Optimal Elite Dangerous Settings for Pimax 5K+

I just got my Pimax 5K+ yesterday and fired it up last night. Given the multitude of places graphics settings can be altered (SteamVR, PiTool, Elite) I think there will be some very obvious benefits if anyone/everyone using the 5K+ can share their settings in a common thread.

I've just begun the tweaking process, but here is what I've found out so far.

- I basically started by setting all my ED Graphics settings back to default so I am not inheriting anything from settings established for my other HMD's (Rift and Odyssey)

- It appears to me that the biggest effect on optimizing the amazing resolution of the 5K+ is the supersampling/quality settings. However, there are three very distinct places this can be adjusted. There are independent adjustments in SteamVR (slider), PiTool (slider), and Elite (SuperSampling/HMD Quality). Right now I am running 1.5x HMD Quality and 1.0X SS in Elite and this appears to offer a pretty significant graphics improvement (particularly noticeable in smaller on-screen HUD text). 1.5SS killed my performance (even on a 2080ti). 1.5q was quite noticeably better than even 1.25q. I am not sure this is the best place to establish this setting so I'm expecting some more experimentation here. This is where I think most of my attention needs to be right now. (1.5 HMD Quality, 1.0x SuperSampling)

- I have Anti-Aliasing set to SMAA

- Even with a 2080TI, and the modest settings above, the 5K+ is simply not as buttery smooth as the Rift (My favorite ED VR HMD).

- I'm going to continue tweaking while focusing primarily on supersampling/quality and trying to find the most efficient place to make the best settings.

A few notes along the way:

Installing the 5k+ and PiTool was pretty straight forward with few surprises:

1. Install PiTool BEFORE you attach the 5K+

2. Setup/Configure your 5K+ using PiTool
- TURN ON "Enable Parallel Projections". Elite needs it and if you don't do it you'll know it right away!
- TURN OFF "Enable Screen Mask" checkbox. It dims the overlapping pixels "between you eyes" and I found it distracting and unhelpful
- Set up your play area. You can leave Lighthouse support Enabled even if you don't have any. Just make sure you select a "standing" area for calibration.
- If you find your horizontal alignment gets permanently out of whack (because you are playing with the settings and hit the wrong button at the wrong time), instead of shutting down and restarting stuff over and over for 45 min (like me), be aware there is a horizontal calibration button under HMD settings (BUT IT ONLY SHOWS UP if you have lighthouses disabled). You've been warned!

3. PiTool will find all your VR games (Oculus or Steam). I have a copy of ED running in both ecosystems (Steam for Odyssey and Oculus for Rift). It will present both games if you have two copies. It will tell you you need to start "Oculus" before you launch the associated copy of ED and it will also tell you you have to launch "SteamVR" before you start the Steam copy. HOWEVER, I was never able to get the Oculus copy running on the 5K+ HMD at all. Only the SteamVR copy worked. If you want to run ED, It appears that you will need a copy on Steam. (I believe you can still get a free Steam Key from FDEV if you already have an Oculus license for the game).

4. To prevent Oculus from starting up when running Steam VR (if you have both), set the properties on the Oculus Icon to "Run as Administrator". This will prevent BOTH SteamVR and Oculus running at the same time (again - if you have BOTH installed)

5. You'll quickly learn that you can hook your strap on the back of your head and then slide the HMD down over your forehead. (You will smear your lenses). With the 5K+ you need to set the face first and then pull the strap back.

6. Find a cheap pair of earbuds BEFORE you sit down and start playing with your new HMD. They plug right into the HMD and its nice there is an onboard amplifier in the HMD. (I always had to run the ED Volume, the Oculus Volume, and the O/S Volume at Max to get decent sound level with my rift).

7. It appears that the Mic in the 5k+ might be considerable more sensitive in the Rift. VoiceAttack is constantly turning crap on/off (lights, cargo scoop, launching,...). Another friend (who is also waiting for his 5K+) said he thinks it might be due to the latest ED patch as he was also seeing this with his Rift. So who knows. Something needs to get sorted in any case...


If you are just getting your 5K+ (or 8K) set up, I hope this thread can be of some value.

If you already have a 5K+ (or 8K), please share any settings you have found optimal here. For completeness, please share as much as possible about exactly what ALL you have changed and WHERE you have made those changes.

