VR Spec Talk: Which Headset Needs What?


For a lucid and seamless virtual reality experience, the accompanying hardware setup needs to meet certain requirements. With lots of different specs involved as factors, it can be confusing. Let’s break it down.

In gaming consoles, digital input is fed into the system through a keyboard, mouse, or joystick. This is then translated by the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) within the console to create a responsive, simulated world.

In VR gear however, the input is fed via tracking your position, height, movement and hand gestures. To create a completely immersive world surrounding the user, first-generation VR headsets require a much higher frames per second rate than conventional gaming frame rate at 90 FPS. For context around how much information this is, compare it to the standard for television broadcasting, which is 60 FPS.

Anything lower than 90FPS can cause lag, which interrupts the user’s VR experience. This high frame rate calls for a streamlined system not only capable of running VR, but also capable of processing a significant amount of data at a time.

Let’s take a look at some of the key specifications for the market’s more prevalent headsets, along with their recommended requirements.

Oculus Rift S

With superior technology and futuristic hardware, Oculus has established itself as Facebook’s equivalent in the VR world, and is considered the standard for VR hardware and tech. For “Oculus Rift S” headset, hardware requires the below specs:

ComponentRecommended SpecMinimum Spec
ProcessorIntel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greaterIntel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
Graphics CardNVIDIA GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or greaterNVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater
Alternative Graphics CardNVIDIA GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greaterNVIDIA GTX 960 4 GB/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
Memory8 GB+ RAM8 GB+ RAM
Operating SystemWindows 10Windows 10
USB Ports1 x USB 3.0 port1 x USB 3.0 port
Video OutputCompatible DisplayPort video outputCompatible Mini DisplayPort video output (Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter included with Rift S)

HTC Vive

Following the success of the HTC Vive, HTC recently released the HTC Vive Pro, which is among the most advanced VR gear out in the market today. Unlike Oculus, they have a generic set of specifications for all Vive products:

ComponentRecommended SpecMinimum Spec
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or betterIntel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
Graphics CardNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or betterNVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
Alternative Graphics CardN/AN/A
Memory4 GB RAM or more4 GB RAM or more
Operating SystemWindows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 10Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 10
USB Ports1x USB 2.0 or newer1x USB 2.0 or newer
Video OutputHDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newerHDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

Even though HTC doesn’t provide individual specs for each of its products, it does provide users with an .exe file that can analyse if a system meets the requirements to run a HTC Vive Pro, which instantly clarifies if a system needs upgrading.

Valve Index

Valve Index is one of the latest entries in the VR space. Valve previously partnered with HTC to develop the HTC Vive, but has since branched out with their own head mounted display. Valve Index has similar configurations as the Vive Pro, and equivalent pricing and quality.

ComponentRecommended Spec
ProcessorDual core with hyper-threading or better
Graphics CardNVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or better, AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
Alternative Graphics CardN/A
Memory8 GB RAM or more
Operating SystemWindows 10, StreamOS, Linux
USB Ports1x USB 3.0 or newer
Video OutputDisplayPort 1.2 or newer

Like HTC Vive, the Valve Index comes with an optional plug-in to test if a system’s configuration meets a HMD’s standard requirements.

The Verdict

It pays to do your research before buying a HMD to be sure that it can be configured with your existing system with minimal adjustments.

If you’re looking for an all-rounder that provides the best entertainment along with moderate usage for work and business, the Oculus Rift or Oculus Rift S are excellent options. At InspaceXR and Virtual&, we rely on these HMDs to provide our clients with an unmatched, seamless VR experience.

In terms of system configuration, we recommend the following specifications:

Processor: Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better

Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or better

Alternative Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 or better

Memory: 16 GB or more

Operating System: Windows 10

USB Ports: 1 x USB 3.0 port or more

Video Output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer