You can end up buying the wrong product if you don’t know what to look for in the cheapest VR ready laptop.
I made a costly mistake of purchasing one without required information and still regret it today.
That’s why I prepared this guide to help you choose the most affordable one.
What are the Benefits of VR Compatible PC?
Well, you don’t really want to get your brand-new virtual reality headset and then find out that it’s not compatible with your PC? Though you can always get a standalone headset or one with a smartphone, having a compatible system has its benefits.
For starters, it comes ready with the specifications required to run popular virtual reality games and videos. The system can support high-end VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive to generate high frame rates with detailed graphics to create realistic virtual experiences.
You need to make sure your pc meets the technical demands of your VR applications and has the required ports to connect the headset.
Let’s find out the important factors that you need to check out when you decide to get one..
What are the Minimum Specifications You Should Look for?
Before you take a deep dive into the world of virtual reality, take a look at the minimum specifications that your system would need.
What factors to consider before selecting your model?
What do you want from your pc? Do you want to play games or are you looking for something more? More importantly, do you want it to be future ready as well?
Once you know what you want, I am sure my latest guide will help you out in making the right choice.
1. It's All About the GPU
Headset manufacturers declare the hardware requirements to support their headsets. Compatible systems essentially have dedicated graphics cards to support the graphics intensive VR applications and higher frame rates.
Both Oculus and HTC recommend you to have an NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 for smooth gaming. Oculus released a separate list of minimum requirements to include the GTX 1050 Ti and the Radeon RX 470. Though these GPUs will get the show going, but you can’t expect the same performance as a GTX 1060 or RX 480.
Do keep in mind that even the recommended GPUs can drop frames at highest settings.
2. Processor and Memory
Oculus and HTC advise you to have a processor equivalent or better than Intel i5-4590. For AMD fans, you need at least Ryzen 5 1500X and FX 8350 respectively. Now, all these processors are old generation chips, and you are likely to find better processors in most of the VR ready systems.
On the memory side, Oculus suggests you to have 8GB or more. HTC is less demanding and needs 4GB to function. You can easily meet this requirement as most of them come with at least 8GB RAM and some even offer 16GB.
3. Check Out the Ports
You need to plug the headset connectors into the correct ports. HTC requires an HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 and one USB 2.0 port to run its hardware. Rift requires HDMI 1.3 port and three USB ports (2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0).
It’s imperative that you check the availability and compatibility of system ports to ensure they support the headset you use. If you find more ports than you need, go celebrate as you can plug in other accessories while enjoying your VR experience.
4. Screen Size and Portability
Now it’s your turn to decide things! There’s no minimum screen size requirement as you will depend on your headset for all the visuals. When you are not on your headset, the screen size will be considered.
15-inch systems are compact and convenient. If you need to carry them around, these may be a good choice. Do check out if the ports are present to support your headgear as smaller models tend to have fewer ports.
If you are planning to be stationed at your desk and portability isn’t an issue then you can go for the 17-inch ones.
5. Storage and Battery
VR applications are larger in size, so you should be looking for a 1TB hard drive. If you have less space, you can store the games which you don’t play on an external HDD. Some have a combination of physical HDDs and SSDs.
SSDs are faster but come in a smaller capacity of 256GB or 512GB. You can load your OS on the SSD and run games from the physical HDD if your system is equipped with both of them.
The battery is not a primary consideration as you will be mostly playing off the adapter. Running your games on the battery only reduces the performance. Some models give a battery backup of 3 to 4 hours while few even last 7 to 10 hours.
The Thing with Windows Mixed Reality
Microsoft released some cheap VR headsets in collaboration with other companies like Acer AH101-D8EY and HP VR1000-100. To run non-intensive apps, you only need an Intel Core i5 7200U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 620.
Most of the gaming models will support Windows gear. But Windows doesn’t provide a rich VR experience and content is also limited compared to HTC or Rift. So all the products in our review will go along with Microsoft headsets.
How to Setup Your Laptop with VR Headset
Check out this video by Tech Guy to get a walkthrough on how to set up and get ready for your immersive experience.
What are the Cheapest VR Ready Laptops for 2019?
If you are considering a vr ready laptop, let’s check out the models you can get your hands on without breaking the bank.
1. Acer Nitro 5
Acer Nitro 5 can be yours at an affordable price. It comes with an Intel Quad Core i5-8300H Processor at 2.3GHz, which you can take up to 4.0GHz. The 8th Generation Intel processor beats the i7-7700HQ significantly in performance, while you are gaming.
On the GPU front, it has the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB DDR5 RAM. You can run your Rift and Vive but probably not at very high settings. The model features a Full HD 15.6-inch screen which can support resolutions of 1920 x 1080p.
You only have a 256GB SSD drive for storing your games, and you have the option to expand your storage as well. You will get 8GB RAM to run most PC games without any visible issue.
The battery drains out within 1 to 2 hours of gaming while it lasts 2 to 3 hours for browsing and regular tasks. You are given one HDMI port, one USB Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports to connect your headsets.
Acer also provides a red backlit keyboard and aggressive styling along with Dolby-powered speakers.
2. MSI GP73 Leopard
MSI has come out with an impressive line of gaming and VR ready models. The GP73 Leopard can be a good choice with 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processors clocking speed of 2.2GHz. The 6-core processor can reach maximum turbo speed of 4.1GHz providing enough juice for your VR gear.
