Superwide vs Triple vs VR: embarking on a journey to find out what to get next.

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
I just got hold of two monitors from work, to try out a triple monitor setup.
Never had experienced racing with such a small a vFOV before, I was amazed at the effect: everything seems to be smoother, and slower, which means I can be ever so precise in braking/turning/accelerating in turns.
That opened my eyes as to what I was missing out in terms of peripheral vision and FOV setup.
I am sold: I'm going to get myself a more realistic setup.
I tried both AC and ACC.
AC-triple monitor rendering is great: I have my side monitors at the ideal 60 degrees angle, and graphics are perfect.
By when I tried ACC, I noticed it doesn't yet support triple monitor setups, or at least, it seems to me optimised for Superwide monitors with a much shallower curvature angle than a triple.
Could this be the direction the devs want us to go into with simracing?
Price for a good superwide g-sync panel is steep but still affordable for me.
And I would rather have one monitor rather than deal with how to setup three monitors towering over my desk (more to the point, I don't need the extra two monitors at the moment)
I will tonight try to setup the three monitors with a shallower angle, and cover half of each of the two side panels, to emulate a 49 inch 1080p Superwide monitor (I currently have three 27 inch 1080p monitors)
Tomorrow I am also borrowing an Oculus Rift for the rest of the week, so I can experiment with all the different FOVs and see which one I prefer.
I know some of you are sold on VR, but if anyone else is in the same position as me, trying to figure out what solution could be the least expensive yet more flexible and still performing well (I can't stand stuttering/low FPS/tearing etc..) then just follow this post and I'll update you on my findings.
I wear glasses, and don't like to wear them but contact lenses tend to fall off when I don't blink often enough, as it's the case while I am playing a simulation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tim Meuris

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
BTW if you are wondering whether mixing g-sync and non-g-sync panels in a Nvidia Surround setup works, yes it does.
The primary display has to be a Gsync panel, but it will be limited to the max refresh rate of the non-g-sync panels. In my case 60hz
But when playing on my GTX 1070 at a slightly too high level of detail, even though the FPS in ACC was fluctuating between 50 and 70 I didn’t notice any stuttering and the fast vsync prevented the annoying tearing.
I have the in game FPS limiter disabled.
 

JeroenH

Addicted to cars
Jun 6, 2018
84
85
25
Keep coming with updates! I watch this thread as I have the same questions about you. Currently running 21' 144hz, but curious to see where other people want to upgrade to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: fnegroni

John-Eric Saxén

1000RPM
Premium
Jan 31, 2010
1,834
1,169
By when I tried ACC, I noticed it doesn't yet support triple monitor setups, or at least, it seems to me optimised for Superwide monitors with a much shallower curvature angle than a triple.
Could this be the direction the devs want us to go into with simracing?
IMO it has little to do with the direction devs want to go. It's more a practical limitation of running Unreal 4 engine, which wasn't designed with sim racing in mind. Most PC sims today still have proper triple screen support, which means the game renders three viewports and not just one stretched image. Obviously in other games there is less use of this feature and if other sims are moving to UE4 in future, it may indeed make more sense to go the ultrawide route. The only benefit of triple screens over ultrawide is the angle and the angle benefit is gone if sim makers don't bother implementing three viewports.
 

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
It's now quite late into the night, and the time has come to pack the Rift and give it back to my colleague.
I'll update this thread at some point tomorrow...
 

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
I don't like clickbait, so I will make two posts. A short tl;dr kind of post, with my conclusion on the subject, and a longer post with some background, my detailed experience, and some thoughts.

Please bear in mind all you are about to read is my opinion, based on my personal experience, and besides, I am not holding a gun to your head to read it so take it with the proverbial pinch of salt.

The tl;dr conclusion:

I will go to triple screen.

Long post will follow soon.
 

