Category Archives: PC

oculus decrypted

*Sigh* Problems with new toys. Oculus Rift this time, the funky (read stupid)-looking Virtual Reality Headset. First up, the DK2 box was missing what they refer to as a Sync Cable – not an uncommon occurrence, so the Interwebs tells me. Lots of cable counting errors at Oculus despatch.
Bro, you look stupid.My initial in-store enquiries for a replacement led to PB Tech floor staff scattering, passing the enquiry on down the chain til it hit the n00b.  No commission on that sale, even if they did have stock. Which they didn’t. A little more research & I found that what Oculus call a Sync Cable, the rest of us call a 2.5mm mini stereo cable. Oculus are obviously obfuscators.

They hire good photographers too, I can’t find a photo anywhere that clearly shows the mess of cables that attach the headset to your PC (USB & HDMI) & 240v power source. McDonalds hired the same guy I think.

So, anyway, I keep getting this error in the Oculus configuration utility – “HMD powered off, check HDMI connection”.  The headset displays an image, (so we know it’s not far from working) albeit displaying horizontally. Initially I figured that was down to the missing Sync Cable. Until I got the 2.5mm mini stereo cable, then I figured the problem lay somewhere else.

This install is happening on my boss laptop, a late 2015 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM & 2GB ATI R9 M370 graphics. Fairly high-spec hardware in anybody’s language.

So I have a nosey at the Oculus website, which says update your Catalyst driver (read downgrade, I was already using a later version), so I do that. Same shit, HMD powered blah blah blah. Reboot, same shit. Full uninstall, reboot, clean install – same shit. FFS, what is the fkn problem?

I do a random Google for “Oculus Rift +ATI R9 M370” and find this page at 3D Mark. 3DM

Not Oculus, mind you, but 3D Mark. From Oculus, nothing to indicate that a top of the range MacBook Pro will not handle the video output required.

Now I’ve always been of the opinion that Macs are graphically underpowered, better than feeble but not exactly muscle-bound video processors. My machine does chew through video processing tasks with impressive rapidity though. Converting from one format to another, even upscaling say .wmv to HD H264 .mp4  is a breeze on this machine – as you’d expect.

I was mildly surprised though, to realise that the MBPro performance level doesn’t even approach what’s needed to run  the next big thing in recreational PC. Even my hi-po desktop box that I keep @ Face TV as a complete all-rounder, capable of stepping in to do any task required of it by the television channel, is listed as base-spec for Oculus. That’s a 6-core overclocked 4GHz CPU, graphically powered by a 4GB NVidia 970GTX which is this big:
970
Anything that big is bound to be powerful. And it is, the 970 GTX is an excellent performer, second in the NVidia range. But even this monster is only recommended spec for Oculus.

So here’s my point – well, two of them.
First – Oculus, fuck, talk to us in plain English, tell the truth. We’re not interested in subterfuge or trickery. Tell us what’s up, straight up. What’s wrong with your Oculus Configuration Utility saying “Sorry, your graphics processor can’t hack the pace” – thereby saving people like me maybe 4+ hours investigative research & troubleshooting time, and, I’m sure, regular users would be saved exponentially more hours & tears of frustration if you’d just tell it to us straight. Because “HMD powered off, check HDMI connection” has no relationship, none at all, to “Unsuitable graphics processor”.  And don’t hide the cabling to the point that it’s no longer clever concealment, rather straight out blatant trickery. You treat us like fools & we’ll show you who the fools really are. Give us a fair go & that’s exactly what you’ll get back – the opportunity for a game-changing new device to establish itself. And really, you’ve been @ it long enough. It’s time to put up or piss off.
Second – that much power is required? Really? This VR experience had better be good, like supremely good. Like, reach out & touch faith stuff.  You’re asking your supposedly-wide user base to invest a bare minimum of $NZ500 in graphics hardware alone, plus another $900 for the headset. I’m not so sure they’re gonna stump up quite so quickly – unless the VR is more R than V. (more Reality than Virtual)

And Oculus, refer back to my first point here – make it obvious at the point of sale that purchasers need to own some serious graphics hardware already. Don’t hide this fact.

Tomorrow, I’ll try this headset on my desktop machine.