Updated: How to build the ultimate PC for virtual reality

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If you’re going to be an early adopter of virtual reality then you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of money. The first generation of VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive cost a pretty penny, and while you can do VR on a budget, if you’ve already cracked out the chequebook for a substantial sum to get in on the virtual reality revolution, you might as well go the whole hog and splash out on building the ultimate PC for virtual reality.

While spending a lot on building a PC for virtual reality won’t be for everyone, if you can put some money aside to beef up your machine, then your VR experience will benefit.

A more capable graphics card can help keep framerates smooth, preventing you from feeling ill, while pushing more realistic graphics can help with immersion as well.

Why spend a lot of money now?

Virtual reality is just getting started so when you build your PC for running VR you’ll want to make it as future-proof as possible. It’s very likely that virtual reality technology will improve rapidly over the next few years so you’ll need your PC to be able to keep up. By spending extra money now you can save yourself expensive – and fiddly – upgrades in the future.

That doesn’t just mean buying the most powerful – and expensive – graphics card money can buy. In fact, there’s some good reasons why you should hold off buying the most expensive GPUs, which we’ll get to in a bit.

However, to future proof your ultimate PC for virtual reality you should make sure you get a motherboard that can handle the new DDR4 RAM standard. Having a motherboard that can handle a second (or even third or fourth) graphics card can also help you future-proof your PC.

RAM is perhaps one of the easiest upgrades, but you might as well put in plenty now to save hassle later on – especially if you have a motherboard and CPU cooler combination that makes accessing RAM difficult.

As you’d imagine the graphics card is arguably the most important component of your virtual reality machine, and choosing the right GPU is probably the most complex decision you’re going to make. Not only will you have to consider whether to go for Nvidia or AMD cards, but also how much graphics memory it comes with as well.

Graphics cards with 2GB of GDDR5 are pretty commonplace these days, but for the ultimate PC for virtual reality you’re going to want to be looking at 4GB or higher. As a general rule, the higher the memory, the better the GPU will be at supplying high resolution graphics to multiple displays.

While in the past the phrase “multiple displays” referred to the number of monitors on your desk, with VR each eye can be classed as a display. By getting a graphics card with a large amount of memory you won’t be limited in the future when VR games and experiences get even more ambitious.

You can benchmark your current PC – or the PC you’ve just built – to see how well it can handle VR by following our steps in the video below.