Before you get excited about buying a headset, just remember that a computer or smart phone needs to accompany the device.
Thankfully, most people have a smartphone. Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard simply need your current compatible phone to work with. The gear VR is about $100 USD and the cardboard is about $20 dollars. Sony’s Playstation VR is set to be about the price of a current generation console, on top of that, you’ll need to have a playstation 4, which goes for about $350, so for the full sony VR package, you’re looking at around 700-800 USD just to get started.
The tricky part comes when you start looking at Oculus Rift or Steam’s new contender. The Oculus Rift is expected to go on pre-order this Wednesday. So far, a set price has not been set.
According to Bloomberg, only thirteen million personal computers in the world this year will have the graphics power needed to run virtual reality. That’s only one percent of the 1.43 billion personal computers that are currently in use in 2016. Looks like I’ll have to throw out that old iMac in the living room and get something with a bit more power.
How much will you have to spend to get a computer capable of running Oculus rifts new games with a descent frame rate? The problem is, it needs more than 2x the power because it needs to render 2 different 3D environments for your two eyes.
Facebook now recommends that Oculus Rift owners have a computer with an Nvidia GeForce 970 or AMD Radeon 290 graphics card. Each costs of these cards costs at least $300, which is basically the same price as an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. While the graphics card is the big-ticket item, the Oculus Rift will also require more powerful processors, including an Intel i5-class processor, more than 8 gigabytes of memory, and two USB 3.0 ports.
Normal PC games run at around 30 frames per second. Researchers have found that at least 90 frames per minute are needed to avoid dizziness and nausea. Basically that means you will need at least a $1,500 laptop to run virtual reality.
Playstation VR with Playstation About $650
Oculus Rift with laptop About $1800
Samsung Gear VR with phone About $750
After reviewing the costs and the complications, it seems like Sony has the best option. I’m not sure how smooth, or how complex the games could possibly be on a Samsung phone. I think the playstation 4 will be able to deliver enough graphics and an unbeatable price point.
Which system are you looking to buy?