Best VR System: A Deeper Look into the Leading Virtual Reality Platforms 

February 21, 2018
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Best VR System

Some of the leading headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, have launched in the past few years, with the HTC Vive headset pathing the way to mainstream VR technology that’s affordable and accessible to the public. But now that virtual reality has become more mainstream, thanks in part to some of the best VR games for adults available on a wide range of gaming platforms, the search for the best VR system and room setup takes 3D gaming to a whole new level.

Offering a more immersive experience, these platforms are in a league of their own, ranging from smartphone VR gameplay to traditional gaming consoles that allow you to play in standard mode or virtual reality mode with just a flick of a switch.

If you’re more of a traditional gamer, then learning about the best VR headsets and platforms, their processors, graphics cards and power performance can be confusing. Our easy to follow guide will explore your options for a home virtual reality setup that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.

Comparison Chart

ProductHeadset CompatibilityRatingCost
Playstation 4
PlayStation 4
Check Price
14.5$$$$
Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone
Samsung Galaxy S8
Check Price
14$$$$$$
Alienware Aurora
Alienware Aurora PC
Check Price
25$$$$$$$$$$

Best PC VR System: Dell Alienware Aurora PC

Dell Alienware Aurora PCOur Rating: (5/5)

The Alienware Aurora by Dell is an unstoppable virtual reality gaming machine that simply blows other PCs out of the water. Not only does it feature an impressive 12 MB cache, an Intel core i7 8700 processor and turbo boost technology, but it also comes equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. This desktop operates on Windows ten and features tool-less graphics card, memory, and hard drive upgrades, and out of this world cooling technology that can handle even the most graphically demanding games. This PC supports custom upgrades as well, making it a great choice for tech-savvy gamers who are searching for a more customizable desktop for future upgrades.

Best Console VR System-PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4Our Rating: (4.5/5)

When it comes to immersive virtual reality and high-quality gaming consoles, PlayStation 4 is in the lead. Paired with the PlayStation VR headset, gamers can choose from a wide range of virtual reality games and play them in either standard or virtual reality mode. The system is powerful, fast, and offers top of the line graphics.

 

Best Mobile VR Platform: Android Samsung Galaxy S8 Smartphone

Our Rating: (4/5)

For loyal Android fans, no phone can quite compare to the Galaxy S8 by Samsung. Not only does this phone come equipped with all the bells and whistles you could ever want in a smartphone, not to mention an impressive camera, but it’s also the best choice for mobile VR gameplay. This smartphone is compatible with the popular Samsung Gear VR headset and together, there’s no better way to explore and enjoy virtual reality gaming when you’re on the go.

Virtual Reality System Setup

The type of virtual reality setup you choose will depend on your budget and gameplay preferences. If you’re a PC gamer, then your laptop or desktop PC will have a major impact on your gaming experience.

A basic setup will consist of sensors, a desktop, or laptop, or gaming console, a headset, and one or two controllers.

For many, the best VR system must be easy to set up, affordable, and doesn’t take up much space in the home. Motion tracking devices and top-selling headsets are a step in the right direction, but aside from headsets, you must also consider the type of platform you prefer, such as gaming console versus desktop PC.

VR Desktop Components that Really Matter

When it comes to virtual reality, we have to admit, you’re going to need a pretty impressive system to get the most out of your gaming experience.  Oculus recently released their recommended requirements that guarantee a quality experience, but if you’re shopping for a new desktop or laptop, or you’ve decided to build your own, there are many key elements you need to consider before you buy.

Heavy on the GPU

Going all in on the GPU should be a no-brainer. While many of the top virtual reality headsets claim that GTX 970 should be more than enough hardware to enjoy a streamlined, issue-free experience, pro gamers recommend heavier duty hardware to ensure that your computer has what it takes.

Despite the fact that top headset manufacturers have released their recommended specs, they don’t have much control over the hardware intensity and hardware optimization of virtual reality games. Graphically demanding games may have a totally different set of requirements compared to more basic games that are easy on the graphics. If you want the best VR system and one that can guarantee that you can easily play any game without any problems, consider making the jump to a more powerful GPU.

What is a 4K Benchmark?

The term 4K benchmark is often used on many virtual reality forums and it refers to the number of pixels a computer needs to process per second in order to deliver seamless virtual reality gameplay. The Oculus Rift delivers 1080×1200 res screens, but once you factor in lens refraction and eye buffering it works out to a combined 3024×1680. Additionally, once you calculate the refresh rate and optimal frame rates, you’re looking at a rig that’s able to render and process more than four hundred and fifty million pixels a second, combined. Using a standard 4K screen that runs at 60 FPS can offer just under five hundred million pixels a second.

Even the toughest GPUs tend to struggle at 4K, even when they’re switched to ultra-settings, but keep in mind that it’s very rare that any virtual reality game can reach that type of graphics fidelity.  Be sure to check out how a virtual reality system’s card performs at medium or high settings because it’s more than likely that sometime soon leading game manufacturers will produce more graphically demanding games. If your CPU and GPU are able to easily handle medium 4K settings at around 30 FPS, then you can probably run at 60 FPS once you hook up your VR headset, easily.

Virtual Reality System Upgrades

Do you want a basic system or one that you can potentially upgrade in the future? With both desktop gaming and virtual reality working toward the top of the line processing intensity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your PC will need an engine upgrade at some point. So, if you want to avoid buying a new PC every year, find a platform that you can easily upgrade in the future. This means spending more on a computer with a higher quality PSU and motherboard now.

You’ll also want to make sure that your PC features plenty of PCI express and space on the motherboard, so you can upgrade your graphics card later down the road.

