Since Palmer Lucky unveiled the first Oculus Rift headset back in 2012, the virtual reality industry has undergone massive growth and change. The headset itself has gone from a low pixel display (1200×800 or 640×900 per eye) all the way up to a modern high definition display (2160×1200 or 1080×1200 per eye) as well as mixing in camera tracking and built-in 3D audio. In order to power all this hardware on a PC, certain system requirements are needed, with the following specs necessary to run the Oculus Rift headset on a computer:
- CPU: Intel i5-4590 or greater
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 or greater
- RAM: 8 GB or greater
- HDMI: One open HDMI 1.3 video port or faster
- USB: At least three USB 3.0 ports open and at least one USB 2.0 port open
- OS: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit) or newer
Analyzing The Rift PC Requirements
Taking an honest look at the required specs for the Oculus Rift, you’re really looking at having to put in for a decent gaming rig in order to run the software. The NVIDIA GTX 970 is an absolute minimum line for the Rift, as is the i5 processor, and ideally you’d like to move up a bit from there for a stable run.
Looking at the RAM needed, 8 GB is a reasonable jumping off point, as it seems to be a lot more reasonable than the 4 GB minimum that the HTC Vive requires from users. The HDMI 1.3 or faster port is fine, as it doesn’t require the higher speed 2.1 that’s required to run UHD 4K content, but 1.3 is needed to process stereoscopic 3D visuals that really sell the virtual element in the Rift.
USB ports may be a source of contention when you’re using the Rift, as there’s a hefty four total open port requirement, with three of the ports requiring speedy 3.0 USB ports, which aren’t entirely common in a lot of computers.
Finishing off the analysis is the fact that the Rift only requires Windows 7 for an operating system, although players will be wise to have Windows 10, as the operating system supports the DirectX 12 and Vulkan platforms, which makes the VR experience more fluid and better-performing for players.
Oculus Ready PCs and Hardware
While Oculus gives the specs above as the system requirements, they are really more of a bottom tier line for hardware, and if you can, you really want to move up a few tiers in order to have the best experience.
In my eyes, an i7 6700k is the ideal processor to run for VR, as it seems to crunch through almost anything you can throw at it. More importantly though is the GPU, as a 970 really seems to have some issues running games and applications from time to time. I myself recommend a minimum of a GTX 980 for VR, and a GTX 1070 if you’re really looking to have the best performance available.
RAM is less of an issue, as the 8 GB is reasonable for most users. I always keep my RAM as high as I can go with my devices, and run 32 GB in my gaming rig. With that being said, you can get excellent performance with 16 or even 8 GBs, and I’d focus more on the GPU if you’re looking for an upgrade.
Of course, there are also PC developers working to put out VR-ready systems, which allow you to walk out of a store with everything you need to play. Some of the better systems you can get a hold of are the Alienware Area 51, Asus ROG, and HP Envy 750-220.
Where to Buy
If you’re looking for some of the ideal hardware required to run the Oculus Rift, I recommend:
If you want an out of the box solution, the following Rift-ready PCs are available for purchase: