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:
On the Horizon For now, VR users are tethered to their laptops thanks to the myriad of cables the headsets require to run. However, DisplayLink has started showing off DisplayLink XR, its wireless module solution, which will allow you to walk around your virtual space without a bunch of wires tethering you to an expensive desktop or laptop. Attached to the back of a VR headset, the company's network display technology can support a pair of 4K monitors with a 120-fps frame rate over Wi-Fi of WiGig (wireless Gigabit).
Microsoft has also thrown its hat into the VR arena with its new MR headsets like the Acer Mixed Reality AH101 Headset. Partnering with major laptop manufacturers (Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo), these headsets will be available in two tiers. The entry-level headsets will start at $299 and have the ability to work with integrated graphics whereas the ultra version of the devices will top at $499 and work with discrete graphics.
The following are the best VR-ready laptops on the market based on size, price and use case.
Best Value - Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
A VR-ready gaming rig can put a serious hole in your pocket, but it doesn't have to. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop, with its starting price of $899, is light on the wallet and offers solid performance for the price. Equipped with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU and a solid Intel Core i5 CPU, this system can power games and VR experiences and juggle multiple tasks and last over 7 hours on a charge.
Just when I think I've seen everything gaming laptops have to offer, along comes something like the Acer Predator 21 X. Weighing a ridiculous 18.6 pounds, the Predator 21 X is an exercise in immodest overindulgence that I can get behind. This is the first laptop to feature a curved display that when combined with Tobii's eye-tracking technology makes for a seriously immersive gaming experience.
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.
For the price, the 15-inch Acer Predator Helios 300 (priced at $999.99) is one heck of a performer. It offers a large, 1080p display that’s bright enough to make you want to ditch your desktop monitor. The laptop also has a powerful Core i7 processor and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU that can easily support either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Plus, this And if that wasn't enough, the notebook is one of the few systems that allows you to upgrade your hard drive and RAM. Based on our testing, the Helios 300 also has nearly 7 hours of battery life, which is rather impressive for a gaming laptop.
Don't equate the Blade Pro's slimness for weakness. On the contrary, this svelte stunner is equipped with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM, the most powerful GPU you can get in a laptop. But the Blade isn't just a beast on traditional games, it can also deliver some silky smooth frames in VR, so feel free to strap on that Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Year after year, the company manages to feng shui ridiculously powerful components into a space that's only 0.7-inches thick. This time around, the company managed to squeeze the GeForce GTX 1060 GPU into the mix, creating a VR-ready, 14-inch monster that's crouched and ready to strike. If that wasn't enough, this latest iteration of the Blade is priced at an aggressive $1,799, putting it into direct competition with the likes of Alienware and MSI. But when you've got a gaming laptop this pretty and this powerful -- the choice seems clear.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus marks the beginning of a new era in gaming laptops, one where power isn't sacrificed in the name of portability. Packed into the Zephyrus' svelte frame is a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, a once-impossible feat made reality, thanks to the company's new Max-Q design. That means that this 0.7-inch thick system is primed and ready for high-powered, virtual reality hijinx.
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.
MSI is ringing in the new year with a more colorful look for 6E63 Raider laptop. Now dubbed the MSI GE63 Raider RGB Edition, the laptop's lid is adorned with a pair of customizable LED lights on the lid and a keyboard that can glow any of the 24 million colors of the RGB rainbow. Although MSI has yet to announce pricing or even which processor the laptop will use, the company did share that it will feature either a GTX 1060 or 1070 GPU, which is more than enough power to get you up and running in VR.