vr_setup

Setup your Vive or Rift in Another Room

Is your office too small for your Vive or Rift? No room to move around? Consider moving your VR setup to your living room. Now you have plenty of space for VR but your office no longer has a PC.

Luckily there is a better solution. You can extend the cables on your PC so that you can setup your Rift or Vive in another room and share your PC with your office. Now you can have the best of both worlds – plenty of space for VR and your PC stays where you need it.

This gives you all sorts of solutions:

  • VR in your living room without a PC
  • Setting up VR in your basement or garage
  • Moving VR to a room where you have free space
  • Using your VR PC in your office
  • Sharing your dedicated VR PC

Extending your PC allows you to use your expensive VR PC wherever you want.

The Solution

extend_headset

The key to extending your VR system is literally extending the wires.  We need to make all the cables connected to your PC longer. The best way to do this is with Ethernet extenders that will transmit an HDMI or USB signal over Ethernet.  This allows fewer and smaller cables to be run over longer distances than normally possibly with HDMI or USB.  The Ethernet plugs have much smaller connectors than HDMI and require smaller holes to route them through a wall or ceiling.

A note that these extenders are normally not network devices, the extenders have to be wired directly to each other with no switches or routers in between.

There are two ways to solve your wiring problem and it’s ultimately a question of where you want your PC.  The simplest path is to leave your PC right next to your Vive or Rift and then extend the cables to your monitor, keyboard, and mouse to another room.  This method has less wires to extend and keeps your VR setup simple.  It allows for more space in your office but may place your PC right in your primary living space.

The alternative method is to keep your PC in another room and extend all the VR cables to your VR space.  This can be a little trickier but will keep your VR space a lot tidier.

Extend Your Monitor

extend_monitor

Extending your monitor may be your easiest solution depending on what you need to extend and how far you need to go.

The best case scenario is if you’re only going to the next room over or possibly directly below or above your PC.  A wireless keyboard, mouse, and headphones should have no problem punching through a single wall or ceiling.  In this case you will only need an HDMI extender for your monitor.

Stray too much further and you’ll encounter a lot of frustration trying to use a wireless mouse.  If you need to extend further distances you will need to add an extra USB extender for peripherals.

cat6hdmi

HDMI Over Cat 6 Extender – This will take your HDMI signal from your PC and run it over Cat 6 directly to your monitor.  It handles 1920 x 1080 at 60 frames a second with no problem.  Grab some Cat 6 cabling and don’t mix up the receiver and transmitter.

Remember, don’t send this signal through a switch, go direct – transmitter to receiver.

If this extender uses the one HDMI port you were using for your Rift or Vive then switch over to your DisplayPort.  If you need a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter make sure you get an active version.

cat6usb

USB Over Cat 6 Extender - This takes all of your USB devices and sends them over Ethernet to your PC.  There are cheaper versions available for single devices but this one is bulletproof.

I prefer these Ethernet extenders since Ethernet plugs are much smaller than HDMI connectors and require smaller holes to route them through a wall or ceiling.  If you’re not worried about larger cables you can purchase active HDMI and USB extension cables that will get you the same result.

Extend Your VR System

extend_headset

Extending your VR system can be a little tricky due to the number and complexity of cables involved.  It’s still possible and uses a lot of the same hardware described above.  The critical criteria is making sure your HDMI cable can handle the high throughput video signal and that your USB cables can handle the pass through or tracking camera throughput.

Since Ethernet extenders can be touchy with higher bandwidth signals it’s recommended to only use active HDMI and USB cables when extending a headset.  This will ensure the video signal arrives undistributed and without lag.  Unfortunately this means the connectors will much larger and if you’re going through a wall or ceiling you’ll need a bigger hole.

Extending the Vive

Extending the Vive is relatively straightforward, the key is to keep the link box with the headset and extend the USB and HDMI cables that run to the link box.

