The best way to find a VR-ready GPU is to simply look at the Oculus Link requirements or PC requirements for individual VR games on Steam. On the low-end, you should at least aim for a GEFORCE GTX 970.
Along my journey to create a VR-ready PC under a tight budget, I had to figure out what GPU was powerful enough to handle the biggest and best games the VR library had to offer. Surprisingly, it is relatively simple to figure out what VR-ready GPUs are currently on the market.
In this article, I will briefly explain the simplest ways to tell if a certain GPU can handle virtual reality games and recommend a few of the cheapest options for those that are gaming on a budget (like I am).
So if you have an Oculus Quest and plan to play PC VR games via Oculus Link, then all you have to do is head to the Oculus Link Requirements page and scroll down to their list of supported VR-ready GPUs.
To save you some time, I've copy-pasted the tables here:
Oculus Link NVIDIA GPU Support
For those who are gaming on a budget, the cheapest or lowest-end GPU that Oculus Link supports is the GTX 970. However, finding these cards new isn't that easy.
Oculus Link AMD GPU Support
Instead, you may want to look at AMDs VR ready graphics cards if they are compatible with your motherboard. One of the cheapest ones on Amazon that works with Oculus Link is the AMD Radeon RX 550 with is only ~$85 USD!
If you are using the Quest or any other headset to play games via Steam VR, your best bet is to look at individual games you want to play and check out their minimum PC requirements.
Let's take a look at the requirements for the critically-acclaimed Half-Life: Alyx.
To be honest, I'm not sure how strict these requirements are. Because I ran the game on a GTX 1660, with a Core i5-4440 processor and that worked just fine, despite the minimum listed CPU requirement of the Core i5-7500.
However, I will say I tried running this game on my ASUS TUF laptop that has a GTX 1050 and...it did not work at all.
I got maybe 2 frames per second, so I highly recommend sticking to the minimum GPU requirements for VR games.
This is less of an option and more of a best practice to help you find the best deal.
The GPU Hierarchy is a table on Tom's Hardware that lists the top GPUs in a ranked order of best value and performance. So if you've decided at the very least you want to be able to play Half-Life: Alyx and you are looking for a GTX 1060, then head over the table and look for that GPU on the list:
You'll notice that there is a 3GB and a 6GB version. You should go with the 6GB version. So let's say you check prices on Amazon, eBay, or whatever site or local shop and you see a GTX 1060 for $200 USD brand new.
You should also look at a few of the other GPUs above it on the list to see if you can get a stronger VR-ready GPU for a similar price. If you are in VR for the long haul, you might as well spend an extra $40-$80 now and use this GPU for longer, rather than realize 8 months from now that you want to play a new game and need a stronger GPU.
Instead of buying a cheaper GPU now and a more expensive one later, try to find a middle ground. For example, if you find a GTX 1060 for $200 USD and you also see a GTX 1660 for $230 USD brand new, you might want to spend an extra $30 for better performance and a newer model.
Well, I hope this quick tutorial on VR ready graphics cards was helpful for you and I hope you build a powerful VR rig to enjoy the best games the market has to offer.
If you need more advice on this, Tweet this article to me with your question!
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links to the items above.
Lead image via Luis Gonzalez on Unsplash.
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