The Best VR-Ready Laptops
Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive promise incredibly immersive experiences, including 360-degree games, apps and videos, but you'll need the best VR-ready laptop capable of handling all that power.
A laptop with the proper specifications such as Nvidia's 10-series GPUs or the company's Max-Q GPUs, which essentially make even the smallest laptops a virtual reality powerhouse, will do the trick. Nvidia has also rolled out its powerful RTX chips, the 2060, 2070 and 2080 (along with Max-Q variants), in a wave of all new laptops, like the Alienware Area-51m, MSI GS75 Stealth, Asus ROG Mothership and Dell's G-Series Gaming Laptops.
What this means for your new laptop is that it'll have stronger gaming performance and give you the option to enable ray-tracing (a realistic lighting system). 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.
VR Minimum Specs
1. Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor
2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, 1050 Ti (due to Oculus' Asynchronous SpaceWarp), 1060, 1070 or 1080 GPU. RTX 2060, 2070 and 2080 are the stronger alternatives.
3. 8GB of RAM
4. Two USB 3.0 ports
5. HDMI 1.4
6. 1920 x 1080 display
7. Windows 8 or 10
If you're struggling to decide between RTX 2070 or GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, we wrote a detailed break out for you, and if you're looking for an affordable VR-ready laptop, the MSI GV62 is currently on sale for $799 ($100 off). Also, 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.
Pros: Stylish interior; Solid performance; Good battery life; Decent audio
Cons: Dim and dull display; Low-travel keyboard; No gaming utilities
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050/1050 Ti/1060 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 1TB HDD/128G SSD + 1TB HDD/256GB SSD/512GB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch (1080p) | Size: 14.96 x 10.16 x 0.89 inches | Weight: 5.18 pounds
Best Splurge - Alienware Area-51m
If you want to put a hole in your bank account, this is the way to do it. For $5,099, the Alienware Area 51-m will offer you all the power you could ever need with its 9th Gen Core i9 desktop processor and RTX 2080 GPU. This baby maxed out the SteamVR Performance Test without breaking a sweat. Along with the Area 51-m’s awesome power, you get a gorgeous sci-fi inspired chassis that packs lightning fast SSDs and a solid 17.3-inch, 1080p panel. To top it all off, its major components are completely upgradable.
Pros: Stunning space station aesthetic; Excellent graphics and overall performance; Lightning fast SSDs; All major components upgradable
Cons: Exorbitantly expensive
Key Specs — CPU: Intel 8th Gen Core i7/9th Gen Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Nvidia RTX 2060/2070/2080 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 1TB HDD or 512GB/1TB/2TB SSD | Display: 17.3-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 16.1 x 15.9 x 1.1~1.7 inches | Weight: 8.5 pounds
Best 15-inch - Alienware m15
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.
Pros: Sleek, lightweight design; Great overall and gaming performance; Stunning display; Comfortable keyboard; Long battery life for gaming laptop
Cons: Audio could be better; Bottom gets warm; Expensive as configured
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 or RTX 2060/2070/2080 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD/256GB SSD + 1TB HDD/512GB + 1TB HDD/1TB SSD/2TB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.8~0.7 inches | Weight: 4.8 pounds
Best 17-inch - MSI GT75 Titan (2019)
MSI’s GT75 Titan took a dip into the lazarus pit and has been reborn as the champion of Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 GPU, maxing out the SteamVR Performance Test with ease and being able to nail 140 frames per second on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p). At 10 pounds and 1.2~2.3 inches thick, the GT75 Titan also packs an overclockable 8th Gen Core i9 processor accompanied by a vivid 4K panel and a punchy mechanical keyboard.
Pros: Great overall and graphic performance; Excellent audio; Vivid, bright 4K panel; Super comfortable mechanical keyboard
Cons: Extremely expensive
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Nvidia RTX 2070/2080 | RAM: 16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB SSD/ 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Display: 17.3-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2-2.3 inches | Weight: 10 pounds
Best Lightweight - Razer Blade 15 (2019)
The advanced model of the 15.6-inch Razer Blade once again takes the lightweight crown. The Razer Blade 15 ($2,649) retains its 0.7-inch thin chassis while pumping an 8th Gen i7 processor comboed with the GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU through its VR-ready veins. Within its svelte design lies a battery that lasts over 5 hours, which topples competing companies like Asus and MSI in terms of portability. And when you’re not in VR, you get a colorful 144-Hz display surrounded by paper-thin bezels that make it that much more charming.
Pros: Beautiful, head-turning design; Powerful graphics and overall performance; Solid battery life; Fast transfer speeds
Cons: Dim display; Weak audio; Runs hot when gaming
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 or RTX 2060/2070/2080 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB/512GB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch (1080p/4K) | Size: 14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.7 pounds
Best Max-Q Design - MSI GS75 Stealth
Nvidia has found a way to take the most powerful graphics card around, the RTX 2080, and work some Max-Q magic to fit it in the MSI GS75 Stealth’s 0.7-inch slim chassis. Its svelte stature is paired with a black aluminum chassis trimmed in a stunning gold accent, and its 17.3-inch, 144Hz panel is incredibly colorful. Not to mention that this baby has a great pair of Dynaudio’s top-firing speakers. And of course, the GS75 Stealth had no issue maxing out the SteamVR Performance Test.
Pros: Slim, sexy design; Viciously vivid display; Great audio; Solid performance and graphics
Cons: Below-average battery life; Runs hot
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Nvidia RTX 2060/2070/2080 | RAM: 16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB SSD | Display: 17.3-inch (1080p) | Size: 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 5 pounds
Best Workstation - Dell Precision 7730
The Dell Precision 7730 packs a beastly Nvidia Quadro P5200 GPU with 16GB of VRAM, which is more than capable of handling VR despite being designed for 3D modeling, video editing and engineering. Its 17.3-inch, 4K display is also ridiculously vivid, as it covered 211 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emitted 330 nits of brightness. On top of that, passed 15 MIL-SPEC durability tests and even has a super comfortable keyboard, which great for gaming when you're out of the virtual world.
Pros: Vibrant, sharp 4K display; Blistering performance; Comfortable keyboard; Durable, premium design; Powerful graphics
Cons: Below-average battery life; Runs warm; Top configs are absurdly expensive
Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Xeon | GPU: Intel HD GFX or Radeon Pro WX 4150/7100 or Nvidia Quadro P4200/P5200 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 17.3-inch (900p/1080p/4K) | Size: 16.3 x 10.8 x 1.2 inches | Weight: 7.5 pounds
New and Notable - Asus ROG Mothership
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.