Category Archives: Projects

Building the Rift PC

If you were waiting months and months to build a Rift PC now is the time to start ordering parts.  CV1 is officially on the horizon! 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.

Surprisingly my generic VR PC build was very close to the recommended specs.  This build will focus on the recommended Oculus requirements and provide you with the exact parts you need.  The goal was to build a capable PC with quality components that would meet the specs without greatly exceeding them.  I also made some decisions in order to make future expansion or upgrades easier.

The big question for most people will be, “What specific components are best for the Rift?” It can be hard to mix and match parts to find the right combination.  Here is what I would recommend:

Intel i5 CPU

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4590K – Haswell processor from Intel, will offer excellent performance for the cost.  Also consider the  Intel Core i5-4690K which slightly exceeds the recommended spec.  Note that this includes its own cooler and fan, nothing else is required here!

PNY GTX 960 GPU

Graphics CardEVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 – Good performance for the price, EVGA makes a great card.   It’s great that Oculus set a fixed GPU bar for the Rift, just keep in mind that one day this may need to get replaced.

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 will support upgrades over the life of the PC.  Great BIOS screen for easy setup.

Kingston RAM

MemoryKingston HyperX Blu 8GB 1600MHz 240-pin DDR3 – A single stick of 8GB will leave room for expansion.  I would recommend two sticks right off the bat for 16GB but this is an easy upgrade in the future.

Samsung SSD

StorageSamsung SSD 840 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III – Solid state drive for the OS. Also consider a  3.5 SATA disk for game storage.  I’ve had bad experience in the past with SSDs so I prefer to stick with a brand name.

Corsair Case

CaseCorsair Carbide Series 200R – Nice clean case that is solid and inexpensive. Beautiful with plenty of quiet cooling.

Power SupplyRosewill 80 PLUS BRONZE 550 – Decent power supply to support future upgrades

OS Windows 7 64-bit OEM – The old standard here, I prefer it over Windows 8

The RiftOculus Rift – Available directly from Amazon

This should be everything you need to put together the perfect Rift PC with upgrade potential.  Budget versions of this are possible but this PC is a quality build for the Rift.  I included Amazon links for everything and recommend them for their Prime shipping and ease of exchanges.

Here is the complete list with totals:

Component Link Price
Processor Intel Core i5-4590K $199
Graphics Card PNY NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5 $320
Motherboard MSI ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1150 $85
Memory Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB 240-pin DDR3 $104
Storage Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch $78
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R $66
Power Supply  Rosewill 80 PLUS BRONZE 550 $70
OS Windows 7 64-bit OEM $135
Total  $1057

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.

 

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.

 

Building a PC for GTA V

GTA V has been one of my favorite games of the last and now current generation of consoles.  A PC port is on the way and it will benefit from higher horsepower machines and a lively modding scene.

Rockstar introduced a first person mode to the game when it made the leap to current generation consoles.  The mode begs for Oculus support and we’ll see it one way or another soon after the game’s release.  The open world of Los Santos is gorgeous and ripe for exploration with the current DK2 or the CV1.  Consider future support by the popular iCEnhancer mod and you’ll have a near photo real gaming experience.

The rumored  recommended hardware requirements are as follows:

  • CPU –  Intel Core i5 3470 @ 3.2GHZ  or AMD X8 FX-8350 @ 4GHZ 
  • GPU – NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB / AMD HD7870 2GB
  • RAM – 8GB

The game will be an absolute monster, especially if it requires a +75 fps frame rate for Rift support. These requirements are nothing more than a starting point.  We’re going to need a beast of a machine for a comfortable Rift experience.

Here’s what I would recommend:

ProcessorIntel Core i7-4790K – New Haswell processor from Intel, will offer excellent performance for the cost.  You can overclock it too but performance will be fine right out of the box.

MotherboardMSI Z97-G45 – supports the Z97 chipset, modern and flexible for different builds.  This is a solid foundation for the system.

Graphics CardEVGA GTX 970 Superclocked 4GB – Not exactly cheap but this card delivers excellent performance for the price.  Don’t skimp here.  I’m actually tempted to recommend a beefier card here but prices get out of hand pretty quickly.

MemoryCrucial 8GB 240-pin DDR3 – I’m recommending two 8GB sticks.

Storage Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB – Solid state drive for the OS.  I’ve had bad experience in the past with SSDs so I prefer to stick with a brand name.

CaseCorsair Carbide Series 400R – Nice clean case that’s easy to work on with plenty of cooling.

Power SupplyRosewill 80 PLUS BRONZE 650W – Very nice power supply to run the system and support future upgrades if necessary.

OS Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit – Everyone’s favorite Windows OS, I still prefer it over Windows 8.

This should be everything you need to put together a solid gaming PC that can tackle GTA V.  The system is built with upgrade potential so with carefully selected upgrades (namely the GPU) this rig can keep you current for the next few years. Total cost is around $1400 which is downright reasonable for a new gaming rig built from the ground up.

Headphones for the Rift

Headphones are preferred for the Oculus Rift as they provide a much more immersive experience than speakers.  There are many wired headphones that will work well with the Rift but one of the key requirements is comfort.  Wireless headphones may be preferred to eliminate the inevitable tangle of wires when wearing and storing them with the Rift.  Latency is a concern with wireless headphones and most Bluetooth headphones introduce a noticeable amount.

Here are my two picks for headphones.  The wired Audio Technica set is comfortable and the cord can be disconnected at the ear to make untangling wires much easier.  The Sennheiser wireless set is rechargeable and uses a digital signal to eliminate any interference. I’m personally using an older pair of the Sennheisers, the RS140 model that has been discontinued.

Wired: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Wireless:  Sennheiser RS 160