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Oculus Targeting Sub-$1000 PC Builds for VR Viability

Posted on September 25, 2015

Oculus VR recently announced its plans for “systems [starting] at a variety of price points under $1000,” speaking to the cost viability of VR-ready configurations. The company is working closely with system integrators (SIs) to ship a range of PC builds, stretching all the way into the sub-$1000 market. These prices do not include the VR headset itself, said to be “at least $300,” but strictly refer to the start-up cost of a VR-ready computer.

Among other brands, ASUS, Alienware, Dell (parent of Alienware), and Syber are ramping-up for VR. A sub-$1000 configuration will just barely hit (or fall slightly short of) the recommended Haswell Core i5 CPUs (i5-4590 and up) and GTX 970 / R9 290 GPUs. The load placed on components will heavily impact the GPU, which needs to have VR-ready technologies to adequately allow for unique sickness-inducing phenomena, like timewarp. Newer Maxwell nVidia architecture includes timewarp and viewport distortion to correct for VR with low latencies; AMD solves timewarp with its LiquidVR setup, compatible with GCN GPUs.

Load level depends on what game or software is being run and its level of fidelity. Note that the unique scenario of operating a VR headset means rendering to two displays (one per eye) simultaneously and performing GPU-side frame warp/distortion, demanding more of the hardware than a single desk-bound monitor.

Oculus' recent keynote recap discusses a $100, Samsung-partnered consumer Gear VR headset, usable with Samsung phones. Oculus indicates a November launch target for the US market. The keynote further discusses use case scenarios involving VR headsets and Twitch, where viewers will be able to watch friends with greater “presence” by using self-representing avatars.

As for the SIs with whom Oculus has partnered, ASUS' ROG G20CB and G11CD are both marketed toward potential Oculus users. It is likely that Zotac will release a ZBOX targeting a similar function, with Alienware undoubtedly announcing its offerings soon. The company stated:

“Starting early next year, our partners Asus, Dell, and Alienware will offer brand new Oculus Ready machines powered by NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel. Many of these systems will start at a variety of price points under $1,000. This is just the beginning for the Oculus Ready program. We’ll have more partners to announce in the coming year.”

We'll soon be posting an opinion piece on Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and the launch strength of VR for the current gaming ecosystem.