Virtual Reality, or VR for short, used to be more of a novelty for home gamers. Today, many companies are investing heavily into the VR market, and with the advances and reduction in costs, it’s here to stay. With platforms such as the HTC VIVE, virtual reality is more accessible than it’s ever been before. More and more gamers are installing these VR platforms in their homes to play games in the ever-growing library of VR games.
Of course, to run these games, you need a laptop that’s up to the task. VR is very hardware intensive, especially when it comes to the video card. That means that not every laptop is up to the task of VR, and any model that doesn’t come with a dedicated graphics processor simply can’t power VR. Today let’s look at several VR-ready laptops you can buy today so you can start enjoying a VR experience in your own home.
What Specs Does Your Laptop Need?
The two leading VR platforms today are the Oculus Rift and the HTC VIVE. Both of these VR platforms have many game choices and can provide a truly engaging virtual reality experience. But, the laptop you purchase has to be up to the task. So what specs does your laptop need to run? Thankfully, both platforms need basically the same specs. Remember, a good VR experience comes down to your video card, but you can’t forget the other specs as well. When shopping for a laptop, here are the specs you need to look for:
- CPU: Intel Sixth Generation i-Series or better
- Memory: 8GB of RAM or better
- Video: NVIDIA GeForce 1060 or greater
- USB Ports: Minimum 1 USB 3.0 port with 2 USB 2.0 ports
- Video Output: HDMI 1.3 (Oculus Rift) HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 (HTC VIVE)
- Operating System: Windows 10
If you notice, nothing is mentioned about the amount of storage you will need. In the end, it will all come down to how many games you want to install at one time. At minimum, I would recommend a 512GB SSD for the best performance and storage. While it won’t compete with giant 1TB or larger drives, the speed more than makes up for this shortcoming. Of course, depending on your laptop, you may be able to install an SSD for fast boot times alongside a larger HDD for storage if you need it.
The Best VR-Ready Laptops
The list below doesn’t contain every laptop that can power VR, but these are some of the best options out there today for anyone looking to setup a VR system in their home.
It’s tough to beat the Alienware 17 in both raw power and price. Coming in under $2000, you get some of the latest hardware available today. It’s powered by an eighth generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of RAM. For video, Alienware has installed an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of video memory. This is more than enough to meet and exceed the specs needs for VR today, and will give you a smooth experience with almost any game you play. When not using VR, the 17.3-inch display is gorgeous and comes in a variety of resolution options when you buy, including 4K. For VR and traditional gaming, it’s hard to beat this desktop replacement gaming beast.
Acer Predator Triton 700
Acer may have made a name for themselves creating quality hardware that is very affordable, but the Triton breaks that mold in many ways. The Triton 700 comes with a ridiculous amount of powerful hardware, including a seventh gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 32GB of RAM, and two 256GB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0. For video, you get the stunning NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, offering one of the best gaming experiences available today. While the display may only be 1080p, it’s truly gorgeous to behold when you aren’t using VR. It also includes an abundance of ports, including HDMI, Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and both USB-A 3.0 and 2.0, giving you everything you need for the perfect VR experience.
Dell G7 15
This wouldn’t be a complete list without a budget entry, and the Dell G7 15 at just under $1000, fits the bill perfectly. But just because it’s affordable, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a lot of performance. Of course, sacrifices must be made for this price point, but you still get more than enough for a quality VR experience. Under the hood you will find an Intel Core i7-8750H, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q with 6GB of Video RAM. It also has you covered on ports, with both USB-A 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, and more. The design is sleak, if not a little more plain compared to other laptops on the list, but it’s good enough to impress most anyone. At under $1000, you will be hard-pressed to find a laptop with enough juice to power VR, but this one is more than up to the task. While it may cut a few corners here and there, it’s a great option for VR gaming on a budget.
MSI GS65 Stealth
If you prefer a slim design for portability, then the MSI GS65 Stealth should make it to your shortlist. With it’s eighth gen Intel i7-8750H, massive 32GB of RAM, and powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of video memory, you will have more than enough power for pretty much any VR setup. It also includes a 512GB SSD, which is the best combo between storage and speed. At 0.7 inches thin with a matte black design, the GS65 Stealth looks amazing and even features an almost bezel-free design. While this isn’t the cheapest VR-ready laptop available, it’s nowhere near the most expensive out there and will give you more than enough power to drive pretty much any game you throw at it.
ASUS Rog Zephyrus
Another great laptop featuring a slim design, then take a closer look as the ASUS Rog Zephyrus. While it maintains a thin design, it still managed decent thermals thanks to its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q design. While its thin, it’s far from underpowered. Featuring an Intel Core i7-7700HQ and 16GB of RAM, it packs more than enough punch for your VR and regular games. It is a little light on storage, with a 256GB PCIe SSD, but the speed of this drive more than makes up for this shortcoming. It also comes with all the ports you will need for your VR setup, and even adds USB-C to the mix. This combo of power and thin design makes this machine one of the most portable options on this list.
The choices above are the only gaming laptops capable of powering VR, but they are definitely some of the best. When shopping, make sure you keep the minimum specs for your VR system in mind. As long as you find a laptop that meets the requirements, you should be good to go. But, I do believe that one of the options above will give you a much better VR experience than many of the other options out there today.