You probably already know that if you wanna game in virtual reality on your home computer, you need a powerful enough VR graphics card. And you’ve been flooded with advice on how much money you should put into one.
What about the CPU for VR, though? Are there any unique considerations you should make for your virtual reality setup? Or can you just stick any non-bargain-basement chip in there and be done with it?
We’re gonna answer that question today and let’s start with some simple advice. Check the recommended specifications on the VR headset manufacturer’s website and make sure your VR CPU meets them.
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However, you may be thinking to yourself, “Well, the mentioned CPU isn’t all that high-end.” For example, at the time we write this post, Oculus only recommended a Core i5 4590 from 2014 for their Rift S, which is their current PC-connected offering.
Unfortunately, this does not indicate that only paying attention to the recommended spec is a smart approach. You see, VR headsets require powerful hardware since they must push more pixels than a standard gaming PC.
The Rift S, for example, sports a 1440P display with an 80 Hertz refresh rate. While such specs may be considered a luxury in standard gaming, they are more of a baseline in virtual reality. This is because lower resolutions and frame rates in VR, aren’t just an annoyance, they can break immersion to the point where you’ll get motion sickness.
So if you thought stuttering in regular games was irritating, just wait until you’re throwing up on your living room carpet because of slowdowns in a VR title. This also implies that there’s more to consider than simply ensuring that your GPU is capable of delivering enough frames.
You want your frame times to be consistent and good. For smooth animations without stutters, each frame will be displayed on the screen for nearly the same amount of time. Inconsistent frame times can be produced by a variety of factors.
One example is a CPU that is unable to handle and schedule all of the data it delivers to your graphics card. And, once the GPU has finished rendering a frame, the CPU must give the GPU something new to perform.
And if your GPU can spitting out a lot of frames per second, as you’d need for VR gaming. If your CPU isn’t up to scratch, you’ll have a hard time keeping up. Rendering requests, such as draw calls, were traditionally single-threaded.
However, newer APIs, like DirectX 12, allow draw calls to be distributed across multiple threads. So unsurprisingly, it can help in VR to have a couple of extra cores and a little more speed than whatever the recommended specifications are.
Even if you’re using your graphics card to encode your video stream instead of the CPU, your CPU still needs a dedicated course to handle receiving the encoded frames from the graphics card if you’re streaming in VR.
Especially when the CPU already has to work a little bit harder. Not only because of the frame rate issue we just mentioned but also because handling VR head tracking puts more strain on your CPU than simply processing keyboard and mouse inputs in a traditional game.
So given that six-course is a baseline for modern gaming rigs, especially as games are becoming more and more complex and better at taking advantage of multiple courses. For VR, we’d recommend an eight-core modern architecture processor, while a ten-core processor wouldn’t harm if you’re streaming with CPU encoding.
Check out the Oculus Quest 2 if you don’t want to worry about choosing the right CPU. Because its Oculus is the most advanced all-in-one VR system, it doesn’t require a PC. It features 50% more pixels than the original Quest, as well as lightning-fast processing and next-generation graphics.
In a headset, each panel has a sharp 1832 by 1920 resolution and is powered by the Snapdragon XR2 platform. The Oculus Quest 2 is 10% lighter than the first Quest.
There are also new touch controllers, as well as a built-in IPD adjustment mechanism and backward compatibility with all Quest titles. You also receive a passed-through plus, which allows you to inspect your surroundings whenever you leave the guardian system.
And if you do want to use it with a PC, no problem, use the Oculus link to connect to a computer and access PC VR games in the Rift library.