Hardware requirements for Oculus Rift
Through years of dev kits, prototypes, and trade show demos of the Oculus Rift, we’ve been stuck guessing at just how much hardware power the eventual consumer version of the device would require. Now, with that consumer launch officially slated for early 2016, Oculus has announced what PC hardware it recommends for a quality VR experience.
According to Oculus, those recommended hardware specs are:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
That’s a relatively beefy system, all things considered. A quick price check on Newegg suggests that the listed CPU, RAM, and video card would add up to just over $600. Add in a barebones tower, motherboard, and 250GB solid state hard drive, and you’re looking at a nearly $900 system to run the Rift, all told. That’s before you account for the (still unannounced) price of the headset itself. Upgrading from an existing gaming rig will obviously be cheaper, and component costs will come down by the Rift’s early 2016 launch, but a lot of potential VR users are still going to be staring down some significant upgrade costs.
The Windows 7 requirement is also surprising, given that current Rift development kits run on Mac OS X and Linux as well. In a detailed explanation of the recommended specs, Oculus Chief Architect Atman Binstock says that “our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows. We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux, but we don’t have a timeline.”
Elsewhere in the blog post, Binstock reveals that the consumer Rift itself “runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays.” That translates to 233 million raw pixels per second, but the “eye target scale” for Rift scenes is an even higher 400 million shaded pixels per second, Binstock says. That’s “approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering” at 60 frames per second on a normal monitor, according to Binstock, a requirement that’s more serious when you take into account VR’s need for a rock-solid refresh rate with no dropped frames.
Oculus’ recommended hardware configuration will be able to provide a solid sense of virtual reality presence “over the lifetime of the Rift,” Binstock says, and allows game developers to “optimize for a known hardware configuration, which ensures a better player experience of comfortable sustained presence.” Binstock also points out that equivalent-performance hardware will come down in price over the life of the Rift, expanding the universe of PCs that can handle its virtual reality. And while “almost no current laptops have the GPU performance for the recommended spec… upcoming mobile GPUs may be able to support this level of performance.”
Going forward, Binstock suggests that the launch of consumer VR “will likely drive changes in GPUs, OSs, drivers, 3D engines, and apps, ultimately enabling much more efficient low-latency VR performance.” Translation: Maybe we can expect even cheaper, VR-focused PC hardware once the manufacturers catch up to our needs.