Computer Memory requirements for VR – Which headset to choose

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last months there should be no surprise that Virtual Reality (VR) is here, and has come to stay. While there a few options available if you want to start your path down to VR land, the two main contenders are HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Both pack powerful hardware and a multitude of different options like controllers and cameras. But which one should you get? And what do you need in terms of computer power to run them?

First, let’s dive into the first consideration you have to make: can you run a VR headset with your current computer? The requirements are: Intel Core-i5 4590, an GTX 970 or an AMD R9 290, as well as 8GB of RAM. The computer also need to be running Windows 7 SP1 64-bit or newer, with 1 USB 2.0 and 3 USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI 1.3 output.

Oculus Rift.

The Rift created traction via it’s Kickstarter campaign and according to many, led the way for the VR revolution. With icons like John Carmack backing the development team, it was hyped to be the best thing since sliced bread. And it is. Even Facebook added to the hype by buying the Oculus VR company for $2bn in 2014.

Sporting a 2160 x 1200 resolution over two OLED screens, expect to see (kind of) 233 million pixels flying by every second, at 90Hz. Add to this a light weight with a structure that keeps the headset firmly attached to your head, and a set of 3D sound headphones. Two sensors tracking your movement and Touch controllers to manoeuvre make you the master of the VR domain. All this for the neat sum of $500/£350 ($599 with shipping)

HTC Vive.

HTC is a Taiwanese company that teamed up with Valve (known for the gaming platform Steam) to create a VR head set that rivals the Oculus. I would say they succeeded. Utilising different tech, and different solutions to some of the inherent issues with VR, they have come up with the HTC Vive.
It has a 2160 x 1200 (at 90Hz) resolution, the same as Oculus, over two screens. Its other specs also match those of Oculus.

But where the Vive sets itself apart is that it uses two sensors that are placed in the corners of the room, and will allow you to utilise the whole floor space. This gives you a larger area to move around in, a front that is used to make sure you don’t run into a wall. This is something that the Oculus failed to implement. The price for the Vive is a bit higher, coming in at $799/£560.

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