[UPDATED:] As Requested - Here are a Summary of My Current Settings (see post #7)

PiTool
Hidden Area Mask = Off (Preference)
Compatible with Parallel Projections = On (Elite REQUIRES this)
FOV = Normal (Better get "Normal" done first before you even attempt "Wide"!)
Brightness = Normal (Preference)
Rendering Quality = 1.25​

SteamVR
App Resolution = 38% (2968x2535) (Auto)​

Elite Dangerous
Model Draw Distance = 80%
Texture Quality = High
Shadow Quality = Ultra
Bloom = High
Blur = Off
Anti-Aliasing = Off (SMAA)
SuperSampling = 1.0
Ambient Occlusion = Off
Environment Quality = High
FX Quality = High
Depth of Field = High
Material Quality = Ultra
HMD Image Quality = 1.5
Galaxy Map Quality = High
Terrain Quality = Ultra
Terrain LOD Blending = Ultra
Terrain Material Quality = Ultra
Terrain Sampler Quality = Ultra
Jet Cone Quality = Ultra
Volumetric Effects Quality = Ultra​

FOV = 50%
Gamma = 80%
Dashboard Brightness = 50%​
 
Last edited:
Thanks!

I'm NOT a big fan of "magic" (profilers), so here are the settings I see highlighted in the screenshot:
It's not magic, space is dark not greyish anymore , but well up to you ...

shader fix gives you another 10~15 fps and ambiet oclusion off around 10 fps
shadows high
 
Last edited:
I think if we are going to try and document the SPECIFIC settings which make the 5K+ look best in ED, then just "running a specific profiler" is not going to answer this question.

I'ld like to document specifically what is being altered and where and which changes have the largest effect.

For example: Making space "dark instead of greyish" may specifically be due to increasing the brightness in PiTool while decreasing the gamma in Elite.
 
Last edited:
Good seeing all relevant information collected.

Re-edit the first post with all info so it’s not scattered across the thread but easy to find...
 
I have been tweaking my Pimax 5K+ for about 16 hrs this last weekend. (The new Deep Core Mining mechanics are lots of fun!). I have been tweaking things in a very focused manner exclusively for Elite Dangerous. (Elite Dangerous lives for VR and VR Lives for Elite Dangerous). I believe the following settings are optimized and balanced for the performance of my specific system (RTX 2080 TI) and personal preferences for visual appearance. I'll do my best to discuss some of these settings, but first (TLDR) here are what I'm using:

My Settings:

PiTool
Hidden Area Mask = Off (Preference)
Compatible with Parallel Projections = On (Elite REQUIRES this)
FOV = Normal (Better get "Normal" done first before you even attempt "Wide"!)
Brightness = Normal (Preference)
Rendering Quality = 1.25​

SteamVR
App Resolution = 38% (2968x2535) (Auto)​

Elite Dangerous
Model Draw Distance = 80%
Texture Quality = High
Shadow Quality = Ultra
Bloom = High
Blur = Off
Anti-Aliasing = Off (SMAA)
SuperSampling = 1.0
Ambient Occlusion = Off
Environment Quality = High
FX Quality = High
Depth of Field = High
Material Quality = Ultra
HMD Image Quality = 1.5
Galaxy Map Quality = High
Terrain Quality = Ultra
Terrain LOD Blending = Ultra
Terrain Material Quality = Ultra
Terrain Sampler Quality = Ultra
Jet Cone Quality = Ultra
Volumetric Effects Quality = Ultra​

FOV = 50%
Gamma = 80%
Dashboard Brightness = 50%​

Some of the above settings directly effect performance and some of them are purely for visual preference.

The order of things:

PiTool feeds SteamVR which then feeds Elite. If you make any changes to the rendering resolution in PiTool, you must restart SteamVR and then (of course) Elite. Luckily PiTool only has one setting we need to mess with that can't be changed on the fly (Resolution). Once we get PiTool where we want it, we can then work on SteamVR. Once again, SteamVR is also pretty simple (also Resolution).

Rendering Resolution:

This is one of the most important settings as it has the largest impact in visual appearance (sharpness) and performance. Its important to get it right.

PiTool (Rendering Quality): With a high end system and a 2080TI, I'm running PiTool at 1.25 Rendering quality. Another ED Friend who also just got his 5K+ (but with a 1080TI) is also running at 1.25. This appears to work pretty well.

