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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  • Timbrelaine - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    Yeah, in anandtech's 970 review it struggled to maintain a 90fps average(!) at 1080p even for the AAA games of 2013/14. Those tests were at max settings and all, but I can't see myself skimping on the anti-aliasing when the screen is pressed to my eyeballs. And the minimum fps isn't often much better than half the average. Oculus seems optimistic.
  • nmm - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    I thought that the Oculus was going to be released this coming winter sometime. With Intel's SkyLake scheduled for October and nVidia's Pascal just around the corner as well, I don't think there will be any problem getting a system over the hump for these guys — even laptops.
  • John in Brisbane - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    No surprises here. I learned from the first gen OR that you need to over-spec to ensure zero issues. I quickly bought a gtx770 as a result to ensure over-kill and it's now equivalent to the 960 they're saying is their minimum spec. Unlike our experience with the specs recommended for "normal" games, I'm prepared to bet this spec will give a good experience. They know how easy it is to kill the illusion.

    This roll-out has now dragged on but it appears they're done good work on efficiency. The consumer version will have much higher res than the early dev units so the GPU grunt to power those pixels with zero issues is higher.

    Incidentally, I wonder how SLI/X-fire will go? It's the natural route for a lot of people to juice up their specs, especially for mid range cards that don't suck much power.
  • ol1bit - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    No mention of VHTC and Steam?
  • SydneyBlue120d - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    Can You clarify HDMI requirements? Let's hope this will push HDMI 2.0a and DisplayPort 1.3 availability on new GPU.
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    As listed in the article, the HDMI requirement is 1.3. 2.0 (or DisplayPort) are not necessary.
  • jmke - Monday, May 18, 2015 - link

    what an unintelligent and poor statement.

    Minimum specifications. that's what they have listed.
    the min. system specs for devs to aim at when making games; so you can offer a playable VR game to mass market, if it is at low quality settings, so be it, if you want to run Crysis 5 on Oculus you can do so with your GTX 970 at low quality settings, but if you want very high, you'll need two Geforce GTX next-gen in SLI...

    that's how it has always been with gaming, difference here is that they are launching a platform, not just VR goggles, because hardware peripheral without software to back it, is worthless.
  • jmke - Monday, May 18, 2015 - link

    that's where timewarp comes into play, trying to even out the low FPS dips, so you don't really need to have 90fps min at all times, a few dips here and there will be smoothed out with timewarp

    but you still need a lot of horse power, with DK2 and GTX 970 , AAA titles run with medium-high quality settings without issue (Alien Isolation, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, ...), less GFX prone games run amazingly well, the unreal and unity engines are very flexible to allow image quality to be dynamically adapted to match hardware specs and targeted fps

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