Tag Archives: VR

HTC Vive/SteamVR on an NVIDIA laptop running Optimus

HTC Vive running from a MSI GS60 6QE (1080p)  with Optimus graphics (GTX 970M)
HTC Vive running from a MSI GS60 6QE (1080p) with Optimus graphics (GTX 970M)

When the HTC Vive hit the market, one of the first complaints was that it wouldn’t run on a laptop using NVIDIA Optimus graphics with 9xx-M series GPUs (970M/980M). Optimus works by using an Intel IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) to handle desktop rendering, and passes through the discrete GPU graphics to the screen for presentation with higher performance.

Unfortunately, this did not work for Direct Mode, which was implemented to significantly improve performance for standard GPU setups.

Fortunately, however, Valve has just updated SteamVR to look specifically for the dedicated GPU in the case of these laptops. In the July 5th change notes, the following entry was listed:

  • Added Optimus hints to prefer dedicated GPU.

Intrigued (as I was unable to get the Vive to run from my MSI laptop previously), I gave it a shot, and sure enough, it works! (There was some unplugging and replugging, but it did work).

While the performance doesn’t stack up to a custom portable VR build,  this is great for developers who may just need to do basic testing or proof-of-concept demos.

I hope this helps those of you who are in a similar situation.


The Vive will show up as an extra display. You need to switch it in windows to be an Extended display instead of mirrored, or SteamVR will send you angry messages.

Direct mode doesn’t work.

Some programs may not work. (Virtual Desktop did not work for me).

Performance is noticeably less than a desktop GPU.




Building a VR-ready portable PC

Not interested in buying one of the pre-built gaming rigs offered by Asus because you want something more mobile for using your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive HMDs (head-mounted devices)?

Here’s a list for a build spec that will get you going with something you can carry around easily:

SilverStone “Milo” ML08B-H

A Mini-ITX form-factor case which has a great design, allowing you to mount a full-length video card in-line with the motherboard, making for a slim design. In addition, this particular model has a carrying handle for increased portability.

Continue reading Building a VR-ready portable PC