Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive promise incredibly immersive experiences, including 360-degree games, apps and videos. But before you can take a walk on the virtual side, you'll need a laptop with the proper specifications such as Nvidia's 10-series GPUs or the company's new Max-Q GPUs, which essentially make even the smallest laptops a virtual reality powerhouse.
Here are the minimum specs you'll need to experience virtual reality:
Whether you get the thinnest laptop with 3 SSDs and an RTX 2080 Max-Q or a beastly gaming laptop that let's you easily replace its CPU and GPU, the year of RTX isn't simply a refresh but a complete redesign of the affected laptops.
Latest News and Updates (January 2019)
The HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality Headset is currently on sale from Amazon for $791, which is a whole $8 off with a clipped coupon (you have to check the box under the price to redeem it).
We just reviewed the latest Razer Blade 15, which offers VR-ready performance and over 6 hours of battery life.
Check out our hands-on with Oculus Quest, aka the first standalone headset with Oculus Rift-level graphics.
The following are the best VR-ready laptops on the market based on size, price and use case.
Best Value - Dell G3 15 Gaming
The Dell G3 15 Gaming is proof that budget isn't a bad word. The laptop offers a speedy 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor comboed with a VR-ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU — all for just $999. It also comes with a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, delivering fast boot and transfer times and plenty of storage for your games.
At 10.1 pounds and 1.2~2.3 inches thick, this laptop is ready to crush its opponents. For a pricey $3,999, the 17.3-inch MSI GT75 Titan pulls its superpowers from a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and an overclockable 8th Gen 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK processor. Those beastly specs produced a nearly perfect score of 10.9/11 on the SteamVR performance test. If that wasn’t enough to sacrifice your wallet, you also get a beautiful G-Sync display and one of the best speakers you’ll ever hear in a laptop.
The smallest member of the Alienware armada is back and better than ever with a lean, new profile and an Nvidia 10-series GPU, making it one of the smallest VR-ready laptops in the industry. If that wasn't enough the Alienware 13's backlighting and audio system got an overhaul while retaining the oh-so-captivating optional OLED display. In short, if you want a portable, powerful, VR-ready gaming rig, the buck stops here.
In an effort to cut down on its beefy gaming laptops, Alienware developed the Alienware m15, a 0.7-inch slim speed demon. You can cram an 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU into this baby, and despite being Max-Q, it still blows away the SteamVR performance test with a 10.1. While it doesn't have a 4K display, its 144Hz panel with 150 percent sRGB color gamut and 284 nits of brightness is mesmerizing.
It’s slimmer than its predecessor and wields even more power. The Alienware 17 R5 ($3,974) blasts its VR foes with an 8th Gen Core i9 processor and a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. Despite its fiery horsepower and bright 2560 x 1440 panel, the 17 R5 has above-average battery life. All that power is more than capable of playing the most graphically intensive games, in and out of VR.
Despite the company retiring its 14-inch Razer Blade model, the newest 15.6-inch iteration still takes the lightweight crown. The Razer Blade ($2,599) retains its 0.7-inch thin chassis while pumping an 8th Gen i7 processor comboed with the GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU through its VR-ready veins. Within its svelte design lies a battery that lasts nearly six hours, which topples competing companies like Alienware and MSI in terms of portability. And when you’re not in VR, you get a gorgeous 144-Hz display surrounded by paper-thin bezels that make it that much more charming.
Some gamers don't want a system that doesn't light up like a techie disco ball. They're looking for something that performs like a gaming laptop but looks like a business notebook. For them, there's the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin. For $1,999, you get a laptop with powerful gaming and overall performance, excellent audio and a comfortable, customizable keyboard. It's also one of the first gaming systems to feature Intel's new 8th gen, six-core Coffee Lake processor, which promises 20 percent more performance than its predecessor, making this model a good system for productivity.
The first workstation with a Nvidia Max-Q GPU, the MSI WS63VR 7RL offers brawny power in a seductively sleek frame. Designed for 3D modeling, video editing or engineering but good enough for gaming and virtual reality. It can handle any productivity task you throw at it and will look good doing it.
Asus is pushing innovation with this wacky new gaming laptop / 2-in-1 / detachable monster, otherwise known as the ROG Mothership. What sets this apart from most gaming laptops is its adjustable kickstand and detachable keyboard, so all of the components are actually behind its 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel.
And its badass name does it justice, as it's armed with an Intel Core i9-8950K processor, up to 64GB of RAM, three NVMe M.2 PCI SSD in RAID 0 configuration and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. There's no word on pricing as of yet, but the ROG Mothership is launching sometime during Q2 2019.
As soon as Rami Tabari sprung out of the College of Staten Island, he hit the ground running as a Staff Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline in Tom’s Guide, taking on the latest Souls-like challenge.