Finding a good cable can be a little challenging as many don’t work the way they are advertised.  The /r/vive wiki has a great guide on cables that have been tested.

hdmi_vive

Active HDMI cable – Tested and approved, this is your best bet for a clean video signal to your Vive.  Monoprice builds great cables for a reasonable price.

usb_vive

Active USB cable – This is an active USB 2.0 cable that has been tested and is working with normal camera operation.  Vetted and approved.

Extending the Rift

Extending the Rift is a little bit trickier as the headset and sensors are very particular about the PC port and extension cable used.  There are mixed reports about active and passive cables working.

The /r/oculus wiki has a good guide on cables that have been tested and are working but most are on the short side.  Proceed at your own risk.

You’ll need to extend at least one USB cable for the headset and one for the sensor.  One more cable may be required for the controller and you’ll need to add cables down the road if you add more sensors for Touch.

hdmi_rift

HDMI Extension Cable – Tested and approved, this should give you the best reach and deliver a clean signal to the headset.

usb_rift_vr

Headset USB Extension Cable – This is an active USB 3.0 extension cable that has been tested and confirmed as working with the headset.

usb_rift_sensor

Sensor USB Extension Cable – Another active USB 3.0 cable, you may be able to get away with USB 2.0 for the sensor but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

1070

Building a PC for Virtual Reality

Hardware manufacturers are tripping over themselves to build flashy virtual reality head mounted displays but the PCs to power these devices receive little attention.  HMDs such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are only one half of the VR equation.

The Requirements

As VR awareness becomes more mainstream the big question for most people is,

“Can my PC handle it?”

The answer is likely “No.”  VR content requires a powerful gaming PC to pump out the high frame rate required to make the experience fluid and enjoyable.  Many people will have to upgrade their graphics card or invest in a new PC to meet the minimum specs required.  What are those specs?

Oculus and HTC have both released official recommendations for  PC system requirements and interestingly the specs are almost identical.

HTC Vive

  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or better
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 4590 or AMD FX 8350 or greater
  • RAM: 4GB or more
  • Video port: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, or better
  • USB port: 1 USB 2.0 or faster port
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Oculus Rift

  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or better
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 4590 or greater
  • RAM: 8GB or more
  • Video port: HDMI 1.3
  • USB port: 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

The main difference between the two requirements is the amount of RAM and the number of USB ports.  The Rift requires more of both. The good news is RAM is cheap and any modern motherboard should have the correct number of USB ports.

The PC Build

If building your own PC seems too daunting don’t worry, you can buy an Oculus Ready PC bundled with the Rift and save yourself some stress.

The recommended specs are a good starting point for the build.  One of the main goals for a VR PC build should be flexibility.  If you’re going to invest the money in a PC now it’s a good idea to make sure the hardware will still be relevant 12 to 18 months from now.  At the same time you should resist the urge to purchase today’s top of the line components.  You’ll be paying a premium for a slight performance edge that will be eroded when the next generation of GPUs arrive. Save that money and upgrade later.

After doing some research I knew I was interested in building what could be described as a budget performance PC.  I wanted my overall build to be inexpensive, have flexibility for future upgrades, and have the power to meet and exceed the Oculus and HTC recommended specs. I wanted to invest some money upfront in the processor and motherboard so they wouldn’t have to be upgraded later.

Here’s what I put together:

i5

ProcessorIntel I5-6500- New Skylake processor from Intel, will offer excellent performance for the cost.  This more than meets the recommended specs.

msi

MotherboardMSI Intel Skylake B150 LGA 1151 - Modern and inexpensive.  More than enough USB 3.0 ports for the Rift.  This is a great foundation for a new PC and will support upgrades over the life of the PC.  Great BIOS screen for easy setup.

1070

Graphics CardEVGA GeForce GTX 1070 – The new generation of GTX cards.  Great performance at a slight premium, this will hold you over for quite awhile.  If you’re looking to save some money consider the GTX 970.

ram

MemoryKingston HyperX FURY Black 8GB – Nothing too special here, starting off with one stick, it’s easy to drop in a second down the road.

evo

StorageSamsung 850 EVO – 250GB – Solid state drive for the OS.  Note that this is on the small side, you may want to spend a little more money upfront here and buy a larger drive  I plan to add in a 3.5 SATA disk in a few months for game storage.  I’ve had bad experience in the past with SSDs so I prefer to stick with a brand name.

cooler

CPU Cooler – Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – A best seller for a reason.  Inexpensive, quiet, and enough cooling if you want to overclock.

case

CaseCorsair Carbide Series 200R – Nice budget case for the money with plenty of cooling.  The case adds two additional USB 3.0 ports in addition to the motherboard, just make sure you install the correct drivers after you land the cable.

psu

Power SupplyRosewill 650W ATX12V – Nice power supply to support future upgrades, the modularity of cables helps keep things clean.

win10

OS - Windows 10 Pro USB –While I still prefer Windows 7, I can’t recommend it for new builds.  Windows 10 is the future and it comes on a USB stick for easy installation.

VR System – Pick your poison here, the Rift and Vive are both available through Amazon with Prime shipping.  Don’t forget Oculus Touch either.

This should be everything you need to put together a nice gaming PC with upgrade potential.  I included Amazon links for everything but I recommend you shop around.  I was able to save some money on the processor and motherboard with a combo deal through Newegg.

Never built a PC before?  It’s easier than you think, everything snaps together.  I recommend the step-by-step guide at Tom’s Hardware.

Rift Banner

Building a PC for the Oculus Rift

One of the most common questions asked about the Oculus Rift is “what type of PC will I need?”

The answer may not please you.  The Oculus Rift will require a powerful gaming PC to pump out the high frame rate required to make the VR experience enjoyable.  Many people will have to upgrade their graphics card or invest in a new PC to meet the minimum specs required.

Don’t want to build a PC?   Buy one.

Oculus has released the official recommended specs for the PC hardware to power the Rift.  This is a smart move as it standardizes the experience for developers and end users.  The official recommended specs are:

…an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290, Intel i5-4590, and 8GB RAM. This configuration will be held for the lifetime of the Rift and should drop in price over time.

UPDATE (10/5/16): Oculus has developed Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) to lower requirements even further.  The new minimum requirement is a i3-6100 CPU with a GTX 960 GPU or AMD FX-4350 with a Radeon RX 470.  This is huge!  The barrier for entry to VR has been lowered significantly!

The required frame rate, while not extreme, is pretty demanding for any system.  I knew my current PC wouldn’t come close to achieving 90fps for even the simplest VR demo. I would need something new to run my Rift when it arrived, otherwise I would have purchased some very expensive ski goggles. This was the start of my quest to build a PC for the Oculus Rift.

The recommended specs are a good starting point for the build.  One of the main goals for a Rift build should be flexibility.  If you’re going to invest the money in a PC now it’s a good idea to make sure the hardware will still be relevant 12 to 18 months from now.  At the same time you should resist the urge to purchase today’s top of the line components.  You’ll be paying a premium for a slight performance edge that will be eroded when a new generation of graphics cards arrive.

After doing some research I knew I was interested in building what could be described as a budget performance PC.  I wanted my overall build to be inexpensive, have flexibility for future upgrades, and have the power to meet and exceed the Oculus recommended specs. I wanted to invest some money upfront in the processor and motherboard so they wouldn’t have to be upgraded later.

The PC Build

i5

ProcessorIntel I5-6500- New Skylake processor from Intel, will offer excellent performance for the cost.  This more than meets the recommended specs.  The new minimum spec with ASW is a  i3-6100 CPU.

msi

MotherboardMSI Intel Skylake B150 LGA 1151 - Modern and inexpensive.  More than enough USB 3.0 ports for the Rift.  This is a great foundation for a new PC and will support upgrades over the life of the PC.  Great BIOS screen for easy setup.

