RTX cards. But one does not only buy the chip, but also the whole around it. And exactly at this point our expedition into the realm of added value begins. The next pages will have to show whether we will get out of it safely.

The TU106-410 of the card is reduced to 2176 CUDA cores, 272 tensor cores, 34 RT cores, 136 TMUs and 64 ROPs compared to the full version TU106-400 on the RTX 2070. The board has (officially) clock frequencies in the range of 1470 MHz (base clock) and 1725 MHz (boost), but in practice clocks much higher. Compared to the RTX 2060, the MSI RTX 2060 Super Gaming X again has 4 MB L2 cache instead of the three MB of the simple RTX 2060, which is great for the performance for Half Life Alyx.

Uncut, the TU106-410 also retains the same 256-bit memory bus as the TU106-400, to which eight 1 GB GDDR6 memory modules with 14 Gb/s data rate were connected, resulting in a bandwidth of up to 448 GB/s. As with the GeForce RTX 2070, NVLink support has long since ceased to be available in this price class. A prankster who thinks bad thoughts about it, but what the heck.

Apart from that, everything I have already written in the launch articles about the GeForce RTX 2070 FE and the GeForce RTX 2060 FE applies. And if you want to get more detailed information about all the RTX features, I would like to refer you to my very long basic article “Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 introduced – what’s really behind Turing” about RT. This is also worth reading and surely worthwhile.

Although the TU106 is the least complex Turing based GPU so far, its 445 mm² chip contains no less than 10.8 billion transistors. This is still enormous for what Nvidia once might have considered the middle of their portfolio. In comparison, the GP106, the “Midrange Pascal”, was a small 200 mm² chip with 4.4 billion transistors.

Unboxing and technical data

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super

The card follows the typical MSI design language and does not set any colour accents. An RGB lettering on the upper side will take care of this later, but there’s nothing more. The TwinFrozr design of the 7th generation doesn’t hold any secrets and (almost) everything is actually the same. A very dark, anthracite-colored plastic cover and the usual 2.5-slot design leave very little adrenaline behind.

But outward appearances don’t matter anyway, and there will certainly be people who prefer not to apply it quite so thickly. Three DisplayPort connections and one HDMI 2.0 complete the slot bezel.

Let us first come back to the heading. With the maximum power limit set very tightly in the BIOS, these super cards remind me a bit of Nvidia’s non-A chips, which simply couldn’t be faster, because otherwise a sisterly feast could have taken place. Unfortunately this continues here with the GeForce RTX 2060 Super and so it is virtually impossible to lift these cards, as well as they may be cooled, above 2.1 Ghz.

Exactly at this point the cooler from MSI does its job really well and quietly, because at 62°C a lot of boost steps are still left, which the reference card quickly loses. Under load, this also explains the much better performance in some games, where the GPU is really put to the test. The MSI card can keep the clock rate loose, the reference card unfortunately doesn’t do this quite as well.

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super

The separation of the sandwich design into two instead of one cooling and mounting frame is clever and once again follows what we have repeatedly suggested to the manufacturers for a long time. This means that memory and voltage converter are now finally thermally separated in such cooler designs. The result can be seen and heard (or rather not). The TwinFrozr works sovereign and almost unloaded.

Only the start impulse when leaving the passive mode should have been a bit more subtle. However, the hysteresis has been implemented perfectly as always, so that all this complaining is on a very high level

Verdict: Great performing graphics card for Half Life Alyx

We thought long and hard about what to do when evaluating products that were planned and implemented above average, but for which the price in the end was a little too high to justify an explicit buying tip. But in this case it’s different. The new TPS Award is intended to take all of this into account with immediate effect and also to acknowledge the technical implementations, which are above the general average, but are neither a real price/performance monster nor an absolute technical highlight.

