How to Build a Virtual-Reality-ready Home PC for Under $1000

Are you holding back your urge to experience virtual reality because of the high price of devices and the expensive equipment that it runs on? Well, your worries are over, because several techies have been doing this for some time now.

Is it Possible to Build a Virtual-Reality-Ready Computer for Under $800?

That’s a definitive and resounding YES. Until recently, virtual reality hardware was expensive. The Oculus Rift, for example, retails for $599 – and that’s just the headset and other peripherals. The HTC Vive is $200 more than that.

But even if you bought a Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, you’d need robust specs on your PC to make it work. The total bill on that alone could run well beyond $1000, especially if you want a truly realistic experience without the glitches that typically accompany weak specs.

What I can show you is how to build a PC that will run VR apps fairly well. It won’t give you the top-end experience like a $2500 PC would, but if you’re on a budget then this is the best option for you.

What Specs Do I Need?

Assembled PCs are typically cheaper than single-brand ones. That’s because the components are sourced from various manufacturers. These are as good as any PC on the market but most people are uncomfortable with so-called “non-branded” equipment.

But here’s what I say: forget the big-name brands because that’s not what you want to be paying for. What you really want your money going into is solid hardware from a reliable maker. If you’ve already got a PC at home, it’ll be much cheaper just to upgrade the components you need to.

So here’s what you need in a PC for a decent VR experience

RAM: You’ll need at least 8GB of RAM for a glitch-free experience. Without that it’ll be worse than watching a high definition streaming movie with a low-speed internet connection.

Processor: There are a lot of great processors from AMD and Intel, but we recommend an AMD FX 4300, which you can get on eBay for about 80 bucks. You may have to shell out a little more for an Intel Core i5 4590, but if you’re lucky you can get a used one for about $100, again on eBay. Just search for Intel Core i5 4590 and preferably try to find a new one, which may cost you a bit more. But since it’s critical to the apps running VR, the more you can stretch your budget the better.

Video Graphics Card: This is the heart of your VR experience so make sure you get something like a GeForce from NVIDIA. The GeForce GTX 970 starts at about $200 or so, and that should be good enough.

System: Windows 7 64-bit should do nicely, but anything higher would be perfect. If you’re already on a Windows 10 free upgrade that’s ideal.

For the processor and graphics card you can opt for several other models, but make sure the processor is quad-core and the card is at least 4GB.

You can either upgrade your hard drive or use an external Solid State Drive like the Kingston 125GB just for your VR apps.

If you’re building it from scratch, of course you’ll need a motherboard like the MSI 970 Gaming or similar board. And you’ll need a monitor, keyboard and mouse, of course.

For a put-together PC with the above specs, it should cost you no more than about $800 to $900.

The less you spend here the more you can spend on your VR headset, basically. So buy wisely and try to get everything for as little as you can, and you’ll soon be ready to enjoy the virtual reality experience on your own home PC.

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