What are the system requirements for VR?
You have your eyes on a shiny new VR system, you have money in your hand, but do you have the computer to run it? The three big contenders, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality all have significantly different recommended system requirements. Here they are to ensure you get everything running as it should.
There are a few sets of system requirements to look at when considering the HTC Vive. The first, the minimum requirements, are what you absolutely need to have to properly run the Vive. The second, the recommended requirements, are what you should have to get the most out of your Vive. Now that the Vive is coming to Mac, we need to also take a look at those recommended specs.
There is a SteamVR compatibility tool available for download from Steam. Use it to test whether or not your computer is ready to run the Vive.
These are the specs that HTC recommends to run the Vive. You can, of course, have better performing hardware than what is listed here.
These are the minimum specs your PC needs to properly run the Vive. The only thing that's really different from the recommended PC specs is the graphics card, and that's mostly thanks to asynchronous reprojection, a technology implemented in Steam VR that allows for a smoother VR experience from lesser hardware.
HTC Vive and Steam VR are coming to Mac, and many new, high-end iMacs will have support right out of the box thanks to a beefy Radeon Pro 560 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. The rest of the specs remain pretty much the same as the PC specs; you still need at least 4GB of RAM and a strong processor, both of which the new iMac crushes. You will, however, need to invest in a Thunderbolt 3 adapter or two in order to have the correct ports.
Don't forget, the new MacBook Pro has support for an external GPU, effectively making it an option as well as long as the rest of the specs match.
The Oculus Rift has two things working for it — Asynchronous Spacewarp and Asynchronous Timewarp — that help lower the load on your PC. For this reason, the Rift's minimum system requirements are quite a bit lower. There are still recommended system specs that will deliver the best Rift experience possible.
Oculus has a great compatibility tool that will scan your computer and tell you if you have what it takes to run a Rift.
This is the hardware that Oculus recommends for the best Rift experience. You can have a better processor, graphics card, and more RAM without causing any problems.
Because of Asynchronous Spacewarp and Timewarp, Oculus Rift has a considerably lower set of minimum specs.
Here's the hardware needed to run Windows Mixed Reality; notice that it's quite a bit different than what the Rift and Vive require.
Is your PC or Mac up to snuff for your preferred VR system? What are you running in your build? Let us know in the comments section below.
Updated June 19, 2017: We've refreshed this list to include new information about Mac compatibility with the HTC Vive.