I remember the day I checked my PC specifications against the Oculus Rift requirements. I remember shedding a tear, knowing I’d have to wait until I could upgrade my PC to a GTX 970, and a processor that didn’t react like depleted uranium when I played anything other than Solitaire.
Well, the great news is, things are different now. VR gaming on the PC is as inclusive as ever, and there’s an extremely affordable path to getting started in virtual gaming with VR hardware industry leaders, Meta, HTC and huge game platforms like Steam. Whilst the Metaverse is still yet to breakout as a mainstream industry, and is reserved mainly for astonishingly effective collaborations for creators, VR gaming is growing faster than ever.
In 2021, the total number of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices shipped worldwide hit 9.86 million units, and current expert forecasts say this is on target to rise to 14.19 million units in 2022. The Steam game library for VR also supports this data, with a rising number of SteamVR users since 2017.
There is no shortage of titles to play, now, either. There are over 1,400 apps available for Quest via App Lab, according to VRDB, and over 2,800 VR titles available on SteamVR.
You can do just about anything in VR these days, from driving Formula 1 cars to flying a WW2 fighter plane with hundreds of other pilots. From chilled out tabletop gaming to basketball 1v1s in smash hits like Rec Room, the vast array of game genres within VR are mindboggling. The creativity the platform allows has paved the way to unique, immersive and addictive offerings from small and large developers, all of which are embracing virtual reality gaming for the years ahead. This is, of course, great news for gamers, especially for those interested in hooking up their PC to their VR gear, and enhancing the experience.
Which GPU is best for PC VR gaming?
Whilst we can highlight the best graphics cards for playing VR, there are other things to consider, so we have tagged this on below. Your processor and VR equipment will need to be of a certain level, and if you are on a budget, there are hacks that will get you set up on the cheap.
Best budget GPU for VR
The RTX 3050 should be the poster child for PC VR gaming, considering it is significantly faster than the GTX 1660 or the GTX 1660 Super – graphics cards many would advise for entry level VR. There is a lot of parity between the RTX 3050 and GTX 1660 Ti in 1080p gaming, and NVIDIA are not shy about highlighting the former as VR ready, and extremely good value for anyone building an entry level to mid range gaming PC. The RTX 3050 is, however, great up to mid range requirements, being capable of running Half-Life: Alyx in VR at over 70 FPS with a decent amount of RAM and solid CPU (see below options).
Chillblast’s range of RTX 3050 gaming PCs start at a very reasonable price, putting an RTX 3050 VR gaming PC well within the reach of the entry level gamer.
Recommended GPU for PC VR gaming
The RTX 3060 is possibly the best value RTX card out there right now, being more than capable of playing 1080p titles with Ray Tracing and DLSS, but also being hugely popular in VR builds. The Ti version can deliver up to 30% better performance, and the RTX 3060 Ti is competitively priced right now as we enter Q4 of 2022.
Chillblast have a large range of gaming PCs that house the popular RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti GPUs, enabling you to crank up your visuals, and lay waste to the competition in virtual worlds!
Recommended CPU for PC VR gaming
At the very minimum, you should expect to be using an Intel Core i5-12400F or AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor with the RTX 3050, and this will enable you to get the most out of headsets like the Meta Quest 2. The Quest 2 requires a minimum of a 6-Core CPU to handle the workload, but ideally an 8-Core processor, as the software encoding used when PC VR gaming will rely heavily on a multi-tasking CPU.
Both the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel Core i5-12400F offer 6 cores, and you can expect excellent performance running background applications like Steam and streaming services while gaming.
With the RTX 3060, we have the same story. A 6-Core CPU like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G pairs very well with the RTX 3060/3060 Ti at the lower end of the budget scale. If you plan on playing demanding titles like MS Flight Simulator in non-native VR, then you’ll be much better served with a 16-Core processor like the Intel Core i7-12700K featured in the Chillblast Fusion Cirrus 4 Flight Sim PC designed by Matt Davies, the creator behind some of the most incredible flight simulation videos and guides on the internet.
Recommended memory (RAM) for PC VR gaming
This is a very easy one. 16GB should be the minimum RAM in a VR gaming PC, enabling you to dump large amounts of data into system memory, and multi-task with applications. 32GB will give you extra headroom, but few VR games will push you to the limits of 16GB right now. That may change in future with new titles for PC VR, so if you want to future-proof your virtual battlestation – 32Gb will serve you well.
To finish off, we would highly recommend you purchase the following for your PC VR gaming rig:
Oculus Link Cable
Perfect for Meta Quest 2 owners who want to get into PC VR gaming, the Link cable will enable you to hook up your headset to your PC without losing any performance, powering your headset and linking to games.
Available from the Meta store for around £90, the USB-C Link cable is not what you’d call a cheap piece of cabling. You can obtain cheaper versions, but its worth checking them out in practice on YouTube before you buy. Any latency in the cable will show on your screen, which will destroy the immersion and experience.
if you want to go the untethered route, there’s the nice little hack that involves using Virtual Desktop instead of wiring yourself to your desk. The performance can be extremely good, and will often beat a tethered solution. Mac in VR created a quick guide to doing this, so if it appeals to you, check it out.