You’re going to need a decent, but not crazy desktop PC in order to partake in some virtual reality gaming.
As if there was any doubt, Oculus has now confirmed that you are not going to be doing a lot of laptop gaming using the to-be-released consumer edition of its virtual reality headset. In fact, you’re probably going to want to start saving up for some PC upgrades now, in addition to the cost of the Rift itself, which is yet unknown (but guaranteed to be between $200 and $400).
Today, Oculus published the recommended specs that you’ll want your gaming system to have in order to have a flawless experience on the Oculus Rift. According to the company, you’ll need a graphics card that’s at least as powerful as an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD R9 290, as well as a CPU that’s at least as good as an Intel i5-4590. (Though Oculus didn’t have a recommendation on the AMD side of things, you should be able to find plenty of comparable chips for your system.)
Your system will need at least eight gigabytes of RAM for the Oculus Rift, and you’ll also want to make sure that you have an HDMI 1.3 connection to your desktop (which your high-end graphics card will undoubtedly have). You’ll also need two free USB 3.0 ports and, it almost goes without saying, but you’ll need to run at least Windows 7 SP1. (By the time the Oculus Rift hits, you’ll likely have moved on to Windows 10.)
As for laptop users, it’s likely that the HDMI bit is going to make life difficult. As Oculus Chief Architect Atman Binstock describes in a blog post, the HDMI requirement is a little more complicated than just “the laptop needs an HDMI port.”
“…many discrete GPU laptops have their external video output connected to the integrated GPU and drive the external output via hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift. Since this isn’t something that can be determined by reading the specs of a laptop, we are working on how to identify the right systems. Note that almost no current laptops have the GPU performance for the recommended spec, though upcoming mobile GPUs may be able to support this level of performance,” he writes.
Additionally, Oculus has currently paused development on OS X and Linux iterations of the Oculus Rift software. There’s no timeline as to when that might start back up, or when Oculus might be able to get the Oculus Rift working perfectly on those operating systems. The company is instead focusing on, “delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows,” Binstock writes.