1070

Graphics CardEVGA GeForce GTX 1070 – The new generation of GTX cards.  Great performance at a slight premium, this will hold you over for quite awhile.  If you’re looking to save some money consider the GTX 970 or the new ASW minimum spec GTX 960 GPU.

ram

MemoryKingston HyperX FURY Black 8GB – Nothing too special here, starting off with one stick, it’s easy to drop in a second down the road.

evo

StorageSamsung 850 EVO – 250GB – Solid state drive for the OS.  Note that this is on the small side, you may want to spend a little more money upfront here and buy a larger drive  I plan to add in a 3.5 SATA disk in a few months for game storage.  I’ve had bad experience in the past with SSDs so I prefer to stick with a brand name.

cooler

CPU Cooler – Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO – A best seller for a reason.  Inexpensive, quiet, and enough cooling if you want to overclock.

case

CaseCorsair Carbide Series 200R – Nice budget case for the money with plenty of cooling.  The case adds two additional USB 3.0 ports in addition to the motherboard, just make sure you install the correct drivers after you land the cable.

psu

Power SupplyRosewill 650W ATX12V – Nice power supply to support future upgrades, the modularity of cables helps keep things clean.

win10

OS - Windows 10 Pro USB – While I still prefer Windows 7, I can’t recommend it for new builds.  Windows 10 is the future and it comes on a USB stick for easy installation.

rift

The RiftOculus Rift – Available directly from Amazon with Prime

touch

TouchOculus Touch – Unless you want to use a controller

This should be everything you need to put together a nice gaming PC with upgrade potential.  I included Amazon links for everything but I recommend you shop around.  I was able to save some money on the processor and motherboard with a combo deal through Newegg.

Never built a PC before?  It’s easier than you think, everything snaps together.  I recommend the step-by-step guide at Tom’s Hardware.

cameras

Guide to Mounting Oculus Touch Cameras

Oculus is releasing their new motion tracking input system called the Touch which leverages their existing headset tracking system named Constellation.  The Constellation system uses cameras to track the headset and controllers in space to know where things are.

The Rift originally included one camera which could easily be placed on a desk to track the headset.  Touch allows users to get up away from their desks and interact with things all around them.  To track things clearly Oculus is including a second camera with Touch (and even recommends a third) to make sure your controllers and headset are always visible to a camera.

Camera Locations

If you plan on using Touch while always facing your monitor then Oculus recommends placing both cameras on your desk, on opposite sides of your monitor as shown below.  This can be a bit limiting and can eat up valuable desk space.

touch_seated

If you plan to explore room scale tracking then you need to get a little more creative with camera mounting.  Oculus recommends the addition of a third camera to the system with all three arranged in a circle around the user.

touch_room_scale

Camera Mounting

If you’re lucky you will have enough bookshelves to place all three cameras in all the right spots.  If not, there are plenty of easy and creative ways to mount these cameras, many in a temporary fashion so you can maintain security deposits or meet the discerning approval of a spouse.

The key to mounting the cameras is detaching them from their stands and using their 1/4-20 mounting threads which is the standard thread for photography tripods and equipment.  It’s as simple as unscrewing the camera and sticking it on something else!

touch_camera_thread

 

Tripods

touch_tripod

One of the easiest things to do is to mount the cameras to a standard camera tripod and set them up where you need them.  The tripods are small to store but can easily extend  to head level.  They eat up some floor space but are very flexible for positioning the cameras

You can also buy a light stand which will allow you to mount your camera above head level.  The light stands are a more attractive option but have limited flexibility.

Wall Mounting

touch_wall_mount

If you want to free up floor space consider a camera wall mount or a smaller speaker wall mount that will allow you to fasten the camera to a wall or ceiling.  This isn’t a bad option for your desk camera either to free up some space.

If you don’t want to put holes in your drywall consider drilling into a wooden door or window frame or using 3M Command Strips.

Other Options

tension_rod

If you want something less permanent but also non-obtrusive consider a tension rod and clamping tripod mount.  You can get creative with mounting the cameras and use the tension rod to span from floor to ceiling or horizontally across windows or alcoves.  This has been a good setup for Vive owners who have heavier and vibrating Lighthouse stations.

Cables

Last thing, you may want to consider picking up some USB extension cables.  Depending on your layout the Oculus provided cables may not reach back to your PC!

What’s the Cheapest Way to get an Oculus Rift?

