2016 is the year that VR will either go big or go home. The technology is finally good enough to make it a worthwhile experience, but like any new technology things arenít perfect on every front yet.
There have been several developer kits and prototypes of the Rift, some of which have been sold to the public. These have all been priced between $300 and $350. Oculus has also more or less indicated that the final product would aim for that price point.
Now we know that was a bit ambitious. Despite the billions Facebook has invested in the company and their efforts to optimize specifications and costs, the consumer Rift has been priced at $600.
Thatís still not too crazy, but donít get excited just yet. Even mid-range computers may be inadequate to make use of a Rift. Remember that for the Rift to work properly your computer needs to render two different HD scenes at 90 frames per second. Latency also need to be kept to a minimum.
The minimum specifications call for at least a GTX 970 for starters. Thatís a card not too far from the top of Nvidiaís range and that specified as a minimum, so donít expect all the graphical bells and whistles. Cards like the GTX 960 arenít actually that far off the 970 when it comes to rendering at 1080p, but we suspect that the much higher amount of bandwidth is essential for the 90 fps high resolution rendering the Rift needs.
Youíll also need at least a Core i5-4590 and at least 8GB of RAM, which it not too egregious. Most midrange computers will easily meet this.
One sore point however is that the Rift needs four USB ports of which three need to be USB 3.0. Some computers that otherwise meet the minimum requirements will not have USB 3.0 at all. So that means a new motherboard or an add-on card if you have the PCIe slot for it.
Apart from the Rift itself youíll get an Xbox One controller and two games included in the bundle (one of which is EVE Valkyrie) so there will be something to try straight off the bat specifically made with the Oculus in mind.
The Oculus Touch, a special VR control systems, is still not ready and will only be available in the latter half of 2016.
One bit of good news is that people who bought the developer version through Kickstarter originally will be receiving a consumer version at no charge.
There are quite a number of competitors bringing their own VR systems to market in 2016. The biggest competitor to Oculus comes in the form of Valve and HTC with their SteamVR system. We donít know what the pricing on that will be, but weíre sure that the generally negative reaction to the $600 price on the Oculus will be a good lesson for both Valve and HTC.
Does your computer meet the minimum? Do you need to upgrade? Let us know what you think in the comments.