Virtual Reality for PCs

Not every virtual reality (VR) system requires a PC, but many of them work best when you connect a high-powered computer to them. The Oculus Quest 2, for example, is a system for virtual reality without a PC, but being able to connect your headset to your computer means that you will be able to access the games stored on your computer that have VR capabilities. Other systems. like the Valve Index and HTC Vive headsets, do require a PC in order to get the best, most immersive gaming experience possible.

VR-PCs-what-you-need

Virtual reality is a relatively new technology, especially in the world of gaming, and it can require technically demanding PC builds to run your VR headset well enough to get the best digital experience possible. This is why it’s important to consider whether you have a VR-ready PC before you buy a new headset for your home. Not every computer has the capabilities to run graphics-heavy VR software. You may want to check out other PC builds for VR to see how yours stacks up or consider looking into buying a new computer to fit your needs.

On the other hand, if your computer isn’t up to the task and you don’t want to upgrade, you could always choose to use VR without a PC. An Oculus headset doesn’t need a PC hookup at all, and an HP Reverb can run on a computer with less power if you don’t mind having a lower resolution while gaming.

How VR-Ready Is My PC?

It’s hard to tell at a glance if your VR headset for PC is compatible with your current equipment. There are free and easy ways to determine if your laptop or desktop computer has the specs necessary to make your VR experience possible. VR gaming is more resource-intensive than traditional gaming because it needs to render graphics in a much higher resolution than the standard 1080p, and VR games have to be rendered in 3D with a high frames-per-second (FPS) rate in order to make them feel more immersive.
Of course, you may not even need to upgrade your computer at all: If you already have a high-end gaming rig or you’re planning to build one, you are likely well-equipped for any of the current VR systems on the market right now. Also, note that you can use VR with a PC, but at the moment, MacOS is not supported by most systems. If your primary computer is a Mac, you may want to consider getting a new gaming PC to ensure compatibility.

Valve Index Recommended Specs

  • CPU: Quad Core+
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 1070/AMD equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Video Output: DisplayPort 1.2
  • USB Ports: USB 2.0 port (USB 3.0 required for camera pass-through), DisplayPort v1.2
  • OS: Windows 10, SteamOS, Linux

HTC Vive Recommended Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 or greater
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4/DisplayPort 1.2
  • USB Ports: USB 2.0
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10

HP Reverb Recommended Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i5, i7/AMD Ryzen 5 or greater
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 1080/AMD RX 5700 or greater
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Video Output: DisplayPort 1.3
  • USB Port: USB 3.0
  • OS: Windows 10 (may require latest updates)

How Does VR Connect to a PC?

Each system comes equipped with a VR to PC cable. Depending on which system you choose, you may get a different cable, but many come with an HDMI cable or a USB cable designed for connecting VR to a PC. Your headset should have a spot where you can plug one end of the cable in without it being in your way while you play, and the other end should be able to connect to your computer. In some cases, like with Oculus headsets, for example, you may have to install an app onto your computer that you’ll have to launch when you’re ready to play.

If you’re unsure how to set up your specific VR and PC combination, read the setup guide for the headset you buy to ensure that you are setting it up to the specifications required by OculusValveHP, or HTC.

Which VR Headset for PC Should I Buy?

When it comes to VR vs. PC and whether or not you should choose a headset based on the specs of your computer, it’s important to consider how you’ll use your VR system and where you’ll use it. In some cases, it’s not necessary to have top-of-the-line specs if you only plan to use VR to watch movies or play simple games. Some models, like the HTC Vive, also require a lot more space, so if you have a small apartment or game room, it might not be a good idea to buy that model. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re getting the VR game system that works best for you and your needs, no matter what that may be.