VR gaming started out as an expensive hobby.  Originally you needed a modern and top of the line gaming PC to even think about getting a Rift.  Oculus has made some recent software improvements to lower demands on your PC which has made VR more accessible to everyone.

Right now you’re looking at a $1300 minimum cost for a Rift and capable PC.

This doesn’t include Oculus Touch but it does get your foot in the VR door with the option to add Touch any time in the future.

The key change for lowered requirements was a new technology called Asynchronous Spacewarp or ASW.   The improvement here is that ASW allows games to run at a much lower frame rate with software filling in the gaps between frames.  Essentially you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Oculus has been working with CyberPowerPC to release a $499 Oculus Certified VR ready PC which is an insane price point.  This PC has not been released yet but will feature components that meet the new minimum requirements:

  • AMD FX-4350 quad-core processor
  • Radeon RX 470 4 GB graphics card
  • 8 GB of dual-channel memory

In the meantime you can pick up the next cheapest thing which is an Intel i5 system with a RX 480 GPU.  This may actually be a better option as it gives you a little more muscle under the hood.

 

rift_package

How Can I Get an Oculus Rift?

The VR headsets made by Oculus and HTC have been hyped for months and they are finally starting to ship to consumers.  For many the experience has delivered and VR has lived up to the hype.  Interest will continue to grow as these VR experiences are shared by the early adopters who actually have a headset.  The challenge for expanding the VR community will be the limited number of headsets available to the public.

Anyone who  has a headset today was one of the very first to pre-order a headset, likely minutes or seconds after pre-ordering went live. The communities at /r/Oculus and /r/Vive have been tracking deliveries very closely and have been stirred into a frenzy with each delay in the delivery process.  Both Oculus and HTC have had hiccups in shipping and many early pre-orders are still weeks or months away.

Each company still has a substantial backlog.  If you ordered a Rift today be prepared to wait until August for delivery.  HTC is faring a little better with a new order shipping in June.

cv1_unbox

These long queues are a nightmare for the impatient. The good news is that there are alternative channels for those who want a Rift or Vive today.

If you’re extremely impatient and have the money to spend then head over to eBay where you can find a Rift or Vive for double or triple the cost.

If you’re interested in a Rift and have some patience then there is an interesting alternative available.  Oculus has partnered with a few PC manufacturers to offer Rifts bundled with gaming PCs at normal retail outlets.  These bundles have had Rifts allocated from outside of the long back-order queue and can be delivered immediately when they are in stock.  For many people new to VR the bundle is a great option as includes an inexpensive VR capable PC and eliminates the headache of building or upgrading a PC.

amazon

Amazon has a variety of bundles available ready for shipment as soon as they’re  back in stock.  Reports from /r/Oculus have placed the delivery time at around two weeks from the time of order to delivery.  Two weeks is a huge improvement over the 16 week direct preorder.

How could this happen?  Is this a fluke?  Oculus likely has agreements in place with both retailers and the PC manufacturers to provide Rifts in these bundles so that they’re available in normal retail channels.  While most of the new Rifts off the assembly line will go to directly pre-orders some will be filtered off and sent through these channels to retail partners such as Amazon.  Oculus isn’t trying harm the community doing this, it’s in their best interest to get the Rift out to as many people as possible through various channels.

tl;dr – Want a Rift ASAP?  Skip the preorder line and go to Amazon for bundle.  You can get one in ~2 weeks.

 

 

Virtual Reality

VR Cost Breakdown

There’s a lot of news and hype surrounding the arrival of consumer ready VR devices and head mounted displays.  Each device has it’s own strengths, some are targeting specific niches, and there’s a lot of overlap between all of them.  The most divisive topic has been VR input and this has been a polarizing topic for those initially interested in the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift.

With all of that considered, it’s been difficult to do an apples to apples comparison of the devices, specifically the cost to buy into any particular VR ecosystem.  I was interested in doing a cost breakdown for each device and found that I had to make a few concessions for each system to bring them onto a level playing field or at least provide context for comparison.

