With the announcement of the Oculus Rift becoming available for preorder from January 6th, the Kickstarter launch of the VR compatible Teslasuit, and the promise of even more amazing VR headsets like the HTC Vive and the Playstation VR later this year it’s pretty clear than in 2016 virtual reality is going to be ‘a thing’. But it’s becoming increasingly clear it’s going to be a pretty expensive thing.
Headsets like the Rift and the Vive aren’t going to be there to be cheap options for curious consumers making impulse purchases, they’re intended to be high quality VR experiences and because of this, they’ll require some high-spec systems to run, beyond the headset itself. Whether you buy a new system, upgrade your existing system, or build your own it won’t be cheap. For those who want to be early adopters of the new tech and want to know what kind of hardware specifications they’re going to need to invest in before they even consider buying one of the headsets, hardware manufacturer Nvidia has released its minimum specifications for running VR on PC. It’s even labelling its suitable hardware ‘GeForce GTX VR Ready’ to make things clearer.
General manager of emerging technologies at Nvidia, Jason Paul said: “For customers, navigating an emerging technology like VR can be daunting. We’re working with trusted partners worldwide to simplify the buying process with a GeForce GTX VR Ready badge that will let customers quickly identify PCs or add-in cards that are capable of handling the demands of VR.”
The partners Nvidia are working with to formulate this system include Alienware, Maingear, Asus, Acer, EVGA, and Gigabyte. There are even retailers like Amazon involved.
Nvidia’s recommended specs are an Intel Core i5 4590 CPU which you can source for around £156, 8GB of RAM which we found for around £40, an HDMI 1.3 port, two USB 3.0 ports, and an operating system of Windows 7 SP1 or later. When it comes to graphics card requirements, Nvidia has suggested its GTX 970 as the PC minimum, and the 980 as the notebook minimum. It’s these cards that will really set you back as even though they’re perfectly good powerful cards, the 970 and the 980 are only the minimum requirements and cost £260 and £410 respectively. If you want to go for something really good like their GTX Titan X you could be looking at paying as much as £875.
Of course, this is just Nvidia’s products. If you’d rather go for a different manufacturer you can also check out Oculus Rift’s own system specifications, which are directly in line with Nvidia’s but let you know that you can also go for something like the AMD Radeon R9 290. The thing with going for these minimum graphics card requirements is that whilst they’re enough for more general VR experiences, if you’re looking to get some good gaming done, you might want to go for something a little more powerful to make the most of it.
Seeing clear specifications and helpful ‘VR Ready’ labelling systems like this makes it clear that attempts are being made to make this new technology more accessible to consumers in terms of ease of understanding. When it comes to cost, however, it’s clear it’ll be some time before that particular area becomes any more accessible.