The virtual reality (VR) scene is full of quickly accelerating tech that looks and sounds incredible. This increasingly immersive experience is full of new lingo and tech terms, and sorting them out can be difficult.
There are major differences in just about all VR headsets available on the market, both for commercial users and retailer or developer users. PC VR and Standalone VR are also pretty different.
What is All-In-One/Standalone VR
Standalone VR is exactly as it sounds. It is a fully self-contained virtual reality system that does not need additional equipment to run. They have some inherent drawbacks but they also have great features built in.
Most VR sets are made of a headset and controllers, though we are seeing things like the Kat Omnidirectional Treadmill, sensor exoskeletons, and VR Glasses – the future is now. Standalone VR headsets have built-in processors and RAM in addition to standard tracking systems and OLED displays among other things.
Standalone VR is less powerful than its PC counterparts. Some can be used with a PC as well, but many cannot. An additional issue that standalone VR sets have is content. Since they are designed to be used without a PC, there is a limit of content on these devices due to limited storage space.
There is an exception to the content limitations called the Meta Quest 2. Meta has pumped money into their content to keep virtual reality users occupied. The trade-off is the data collection. Many of us already know of this trade-off and while some do not mind this, it is good to be aware of it.
A hugely positive aspect of standalone VR as a whole is that there are no wires. This may mean you need a battery pack, but that is wearable and they are generally pretty light for the user to wear. They are also available at a lower price point. Though their graphics, applications, and tracking methods can leave much to be desired. Some standalone VR sets are really only good for watching content and meditating (sounds like an expensive meditation session).
What is PC VR?
PC VR is also exactly what it sounds like: virtual reality you play via PC. What does that entail? These virtual reality sets have the advantage of power. This requires a heavyweight PC, but PC VR enables the high graphic demand for the virtual experience you are engaging with and also allows you to stream it if you choose.
A huge win in the virtual reality space when it comes to the PC is content. Developers have had more time and power to work with so there is more to experience in this space. Of course, everything has a drawback. There are cables involved so the user has to be tied to the PC during play. Some headsets do have ways to make them wireless, but this requires more gear and possibly a battery pack as well.
The space tracking for PC VR is more accurate than standalone VR. We can also look forward to smaller and smaller headsets over time because the power does not need to come from the headset.
This all adds up into vast and beautiful virtual realities that are accessible through the PC VR set-ups, something that current standalone VR doesn’t have very much accessibility to for users.
What does a Virtual Reality PC Need?
As I mentioned before, a virtual reality PC setup is going to need to be a heavyweight. The power needed for an interactive virtual reality is insane and your PC will need to be able to hold its own. You need to consider your OS, processor, memory, GPU, and ports.
VR is hard on your GPU and these are becoming more accessible. You will need to look at the VR headset you are considering to make sure you are meeting the GPU minimum because the HTC Vive Pro 2 & Oculus Quest 2 require an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or an AMD Radeon RX 400 or greater, where are you can get away with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD RX 480 for the Valve Index.
When it comes to a processor, an Intel Core i5-4590 or an AMD Ryzen 1500 are a good minimum. The minimum is different for the Valve Index and the HP Reverb G2.
Across the board, you will need a minimum of 8GB of RAM and Windows 10 or higher. When it comes to ports you need 1 USB port for the Oculus Quest 2, and a DisplayPort 1.2 and/or a USB 3.0 or newer available to use.
Building your VR PC
Virtual reality is still growing and changing and more content is coming online as the weeks go by. We are seeing huge advancements in the VR industry and we don’t expect this to stop any time soon. Your PC is the perfect gateway into this ever-evolving field and it can help connect you with people far away, something no one is taking for granted these days.