Mobile VR

Mobile VR is its own world and can’t be fairly compared to the higher performance devices.  That being said it’s most peoples first introduction to VR and it can be very compelling.  There are really only two players at this end of the field.

Google Cardboard

The first entry point due to its cost and ability of the Cardboard app to work with almost any smartphone.  I am going to concede the cost of the phone (who doesn’t have a smartphone?) and only include the investment for the headset.

Component  Price
Head Set Cardboard Kit $17
Total  $17

Gear VR

This is the second option for mobile VR and is leaps and bounds above Cardboard.  It has the Oculus brand and engineering by Carmack so it has a very specific performance target for high quality VR.

This is again difficult to price since it requires a high end Samsung phone that may or may not be subsidized by your carrier.  A smart phone is also of higher utility  than a dedicated headset which again makes it difficult for comparison.  Regardless, I am going to include the cost of an older S6 unlocked phone as part of the package. An input device such as a game pad may be required for some experiences but I’m going to ignore it for now.

Component Price
Head Set Gear VR $100
Phone Galaxy S6 $453
Total  $553

 

Dedicated VR

This is where the comparison gets interesting.  The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the Playstation VR are all fighting for a similar market share each with their own offerings and system advantages.  VR input becomes a big deal in the comparison as some systems will offer tracked 1:1 input at launch and others won’t.

In this comparison I will look at a the complete buy in for a full system that includes tracked 1:1 input.  This seems like the most equal comparison point and provides insight to the nuances of each system.

PlayStation VR

This is the lightweight contender at this end but is poised as the breakthrough hit since there are many households that already own a PS4.  The PlayStation VR will extend the PS4 console and work with the system’s camera and Move controllers.

Sony is offering a launch bundle that will include the headset, controllers and camera which appears to be the most economical option. The head set is available by itself if you already own the controllers and camera.

It will be interesting to see if Sony offers a complete bundle that will include the head set with the console for additional savings.

Component Price
Head Set PlayStation VR Bundle $500
Console PlayStation 4 $349
Total  $849

Oculus Rift

The Rift was positioned as the first consumer ready VR headset but has appeared to have stumbled as release neared.  Its main competitor, the HTC Vive, offers a 1:1 tracked input solution that will  not be included with the Rift at launch.  Oculus is offering their Touch input device a few months after the initial Rift launch.  Details are still preliminary on the Touch including price and availability but I will use an estimate guess in this comparison.

This is the first headset in this comparison that will require a dedicated PC for VR.  This blog has covered a few different options for building a VR PC and I will be including the results of the Budget Rift PC Build in the pricing. Take this pricing with a grain of salt because it may include a monitor or keyboard that you may already have.  Complete Oculus bundles are available with different options but at a slightly higher cost than the package below.

Component Price
Head Set Oculus Rift $599
Input Oculus Touch (estimate) $150
PC Budget Rift Build $1035
Total  $1784

HTC Vive

The Vive is the most complete package available at release as it offers 1:1 tracked input in addition to the headset. This inclusion raised the bar for comparison for all of the devices in this category because the input option could not be ignored.

The price comparison also includes the results of the Budget Rift Build with the difference of a $18 savings for less RAM since the Vive requires only requires 4GB to meet the minimum reccomended spec.

Component Price
Head Set  HTC Vive Package $799
PC Budget Rift Build* $1017
Total  $1816

Conclusion

In the end this is a frustrating conclusion.  There are many options available for VR experiences but the two high end versions are neck and neck in cost.  The unannounced price for Oculus’s touch solution requires an estimate for price comparison and is ultimately is the deciding factor between the price of the two systems.  This provides an unsatisfying conclusion since the pricing of the Oculus system is based on speculation.

vr_space

Setup Your Room for VR

Your Vive has been preordered.  You are trying to wait patiently.   How about you distract yourself with a project?  Let’s get your VR space setup!

Setting up a room-scale Vive VR space isn’t as simple as you think.  Plugging in the headset is the easy part.  Moving furniture and barricading pets shouldn’t be too hard.  The tricky thing will be locating and mounting the Vive base stations so that they’re functional but still out of the way.