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
Long post, the usual warnings apply: this is my opinion, based on my experience.
My rig setup (the relevant bits anyway):
16GB Crucial Ballistix 2600
i5-8600k (not O/C yet)
GTX1070 O8C
1x Acer Predator XB271H 1080p TN 144Hz G-Sync monitor
Logitech G29 wheel + pedals + H-shifter
Under test:
Triple 27" monitors
Oculus Rift
Driving games in the test:
- Assetto Corsa
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- DiRT Rally
At the weekend I spent in excess of 30 hours trying both VR and Triple monitor setups back to back
The triple setup consisted of my own 27 inch monitor as centre, a G-sync 144Hz TN panel, and two other bog standard 1080p 60Hz IPS panels used as side monitors, which I borrowed from work.
I don't have a sim racing chair/rig, that might be in my wish list at some point. I only have a desk.
The triple set of monitors, on their own stands, the centre around 65cm from my nose, and the two side panels at a 45 deg angle, giving a vFOV in assetto of 29 degrees.
I had the triple set for a couple of days prior, and the first impression I got firing up AC was "Wow, this is so much better than a single monitor!", I was more consistent around the familiar tracks I raced on recently and I was really enjoying being surrounded by screens showing me a 1:1 view of the virtual world.
The only limiting factor was the fact that, using Nvidia Surround, the "triple" as I will call it, is limited to 60Hz (because of the side panels in use).
Still, even at 60Hz, the action is butter smooth: at all maxed out I can push 100 minimum FPS in Assetto Corsa. AC/C needed some tweaking, but got it to a stable and still nice looking 80-100 FPS stable (everything pretty much on MID in the graphics section).
When playing AC/C, g-sync is enabled for the centre monitor, so if the FPS drops below 60, the centre monitor adapts, and the side monitors really don't matter that much.
I also enable Fast Vsync in the Nvidia 3D control panel, so I don't get any tearing and next to no lag.
The centre monitor is a fast 1ms G-t-G panel, and the input lag was basically undetectable.
Driving was nice, I was wearing my glasses comfortably, I was able to drive for hours without needed to take a long break from the screen, resolution sharp, even in AC/C, all good.
The negatives:
1 - The sheer size of the screens: 27 inch screens on their own are not huge, but are quite demanding in terms of desk space. Three of them need some seriously wide desk.
2 - The FOV: I could only achieve 29 degrees vFOV because I could not get the monitor to its usual place behind the logitech g29 wheel base.
3 - Going back and forth using the Nvidia surround software between three screens and surround with the correct alignment, frequency, etc. was a PITA!
The first two negatives can be easily corrected: a set of monitor arms can quickly resolve the desk space issue, and the screen distance issue as well.
In fact, I think I could achieve my usual 36 degrees vFOV quite easily, with the side panels at the ideal 60 degree angle to the centre, which basically means a whole 180 degrees of vision covered!
The last point can probably be easily addressed using a Powershell script to automate the process, so a minor nuisance.
Now on to the Oculus Rift.
I borrowed it from a colleague, and although I was given the full set of head unit, and two handhelds and two cameras, I just limited myself to the 'seated' experience and set up one camera directly in front of the monitor, just behind the steering wheel base.
After installing the Oculus software, and going through the initial setup, two things became obvious.
First, this is a seriously cool piece of kit. It's science fiction for the masses. I was really eager by this point, couldn't wait to experience seating in a car in a virtual world and look at all the amazing detail around me.
Second, I really am going to struggle with this device. Several issues: bear in mind I have autism and sensory issues, so you might find the following a non-issue.
1. Fit: to find the 'perfect' fit was a struggle, although I think I got it ok in the end. Just got me a bit frustrated.
2. Mist on the lenses: whenever first wearing the unit after a long break, a fine mist would form on the lenses, due to my breathing through the nose. I just had to wait about 5 minutes to allow for the fine layer of steam to evaporate from the lenses: this was probably due to a big gap between the nose and the foam under the visor. I am sure there's a workaround for that, but after two days, I was very frustrated by it. It was actually putting me off wearing it for a quick game!
3. Wearing contacts: I normally wear glasses when spending time on a computer for longer than a few minutes. Glare is an issue for me, exacerbated when wearing contacts, and also my eyes dry up quite a bit: the Rift was making this all a bit too much for me.
I could not wear it using my regular pair of glasses, and so if I ever bought one, I would have to get myself some inserts taylor made for the Rift.
