What are the best laptops for my virtual reality setup?
Now that you have a VR setup in your hands, you may need a new PC to run it. While desktops will almost always trump laptops with potential performance, laptops have some obvious advantages: mobility, footprint, and power consumption should all be considered.
Oculus recently integrated Asynchronous Timewarp into their runtime, effectively lowering the minimum specs for PCs running the Rift. While it is still recommended to pick up a powerful PC, it's not always possible. We will look at the best laptops ready for VR, and we'll also look at laptops with lower specs that will still run your Oculus Rift.
Update 4 January 2017: We've refreshed this list to include new laptops unveiled at CES 2017!
The new Alienware 17 comes equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon RX 470 graphics card, which is pretty much bananas. The GTX 1080 is top of the NVIDIA line, and the RX 470 is not far from the front when it comes to AMD GPUs. Both of these cards will have no problem running your Rift or Vive.
The 17-inch display is available in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K configurations, each costing a bit more than the last. Each display does look beautiful, so if you're looking to save some bucks, here's where you can get away with it without affecting your VR experience — you won't be looking at the screen much anyway.
If you're into overclocking, the Intel Core i7 can be boosted up to a 4.1GHz clock speed; again, keep in mind this crazy performance is coming from a laptop. With up to 32GB of RAM and a big solid-state drive, you're sure to have a great VR gaming experience with the Alienware 17.
If you think a 17-inch laptop is a bit too big to lug around, check out the Alienware 15 with up to an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card, or check out the Alienware 13 with up to an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card. Both of these smaller laptops will have no problem running your Rift or Vive.
The new Razer Blade follows the cult of Thin that Razer has long been known for — the body here is only 0.7 inches (1.77cm) thick. This is hard to believe when you consider there is an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive inside the chassis. Don't forget about the quarterback, a 6th-generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor that keeps everything running smoothly.
The 14-inch, 1080p display is great for when you're taking a break from VR, and the Chroma keyboard has millions of color combinations for your backlit keys. You get three USB 3.0 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, and an HDMI port for easy VR connectivity. Configurations start at about $2000.
MSI GE62VR Apache Pro
If you love MSI but don't want to spend quite as much money as the higher-end MSI VR-ready laptops cost, the Apache Pro might be the one for you. It has an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM that will have no problem running your VR games, and it has either 12GB or 16GB of RAM.
The 17.3-inch IPS display has a 1920x1080 resolution and is designed to cut down on glare — not the best resolution, but you won't mind since you'll have your face in a VR head-mounted display most of the time.
All configurations come with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ with a stock 2.6GHz clock speed that can be overclocked up to 3.5GHz. If you're not into overclocking, the stock speed will be enough to take care of whatever VR games you throw at it.
The Apache Pro has the standard MSI offering of a full-size SteelSeries keyboard with a beautiful full-color backlight. As mentioned, the price is a bit lower than other MSI VR-ready laptops — this one starts at about $1550.
ASUS ROG G725VS OC Edition
If you don't want quite as much power as an NVIDIA GTX 1080 delivers, you can pick up this ASUS laptop with a GTX 1070. While still a beast of a GPU, it doesn't quite have the same oomph as its bigger sibling, and it will save you a bit of money — this laptop starts at about $2500. The GTX 1070 will not have any problems running games in VR.
The ASUS ROG G725VS also comes stocked with an overclocked Intel Core i7-6820HK processor, your choice of 32GB or 64GB of overclocked RAM, and your choice of a 256GB or 512GB solid-state drive. ASUS also managed to cram in a 1TB hard-disk drive to hold all your games.
The 17.3-inch 1080p display isn't going to knock anyone over with its resolution, but it's sufficient for setting up your VR games. Throw in a fantastic cooling system to keep the heat down while you're overclocking, and you have a badass laptop ready for VR.
Origin's EON17-SLX comes to you with many customizable options. As you work through the build menu, you will see how many different pieces of hardware you can choose, and you will see the price rise or drop in real time as you make selections.
You can choose from either one or, yes, two NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPUs with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM. One GTX 1080 will have no problem running your VR games, so save some money here if needed. All of the processors offered by Origin are suitable for VR, so go with your gut and your bank account. RAM? The Vive recommends 4GB and the Rift recommends 8GB; go with what you want but ensure you meet the requirements for your VR setup. The 17.3-inch 4K display is a beauty, and the matte finish will keep glare to a minimum.
Even the laptop's case is customizable. Choose from 8 stock colors and 8 stock paint jobs. Not satisfied with what they have to offer? Create your own design using any artwork you want. You can, if you want, have your face airbrushed onto your laptop. Cool, right? Adding to the style is a multi-color backlit keyboard with a full number pad for added function.
Even if you're not going to buy one, it's fun to create a laptop and see the price on Origin's website. The customization options are extensive and show that Origin truly cares about what you want. No matter what you choose, you're looking at spending between $2500 and $4000 — but that's expected for a premium gaming laptop.
MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro
Looking for a VR-ready gaming laptop that isn't a beast to lug around? The MSI Stealth Pro is aptly named. Although it has a GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM and 16GB of RAM, it keeps a surprisingly low profile and weighs in at just under four pounds.
The 15.6-inch display has a 1920x1080 resolution — not incredible, but keep in mind that you're using this for VR. This thing has a full SteelSeries keyboard with a number pad and a beautiful full-color backlight.
All configurations come with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor that comes in at a stock 2.6GHz clock speed. If you're into overclocking, you can get up to about a 3.5GHz clock speed, but the stock speed will run your VR games without problems. Those games and your copy of Windows 10 will be safe and sound in your choice of 256GB or 512GB solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard-disk drive is there as your library expands.
ASUS ROG GL502VS
Love ASUS but don't want to shell out upwards of three or four grand? This model, the ROG GL502VS, starts at about $1650 — quite a deal considering what you're getting.
This laptop has up to an NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM — your games are going to look gorgeous. Keeping things running smoothly is an Intel Core i7-6700HQ with a clock speed 2.6GHz, and 16GB of RAM.
The display is 15.6 inches and has a resolution of 1920x1080. Keep in mind you'll have your head in a VR headset most of the time, so super high resolutions aren't exactly important when choosing a laptop for VR.
This is ASUS's most mobile VR-ready laptop; it's less than an inch thick and weighs in at just under five pounds. Not bad considering they've jammed in a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive and a 1TB hard-disk drive to accommodate for your ever-expanding library of games.
Acer Predator 17 X
Acer's Predator line offers some of the company's highest tier gaming devices, bringing together formidable processor and graphics combinations. The Acer Predator 17 X sits among the line's best offerings, packing some of the best hardware currently available with its form factor.
Sporting a Kaby Lake Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, each of the laptop's four cores can be overclocked up to 4.3GHz. When paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and 64GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, the Predator 17 X winds up to be a truly impressive device for virtual reality. All of this is only complemented by its available storage solutions, with the option of a three SATA SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration or a NVMe PCIe solid state drive.
When away from the headset, the Acer Predator 17 X has both full HD and 4K display variants on offer – both of which support NVIDIA G-Sync.
The refreshed Acer Predator 17 X will debut for $2,599 in North America later in January 2017.
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition
Acer's recent revision to the Aspire line adds new components and connectivity, bringing the laptop range into the modern day. The Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition packs some remarkable specs into its relatively slim body, being a worthy choice for those jumping into laptop VR.
With the Aspire V Nitro, buyers will get the choice of up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, a NVIDIA GTX 1050 or NVIDIA 1060 graphics card and up to 16GB of RAM. To use this laptop for VR you'll be looking to get the higher-end configuration, to ensure a consistent experience with today's leading headsets.
For the display, the Aspire V Nitro is available in both 15 or 17.3 inch variants, at full HD and 4K resolutions. The 17.3 inch model can also be kitted out with Tobii eye tracking, which has begun to find uses in varying scenarios.
Finally, when it comes to ports, the Nitro supports traditional USB-A, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and Ethernet. Windows Hello integration is also available in the form of a fingerprint sensor.
Acer's Aspire V Nitro Black Edition will be available in North America this February, starting at $1,199.
Lenovo Legion Y720
The Lenovo Legion Y720 is among the entry level VR laptops, packing a Core i5-7300HQ or a Core i7-7700HQ processor and a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU. Although outperformed by a number of today's high-end gaming laptops, the Y720 is a relatively well-priced choice with suitable specs for a fluid VR experience. Two display resolutions are available for the Y720 – both full HD and 4K configurations.
Under the hood, you'll also find inbuilt Xbox One wireless controller support, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C and Dolby Atmos speakers. This is all wrapped up in an appealing RGB-laced package, debuting for $1,399 this April.
Best laptops that meet Oculus Rift minimum specs
The Rift's new minimum specs are as follow:
- Video card: NVIDIA GTX 960 / AMD Radeon RX 470
- Processor: Intel i3-6100 / AMD FX4350
- RAM: 8GB
- Ports: one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and one HDMI
- OS: Windows 8 or newer
This opens up an entirely new section of laptops that are ready for VR. Here are the best laptops that meet these new specs.
ASUS ROG STRIX GL502VY
Laptop graphics cards have different performance marks than desktop graphics card, which is why we have here the NVIDIA GTX 980M — it comes in at just over the performance of the GTX 960.
You get 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, and a 128GB solid-state drive backed up by a 1TB hard-disk drive to hold all your games. As far as ports go you're getting everything you need for VR, including three USB 3.0, one USB-C, and one HDMI.
The 15.6-inch, 1080p display is great when you're playing regular games, and the entire thing weighs just under five pounds and is under an inch thick. This is a beautiful, compact gaming laptop that costs less thanks to the reduced Rift requirements. This configuration starts at about $1180.
Your VR-ready laptop
Which laptop are you using for VR? If you're not already using one, would you consider it? Let us know in the comments section below!