The Vive Pre User Guide has a detailed explanation of setting up your VR space.  Let’s start from the beginning!

The Space

vr_setup

There many VR spaces like it but this one is yours.  Your Vive space should follow these rules:

  • Minimum area of 5′ x 6.5′ (1.5m x 2m)
  • Have blinds to block pesky sunlight
  • Free from reflective surfaces
  • Free from furniture, pets, children, Lego

I would recommend laying down a nice square rug to claim your VR space.  This will provide a nice visual indication of your area for those around you.  It will also provide some tactile feedback for the space boundary when you have the headset on.

VR Rug

 

The Base Stations

The Vive base stations need to be mounted diagonally across from each other and mounted above your head level. They also must be solidly mounted so that they won’t vibrate or wobble.  Each base station needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet and will  be powered on automatically via Bluetooth LE.  The base stations also come with a sync cable but it shouldn’t be necessary in most mounting situations.

There are a few different ways to mount the base stations.  Each base station comes with a 1/4″ standard tripod mount in the bottom and rear of the unit.

A more permanent solution is to directly mount the base stations to your wall using the included brackets (consumer version to be determined) and drywall anchors.  If you’re not thrilled with the stock mounts any set of threaded speaker mounts should work.

If you don’t want to drill any holes a less permanent solution is to mount the base stations using 3M Command tape.  A word of caution, this is not proven to be a long-term solution – vibration from the base station may eventually loosen the tape.

tape

As seen in Polygon’s Vive Pre Preview

If you don’t want to mount anything to your walls then consider using tripods to mount your base stations.  These are a little more obtrusive when set up but can be easily disassembled and put in a closet when not being used.

A smaller tripod can be setup on your desk or book shelf while a taller light tripod can be located in a corner and still reach above head level.  The smaller tripod has a head that can pivot to aim the base station but the larger tripod will likely require a separate pivoting tripod mount.

vive_tripod

As seen in Hover Junker’s Dev Blog

If you’re interested in something less obtrusive than a tripod you can also consider a floor to ceiling tension rod.  A vertical tension rod will easily fit into a corner and shorted version can fit horizontally into alcoves or window frames.  Use a pipe clamp tripod mount to position your base station freely along the length.

Conclusion

That should be everything you need for a great VR room!  You have a lot of options for mounting your base stations and many people will mix and match solutions for their own space. Start building your VR room now!

riftback

Building the Ultimate Rift PC

When was the last time the time you just met the minimum requirements?  You want your VR experience to be better than the minimum.  Forget about optimization. You want power.  You want performance.

I wanted to build something bigger and better.  This is the quest for the best Oculus Rift VR PC build.

Get that credit card out, here we go.

Processor – Intel Boxed Core I7-6700K – Powwwwer.  Doesn’t come with a cooler so you know it’s serious.

Cooler – Corsair Hydro Series H115i Liquid Cooler – Maximum cool. Radiator with dual fans.  You may need to tweak the fan speeds or just wear headphones all the time.

Motherboard – MSI ATX DDR4 Motherboard Z170A XPOWER – Overclock as much as you want.  Rock solid board with a great BIOS. Unnecessary amount of USB ports.

Graphics Card – GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 980Ti 6GB WATERFORCE – This is where the rubber meets the road.  Stable even when overclocked.  Spring for the water cooled version and grab updated drivers when installed.

Memory – Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB – DDR4 memory that can shed the heat.  16GB or 32GB, your choice.

Storage – Samsung 850 EVO 2TB 2.5-Inch SSD – Everyone loves a SSD.  Make sure you don’t run out of room.

Case – NZXT H440 Mid Tower – Sleek case with excellent cable management and sound deadening.  Display this proudly.

Power Supply – Corsair HXi Series, HX750i, 750 Watt – Make sure your components get nothing but the finest electricity.  Powwwer for all that overclocking.

OS Windows 10 USB Drive – About as exciting as Windows can get.  On a USB stick for easy installation.

