So, VR has been on everyone’s mind since, like, ever. Even more so recently now that Rift is near. So I set out to create the Ultimate VR Experience.
Hypothetically, of course.
Now, for this article in particular, we’re gonna use the Rift. I know the HTC Vive is sorta, maybe better- and PlaystationVR looks the sleekest- but it’s Oculus leading the pack.
Some back story: I’ve had a draft about all the machines for months (I can’t make it interesting), but with Rift on the horizon, I’ve repurposed it’s better points for this- in addition to having real prices for different hardware (including the VR headset, which I assumed first-gen would hover around $500-600)
With all those shitty vegetables outta the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes.
The Central Nervous System
So, we all know the bare minimum requirements for Oculus to run smoothly. That’s all well and good, but we are building the ULTIMATE VR machine. We want a PC that doesn’t just handle the Rift, so much as it chews the Rift up, spits the Rift out, bangs the Rift’s wife, and raises the Rift’s kids to think the Rift is a pussy.
Why? Because I want to grab today’s games (and yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s...) with graphics/texture mods and at least 120fps (personally fine at 60, but VR)
In order to do this (and because the closest I’ve come to building a rig is taking the RAM from a desktop in the dumpster and plugging it into my ‘05 HP w/Vista Home Premium so Deluxe Chess quits skipping when I turn on reflections) I used PC Part Picker ( http://pcpartpicker.com/ ).
My future proof beast came out to $1868. Depending on your preferences and knowledge, you could probably get an equal/better machine cheaper. I dunno. I’d legitimately be shocked if some Master Race Nerd couldn’t, so here’s our specs:
- CPU: Intel Core i7 (Skylake) -$418
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980ti (I REALLY wanted to do dual Titan X’s, but I have no idea where it would begin to be overkill) -$650
- RAM: G. Skill Tridentz 16GB (I know they say 16 doesn’t have much over 8, but we want a future proof machine. When the industry standard jumps from 4 to 8, we still want overhead for mods and whatnot) -$120
- Storage: Seagate 2TB HDD and OCZ ARC 240GB SSD (I wasn’t sure how big to make the SSD)-$66 & $73
That’s the main stuff there. I also had to pick the CPU fan, case, power supply, optical drive, etc. I went rather cheap with most of it. Monitor is 1920x1080 because it’s 22" and I’m not insane.
If you have any tweaks or suggestions, feel free. I’d love to hear anything.
But that’s what we’re working with. Maybe it won’t raise kids to hate their real father, but it definitely will bang the Rift’s wife...for $1868. On to the rest!
Visual Processing Unit
There are a few reasons we’re using the Rift; it’s the most well-known, it releases first, maybe we’ll get one for free because of this post, and the integrated audio.
Surround sound is such an important feature. I know the other companies want to keep the cost down as much as possible, but expecting us to shell out extra for (admittedly superior) surround headphones is slightly ridiculous. (Palmer) Luckily, Oculus knew this, and used a bit of that cool billion to integrate audio.
Let’s move on to limbs..
Being able to physically walk around in VR wil GREATLY go towards immersion (the kind that meant something, before everything was “immersive”).
While it really, truly is cool that Vive lets us walk around in circles, that’s just it. We’ll be walking around in circles. Not to even mention the clump of cords hanging out the back of our heads like a cyberpunk ponytail. This is without acknowledging that the Rift (which we’re using for our setup here) has no current plans for movement. Sure they’ve tested the idea, but Oculus has stated that Rift v1.0 is a sitting experience for now.
So, we are gonna need the ability to infinitely walk in any direction. Omnidirectional treading, if you will.
Luckily, someone realised this, and we can do just that. Omnidirectional treadmills (OT from here) are becoming a thing now, and two stand out: Cyberith’s Virtualizer, and Virtuix’s Omni. Both are rather similar, with just two main differences.
The Virtuix Omni is a small-ish device with a harness that holds you in place. Its low-friction pad on the bottom allows you to stand, walk, and run 360° in a virtual world, while staying in place in the real world. It costs 500.
The Cyberith Virtualizer is similar on all counts. However, difference #1 is that its harness allows you to stand, sit(!), and kneel in addition to walking and running. Difference #2 reflects this upgrade, as it costs $600.
Since we’re going for ultimate VR, we’re gonna use the Virtualizer. But if you only plan on playing Bethesda RPGs and CoD, the Omni should be more than sufficient.
Armies and Handies...Wait, No
That...that didn’t sound right. Hands. I meant hands. This part is about the controller.
We could go a couple different ways with this. The first way would be hacking some Wiimotes, or Move controllers. But since the Media has been losing their shit over Oculus’s Touch controllers, we’ll go with that. Single ecosystems and whatnot.
Now, currently there’s no price point on Touch, but I’m gonna guess $100-160. Why? Well, because it’s still basic controller tech, and we need two. $50-60 per controller seems reasonable, but I could see them pretending that it’s brand new and touch pads are expensive, jacking the price to $80 a piece.
So let’s call it $75 each, or $150 total.
So, we now have the ULTIMATE VR EXPERIENCE (minus games). What does our total come to?
Say you don’t want a future proofed beast. What’s the price for the recommended bundle (PC by Dell/Alienware, plus headset), Touch controllers, and the Cyberith Virtualizer?
Finally, let’s go even cheaper and swap OTs. So the above, but with the Virtuix Omni is...
$2150 (because it was $100 cheaper, don’t you pay attention)
I think it’ll be a while before Joe and Mary Regperson can fully enjoy VR to the max. The initial price is also a reason I believe this would suit an Arcade/Chuck E. Cheese/Dave & Buster situation. $1.50 beats 3 grand. In the mean time, I have 2 children for sale to a good home, a kidney, a left arm, and whichever lung is smallest.
Maybe I’ll just opt for the Avegant Glyph. It’ll work with my PS3 out of the box, and all I really want is a 3DTV with surround sound strapped to my face. My controller can be my body.