To say I wasn't interested in VR would be unfair. On a professional level I've been interested and amazed by it for about a year now, since my first demo of Oculus Rift at Computex 2015. What hasn't really interested me is the cost of entry.
I've argued in the past that those including the cost of a capable PC into the argument that it's all just too expensive is short sighted. And I still think that, because it's not necessarily accurate. Not everyone who's interested will need a full new PC.
But for me, the PC was going to be an issue. My current machine can't hack it and I wasn't really too keen on spending the money to build one good enough for some time. Then along came AMD with the RX 480.
To be more specific, the issue I've faced personally is GPU related, as I'm sure it is for many others. I run a GTX 960 inside an Alienware X51 R2 (yes, Alienware) and that's about as much as it can comfortably take right now. I'm tight on power with an external 330W PSU the largest I can have and the PNY GTX 960 is as much as I can squeeze inside its small form factor.
I could recycle everything else in the PC into a new case, swap out the motherboard and add a larger GPU. But with current graphics cards the price, in particular, puts me off. If I'm getting into VR I want to be able to do it for a while with the same machine, not worry about how long it'll hack it.
The RX 480 is still an unknown quantity, but one that's already making waves. It launches on June 29 and we can safely assume we won't see much in the way of benchmarks or reviews until very close to this date. But the claims have already been made.
"Good VR" for $200. Yowzers.
Exactly how it performs is still up for debate, but it already looks like it'll meet the dimensions and TDP I need personally. But it also opens the eyes to Polaris as a platform and just what we might be able to get from AMD going forward.
NVIDIA has blown the doors off with the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 and those cards will be good for many years to come. But they're also still pretty expensive. If the RX 480 can offer similar performance to the top Maxwell based NVIDIA cards at a fraction of the price, they're on to a winner in my book.
There's also a line that has been drawn. AMD's commitment to "good VR" for $199 shows that the company is serious about getting as many people into the virtual world as possible. It also shows that it's thinking not so much about the enthusiasts, and more about mass market.
That's not to say the potential of a super powerful card at a low price isn't extremely enticing, though.
NVIDIA and AMD will go down different paths on the VR highway, where ultimately it already looks like the winner is us, the consumers. I'd all but given up on VR for the immediate future, but hearing that a $199 outlay instead of substantially more could bring me into it (not counting the headset, obviously) has immediately turned that right around.
But what about you? Are you getting ready to drop on AMDs low cost "good VR" or going large on NVIDIAs new beastly offerings. Sound off in the comments below!
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