The MSI RTX 2060 Super Gaming X has honestly earned this award. The times, when MSI did not decouple the voltage converters thermally enough from the memory, seem to be really over now. The board layout is absolutely ok and the potent cooler cools as if there were no tomorrow. Those who end up with too little off-the-shelf GeForce RTX 2060 Super will surely be happy with this card, as long as they don’t miss the brightly colored LED illumination with tears. Because it turns out very discreet here. All in all a great graphics card for Half Life Alyx for a lower price than the top models.

The Ultimate Grahipcs Card (GPU) Guide for Half Life: Alyx

Major differences between AMD and Nvidia in presets

The graphic presets show unusual differences between AMD and Nvidia in Half-Life: Alyx. The GeForce RTX 2070 Super and the Radeon RX 5700 XT still agree on the high preset, which improves the performance by only three (AMD) and four percent (Nvidia) respectively in comparison to ultra-high. From medium, the scissors diverge, as the GeForce increases by 13 percent due to the setting, whereas the Radeon only increases by six percent. At low the picture then turns around: The Radeon RX 5700 XT becomes a good 39 percent faster, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super only 22 percent. Overall, the AMD graphics card allows a slightly higher tuning than the Nvidia accelerator.

The following graphic card benchmarks have been carried out on an Intel Core i9-9900K, which runs with the standard settings and can access a total of 32 gigabytes of RAM with a speed of DDR4-3200 (14-14-14-32). “Windows 10 November 2019 Update” (1909) including all currently available patches is installed. The Adrenalin 20.3.1 and the GeForce 445.75 were used as drivers. Both drivers are officially optimized for Half-Life-Alyx.

The test sequence can be reached after about one hour playing time. Alyx starts in a “slimed” cave and goes from there to the outside world. The sequence is quite demanding, but there are also more demanding sections. During the benchmark both hands can be seen throughout the picture, the right one holds a pistol. There is quite a speed difference in the game, whether the hands are visible or not.

The benchmarks were done with two quality settings: One run uses the maximum possible graphic preset “Ultra High”. Another is limited to the “medium” setting. With less detail, the resolution can be increased, which leads to a better image quality.

The VR test procedure is different

Classic games are tested with FPS and frametimes. But in VR this does not work that way anymore or at least not satisfying. Of course, the known metrics still exist and are still meaningful, but in the end the real question is how high the resolution can be turned (or has to be reduced) with your own graphics card to keep the frame rate above the refresh rate of the VR glasses.

This is important because otherwise motion sickness can quickly occur – techniques such as Asynchronous Spacewarp help, but do not eliminate the symptoms. The goal should be to permanently exceed the headset’s Hertz with the FPS. A higher resolution (supersampling) can visibly improve the picture quality. The faster the GPU, the sooner it can be used.

For the time being no benchmarks with the index

For this test, the editors used the Oculus Rift S. The Rift S offers a resolution of 1,280 × 1,440 per eye at 80 Hz, which is now quite low. Vive Pro, Valve Index or HP Reverb offer considerably more. However, the benchmarks planned with Valve Index could not be created so far, because the tool used for data collection with the VR glasses worked in every other game as Half-Life: Alyx, but not in Half-Life: Alyx. After all, all screenshots in the article on the index were made.

The approach followed in the benchmarks is: The goal is to increase the resolution until the distances between the individual frames during the test sequence are between a maximum of 12.0 (83.3 FPS) and 12.4 ms (80.6 FPS), so that the 80 Hz of the Rift S are either never or only very rarely fallen short of. The diagrams show how many pixels can be rendered by the graphics card in relation to the standard resolution of the Rift S. “200 percent” thus means that twice as many pixels (100 percent more) can be rendered, the resolution per axis is higher than by a factor of 1.41.

Maximum resolution (supersampling) with the Oculus Rift S

Half-Life: Alyx has surprisingly low hardware requirements for an AAA-VR game. In comparison, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, for example, requires a much faster graphics card, but without reaching the optical level of the Valve title. All (so far) four tested graphic cards are capable of stepping up to the 80 Hz needed for the Oculus Rift S with maximum graphic details.

