Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's easier to be VR Ready than you might think




In the recent survey for the VRDC Innovator Report, developers cited the cost of VR as one of the biggest hurdles for mass adoption.  Indeed, if we go by Oculus' and HTC's recommended specs, most computers currently don't qualify as VR-ready.  Moreover, until recently, PCs that are VR-Ready generally cost at least $1,000 or more.  This has created a perception that VR-Ready is prohibitively expensive.
 However, user reports show that you can be VR-Ready with a slower CPU, as long as you have a decent graphics card.



Oculus and HTC have similar recommended specs for CPU and graphics card:
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or equivalent
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent  (HTC recently changed this to GTX 1060 or RX 480 equivalent)
  • RAM: Oculus recommends 8GB+; HTC recommends 4GB+
  • HDMI 1.3 (Oculus) or 1.4 (HTC)
  • three USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 (Oculus) or one USB 2.0 (HTC).
  • Win 7 SP1 or later
Meanwhile, the Vive Community on Reddit compiled a comprehensive database with the HTC Vive VR-readiness test results of various processor and graphics card combinations.  The database seems to suggest that even a CPU that doesn't quite meet HTC Vive's and Oculus Rift's recommended specs can still yield good quality VR, if you have the right graphics card.
 
The database has several examples of setups found "capable" of at least low quality VR, even if they didn't meet the VR-ready spec.  In particular, there are several setups with an i5-2500k that are VR-Ready:
- with a GTX 960 (a graphics card that doesn't meet the recommended spec), the PC was "VR-capable".
- with a GTX 980 Ti, the PC was off the charts at the maximum score of 11 (Very High).

Similarly, one user with an AMD FX-4100 with an R9 390 card earned a score of 6.8 (High).  A user with an FX-8150 and a GTX 980, had a score of 8.2 (Very High).

These results suggest that the primary bottleneck is the graphics card and even an older CPU may suffice.  In that regard, a VR-Ready graphics card now costs as little as $199 for the GTX 1060 3GB version.  Obviously, to get high quality VR, you'll need a more powerful - and expensive - system.  But if you just want to dip your toes into VR, becoming VR-Ready may cost as little as $199.


UPDATE: A PC World article confirms my findings and conclusion.