Virtual reality needs powerful PC builds for the ultimate immersive experience. With demands of over 1080P and a separate display for each lens to a refresh rate of 90Hz, building a PC for VR is technically demanding. However, it is the best option when you want to get the best of every part while staying within your budget. Finding the right combination of specifications in ready-made PCs is hard and prohibitively expensive. How do you build the ultimate PC for VR?
Here is all you will ever need to know about building a VR-ready PC from individual parts. To start off, you will need to know exactly what you need and why the components. After that, there is a step by step guide to get your PC for VR up and running.
What You Need
VR gaming, for instance, needs stereo rendering which is rendering two partially different scenes for each frame to correct the parallax and depth cues. In combination with the eye buffer of 1.4 times the resolution size, a PC for VR needs powerful components to run seamlessly. The following is what you will need to purchase with an alternative option depending on the budget.
The main feature you are looking out for is a graphics card that can deliver results. When you think for a moment, having to render over 60 images in every second, you realize just how crucial a good graphics card is. For VR, with 90FPS, the high resolution will magnify any lag and may even make you feel sick.
Dual GPU can be a huge boost to VR gaming, but for now, only one card is supported. The recommended graphics card that delivers is Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 8GB graphics card when you are building a PC that is future-proof. The bare minimum is AMD Radeon RX 480.
You could also go for an affordable option like the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1080 which costs much less than the NVIDIA one.
Although the GPU is the heart and soul of your VR PC, your central processing unit being the brain of your gaming rig needs to be equally up to the task. Most of the VR games available now and the VR headsets on the market recommend a bare minimum of Intel Core i5- 4590 to run.
In case you want to go in for more, you can settle for the ultimate 3.30GHZ Intel Core i7 5820K Hexa-core processor that’s overkill. The K means that it’s unlocked and you can therefore manually overclock beyond what the manufacturer intended.
Random Access Memory enables your computer do more things at once and therefore the bigger the storage size, the better your PC will work. Previously, DDR3 RAM was the mainstay, but now newer processors can handle DDR4 RAM, taking the power of your PC to the next level.
The bare minimum is 8GB of DDR3, but for the sake of the future, you can go in for bigger sizes. You can buy the 16GB DDR4 RAM that will serve your processor well. RAM is relatively cheap compared to all your expenses and therefore finding the right one won’t be an issue. The ultimate is the 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX that is a DDR4 RAM running at 3000MHZ although you may spend more.
However, personally, I believe the 16 GB RAM storage is pretty enough to run all the VR operations smoothly and in the case, you feel that it is still not what you want you could always upgrade to the one with a 32 G RAM memory.
Just like the name suggests, the motherboard will support all your components to make them run as a computer. After a careful evaluation of the available motherboards, the ASRock H97 Pro4 is the bare minimum when you want to build a PC for VR.
But in case you are looking for one that can support up to 3 graphic cards, has a port for the external graphics card and DDR4 RAM support, then the Gigabyte G1 Gaming Z170X Gaming 7 is what you need to buy. You need to make sure that there are enough ports on your PC in order to plug in your VR headset.
Of course, you will need space to store your game and run an operating system. There are various debates on whether to opt for the magnetic HDD or the Solid State Drive (SSD). The HDD can easily give you a lot of storage space without costing you heavily but is slower and wears down faster.
The SSD, on the other hand, is faster but has smaller storage capacities and higher sizes will cost you more than their HDD equivalent. The best option is not to settle for one specific but rather use both of them. Yes, you can use 500GB SSD plus 2TB 7200 RPM HDD. The Samsung EVO 500GB and WD Black 2TB 7200RPM is the ultimate pair.
Power Supply Unit
The power supply unit is as important as any other part of your computer although it does not directly influence your VR capability. It powers the power-hungry components, and therefore you will need to find one with ratings that can support the components you have chosen.
The basic PSU you can settle for is the Corsair 500Watt CX 550M PSU although buying the more expensive yet invincible Seasonic 1200Watt power supply will prove a rewarding investment.
When you have all the major components for your computer, you will need a functional yet cool casing to house your system. It needs to allow setup, air flow and access to ports effortless. Don’t worry about hunting for these features; the Corsair 760T can give you all that you need.
A more sophisticated case is the Cool Master HAF X Case that’s a full tower allowing you plenty of space and capability to use a liquid cooling system and fans for the uninterrupted game play.
Although not part of your VR experience, a PC needs the mouse, keyboard, and monitor to run. There are no specifications for these components, and you can use what you currently have or purchase depending on your taste, preference, and needs.
