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.

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.

Graphics CardASUS GeForce GTX 1070 – This is a great card for the money from a quality manufacturer. This will be the engine for your VR PC. You can consider higher performing cards like a 1080 but things get very expensive, very quickly.

MotherboardMSI B360 Gaming Plus – An excellent foundation for the PC, I’m a big fan of MSI and their BIOS. Support for the 9th gen CPU and DDR4 RAM. Has everything you need.

CPUIntel Core i5-9400F – A great performance CPU that will be perfect out of the box. 6 cores and newer 9th gen version of the i5-8400. A cost effective option that nixes on-board graphics and includes a heat sink with fan. Consider something else if you want to overclock.

RAMKingston DDR4 Hyper X 16GB – Nothing too special here, 2 sticks of 8GB RAM to get you started. The motherboard has 4 slots so you’ll have 2 open for future expansion.

SSDSamsung 860 EVO – This is my default recommendation for an SSD. I’ve had bad experiences going with cheaper options. You’re going to need to pair this with a traditional hard disk for game storage, hopefully you have one laying around you can scavenge.

CaseCorsair Carbide 200R – A very nice and clean case. Solid platform for your build. A lot of options here but this is my favorite.

PSUEVGA 500W – Nothing too special but a cost effective supply with enough power for the GPU and CPU. Plug and play.

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.