4. The cable: it's a long annoying cable protruding from your face, going all over the floor and getting stuck in any little gap between me and my rig. Basically this is something I would need to design some cable routing for, I would not be happy otherwise.
Anyway, on to the actual experience of driving with the Rift: very similar if not the same of what others reported.
I first fired up Assetto Corsa, and got to understand how to configure the software so I had a decent experience. I lowered the detail down to an acceptable level that would give me a minimum 90FPS so to get the smoothest experience, and I must admit, when I first got in the car, the experience was great!
I could see all the detail inside the car I didn't even know existed, the little things like stickers and buttons, and handles, and the stitching on seats etc...
All of that was really cool. I mean, it was quite sharp.
Then I started driving and got a bit disappointed in a coupele of areas; after 15 hours with it, these are my findings.
1. Driving feels good in Assetto and even better in AC/Competizione. You have depth perception that is obviously better than a 2D monitor, infact I remember experiencing the same when I used to play driving games on the Nintendo 3DS.
In Dirt Rally, I am sorry to say, I nearly vomited. I could not drive up and down for more than 5 minutes without fearing being sick. I know you can get used to it but still... and no, my FPS never dipped below 90, ever.
2. Another thing that reminded me of the Nintendo 3DS? The graphics! It was like driving a Virtual Reality Gamecube...
The car and any objects in my immediate vicinity was actually looking quite good, textures and all, but as soon as I was looking into the distance, I just couldn't help notice the limited resolution.
Yes I tried setting the pixel density to 2.0, 1.5, eventually settling for 1.2
Yes the graphics get a bit sharper, but then I did a test: two hot laps of Laguna Seca, in a couple of cars (mx-5, praga r1, lambo GT3) and see what laptimes I was getting.
So, VR was allowing me to get better lap times, like most poeple have noticed, but here is the thing: once I got that better lap time, and improved my breaking and exit speeds, switching back to the triple monitor setup, I was able to maintain the gains made in VR.
So although VR can give a slight advantage on a Hotlap, or unfamiliar track, I think the triple is more suitable to an endurance event.
And this was even more obvious when considering that the graphics levels on a triple were just so much more detailed.
By the end of the weekend, I was happy with the experience, but I had found my answer.
Going down the Triple monitor route is for me better, right now.
My eyes don't go crazy because of the glare, the detail is much sharper, everywhere.
With the Rift, after the novelty factor wore out (after about maybe 5 hours or so?) I was tired of looking at the car details, details I would not even bother to look at during a race, and instead I was getting annoyed at the lack of detail of anything that wasn't in my immediate vicinity.
Plus the frame rate is really something to watch out for: when it dips below 88 FPS and the device locks into 45FPS ASW mode with frame compensation, I didn't like it AT ALL! Especially when it was dipping in and out of the ASW range.
I guess if you cap the FPS to 45... and put up with a little more input lag.
But I'm sorry, I can't justify spending 400 GBP (500 USD?) on a device I will struggle to use for more than an hour at a time, makes my eyes go funny because of the glare, irks me somewhat because of the fitting and that resolution OMG! You get two screens, which are actually 1080×1200 per eye, but that's not 2160x1200: more like 720p!
Would I buy the Vive Pro, with the increased resolution? Maybe, but at twice the price?
Would I use the Rift on occasion for simracing? Yes.
Would I use the Rift just to cruise in my virtual car? Maybe a couple of times, until the novelty wears out, or a new driving game comes out.
I think, if I was to wait say one or two years, pick up a seriously beefy graphics card, and wait for the VR headsets to mature and actually give that resolution that the games are capable of, then yes, I would pick one up.
Until then I'll stick with a Triple. I can buy two 144Hz monitors. And see all of the 5760x1080 pixels, and all of the 80 to 100 FPS I get from AC/C now.
P.S.
I didn't mention anything about Superwide (21:9) screens in my post. Why?
Because after playing about with the FOV in a triple setup, I realised, given the angle curvature of a superwide, even with a 36 degree vFOV, I can't see the mirrors!
It's a good fall back if you don't mind giving up some of your field of view, but you'll never achieve 180'.
I don't know if Assetto Corsa Competizione will support triple screen setups. I sure hope they do, as the current configuration means having three screens next to each other in a line, which is not great is it?
 

