Virtual reality is one of the hottest things in the consumer market right now, and the Oculus Rift headset is an amazing device that allows users to tap into the technology. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford it.
One of the biggest limitations of the Oculus Rift, along with its rival the HTC Vive, is the cost associated with the virtual reality system. In addition to the price tag of the headset, which is at $599 for the Oculus Rift, users will need a powerful PC to support it.
The price range of the PCs required to run the Oculus Rift starts at about $800, which is just the minimum requirement to support the headset, and reaches all the way to over $2,000 to be able to get the most out of the virtual reality experience. With the high cost of the Oculus Rift and the necessary PC, a massive part of the consumer market has been priced out of the technology.
In a move to open up the Oculus Rift to a bigger part of the market, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe announced at the Oculus Connect developer conference that the minimum PC requirements to support the Oculus Rift are being lowered.
The lowered minimum specs required to run the Oculus Rift cover the graphics card and the CPU. For the graphics card, the previous requirement of the Nvidia GTX 970 has been lowered to an Nvidia GTX 960, and for the CPU, the Oculus Rift will now only need an AMD FX-4350 or an Intel Core i3 6100 dual-core, compared with the previous AMD FX or Intel Core i5 quad-core.
With the new minimum specs, consumers will be able to support the Oculus Rift using cheaper PCs. According to Iribe, AMD will be releasing the $499 CyberPowerPC, which meets the minimum requirements of the virtual reality headset. This represents a significant cost cut from the previous $800 needed for a PC to run the device.
In addition, Iribe said that laptop computers that will be able to power the Oculus Rift will soon be released.
The lowered minimum specifications for PCs to support the Oculus Rift is made possible through a new feature named Asynchronous Spacewarp. In addition to an eye-catching name, the feature helps in the reduction of dropped frames to keep content running at 90 frames per second, even on lower-end PCs compared with those previously used. It is important that such a frame rate is maintained to prevent the user from experiencing nausea, which is why very powerful PCs were needed in the past.
The $499 price tag for AMD's CyberPowerPC, in addition to the $599 Oculus Rift, add up to about $1,100, which is still a steep price for most consumers. However, it is good to know that virtual reality companies such as Oculus are making headway into reducing the associated costs of the technology.