While it isn’t difficult to get excited about virtual reality, many people have not jumped onboard yet by setting themselves up with VR-capable hardware. Whether it is pricing (top of the line PC can cost thousands), availability or a knowledge gap (or a combination of either) that stands in the way, we can certainly help alleviate part of the challenge by providing you with a PC spec sheet build for a killer VR experience, all on a budget of around $1,000.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
The start of every PC build is its case, and the Thermaltake Core G21 provides a spacious, high-quality skeleton for the rest of this build. Its interior has room for a full-sized ATX motherboard, multiple fans, dedicated compartments for cable management, and even room for six drives. This, in addition to a tempered glass side panel, allows users to easily assemble and show off their PC.
Motherboard: MSI Z370 Gaming M5 ATX Motherboard
If the case is the skeleton of a PC, the motherboard is its spine. MSI’s Z370 Gaming M5 Motherboard boasts great build quality, plenty of room for expansion and quite a lot of extra features. Among these extra features includes support for Killer Gaming LAN, Audio Boost 4, and even an RGB LED heatsink for the chipset, because why not?
Most importantly, the Z370 chipset in this motherboard allows for CPU overclocking, which will allow you to squeeze more performance out of this VR PC build.
CPU and Cooler: Intel i5-8600K and Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
Speaking of CPU overclocking, the CPU we’re using in this build is the Intel Core i5-8600K. Midrange i5s are recommended as a minimum spec for a VR build, and this CPU has enough generational improvements to be more than enough for all but the most ridiculous scenarios. You probably won’t need to overclock (and shouldn’t if you’re inexperienced), but having the option is always nice.
While an i5 and i7 will have near-identical gaming performance, streaming and rendering performance is another concern. If you see yourself doing a lot of non-gaming tasks on your PC, consider upgrading to an i7.
The CPU cooler we’ve included is among the most popular out there: an air cooler from Cooler Master that will outperform Intel’s stock cooler considerably and should allow some minor overclocking headroom. If you know you’ll want to overclock, feel free to replace this- otherwise, it’s fine to leave this selection alone.
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB
For this VR PC build, we’ve selected an OEM GTX 1060 6GB. This isn’t out of preference, per se, more a case of availability on Amazon. You’re welcome to replace this with any 1060 from a branded manufacturer- EVGA, MSI and Zotac are all great manufacturers to choose from. Try to buy your 1060 6GB at or around its $300 MSRP.
We’ve selected the GTX 1060 6GB because it is a fair bit above VR’s recommended spec, but there’s a little problem with this at the time of writing: the current GPU shortage has made this GPU incredibly difficult to find, and while this build tries to target our conservative budget of around $1,000, buying this GPU with current prices can drive you over that.
Feel free to replace this with a GPU of equal or comparable power, if you can find one. Use a tool like UserBenchmark to make sure that this is the case, but keep in mind that GPUs significantly weaker than the GTX 1060 may not perform well in VR.
Patriot is a fairly reliable memory manufacturer, and their 8GB DDR4 Viper Kit does not break this trend. Once installed, this RAM should have a long, failure-free lifespan inside your PC.
There are some of you, however, who may notice that this isn’t a 16GB kit. There’s a good reason for that.
Despite the popularity of 16GB in high-end laptops and prebuilt gaming PCs, it’s often unnecessary. For all but the most RAM-hungry titles, 8GB of decently-fast RAM will provide you with all the capacity you should need for gaming and multitasking. If you’re doing heavier-duty multitasking, like streaming or rendering, consider a RAM upgrade: otherwise, you’re probably fine.
Storage: Crucial MX300 275GB SSD and Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 3TB HDD
The best part of a mid-high range of PC builds is that you don’t actually need to compromise. PC builds in lower price ranges often have to choose between the capacity of an HDD or the speed of an SSD, but once you break the $700 price barrier you can pretty comfortably fit both into your build.
In this case, we’re recommending Crucial’s 275GB MX300 SSD. This will be more than enough space to hold your operating system, programs and a few of your favorite games, especially VR/multiplayer titles for snappier loading times. The Hitachi Ultrastar 3TB HDD, meanwhile, has an insane amount of sheer storage space that you can use to hold… well, everything else.
Last but certainly not least is the power supply! Here’s a hot tip for people new to PC building: don’t skimp out on your power supply. Buying a cheap power supply from a no-name manufacturer will not only give you poor performance, it will also dramatically increase the likelihood of losing your build or your life in a house fire. Bad PSUs can and do explode.
Always buy from a trusted manufacturer, like Corsair or EVGA. In this case, we’ve chosen Corsair. The 550W number may seem skimpy, but it’s well above the max wattage of this build, and the addition of 80+ Gold certification will ensure lower temps and power consumption.
Its semi-modularity will also give you a much easier building/cable management experience. This may not sound like a lot, but trust us, unless you want to spend an extra 40 minutes on your cable management, don’t buy a non-modular PSU.
Those are our components for a VR PC build in 2018 with an estimated cost of $1,180. A modern CPU architecture, a high-end motherboard, and solid all-around build quality make this setup great for long VR gaming sessions, whether you’re using the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.
1080p and 1440p gaming at high/max settings should also be pretty easy to achieve with these specs, so no gaming experience should be out of your reach.
If you have any lingering doubts or questions about any of these components, feel free to ask below.