JeroenH

Addicted to cars
Jun 6, 2018
84
85
25
Thank you for the detailed opinion! I'm definitely going to take this in mind when I'm on the edge of making this decision.
 

Burke Wells

100RPM
Dec 12, 2014
195
142
53
Until then I'll stick with a Triple.
Thanks for the detailed post. I read it all and appreciated the comparisons & opinions. Fellow triple user here (three 24"). Love 'em with Assetto Corsa, love 'em even more with Project Cars 2. Bought ACC weeks ago but haven't installed it yet (was hoping proper triple monitor support was coming but seems unlikely now).

I'm curious how bad (or stretched) the side monitors look in ACC compared to how nice they look in AC. I'm guessing it's not that great but still tolerable?
 

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
UPDATED

Thanks for the detailed post. I read it all and appreciated the comparisons & opinions. Fellow triple user here (three 24"). Love 'em with Assetto Corsa, love 'em even more with Project Cars 2. Bought ACC weeks ago but haven't installed it yet (was hoping proper triple monitor support was coming but seems unlikely now).

I'm curious how bad (or stretched) the side monitors look in ACC compared to how nice they look in AC. I'm guessing it's not that great but still tolerable?
Tolerable yes, but it means having the two side panels flat rather than at an angle: basically if you open Assetto corsa and in the triple setup, put between '0' and '5' in the Rotation Spinner , you’ll get the same as in ACC. Not brilliant because you don't get to see the far side mirror, or through the side windows, but the viewing angle is at least correct and you don't see cars flying about at warp speed next to you...
You'll see some of the off-side A pillar unless you push the seat back but then you go behind the front seat's headrest.
Look left/right buttons do not work in the 'helmet camera' mode, you can though set the head roll/turn in the .ini file (I will look it up later) so that the view shifts into the corner as you turn the wheel, with a 'gamma' setting to make it less dramatic in sharper turns.

It's nowhere near as bad as say Forza in superwide mode! *That* is unbearable.

In that sense, I'd say the game deals well enough for now with superwide aspect ratios, 21:9, but I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than a 49" at this point, otherwise you get a ridiculous vFOV
 
Last edited:

Kek700

2000RPM
Premium
Mar 26, 2016
2,468
3,111
74
If you want only immersion go triples. ( i have triple 144hz curved monitors)
If you want just racing online or off go 35” single 49” if you have the money.
( just replced triples with a 3440 x 1440 G-sync curved monitor ) love it fov 39 sit 20” away.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RasmusP

RasmusP

6000RPM
Premium
Oct 7, 2016
6,768
3,818
If you want only immersion go triples. ( i have triple 144hz curved monitors)
If you want just racing online or off go 35” single 49” if you have the money.
( just replced triples with a 3440 x 1440 G-sync curved monitor ) love it fov 39 sit 20” away.
Which one did you get? Lurking for the dell aw3418dw currently. Mainly because I need 1440p for clarity during university stuff, reading e-books etc.
Then I want ultra wide for fov reasons and to have one more window side by side.
And finally I need gsync because no way my gtx 1070 will stay above a vsync'able refresh rate all the time with that resolution...
 

Marcel Offermans

Studio 397
Aug 9, 2010
934
2,133
IMO it has little to do with the direction devs want to go. It's more a practical limitation of running Unreal 4 engine, which wasn't designed with sim racing in mind. Most PC sims today still have proper triple screen support, which means the game renders three viewports and not just one stretched image. Obviously in other games there is less use of this feature and if other sims are moving to UE4 in future, it may indeed make more sense to go the ultrawide route. The only benefit of triple screens over ultrawide is the angle and the angle benefit is gone if sim makers don't bother implementing three viewports.
I mostly agree, it is up to the developers using the graphics engine to decide if they want to take the path of rendering multiple views or not. But in practice this is a bit more complicated than just this decision.

