For all of the public Oculus Rift demos so far, the demo systems have been driven by very powerful hardware, and for good reason. With the need to double-render a scene (once for each eye) along with keeping latency to an absolute minimum, Oculus and game developers alike have not been taking any chances on performance, always making sure they have more than enough to work with. Since the very first Rift demos GPU performance has improved at a decent clip, but rendering a scene quickly in 3D is still a demanding task.

As a result we’ve known since the earliest days that the system requirements for the Rift would be rather high. But of course with the device still in development – and not just the headset, but the sensor suite as well – the system requirements were still in flux. Today via an announcement on their site, the Oculus team has revealed their recommended system specifications and how they’re treating these as much more than a minimum.

First, the system specification recommendations:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Overall the recommended specifications are not too far off from the specs of many of the Rift demo systems, and in fact they may be a bit lower. The GPU recommendations only call for a $250+ video card despite the GPU generally being the bottleneck (and many recent demo systems using multi-GPU configurations for that reason). Meanwhile everything else is about as expected, with users wanting a fast Intel quad-core CPU, plenty of RAM, an HDMI port to connect to the Rift, and USB 3.0 ports for the Rift to feed sensor data back to the host PC. Essentially any modern mid-to-high end gaming PC should meet these requirements.

While explaining the specifications, Oculus also took a moment to note that while laptops are not formally excluded from running the Rift, they likely will run into issues. Along with the weaker GPUs on laptops, most laptops are using NVIDIA Optimus or AMD Enduro technology to slave the discrete GPU to the integrated GPU, which means that the dGPU doesn’t have a direct output, rather it goes through the iGPU and its outputs. This is where the “direct output architecture” part of the specifications come in; Optimus/Enduro are not supported, and for laptops to work the dGPU will need to be able to directly drive an HDMI port, which is something that very few gaming laptops do.

Finally, along with releasing the specifications, Oculus is also outlining how they want developers to treat the specifications, and how they want to see the Rift developed against as a single, stable, long-term platform. As Oculus wants to increase Rift adoption over time and deliver a consistent experience, they are asking that developers treat these recommended specifications as a quasi-singular platform, optimizing their games around these specifications over the long-haul. This way as Rift prices come down and lower-end PC performance goes up, consumers assembling these cheaper Rift systems will be able to pick up a Rift and play new games just as well as launch hardware plays launch games and new games alike. In essence Oculus wants to setup a loose approximation of the console ecosystem, having developers optimize against an unchanging baseline so that PC spec creep doesn’t slowly ratchet up performance requirements as what happens today with PC games.

The reality of course is that these are just developer suggestions, but it’s an interesting idea that makes a lot of sense given the fact that Oculus will need time for developer and consumers to adopt the Rift en masse. Suggesting that developers optimize around a fixed point ensures that costs come down over time, and launch buyers aren’t quickly left behind. That said, optimizing a game around a specific point and making that point a game’s maximum settings are two different things; given how well VR scales with multi-GPU setups, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see some developers treat these recommendations as minimums, and offer better graphical effects for more powerful systems.

Source: Oculus VR (via Tom's Hardware)

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  • AntDX316 - Monday, October 26, 2015 - link

    I was doing 4k with 970M playable so I think a 980m can do it. People who never used a 970M think it's bad but it's not. The quality of 4k with playable fps seems to be the same awesome as 144fps on 1080p. I wouldn't say one is better than the other because they are both different but 4k with lower fps doesn't seem dreadful as the photorealism on Project Cars and Dota 2 out weigh the pixels of 1080p.
  • MegaHustler - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Regarding laptops, Oculus has this comment on their page ( ):

    "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture

    The last bullet point is tricky: many discrete GPU laptops have their external video output connected to the integrated GPU and drive the external output via hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift. Since this isn’t something that can be determined by reading the specs of a laptop, we are working on how to identify the right systems. Note that almost no current laptops have the GPU performance for the recommended spec, though upcoming mobile GPUs may be able to support this level of performance."
  • jjj - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    No it doesn't make any sense to cripple PC gaming like that. Constantly pushing the upper limits is a fundamental thing for PC gaming. And they really don't want to define "lifetime"either, it's just bad business.
    If monitor makers would come up with such an utterly idiotic idea how great would that be? Oculus is just a monitor, maybe an inch smarter than other monitors but still just that.
    They sell out to FB, they add external hardware, now they want to degrade PC gaming (like being flooded with console ports was bad enough). When do we see some positive/reasonable moves? Guess 2160x1200 is not a bad decision ,was expecting them to aim higher and make GPU requirements rather tough on wallets.
  • dalingrin - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    "Constantly pushing the upper limits is a fundamental thing for PC gaming."