However, there are big differences between the individual candidates. Thus, the Radeon RX Vega 64 is clearly the slowest candidate in the test field. The GeForce GTX 1080 – both products of the old generation usually compete directly with each other – works considerably faster in comparison. Thus, the number of pixels can only be increased by 24 percent on the AMD graphics card before the 80 Hz limit can noticeably no longer be held and the game begins to hook. With the 3D accelerator from Nvidia, this is only the case from 100 percent, i.e. twice the number of pixels of the Rift S.

Turing makes a big jump

The Radeon RX 5700 XT also achieves this 100 percent increase (factor 2). The RDNA architecture works in half-life: Alyx is thus significantly faster than its predecessor GCN, but it is not enough to be more than equal to Nvidia’s Pascal generation.

Nvidia’s current architecture, Turing, is clearly on the rise in the VR game; the number of pixels to be rendered can be increased by 200 percent (factor 3) on the GeForce RTX 2070 Super. This is another 50 percent more pixels than on the GeForce GTX 1080 and the Radeon RX 5700 XT.

Medium details clearly inspire old Radeon GPUs

AMD graphics cards are consistently not very fast in Half-Life: Alyx, but the GCN generation has been hit twice hard. But if you switch back to the medium detail level, you deactivate a “GCN brake”. This setting doubles the resolution of the Rift S on the Radeon RX Vega 64, so that the Radeon RX 5700 XT can no longer nudge 61 percent more pixels over the cables as in ultra-high, but only 35 percent of them.

Thus, the Radeon RX Vega 64 also approaches the GeForce GTX 1080. This can then only set itself apart from the AMD card by 25 percent (150 percent more pixels than native). The GeForce RTX 2070 Super remains the clear leader in the test field with a plus of 250 percent, but the Radeon RX 5700 XT comes significantly closer and shortens the gap from 33 percent fewer pixels to 23 percent.

Classic FPS and frametimes for analysis

Even if the classic frametimes and especially the FPS in VR games have only a limited significance, these are still interesting values: Because FCAT VR offers the possibility to read out even the FPS and frametimes that are not slowed down by the refresh rate of the VR glasses, the exact differences between the graphics cards can be better analyzed. For this purpose, the resolution for all 3D accelerators is set to 3,080 × 3,310.

For FPS, the differences are smaller than expected

The test series shows that Radeon graphics cards can’t keep up with their GeForce counterparts, but are not as far behind as first assumed. In terms of frame rate, the Radeon RX Vega 64 is only two percent behind the GeForce GTX 1080 and is thus just as fast – and achieves almost the same good result as in classic AAA games.

The GeForce RTX 2070 Super achieves a good result with a plus of 25 percent to the Radeon RX 5700 XT. Turing works very fast in the game, usually the difference is eleven percent. But even that is not as much as first assumed. The same applies to the “internal duels” at AMD and Nvidia, also there the differences are not too big.

The frametimes show the actual problems

The frame times again show why the supersampling results are so clear. Here the Radeon RX Vega 64 again falls massively behind the Radeon RX 5700 XT and the Nvidia accelerators. The Radeon RX 5700 XT with RDNA is 40 percent faster in the test series, the GeForce GTX 1080 still 35 percent faster.

The comparable frametimes between the Radeon RX 5700 XT and the GeForce GTX 1080 also illustrate why both graphics cards offer exactly the same super sampling factor. And the good performance of the GeForce RTX 2070 Super is also confirmed in the frametimes. Compared to the GeForce GTX 1080, these turn out 31 percent better in the Turing model, and 27 percent better in the Radeon RX 5700 XT.

Half-Life is that good: Alyx

Note: The technology test was conducted on Rift S and Valve Index, the gaming test on Vive Pro. Statements about tracking therefore refer to their system.