First of all, most racing games include some kind of rear view mirror, and the moment you decide you want to have that, you are already rendering at least two views. And here is where it starts to get tricky. You don't want your framerate to halve because you're doing two instead of one, so the obvious route to take is to simplify the rear view to take much less time to render than the front view. So you typically end up reducing the view distance, eliminating post processing, not rendering your own car, reducing or completely removing shadows and rendering a smaller view. This, incidentally, is also why you will typically see that if you have multiple mirrors in a car, they don't all work independently. If you render one slightly bigger view and cut out different segments for the individual mirrors, you save yourself a few extra views to render.

Then there is obviously VR and triple screen support. Both have views that are rendered from different viewpoints, requiring you to render two or three views instead of one (excluding the rear views mentioned above). Now I would say that all graphics engines will allow you to render as many views as you like. Certainly UE4 won't have an issue rendering to triple screens. The real issue again (as with the mirrors before) is optimizing those views. If your single view runs at 60 fps, most users won't like the fact that switching to triple screens will drop the overall framerate to 20 fps. So it's all about optimization. And rendering a view ends up being a diverse collection of operations, some of which can be optimized when you're rendering two or three similar views. The real question therefore is, how many of these optimizations exist inside the UE4 engine (or any other engine we end up discussing here) and how many do you, as a developer, need to add to get to an "acceptable" framerate. And if you need to add your own optimizations, how much effort will that take to understand, modify and keep up to date a modified version of the engine you are using. I am sure that the people at Kunos have a good insight into all of these things already, so we will have to wait for updates to their roadmap and blogs to find out!
 

Kek700

2000RPM
Premium
Mar 26, 2016
2,468
3,111
74
Which one did you get? Lurking for the dell aw3418dw currently. Mainly because I need 1440p for clarity during university stuff, reading e-books etc.
Then I want ultra wide for fov reasons and to have one more window side by side.
And finally I need gsync because no way my gtx 1070 will stay above a vsync'able refresh rate all the time with that resolution...
I bought AOC AGON, 3440 x 1440, g-sync, 35” , 21:9 , 120hz and paid £420 for it on ebay .
My 980ti manages 117 fps all the time ( game fps limited ) , being advised to run it three
frames below it's vsync refresh ceiling of 120hz. I have vsync applied in nvidia control panel,
off in game, Detail very good , 120 hz easy to achieve and when it doesn’t g-sync keeps
it smooth. Colour are also a step above my other monitors.
Very pleased, is it as good as triples, NO, but it is close enough for online racing.
Plus i can run with more App’s.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RasmusP

Kek700

2000RPM
Premium
Mar 26, 2016
2,468
3,111
74
One other point , water cooled my gtx980 ti for £65. This has dropped my temps from 60 deg C
to 40 deg C to help with temp throtting, and clocked my i5 6600k to 4.7Ghz.
So this has probably helped. When i do the AC test my minimum fps is about 120fps
coupled with my other fps saving ploys.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RasmusP

fnegroni

25RPM
Original poster
Oct 16, 2018
43
19
42
As it happens, my son tried the Oculus Rift with AC, loved it, couldn’t drive nearly as well with triples, and so now I have both Triples and an oculus. Oh dear!
Confirmed what I thought in terms of resolution and comfort, although this time having approached it with incredibly low expectations, the Oculus doesn’t look soooo bad... I mean it’s still rubbish compared to monitors, but at least I don’t feel like I’m missing out, since I can just use my triple set up instead for longer sessions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Emery

Fanapryde

1000RPM
Apr 19, 2016
1,336
811
68
Triple 27" 144Hz 1ms BENQ monitors here.
Useless in ACC because of the stretched view on the sides (angled at 45°).
It has costed me enough and I am not planning to go ultra wide single.
I am also not rebuilding my rig (that is working well for other sims) to change the angles of the screens.
I have 4 (!) hours in ACC because of this (while I expected it to become my main sim). Shame really :(
Since there is no word from Kunos about it, I fear triple support is not going to come at all.

Maybe some light at the end of the tunnel, since KartKraft (also running on UE4) has promised proper triple screen support....Kunos, what are you waiting for ?
Oh well, AC, AMS, rF2, R3E and even pC2 (to a certain level) can keep me enjoying sim racing.

(For several reasons I don't even consider VR).
 
  • Like
Reactions: fnegroni