It was always clear that the Oculus Rift would require a high-end PC — Oculus product VP Nate Mitchell said as much last week. But today, Oculus has published the actual recommended specs for a Rift-compatible computer. Here's what you'll need:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
That's certainly not the world's most expensive PC — it doesn't, for example, involve the Titan X graphics card that Nvidia introduced specifically with VR in mind. But our very rough mockup puts it at around $1,000 or more for a desktop tower, and laptop owners are probably out of luck, according to Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock:
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.
While Mitchell suggested this last week as well, it's now clear that the Rift is Windows-only for the moment:
Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows. We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux but we don't have a timeline.
These high-end specs are needed because VR requires a high framerate for all its experiences — if it drops, you'll start getting sick very quickly. Oculus promises that the specs will stay the same for the lifetime of the current Rift consumer edition, so they'll presumably get cheaper as time goes on. For now, though, the Rift is still very much a device for somebody who's willing to put money towards an expensive PC... which right now is mostly gamers.