When a new Half-Life comes out, you don’t expect just a good game. On the contrary: In the tradition of its predecessors, it has to be a revolution, an impulse for the genre. And Valve has fulfilled these expectations. But until that becomes clear, there are sobering 20 minutes to go before the biggest weaknesses of the milestone in spe

The first 20 minutes wear out

Alyx needs the time to explain the movement and basics in a slow tutorial. Meanwhile there is no game yet, but only a sandbox with things to pick up, touch and throw around and look at closely. Because making nonsense and trying things out is the only action option, the magic of illusion is first of all torn into small pieces, because it firstly draws attention to the fact that things have no right weight, secondly no manipulation with already grabbed objects is possible and thirdly much nauseous bending and jumping is demanded. Revolutionary? Not like this at first. Although a three-legged strider with impressive sound effects is allowed to climb over his own head, Valve only deserves selective recognition.

These problems are solved when the game gets going and finally comes out with its real toys: Gravity Gloves, weapons and a universal tool for puzzles. The gloves are a stroke of genius: Grabbing things from a distance with techno-telekinesis disguises the lack of weight of things, it avoids bending over, and it lets the fragility of the illusion recede behind effortless, fun interactions with meaning. They also serve as a naturally retrievable HUD, whose use itself becomes an entertainment factor because it feels so “normal”. Constant virtual normality is then also the sharpest arrow in Alyx’s quiver.

As soon as there are gadgets, the game comes together, creates a dense atmosphere, invites you to literally interact with your world. Puzzles, puzzles and the very “everyday” events of exploration and shootings are relatively simple in themselves, but all of them are “virtually real”, i.e. logical, intuitively solvable and complemented by the “fourth” dimension of free camera movement. The taking cover, the bending down to look under tables, the pulling open of drawers, the reloading, which always involves several movements that quickly become hectic in a fight and usually make you forget that the illusion is just that: if the tracking doesn’t work, if the cranking becomes choppy, then the Matrix reveals itself. These are, it must be said, rare moments. The astonishment and the experience of a City 17 clearly outweighs the strangeness of the city, to whose strangeness its dilapidated condition, its cultural foreignness and alien occupants contribute in equal measure – up close and personal as a “real” experience that feels pretty oppressive.

Alyx delivers a VR experience

Half-Life Alyx is therefore everything that the demo of Blood & Truth on PlayStation 4 promised for the future of the division, in the length of a 12 to 15 hour game. The fact that Alyx only becomes more than a Half-Life in VR after about a third of the game and increasingly brings in new ideas contributes to the acclimatization. Zombies and headcrabs shock, especially in the dark, mean enough. At the same time, the game always takes you out of your comfort zone: You don’t play Alyx, you are Alyx. Not Alyx pulls the brain-eaters from his head, you do it yourself, first creepy, then enthusiastically on the run, you yourself start to peek over your shoulder at doors, to peek around corners, to stand in the room with slightly soft legs. Thanks to a flow of fresh elements, the enthusiasm lasts until the grand finale, only the hacking mini-puzzles become stale.

As a demonstration object, Valve demonstrates from the wrist how VR entertainment really looks like, but also that technology and game design are not yet quite where they should be. Too often the illusion becomes a transparent simulation. And yet: The first session lasted a disillusioning 20 minutes with a stomach break and demonstrated that Valve did not build a playground of infinite possibilities. The second session then lasts three almost uninterrupted hours, proving how well Alyx works as a linear, structured, continuous entertainment and what VR gaming could look like in the future. Milestone built, mission accomplished.

Conclusion

Half-Life: Alyx delivers what was expected of him: Pure VR entertainment. This was not available before. Valve has created such an innovative, fun and simply consistently good game, which impresses with a great atmosphere, just as great immersion, controls, good technology and a lot more.

Valve doesn’t deliver a masterpiece of technology, but the outdated but dusty Source 2 engine doesn’t allow that. But the visual appearance is still on a very high level. Even if it can’t keep up with AAA heavyweights like Doom Eternal (Test), the graphics is incredibly coherent and simply fits Half-Life in VR. Under the headset, the choice of engine also has a tangible advantage: the game doesn’t require a high-end computer. Especially in the medium detail level, which optically hardly looks worse than the maximum, a good and visible plus in the resolution can be achieved with many graphic cards.


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