Mac VR

Anyone who uses a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro knows that these machines are perfectly capable for just about everything. Apple deserves a lot of credit for the world of ultra-thin and incredibly stylish laptops available on the market today, but those design decisions come with some clear performance limitations. There are plenty of Desktop PCs, and even a couple of laptops if you're brave, you can buy today that support VR headsets right out of the box. Unfortunately, Apple's logo doesn't exist on any of them.

That's the bad news. The good news? It's an easy enough thing for Apple to fix, and chances are we'll see some of those fixes soon.

VR computers have one major requirement right now, and it's something your average small laptop just can't provide. A powerful GPU needs space to dissipate heat while generating all of those fancy graphics, which is why all of the "VR" laptops you see right now are heavy, thick, and usually around 17-inches. Apple isn't going to deviate from their laptop design anytime soon, and the NVIDIA mobile series of GPUs has been replaced with Intel and AMD graphics for the last two generations. With Apple's focus on functionality for the masses, there's no reason to assume the next generation of Apple laptops will be VR-ready. It's possible the highest end 15-inch MacBook Pro, which currently offers a beefier GPU than the rest of the pack, will meet the minimum system requirements, but we'll have to wait and see.

For better or worse, Apple users have a wait in front of them.

The world of Apple desktop computers is a little different. Apple's Mac Pro is a powerhouse of performance, but the individual GPUs used in this first generation weren't individually enough to power Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Separately, the AMD FirePro D500s in the Mac Pro are less than half of what is needed to power these headsets. Together they still aren't quite enough, but a hardware refresh will certainly fix that. While there's no guarantee that Apple will stick with AMD for a refresh, it's clear with the recent announcement of the $199 VR-ready GPU that AMD has what it takes to make sure Apple's Mac Pro refresh is VR-ready.

While it's a little rough that Apple fans are going to need a complete hardware upgrade to be VR-ready, it's not the only hurdle. Oculus and HTC have to support Mac OS separately, and for Oculus that could mean fragmenting their store into Mac and non-Mac VR games. We've already seen Valve do this with non-VR games on their Steam platform, so it's likely the Steam VR-powered HTC Vive would have a similar experience. It's unlikely Mac owners with VR hardware would be able to play all of the games current VR owners can play at least at first, so it's an uphill battle on multiple fronts for Apple fans.

Users who have thoroughly embedded themselves in the Apple ecosystem but want to get in on VR right now are in a tough spot. Running a separate Windows PC just for VR isn't a great option for a couple of reasons, and if you're waiting for Apple to do their own VR thing there's a good chance you'll be waiting a while. That's not to say Apple won't do VR at all, in fact iMore's Rene Ritchie has some great thoughts on why that's not really a concern, but as is often the case with Apple this is all going to happen on Apple's terms.

For better or worse, Apple users have a wait in front of them.