We're doing this by custom-tuning application resolution so that it is optimal for each customer's GPU and VR headset.
Available though the Steam VR beta, the new "runtime" feature measures the speed of a user's GPU and tells applications to render at an appropriate resolution based on its power. Now, however, SteamVR will able to "up-res" an application resulting in a "clearer and better looking VR experience". The SteamVR runtime does all the hard work.
If gamers don't like the auto-resolution settings set by SteamVR, then can be manually adjust in the video settings menu.
The resolution update will cover all SteamVR compatible headsets, including the Vive, Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, and all Windows Mixed Reality headsets. So if you already have a "VR Ready PC" or a "VR Ready GPU", that hardware will work fine even with the newest high resolution VR headset on the market.
"This is exactly what most PC games have done for decades for different resolution monitors and TVs", Valve writes. This means you can keep your current GPU if you don't want to upgrade both your GPU and headset at the same time. Developers will be able to test apps exclusively with supported GPUs rather than individual GPU and headset combinations, understanding that resolution and refresh rates will automatically adjust based on the connected headset. While that sounds like a reasonable thing for developers to do, developers can't accurately predict the future.
Details aside, Valve writes, the point of the update is to essentially "take the headset out of the equation for [VR] developers". Rather than having to tune VR performance for a wide array of different display resolutions and refresh rates, those developers can now "test their application against the GPUs they support without worrying about what future headsets will require".
SteamVR 2.0 may still be a ways off but Valve is introducing a new innovation on the software side today that should help VR owners get the most out of their headset. This feature is now in beta and is available by opting into SteamVR Beta. You can experience the feature for yourself by opting into the SteamVR Beta from your Steam library. Right-click it, head to Properties and then select "beta" from the betas tab. We look forward to hearing your feedback.