    I agree but I'm not sure why you think this announcement says otherwise. What they've announced are essentially the lower limits...not the upper limits. PC games have always had lower limits as well, it is just that Oculus's announced lower limits are actually higher than usual.

    2160x1200 makes sense for a first generation. 4K would be sweet but very few(any?) can drive 4K at 90hz due to the lack of Displayport 1.3 hardware.
  • p1esk - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    2560x1440 would make more sense, and it does not require DP 1.3. Keep in mind, these specs are for hardware you will buy one year from now. Which means a new generation of CPUs/GPUs will probably be out by that time.
  • jjj - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Unless the upper limit is fixed their statement is empty and pointless. If you can't run the new game at max quality, what's the point really? New games further and further bellow max quality? If the lower limit is fixed then their claim is rather misleading and it still holds games back.
    As for the res, i was actually saying that it was a good decision.Was expecting 1440p, hoping for less and afraid of 4k. Would have been even better to have multiple versions with diff res and price points but for a first gen of a new tech it's easier with a single SKU. Just some 15 mins ago i was checking out this graph with 5 inch 1080p panel prices Given that , a 1080p Oculus with a 5.5 inch display could have really been cheap.A lesser experience but accessible to a much wider audience.
    In the end this is just a new form factor for displays and hopefully we get some standards and vast and diverse hardware ecosystem. That's always more fun than a monopoly.
  • jjj - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Here the quote:
    "The recommended spec will stay constant over the lifetime of the Rift. As the equivalent-performance hardware becomes less expensive, more users will have systems capable of the full Rift experience. Developers, in turn, can rely on Rift users having these modern machines, allowing them to optimize their game for a known target, simplifying development.?

    So they clearly want devs to go for a fixed target instead of pushing forward and anyone that does that would have little to no reason to spend money and aim higher.
    This feels less about the user and more about creating artificial refresh cycles.They decide the lifetime is 2 years and force everybody to upgrade to slightly better hardware if they want to play new games.If they own the software they can just not support new games on older Oculus hardware even if the user would be ok with that.
    Another weird issue with their statement is ,If the lifetime is X years does it keep shrinking as time goes by? What do you do with ppl that buy 1 year ( or 2 weeks) before the lifetime ends?
    They should just take back that statement , we all know how gaming works and how fast GPUs get outdated, not a difficult concept and no need to reinvent the wheel.
    Hell, for a young technology, trying to hold it back artificially like this is almost certainly a really bad idea. Early on there are often significant developments and not taking advantage of those harms the user and can give their competition a chance to get ahead.
  • crimsonson - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    Your view is extremely myopic. When creating new medium it is not necessarily out spec every single parameter. LCDs response time and dynamic range were(are) lower than CRTs, wi-fi is slower than wired connection, smartphones are slower than laptops. It is a new(ish) medium that is still in its infancy and limited by current technology and biology.

    So to expect a neck to neck resolution comparison with desktop LCD is missing the point.
  • JeffFlanagan - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    For PC gaming, I think you'll probably be better off with the HTC/Valve VR system, so don't worry too much about Oculus asking devs to target baseline specs. Let the Oculus store do this, and Valve can push the boundaries with higher-end GPUs.

    I won't be surprised if Oculus has better telepresence capability than Valve does though. I have Gear VR (S6) and the geometry and head-tracking seem perfect to me in almost every app and game. I'm impressed with what they've accomplished. I hope the HTC system is just as good, but it might not be.

    Previous VR systems I've tried warped the virtual world around you somewhat like thick glasses do, and lagged in head-tracking. Oculus VR does not have these shortcomings.

    I think VR is going to be big. I don't usually bring my toys to work, but I did with this one because it's so amazing, and my team was blown away by the technology.

    Gear VR is still considered an "explorer edition" The shortcomings that make it not ready for the general consumer are overheating and insufficient pixel density. Standing or sitting under a fan solves the heat problem, but these things aren't going to be perfect until they move to 4K+ displays.
  • jjj - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    I am not a fan at all of sticking phones into a frame like Gear VR,especially when an Oculus like device can be very cheap. You mentioning Gear VR reminded me that Google IO is in a couple of weeks and maybe they have some news on the glasses front too.
    I do see glasses (VR converging with AR) as the next form factor so excited too, just wish things were moving faster and the execution would be better.

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