Oculus reveals first VR PC bundles

Oculus Asus bundle
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10 February 2016 | 0

The computing industry’s betting big on the coming virtual reality revolution, but pushing headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive out to the masses isn’t as easy as you may think. Running them requires some pretty beefy PC rigs, and diving into nitty-gritty CPU and GPU specs – sadly – isn’t most people’s forte. That’s where VR certification programmes that guarantee VR compatibility come into play.

Oculus revealed the first batch of Oculus Ready PCs for the US market from Asus, Alienware and Dell.

The bundles start at $1,500 – the exact price Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe suggested months ago, not-so-coincidentally – and only go up from there, topping out at a whopping $3,150 for a blinged-out Alienware Area 51 with an Intel Core i7-5820K, GeForce GTX 980, 16Gb of RAM, and more. Here are the details for every announced Oculus Ready PC, which will all go up for preorder on 16 February:

  • Asus G11CD: Intel Core i5-6400, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, 8Gb of DDR4 RAM, 1Tb hard drive – $1,049, or $949 bundled with the Rift headset
  • Asus ROG G20CB (model 1): Intel Core i5-6400, GTX 970, 16Gb of DDR4 RAM, 512Gb SSD – $1,449, or $1349 bundled with the Rift headset
  • Asus ROG G20CB (model 2): Intel Core i7-6700, GTX 980, 16Gb of DDR4 RAM, 256Gb SSD, 1Tb hard drive – $1,699, or $1,599 bundled with the Rift headset
  • Alienware Area 51: Intel Core i7-5820K, GTX 980, 16Gb of DDR4 RAM, 128Gb SSD, 2Tb hard drive – $2,549
  • Alienware X51 R3 (model 1): Intel Core i5-6400, GeForce GTX 970, 8Gb of DDR4 RAM, 1Tb hard drive – $1,199, or $999 bundled with the Rift headset
  • Alienware X51 R3 (model 2): Intel Core i5-6400, GeForce GTX 980, 16Gb of DDR4 RAM, 256Gb SSD – $1,499
  • Dell XPS 8900 SE: Intel Core i5-6400, GTX 970, 8Gb of DDR4 RAM, 1Tb hard drive – $1,199, or $999 bundled with the Rift headset

A couple of interesting tidbits immediately leap out when perusing the hardware inside the first batch of Oculus-ready PCs, but the most glaring is the utter lack of AMD’s Radeon graphics cards. That’s startling, as AMD’s been a major VR proponent and Oculus supporter. Oculus’ minimum required PC specs definitely include Radeon recommendations, and the Vive-optimised HP Envy Phoenix offers Radeon cards as standard options.

Or build your own
If you’re not the patient type and want to have a rig ready to go when the Rift finally goes on sale on these shores you can do some futureproofng to a self-built PC and safe some money while you’re at it.

Grabbing a Core i5-6400 (€200), 8Gb of DDR4 RAM (€80), a 1Tb hard drive (€57), a decent case (€100), and a decent motherboard (€100) will set you back about €530 depending on what online stores you cobble your components together. The only component left after that is a graphics card: Various GTX 970 models can be found for as little as €400, while Radeon R9 390 models – which tends to offers higher frame rates than the GTX 970 – frequently dip as low as €380. Even if you opt for a pricier GTX 970, that’s just €780. Add another €135 for a copy of Windows and you wind up at €915. Even with the standard/unfair 1:1 euro to dollar conversion US companies seem to fond of you’re likely to make a significant saving. The Rift headset itself is expected to cost about €600 (based on the US price) – so although you’ve spent about the same as the least expensive official bundle, you’ve got a bit more horsepower to play with.

The minimum recommended graphics card for the Oculus Rift may be the GTX 970/Radeon 390, but in order to play a VR experience that doesn’t make you feel ill, games need to hit a smooth 90 frames per second. Sure, the min-spec graphics cards might be able to hit 90fps at the Rift’s 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye) resolution in lighter games like Lucky’s Tale (bundled with the headset), but there’s little chance of those cards nailing a consistent 90fps in more strenuous games like space combat game Eve Valkyrie (also bundled with Rift preorders). Elite: Dangerous, which is very similar to Eve, already said you’ll need a GTX 980 at minimum for VR – higher than the Oculus Rift’s humble requirements.

In other words, the more money you can toss at your graphics card for VR, the better. Building your own Oculus-ready rig lets you do that, though it’s wonderful to see these easy prebuilt bundles available for people who want things to work without all the DIY hassle.

Brad Chacos, PCWorld & TechCentral Reporters

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