There’s a chance it might not be.

So, you’re looking into buying a virtual reality headset and want to know if your system can handle it. I don’t blame you for being worried, VR can be quite demanding of most modern PC’s. Like most modern games and programs, there are requirements that your system has to meet before it can run virtual reality system to any acceptable standard. The performance of your system is dependent on the specifications of you CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drive and other key components.

System Requirements for PC

Every virtual reality headset has it’s own system requirements specified by its manufacturer. Although demanding, these requirements don’t mean that you have to go out and buy a $5000 computer, it just means you may need to make some upgrades. Whether you are looking to buy a new PC or upgrade your old build, if you meet these requirements, you will be able to use virtual reality.

Oculus Rift S System Requirements
Oculus Rift S
Recommended SpecificationsMinimum Specifications
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti / AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater
Alternative Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
Alternative Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 960 / AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
CPU
Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
CPU
Intel i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
Memory
8GB+ RAM
Memory
8GB+ RAM
Video Output
DisplayPortTM 1.2 / Mini DisplayPort
Video Output
DisplayPortTM 1.2 / Mini DisplayPort
USB Ports
1x USB 3.0 port
USB Ports
1x USB 3.0 port
Operating System
Windows 10
Operating System
Windows 10
HTC VIVE Cosmos System Requirements
HTC Cosmos
Recommended SpecificationsMinimum Specifications
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or better
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
CPU
Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
CPU
Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
Memory
8 GB RAM or more
Memory
4 GB RAM or more
Video Output
DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
Video Output
DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
USB Ports
1x USB 3.0 or newer
USB Ports
1x USB 3.0 or newer
Operating System
Windows 10
Operating System
Windows 10
Checking my System

If you aren’t sure if your PC will meet the required specs set out above, both HTC and Steam have created tools that can be used to test your build. The VIVEReady tool lets you test your system against any of the headsets to determine if the hardware will meet requirements.

Additionally, Steam has released a SteamVR Performance tool that after a small download allows you to test the capabilities of your PC.

Do I have to upgrade my system?

Not necessarily. There are plenty of virtual reality headsets available to you without needing a high end computer, or even a computer at all. These headsets come in a range of different sizes, from a range of brands at a range of costs. These headsets supply their own hardware to support operation whilst the system is only required to supply the application, and only sometimes.

Oculus Quest Headset
Oculus Quest (Image Source: Oculus)

The Oculus Quest does just that. It is a wireless VR headset that does not require a computer in any form to play games and use apps. It can download games from Oculus themselves and works entirely independently. Setup is extremely simple, all you need to do is download the Oculus Quest app and connect it to the headset. Through this app you can then download games and applications whilst managing your headset.

What if I have a console?

If you’ve got a console, virtual reality just became a whole lot easier (except if you have an Xbox). Virtual reality for console is easy for one reason, the headset is already optimised for its respective console. This is an advantage if you are looking to get into Virtual Reality because the headsets tend to be much cheaper than PC headsets and don’t require upgrades to the console.

If you’ve got a PlayStation 4, virtual reality is quite achievable with the PlayStation VR headset which has been on the market since 2016. The headset has been optimised for use with the consoles and Sony even makes it clear which games are compatible with the VR experience. The PlayStation VR had a rough entry into the market however in recent times has upped its game, receiving 4.5/5 stars in a review from TechRadar earlier this year.

Virtual Reality headset - nintendo labo
Nintendo Labo

If you don’t have a PS4, there are a few other options available to you. In recent times Nintendo has released the Labo, a creative cardboard headset requiring assembly that’s compatible with the Switch. It is one of the cheaper VR options (provided you already have a Nintendo Switch) that comes flat packed with video instructions to plug into the console. It’s a creative and fun option that comes with plenty of different cardboard builds that also doesn’t require spending a pretty penny.

Even though some headsets have some pretty demanding PC requirements, there are plenty of other options available for use that don’t require a high-end computer to have a fun time.

Think we missed something? Let us know.

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