SteamVR (App Resolution): Nothing fancy here. SteamVR is choosing its own automatically optimized "App Resolution" which is set at 38% for my 2080TI and 32% for my friends 1080TI. You can just let SteamVR do its thing. However, If you want to see what setting is actually being used, just check the "Manual Override" box and it will show you (just don't change it). I haven't found any major benefits to making any adjustments here. I've tried increasing this setting a bit but it impacted performance greatly. SteamVR seems to be doing pretty well at what it was designed to do. I'm not a guy who tweaks things just because I can...

Elite Dangerous (HMD Image Quality): You will notice a major change in visual sharpness if you change "HMD Image Quality" to 1.5x. This is particularly noticeable when looking at the smaller cockpit text in the lower right of the HUD (i.e. "Cargo Scoop). Once you get above 1.5 it starts to be a losing tradeoff with performance. 1.25x would probably be good enough if you have a performance challenge, but 1.5x was the sweet spot for me. With PiTool at 1.25 and SteamVR at "automatic", I think this is the best place to effectively adjust your SuperSampling (but NOT "SuperSampling" in Elite!).

Other Performance/Rendering Parameters:


SuperSampling (Elite): 1.0x. Don't Change it. You'll take a horrible performance hit. "HMD Image Quality" seems to give us all we need wrt resolution boost and tweakability. You've been warned!

Anti-Aliasing (Elite): I've been running both "Off" and "SMAA". "SMAA" seems to help smooth out Oribital Lines, etc but "Off" seems to favor the sharpness of Cockpit Text. I'm going to continue playing with this, but given that Performance will take a hit with any type of Anti-Aliasing, I'm thinking leaving it "Off" is the best case. I didn't notice that great a performance hit with an 2080TI, but I'll take the clarity of cokpit text anyway!

Color Balance, Contrast, Brightness (More Important than you thought!):

Unfortunately, we are basically fighting two things wrt color reproduction. One is the relative lack of "blackness" with the Pimax 5k+ and the other is the horrible changes made to the graphics engine in the latest E.D. release. The Pimax 5k+ does not render blacks as deeply as say the Oculus (my prior "goto" HMD). I think its the amount of LED blacklight bleeding through the "black" pixels in the 5K+. Smearing everything with the Unicorn Poop we inherited from the last update makes it even more challenging to get a good balance. Its also important to note that this experience is going to be very different depending on which ship you are flying. You are not going to notice the "greyness" very much in the bright cockpit of a Cutter, but put yourself in a Python, with the local star at your back, and your are going to think that someones been smoking cigars in your cockpit. So if you want to set up the visual appearance of your graphics, my recommendation is to do it in a very challenging dark cockpit (Python) so you get the visual range you need. Bright cockpits are easy...

Brightness (PiTool) / Gamma (Elite): These two go hand in hand. The good news is you can tweak the "brightness" in PiTool and the "Gamma" in Elite in real time without shutting anything down. These are the two settings you are going to want to work to get your color balanced, brightness adjusted, and contrast tweaked. I've seen where others have suggested running the Brightness at High in PiTool and Gamma at Low in Elite (and I've tried this for a while) but it really blows out your contrast and you lose all the subtleties of the grandients (clouds) in space. The other part of good news is that changing the Brightness (PiTool) and Gamma (ED) is not going to impact your performance. You can do it in real time and it doesn't effect your performance so "have at it!". I will tell you that the best I've seen is Brightness (PiTool) at "Normal" and Gamma (ED) at about 80%. I think setting Brightness (PiTool) to High just washes everything out. Again, the place to look are is from a dark cockpit looking out into dark space. If you can't see the variations of dust clouds in space then you don't have the contrast you want.

Bloom (Elite): This is going to be Huge in helping to mitigate the relative greyness in darker cockpits. This was one of my most important findings. Without any light from outside (and inside) sources helping to illuminate dark cockpits (Python), the "grey issue" is so much more noticeable. However, by using "Bloom" to add more interior illumination REALLY helps to mitigate this challenge. Try turning Bloom off and hyperjumping through "witch space". Then turn it on and do it again. Once you see how the environmental illumination that Bloom provides helps to mitigate the greyness in dark cockpits, you'll never turn it off. IMHO: Its simply your best cure for the "greyness" encountered with the Pimax 5K+. It's well worth the slight performance penalty. I like the "High" setting as "Ultra" really burns and washes everything out with our "new improved" graphics system. Sit in your cockpit and compare High vs Ultra while inside a space station and you can really see why "Ultra" provides far too much "burn" on the buildings.
 
