For all of the public Oculus Rift demos so far, the demo systems have been driven by very powerful hardware, and for good reason. With the need to double-render a scene (once for each eye) along with keeping latency to an absolute minimum, Oculus and game developers alike have not been taking any chances on performance, always making sure they have more than enough to work with. Since the very first Rift demos GPU performance has improved at a decent clip, but rendering a scene quickly in 3D is still a demanding task.

As a result we’ve known since the earliest days that the system requirements for the Rift would be rather high. But of course with the device still in development – and not just the headset, but the sensor suite as well – the system requirements were still in flux. Today via an announcement on their site, the Oculus team has revealed their recommended system specifications and how they’re treating these as much more than a minimum.

First, the system specification recommendations:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Overall the recommended specifications are not too far off from the specs of many of the Rift demo systems, and in fact they may be a bit lower. The GPU recommendations only call for a $250+ video card despite the GPU generally being the bottleneck (and many recent demo systems using multi-GPU configurations for that reason). Meanwhile everything else is about as expected, with users wanting a fast Intel quad-core CPU, plenty of RAM, an HDMI port to connect to the Rift, and USB 3.0 ports for the Rift to feed sensor data back to the host PC. Essentially any modern mid-to-high end gaming PC should meet these requirements.

While explaining the specifications, Oculus also took a moment to note that while laptops are not formally excluded from running the Rift, they likely will run into issues. Along with the weaker GPUs on laptops, most laptops are using NVIDIA Optimus or AMD Enduro technology to slave the discrete GPU to the integrated GPU, which means that the dGPU doesn’t have a direct output, rather it goes through the iGPU and its outputs. This is where the “direct output architecture” part of the specifications come in; Optimus/Enduro are not supported, and for laptops to work the dGPU will need to be able to directly drive an HDMI port, which is something that very few gaming laptops do.

Finally, along with releasing the specifications, Oculus is also outlining how they want developers to treat the specifications, and how they want to see the Rift developed against as a single, stable, long-term platform. As Oculus wants to increase Rift adoption over time and deliver a consistent experience, they are asking that developers treat these recommended specifications as a quasi-singular platform, optimizing their games around these specifications over the long-haul. This way as Rift prices come down and lower-end PC performance goes up, consumers assembling these cheaper Rift systems will be able to pick up a Rift and play new games just as well as launch hardware plays launch games and new games alike. In essence Oculus wants to setup a loose approximation of the console ecosystem, having developers optimize against an unchanging baseline so that PC spec creep doesn’t slowly ratchet up performance requirements as what happens today with PC games.

The reality of course is that these are just developer suggestions, but it’s an interesting idea that makes a lot of sense given the fact that Oculus will need time for developer and consumers to adopt the Rift en masse. Suggesting that developers optimize around a fixed point ensures that costs come down over time, and launch buyers aren’t quickly left behind. That said, optimizing a game around a specific point and making that point a game’s maximum settings are two different things; given how well VR scales with multi-GPU setups, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see some developers treat these recommendations as minimums, and offer better graphical effects for more powerful systems.

Source: Oculus VR (via Tom's Hardware)

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  • Aikouka - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    In regard to the laptops, does that mean that systems like the MSI GT72 will work? I know the GT72 doesn't have Optimus but rather a physical GPU switch.
  • eanazag - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    The CPU requirement is an i5-4590. That is pretty hefty CPU requirement that I don't think any laptops meet.
    And the GPU is a desktop GTX 970+ or R9 290+ both of which require more watts than most laptops as a whole.

    Your laptop would be smoking hot if it could.
  • testbug00 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Sounds about right. A 980m and 57W mobile i7 might be able to. Might.
  • edwd2 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    any laptop with an i7-4800MQ / Xeon E3-1230 v3 or i5-4590 and GTX 980M or 965-980M SLI or higher will meet those requirements.
  • hyno111 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    AFAIK,less than 15 laptop models have meet this spec,counting optimus ones, not considering post-factory upgrade and externel gpu (and 970m). And, if hardware switch for iGPU does not count, only Clevo's beasts would be supported.(namely P750ZM,maybe P370SMA) I doubt this situation would change in foreseenable future. (Unless OR is a very very big success..)
  • Meaker10 - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    All current MSI GT models have direct output via the display connectors (only the internal panel/VGA is driven through optimus if it has it).
  • Samus - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    What current laptops are shipping with a Xeon?
  • Flunk - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    Eurocom Panther, I think it's a Clevo of some sort but I'm not sure which.,224,0%29ec
  • AntDX316 - Monday, October 26, 2015 - link

    nah, you dont need SLI I think

    people who are from desktop think you need 980M sli to be like 1 980 GTX to have good frame rate

    I had 970M at 4k and Project Cars can do it on Ultra with really playable frame rate

    other games can 4k like Dota 2 but FPS games require 1080p otherwise there is a bit of mouse lag
  • angrybaker - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    What about the Clevo P750ZM? Doesn't it use a desktop i7-4790K and 980M without Optimus?

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