Finally, after you have the physical components for your build, you need to choose an operating system on which the VR will run. When making the choice of which OS to pick, you need to look at its support capability for VR applications. Currently, Windows 10 Home is the ultimate operating system that you can use. The alternative is the Linux based Steam OS that is promising.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Assemble your Components
Before you embark on this mission to walk into your dreams, you will need to purchase every part that you need as shown in the above list. Depending on your budget and needs you can easily settle on what you will work with in your project. A basic PC for VR will cost you an average of about $810 while the ultimate one will cost around $2500. Get everything ready on your table; it’s time to make that dream PC.
To build a PC for VR, you will need first to test each component just to ensure that they are operational before you start putting them together. Get your motherboard and place it on a nonstatic surface. Insert your processor with the CPU cooler. Put your RAM stick into place, connect the temporary PC to PSU and power on by shorting PWR pins with the screwdriver. When there is no light beeping or red flashing, then your components are good.
Prepare the Case
Remove any extra parts and screws from the case after opening the panel. Fix the fans by orienting them in a way that air flows in from the front and out through the back. It is now ready to receive the main components of your computer.
Installing the Motherboard and I/O Panel
Get the I/O panel from the box containing the motherboard and insert it at the back of PC case. You then need to settle in your motherboard making sure you screw it into the case evenly and carefully. When it is safely in, your next task is to connect the cables from the motherboard to power, USB ports and HDD LED. In case you have any difficulties, refer to the motherboard manual for precise connections.
Insert your select power supply into the PC case and drive the screws in from the back. Connect the motherboard power cable and leave the rest for the connection to the GPU, DVD, CPU, hard drive, etc.
Mounting of the CPU
The CPU chip is to be inserted carefully without touching or bending any of the pins. You will need to open the CPU latch on the motherboard to reveal golden connectors and where the CPU is to be in contact with when setup. Place it in from the sides, close the CPU latch and then fasten it. Your PC is now getting into shape.
Mounting a CPU Cooler
There are various cooling options from stock coolers, air coolers to water/liquid cooling systems. Each will come with the directions f how to install it, but for this guide, the air cooler is used. It often comes with a pre-applied thermal paste, but if not, you can apply some pea sized paste on the surface and then mount it on the processor. Care should be taken when installing the cooler because a smaller mistake may cost you heavily due to the heating that occurs in VR.
Insertion of RAM
You may find four slots in your motherboard, sometimes just one or even eight. Check in the manual what combination will give you the best of your RAM. Open the RAM latch, insert the RAM sticks, orienting them correctly and then close the latch. That is exactly where you will need to go when you want to upgrade your RAM in future.
The graphics card is the holy grail of your PC, and by now you are almost stepping into a new world. Unpack the graphics card and locate the PCI-E slot for the graphics card. You need to insert the card into the PCI-E slot that is closest to the CPU. Connect to the power supply unit using the PCI-E to PSU cable that is often 6+2 pin
Installing Storage Drives
Most newer PC cases come with HDD and SSD trays, and that makes your installation of the drives as simple as ABC. Locate the spaces they are to be inserted, fix them in and screw the HDD onto the case. Find the power cable from PSU and do connect it to the HDD. Connect the HDD to your motherboard and the main components of your PC are ready.
Cables and Casing
The next important step now is to tidy up your system before closing it up. Arranging the cables by for instance hiding them around the PC case back panel can help clear space that allows adequate air flow and room for future additions.
You can use zip ties to bundle the cables together as another option. It’s now time to refit the side panels of the case after ensuring everything is connected correctly. Plug into the socket, and now the system is ready to power on your system.
As discussed earlier, you will need the mouse and keyboard; and at this point, it’s simply connecting them via the USB 2.0 ports. Additionally, the HDMI cable can help you connect to the monitor. Plug in the power cord, and there you have a ready computer for the ultimate VR experience.
BIOS and Window Installation
Before booting the system, you will need to prepare a windows 10 Home boot stick that you will use for installation. As you boot the system, have a keen eye on the monitor watching out for the key to BIOS setup. When you see it press it repeatedly on the keyboard. An example is F2. Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) helps you assess the functionality of your components.
Go to setup and check the temperature. It needs to be between 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. If it’s beyond 40, your cooler is not working, and therefore you need to check it. Now insert the Windows 10 Home boot stick and select boot via USB. Follow the prompts to install Windows 10 on your PC. When you connect to the internet, it will automatically update drivers. You may need to upgrade other drivers manually.
Virtual reality is the future of computing and therefore having a PC for VR is not the only investment for now but also the future. When you build a PC for VR, you have the freedom to choose what is best for your VR needs, and therefore you have more control.
VR may be tasking on the PC, but the right components and assembly may make your VR experience a wonder to behold. Now go on and enjoy VR on your custom PC because you are now officially covered with almost everything you need to know about building a PC VR for an Oculus Rift for an HTC Vive.
If you have any other suggestions or information that would help people build a better VR PC then leave them in the comments section below!
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