Just curious; why do you still need to bump hmd quality (or SS for that matter), when the native screen has such a high resolution?
 
Just curious; why do you still need to bump hmd quality (or SS for that matter), when the native screen has such a high resolution?
I'm assuming high FOV. Greater FOV = pixels are stretched out over a larger area = less pixel density. So any gains you made with resolution are offset by the FOV. Also remember that the Pimax resolution is really 1440p.
 
Last edited:
What's your Steam SS set to?

-z
The SteamVR "App Resolution" is clearly identified in the post #7. I believe that is exactly how you specify the SS for Steam. (You can also override on an app by app basis but I'm specifically NOT doing that)

Am I missing something?
 
Last edited:
Just curious; why do you still need to bump hmd quality (or SS for that matter), when the native screen has such a high resolution?
EVERYTHING I have done here I have checked by changing each setting back and forth. I'm haven't set ANYTHING because I just THOUGHT it would look better. I am doing what I am doing specifically because it makes the image appear "Better". As I mentioned, Specifically for HMD Quality boosting it to 1.5X made a big difference in the clarity of smaller text in the HUD.

I'm NOT running any "magic" profiler. I'm not changing anything because I THINK it might looks better. Each one of the settings I've documented was tested over the course of perhaps 16 hrs of ED Play Time. With the higher resolution of the 5K+ its pretty important to not take anything for granted at the expense of performance...

I also don't know how SteamVR (for example) comes up with its auto resolution. If you read the description, it does appear to take into account both the resolution of the HMD (as supplied by Pitool) and the power of your GPU. The steam auto resolution setting when running the 5k+ on my 2080TI is different than my friend with the 5K+ running on his 1080TI (38% vs 32%).

I also don't want to be messing with settings all over the place. I'm happy to let SteamVR make its best guess at resolution and then do any tweaking closer to its source (Elite).
 
Last edited:
Thanks. Helpful thread. These settings work well with a MSI 2080 ti sea hawk ek x.

I dont have base stations yet, and am seeing a bit of slop in the head tracking.

Running through steam I do see some occasional flicker/cutting away to another image. Do others see this? Tends to be near stars or stations.

But overall the view is so much better than the Oculus.
 
Thanks. Helpful thread. These settings work well with a MSI 2080 ti sea hawk ek x.

I dont have base stations yet, and am seeing a bit of slop in the head tracking.

Running through steam I do see some occasional flicker/cutting away to another image. Do others see this? Tends to be near stars or stations.

But overall the view is so much better than the Oculus.
Once I had the firmware updated by Pimaxteam my tracking in my Pimax5K+ is perfect, but I am using basestations. You may need firmware upgrade too and the only way to do that is by contacting support@pimax. The pitool cannot update tracking firmware.
 
Once I had the firmware updated by Pimaxteam my tracking in my Pimax5K+ is perfect, but I am using basestations. You may need firmware upgrade too and the only way to do that is by contacting support@pimax. The pitool cannot update tracking firmware.
Yes, you need base stations for perfect tracking (without drift). You don't need any firmware update either. Just the base stations will do the trick. I've never had any special firmware update and once I deployed a couple of base stations everything was locked in solid. Before that my view kept drifting and I was resetting every 5 minutes or so...
 
The firmware update is simply in case something went wrong last time it got flashed.

And the utility they use is actually in the pitools install folder. No magic required.
I haven't looked hard but I suppose the latest firmware could be there as well.
 
Yes, you need base stations for perfect tracking (without drift). You don't need any firmware update either. Just the base stations will do the trick. I've never had any special firmware update and once I deployed a couple of base stations everything was locked in solid. Before that my view kept drifting and I was resetting every 5 minutes or so...
Thanks - They said that base stations should start to ship this month.
 
@evanevery - what frame rate are you getting?
I've copied your settings, but can't get anything close to a stable frame rate. I have a pascal titan, so would hope to get somewhere vaguely near what a 2080ti can do.
Adjusting the HMD Image Quality to 1.0 and setting the Pimax refresh rate to 72Hz seems to give solid results. I can just about get away with 1.25 away from a station. Haven't tried a planet surface yet.
 
Top Bottom