One of the biggest questions when you’re getting into virtual reality is “What type of PC should I get?” VR is driving the upper limits of the required technical specifications of the GPU and CPU, and an off-the-shelf solution may not have enough horsepower to drive a good VR experience at 1080p at 75Hz for DK2 and 1440p+ at 90Hz for CV1.

This podcast explores the biggest questions and tradeoffs for building your VR rig, and has lots of amazing insights shared by AltSpaceVR’s community manager and VR evangelist Cymatic Bruce, and Kite & Lightning‘s developer John Starr Dewar.

  • This is Cymatic Bruce’s budget build for around $1100 using some salvaged parts from previous builds.
  • This is what AltSpaceVR’s VR rig of “The Beast” was based upon for around $2100.
  • This is the mobile VR rig within a Pelican suitcase that John built, which drove some interesting component decisions and a cost of around $2900. Here’s a photo set of John’s VR rig build
  • I configured a Falcon Northwest Tiki with all of the high-end, recommended components along with a TB SSD & 2TB HDD, and the price was around $3,257. (I’m not sure if the motherboard would support an upgrade to 2 video cards when and if that becomes possible). EDIT: John says, “That’s a mini itx board so it can only take one card. They actually use an L-bracket adapter from silverstone so that the card will be mounted parallel to the motherboard instead of perpendicular to it as is normal. The case will only fit one card anyway. 600w is definitely more than you need. I have my card which is factory overclocked running at 106% tdp and I’m not having any power issues with the 450w.”


Here’s some of the questions that we tried to answer:

  • What tradeoffs do you make when deciding to get for each component including CPU, GPU, motherboard, cooling system, storage, power, operating system, monitor, case, optical drive, and wireless network adapter?
  • What’s the best machine that you can get for your money and still comfortably meet these specs?
  • Should you go with the higher performance and more expensive Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB GPU or the better bang-for-your-buck but less supported AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2? Spoiler alert: Most VR devs seem to prefer Nvidia, but the /r/buildapc subreddit seems to prefer AMD cards for the better performance per price but they may not know about the VR implications of going with something that’s not as well-supported.
  • If you’ve never built a PC before, then how do you go about navigating all of the various tradeoffs between price vs performance and portability vs heat management?

Read more discussion on Reddit here.

This is Twitter thread I mentioned where I solicit advice for building a PC. Below are a lot of links and insights and additional feedback.

  • OliverJT’s VR rig: Asus M8, Intel Core i7-4771, 16Go Corsair DDR3 2133, SSD Crucial M500, CPU Fan AXP-200R, GTX 780ti Phantom. >9Kg.
  • Leonard Burton’s VR rig: Silverstone FT03 case, ASUS MAXUMUS IV GENE-Z, 3.3ghz i5, GTX780, Crucial M500 SSD, 16GB 1866 DDR3. Small build, handles vr nicely
  • Proton Pulse/Vanguard V VR dev Justin Moravetz has a MacPro with a dual Fire Pro D700 rig with 12gb of VRAM in my Mac, but it’s not very common.
  • This rig built by @gfodor is also close to what I’d get, but with Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor. He’s at AltSpaceVR, and this build is the precursor to what Cymatic Bruce was referring to as “The Beast.”
  • Comparison between the Xeon processor that John Dewar went with and the Intel i7 4790K
  • RedofPaw asks if there’s going to be a GPU that will top the 780Ti. It’s from 3 months ago, and Nvidia is about to come out with their 900 series. But the consensus seems to still hold true that the 780 Ti will be the best GPU out there for a while.
  • Steam’s Hardware and Software Survey of the wider gaming community.
  • Logical Increments shows a spectrum of component parts ranging from a destitute to monstrous budget
  • Check AnandTech for the latest PC part tech news.
  • The comparison pages that convinced me that the GPU performance of a self-built PC with the GTX 780 Ti was going to be far superior than the top-of-the-line, mobile GPU of GTX 880M.
  • This was echoed by @ghostmachineVR who said, “Bought a laptop w/ 880m for demos, not up to the task. Returned it and built mini ITX rig w/ 780 works perfectly.” And he jammed it into a EVGA mini case.


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