The RiftOculus Rift – Available directly from Amazon

That’s it.  Buy it, build it, and get ready to do this all again in 12 months.

rift_fox

Building a Budget Rift PC

As the release of the Rift draws closer I thought it would be a good idea to put together a budget Rift build.  There is a lot talk online about the steep price to buy into VR since many people will need to purchase a new PC in addition to  the Rift headset.  Oculus has published a set of official recommended specs as a guide map for any PC build but the question still remains:

“What is the cheapest PC I can build for the Rift?”

I thought it would be possible to build an Oculus PC under $1000 and cheaper than a premade “Oculus Ready” PC. It can be hard to mix and match parts to find the right combination. but here is what I would recommend:

Component Link Price
Processor  Intel Core i5-4590K $199
Graphics Card  EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 $335
Motherboard  MSI ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 $95
Memory  Crucial Ballistix Sport XT 8GB Kit $38
Storage  ADATA SP600 2.5-Inch 64 GB SATA III $35
Case  Rosewill ATX Galaxy Case $48
Power Supply  EVGA 500W $35
Total  $785

This covers the bare minimum for the PC but you may need some additional items if you don’t already have them:

Component Link Price
OS Windows 10 Home – USB Drive $120
Monitor Acer S220HQL Abd 21.5-Inch LCD $100
Keyboard and Mouse LED CM Storm Devastator $30
Total  $250

My previous Rift PC Build slightly exceeded the recommenced specs by using a few higher end components and was built to support some future upgrades.  I wanted to shoot for the lowest price components to deliver the most inexpensive Rift build possible.

The selection process was straightforward since Oculus’s recommended specs already have the CPU and graphics card already selected – I only needed to find the supporting components.

Two key decisions I made were eliminating an optical drive to save money and the inclusion of a SSD over a regular hard drive for performance reasons.  Physical media is almost dead and if you’re building a new PC you should have a SSD otherwise you’re selling yourself short.

Here are the components and a few details about the selection process.

Intel i5 CPU

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4590K – This is the minimum Oculus recommended processor so no options here.  It’s a Haswell processor from Intel, will offer excellent performance for the cost.  Note that this includes its own cooler, fan, and thermal paste – nothing else is required here!

EVGA GTX 970 GPU

Graphics CardEVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 – This is the minimum recommended chip set from Oculus and the most inexpensive card that has it.  Great performance for the price and EVGA is a quality manufacturer.

MSI Motherboard

MotherboardMSI ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 – supports Z97, modern and inexpensive.  (2) USB 3.0 ports for the Rift.  This is a great foundation for a new PC and has an awesome BIOS screen for easy setup.

Crucial RAM 8 GB

Memory – Crucial Ballistix Sport XT 8GB Kit – Two sticks of 4GB RAM to meet the minimum requirements.  Nothing special here but it does look cool!

ADATA SSD

Storage – ADATA SP600 2.5-Inch 64 GB SATA III – Solid state drive for the OS.  It’s on the small side at 64 GB but it will make the entire system snappy.  Consider a  3.5 SATA expansion disk for game storage.

Rosewill Case

Case – Rosewill ATX Galaxy Case – Nice inexpensive case with plenty of room inside. I don’t think this is winning any style awards but it fits the bill and Rosewill makes quality products.

Power SupplyEVGA 500W – Inexpensive but well made power supply, plenty of juice to go around.

OS - Windows 10 Home – USB Drive – The new standard here, shipped on a USB drive for easy installation.

Monitor – Acer S220HQL Abd 21.5-Inch LCD - Inexpensive LED monitor that’s great for gaming for when you’re not wearing the Rift.

Keyboard and MouseLED CM Storm Devastator – A nice combo to go with this PC, the back lit keyboard is a nice touch

This should be everything you need to put together an inexpensive Rift PC. I included Amazon links for everything as they have competitive prices and I recommend them for their Prime shipping and ease of exchanges.

Never built a PC before?  It’s easier than you think – everything snaps together.  I recommend the step-by-step guide at Tom’s Hardware.