GP73 meets the recommended GPU requirements with a GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB RAM. You get 16GB DDR4 RAM which can be extended till 32GB. MSI claims that this model can provide 3ms response time and Full HD even at 120Hz refresh rates which can make your non-VR gaming really exciting!
It packs a 17-inch Full HD screen with resolutions of 1920 x 1080. It measures 16.5 x 11.3 x 1.2-inches with a weight of 5.95 lbs which puts it in the lightweight category.
You can find a 256GB SSD drive coupled with 1TB physical HDD to meet your increased storage requirements.
Now let’s check out the ports. The GP73 Leopard is equipped with a mini DisplayPort and HDMI port. Additionally, it provides one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. It’s got all the power you are looking for, and plenty of space for you to plug in the accessories.
The battery, unfortunately, doesn’t last for more than 3 to 4 hours, so you mostly need to keep it plugged to the wall.
3. Dell G3 15
Dell does a good job of creating a cheap gaming model that you can hook up with HTC and Microsoft headsets. The base models of G3 come with GTX 1050 while the upgraded models pack the GTX 1050 Ti for supporting the Rift.
You can take your pick from 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8300H and Core i7-8750H processors which can run at 4.0GHz at Turbo Boost mode. The minimum RAM offering is 8GB while you can also opt for 16GB.
The base model comes with 1TB hybrid HDD while Dell offers a combination of 256GB SSD and 1TB SATA HDD in the top version. All variants have a screen size of 15.6-inches and support Full HD at 1920 x 1080 pixels.
G3 is ideal for enthusiast level of VR, but you may not be able to run games at high settings. That being said, the specs are suitable for running most of the recent PC games.
You will get 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. You also have an HDMI 2.0 port to hook up the headset display connector.
The battery doesn’t last for more than 4 hours whether you are gaming or watching movies so stay near a power connector!
4. Eluktronics P650HP6
Eluktronics produces many models in the affordable category. The model features an Intel i7-7700HQ 7th Generation Processor with a base speed of 2.80GHz and turbo of maximum 3.80GHz. The hyper-threading technology enables you to run HTC and Oculus applications without a glitch!
The GeForce GTX 1060 drives all graphical-intensive applications with onboard 6GB VRAM. The screen is 15.6-inches and supports 1080p resolutions with 5ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate. You can also get the GTX 1070 on the top model for superior performance.
The P650HP6 comes with 512GB SSD drive with additional storage options to scale as per your needs. You can also expand the 16GB DDR4 RAM up to 64GB with three additional slots.
You get two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C ports along with three USB 3.0 ports. You can also find two mini DisplayPort and an HDMI 2.0b port to connect your headsets.
The battery on the P650HP6 is not impressive and lasts only 3 to 4 hours for regular use and browsing. You can get a maximum of 1 to 2 hours of gaming on the battery before you need to plug in!
Many people haven’t heard of the brand, but if you read the reviews, you will find the majority of them to be positive.
5. Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator is more expensive than Nitro 5 but makes up with the powerful performance. You have the 2.2GHz 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor which can run at a maximum of 4.1GHz. That’s plenty of power to pull any headset in the market!
The graphics are driven by GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB dedicated RAM. It features a 15.6-inch Full HD screen which can play content at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels with an impressive 144Hz refresh rate. The display is crisp and bright and offers a near-life color palette.
You can choose between a 256GB SSD or 1TB hard drive and 8GB and 16GB of RAM. The top model comes with a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive for extra bucks.
It comes with one HDMI 2.0 port, one USB 3.1 C-Type port, two USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 3.0 port. The battery is not something to be talked about as it lasts only 2 to 3 hours when you are not gaming.
6. HP Omen 15.6
The Omen is another powerful VR rig that doesn’t cost much. You can get many variants in the Omen series, but I am talking about the one with GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to support Rift and Vive headsets. The GPU has dedicated memory of 4GB while you get 12GB system RAM.
It features the 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8300H processor at 2.3GHz that can be clocked at maximum 4.0GHz. The GPU and processor give you enough power to meet your VR and non-VR gaming needs.
You get a 15.6-inch display with 1920 x 1080p resolution. It is a thin bezel IPS display which doesn’t need you to move to get a good view. You can get a combination of 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive which provides enough space for your large files.
The bright red backlit keyboard comes with a numpad and responsive touchpad. HP provides a mini DisplayPort, one HDMI output and three USB 3.0 ports.
HP claims that this model provides around 10 hours of backup, but user reviews don’t really back it up. Many users pointed out that they lasted around 2 to 3 hours on a full charge while browsing the internet and working on spreadsheets.
My preferred choice that doesn’t compromise on performance is Eluktronics P650HP6. After comparing the specifications to MSI GP73 Leopard and Acer Predator Helios 300, I’m leaning towards Eluktronics as it gives me loads of reasons to stick with it.
The price is also a big factor, and you get all the recommended hardware to run all VR headsets available. The display is way better than other products on the list and provides a rich visual experience. VR enthusiasts don’t need to worry about battery backup because they mostly keep the model plugged in while gaming to take advantage of better performance.
Eluktronics provides 512GB SSD out of the box, and you can always hook up your external HDD for more storage. It also comes with required USB 3.0 ports and display outputs to accommodate the headset connectors.
With the Eluktronics, you can avoid any heating problems like Acer Predator Helios 300 which eliminates problems like thermal throttling or dropped frames. Eluktronics is a new brand but produces reliable products.
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