The HTC Vive is arguably the best VR experience for users on the market today, and with that comes some hefty requirements in terms of equipment needed to run an excellent user experience.
In addition to needing the $799 Vive headset, users will need a powerful gaming rig to make sure the experience is as smooth as possible, which is vital when it comes to VR, as anything less can make users nauseous. With the first generation Vive headset, the following specs are the minimum for a useable experience:
- Processor: Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 or greater
- RAM: 4 GB or more
- GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
- HDMI: At least 1 HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
- USB: 1 USB 2.0 or faster port open
- OS: Windows 7 SP1 or newer, preferably Windows 10
Analyzing the Specs
If we are to take a look at the specs above for the Vive, the most interesting thing you’re likely to see is that the Vive only requires 4 gigs of RAM, versus the 8 gigs needed to run the Oculus Rift. This is perhaps the only major point of deviation between the two when it comes to performance-based PC components, as both devices can tolerate the same minimum CPU and GPU standards.
Of course, the fact that the Rift requires a whopping 3 USB 3.0 ports PLUS a USB 2.0 port could leave your PC with few open spaces to spare. Moving to HDMI, the necessity of an HDMI out port with a speed of 1.4 is necessary, as the headset supports stereoscopic 3D visuals.
When it comes to operating systems, you wouldn’t think that the different versions of the Windows OS would have a major impact on performance, but players are encouraged to upgrade to Windows 10 should they think they’re going to be using a VR headset. This is due to the fact that Windows 10 supports both Vulkan and DirectX 12, which will help with performance of games when combined with the proper system builds.
Choices for Hardware
While HTC has published these specs as the recommended specs, you really have to consider these to be the minimums. In my experience, a 970 GTX can provide a decent (if somewhat less zippy) performance for games like Job Simulator, but only if you pair it up with at least 8 gigs of RAM. Most rigs that I have come across running the Vive seem to operate much smoother when they’re given at least a GTX 980 with 8 gigs of RAM.
Users will find that their PCs are not up to snuff in terms of raw computing power will have two choices to get ready for VR: either upgrade their rigs or purchase a whole new computer. If you already have a decent, but somewhat dated setup, it may end up being more cost effective to upgrade your RAM or graphics card, which can provide some real boosts in of itself.
If you’re starting from scratch, you can build your own gaming PC from scratch, or you can choose from models that have been pre-configured and are ready for VR out of the box. Retailers such as Best Buy and Newegg are selling VR ready PCs, while HTC is working with HP, Alienware, and MSI to offer computers that are specifically designed to work with their headset.
Where to Buy
If you’re looking for some of the hardware required to run the HTC Vive, I suggest the following:
[GTX 1070 WITH LINK TO RETAILER]
[16GB DDR5 RAM WITH LINK TO RETAILER]
If you’re looking for a complete PC rig ready to play out of the box, I suggest these systems:
[LINK TO AREA 51 PC]
[LINK TO BEST BUY PC]
[LINK TO NEWEGG PC]