Can Gamers Enjoy VR on a Budget?

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Two years ago I wrote a column about my take on PlayStation VR, or as it was known back then, Project Morpheus, and wondered if it, as well as the Oculus Rift, would succeed when they were launched. My stance at that time was that I felt that cost would be a huge factor in whether it would succeed or not, and in the case of the Oculus Rift, it would also depend on how powerful the host computer would have to be in order to support it.

And now, here we are in 2016, and coming out of the ashes of Winter CES, VR is about to hit our homes. Oculus finally unveiled the consumer version of the Oculus Rift to the masses. Oculus has the Rift available on their website as a pre-order for a July release, and will come bundled with an Xbox One controller.

But what is the price, you may ask? Well, it’s as bad as I thought it was going to be…$600. However, many people will not realize that that’s not the only price they would have to pay. If you look at the recommended hardware requirements that Oculus posted on their site, you might be in for a shock:

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 graphics card

Intel Core i5 – 4590 or better

8 GB RAM or more

Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output

2 USB 3.0 ports

Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Now for the most part the system requirements are not that demanding. I am planning to purchase a gaming PC soon, and for the most part I can obtain a comparably priced system for about $600-700. However, there is one factor that holds me back, and I’m sure you know what it is, the graphics card. One PC I’m looking at on the Micro Center website costs about $700 and it has the 8 GB RAM and a Core i7 6700 processor which could easily handle the Oculus…but it includes a GeForce GT 730 graphics card. So in order to get that PC to what is called “Oculus Ready,” I would need to either buy a GTX 970 for at least $300 or an R9 for at least $340. Since the GTX card is the cheaper of the two, if you look at that, in addition to the computer and the Oculus Rift all in one package, we are looking at a grand total of $1,600 for the entire Oculus Rift experience.

And yes, Oculus is also offering discounts on PCs that are “Oculus Ready” if they are bundled with a Rift, but those too cost at least $1,600 as well for the whole package.

Needless to say I’m not ready to get an Oculus, and even if I get that new gaming PC I’m going to wait a long time before the price goes down to even consider giving this a chance. My other option will be when the PlayStation VR is announced, and I’m sure we will not hear about pricing and availability until at least E3 this June. But if what I hear about it being the same price as a console, or even more, is true, then I won’t want anything to do with it. I’ll stick with playing games in front of a 46” LED monitor, thank you very much!

Currently Playing: Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One,) Rainbow Six Siege (Xbox One)

Waiting For: Street Fighter V (PS4)

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