A Pro Cooling System

Even leading headsets can put a real strain on your virtual reality system. Gamers who are planning on doing some serious overclocking on their platform should invest in an aftermarket cooler and fans for their CPU. This will be crucial for gamers who decide to go above and beyond the recommended VR system specs.

Having a couple of good fans in your setup is also important. While most fans will do a fine job of working to keep your system nice and cool, you’ll need to be careful here and choose fans that have a reputation for quiet operation. If they’re too loud, fans can potentially ruin your virtual reality immersive experience.

Budget Motherboards

If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to invest more in a top of the line motherboard, you may just be throwing your money away. With virtual reality, planning for the future, mainly the need for upgrades is very important. Any serious gamer will tell you that you need to stay ahead of the game by using a motherboard that has extra ports, regardless of the type of headset you use.

If you decide to build your own VR platform and want to go with a cheaper motherboard in order to cut down on build costs, then make sure you pick out a motherboard that features a few 3.0 USB ports and at least one 2.0 USB port. You’ll also need ports for your mic, keyboard, headset, and mouse. In the end, it can be very disappointing to realize that you can’t play your VR games because your setup lacks the right amount of ports.

Tactile Keyboards

If you want to play virtual reality game titles that require the use of a Keyboard, make sure you invest in a keyboard that features tactile keys that are well-defined. This enables the user to locate the WASD by touch alone.

Creating a Virtual Reality Setup

Virtual reality provides gamers with a whole new way to enjoy state of the art gaming at home. You can turn any basement, living room, or spare bedroom into your own private virtual reality space, taking your gaming to a whole new level. But aside from the VR system, what else do you need to make your setup complete?

Space

If you don’t have a lot of room to work with, then space can be an issue. However, the amount of space needed tends to vary from platform to platform and will also depend on the game. There are plenty of standing virtual reality games that require you to set up sensors around the room and get really active during gameplay. These are the games that you’ll want to move the couch out of the way for. Other games are basically sit-down games, so space won’t even be an issue.

In terms of stand up, action-packed games, pay attention to the headset’s space requirements, which should be listed on the spec sheet. This mainly involves how far apart you must mount the sensors for accurate headset tracking. Some sensors may need to be wall mounted, while others can just be placed on your desk or another flat surface.

Headsets

Since 2016, virtual reality headsets have changed the way we look at and use virtual reality. In fact, this type of technology has made an appearance in other markets, such as VR manufacturing, medical VR apps, and even virtual reality surgery training. The fact that this technology is now so accessible allows even the gamer on a budget to enjoy this state of the art technology in their home environment. Some of the best headsets include the Oculus Rift, which is a perfect companion to most PC gameplay, and innovative mobile headsets that work with smartphones, such as the Google Daydream headset. The headsets are what really make the virtual reality experience. Combined with the right platform, you’re looking at a pro gaming setup that can rival any local virtual reality arcade.

First, when it comes to the headset, be choosy. Do a little digging and learn about the different types of headsets available, what games are compatible, and how they rated with the pros in terms of graphics, weight, comfort, and overall quality. You can learn more about the leading models in our guide on the best VR headsets.

Once you’ve picked out a headset, you’ll need to clear some space for your setup. This will allow you to move around freely without bumping into furniture or other obstacles in the home.

When you’re setting up your system, there’s a lot to think about.

Mobile Virtual Reality Gaming

Obviously, the fact that you can play your favorite virtual reality games when you’re out and about is a huge selling point for this platform option. You won’t be stuck at home in your dedicated space because as long as you have your compatible smartphone and headset, you can game whenever and wherever you want. For this setup, you need a high-end smartphone and compatible headset in order to get the most out of a mobile VR experience. Of course, you can’t choose this option and go in expecting that it can compete with the type of quality you’ll get with a PC setup, it is, after all, just a phone.

PS4 Players

As you probably know, every PS4 supports VR play. And this system provides a better than average visual experience due to its powerful internal components. Keep in mind that this platform only supports virtual reality games when used with the PS4 VR headset. So, if you have the game console, whether it’s the original or updated version, you’ll be able to use it with the new headset. This can essentially save you hundreds of dollars if you’re not much of a PC gamer or you’re looking for a more affordable option when it comes to breaking into the VR world. For this setup, aside from the headset, you’ll also need the PS4 camera. This component is used to track your movements and the headset. If you don’t have the console but have decided to go with this VR platform, then your best bet is buying a PlayStation 4 bundle, which will come with everything you need, including a top selling game.

Desktop Computer Gaming Setup

With a desktop computer, VR gaming will require you to buy more than a headset bundle. As we’ve mentioned, your PC must meet the minimum specs for the headset you choose. If you’re not sure if the PC you have is packing the right amount of power you can run a benchmark test in order to determine if it’s VR ready. If your computer doesn’t cut the mustard then you may need to swap out some components, whether that means getting a new graphics card or more RAM. As long as you’re confident in your abilities to do these upgrades on your own then you should go for it. If you aren’t, you can always replace your computer with a new model that’s virtual reality capable or even a model that’s designed expressly for virtual reality gaming. These days, when you’re shopping around for a desktop or laptop, many gaming models will feature labels such as “virtual reality ready” or even “Oculus-ready” so right away you’ll know whether or not the PC you’re interested in can handle graphically demanding gameplay.

Summing it Up

Once you’ve decided on a platform, the type of headset to go with, and you’ve chosen your games and cleared some space, you’re ready to dive into the virtual reality world. For many, the chance to finally play VR games at home is more than just exciting, it’s an entirely new way to experience home entertainment and some of your favorite games. While there aren’t many VR games on the market just yet, as this technology becomes more widely used you can expect more of the major game console manufacturers to make the switch to virtual reality gameplay.

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