Oculus finally announced earlier this month that it would release its highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in the first quarter of 2016. That gives you about seven months to buy a new computer.
In a blog post called "Powering the Rift," Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock laid out the hardware requirements to make Rift run on your computer -- and chances are your machine is not up to snuff. Especially if it's a laptop.
Rift requires a high performance graphics card (GPU) designed for gaming -- the NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290 -- as well as an Intel i5-4590 processor, 8GB RAM, two USB ports and a particular type of HDMI video output. Many desktop computers aren't equipped for these needs (for instance, any model that came out before the second half of last year with the i5-4590 was released), and Binstock admits that "almost no current laptops have the GPU performance," necessary, though he adds that "upcoming mobile GPUs may be able to support this level of performance."
So if you're hoping to VR game on the go, it's pretty much not going to happen, at least not for a while.
But if you're jazzed for the big reveal, you have time to gear up for the launch. CNET editor Dan Ackerman estimates that computers capable of running the Rift will cost at least $1,000 (Fast Company says that's the bare minimum, and fully-capable machines could cost twice that or more). The NVIDIA graphics card alone costs $300 or $400.
"(Oculus) got out really ahead of the curve last week and said, 'Listen these are the system specs you're going to need for early next year, so maybe start saving up now so you can get a super fast video card and a big desktop computer for this Oculus Rift headset,'" said Ackerman.
He added, "It's probably going to take a few years to get a version of it that works on more mainstream computers."