The Road to 4K

The Rift will eventually benefit from a 4K resolution which will have a tremendous impact on its clarity for gaming and other computer tasks.  It may start to be taken seriously as a replacement for traditional computer monitors as John Carmack has claimed.  The 4K improvement for draw distance clarity and the text readability can be seen with the previously discussed Oculus Simulator.  It’s like night and day.

Oculus has been vague about the actual resolution of CV1 although they say it will exceed 1080p.  Achieving 4K in an eventual consumer unit has two current obstacles.

The first obstacle is the availability of small form factor 4K OLED panels.  They may theoretically exist but they are produced in extremely low volumes and are expensive.  Price would certainly drop as production ramped up to meet a wide demand for interested cellphone or tablet manufacturers.  Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus may give them the cash and buying power they need to design their own custom panel and buy in enough volume to make the manufacture of a panel inexpensive.

The second obstacle will be the limits of current computer hardware.  Rendering 3D scenes at a 4K resolution and the high frame rate required by the Rift is extremely taxing (if possible) on current PC hardware.  Gaming has recently adhered to a 1080p 60fps standard waiting to the cost of 4K equipment to fall.  While a $2500 “low cost” 4K build may be possible, it will be many months before a rig of that caliber is affordable to many consumers, and at that point it may not even meet the required frame rate to support the Rift.