A series of PCs built specifically for use with virtual reality (VR) applications will be available soon, but mostly just for deep-pocketed early adopters. Oculus said this week that Oculus Ready PCs from ASUS, Alienware and Dell, bundled with the Oculus Rift head-mounted display, will be available for pre-order Tuesday, with limited-time prices starting at $1,499 and stretching past $3,000.
Each bundle will also include a virtual reality headset that normally retails for $599, for a savings of between $100 and $200. The bundles are available from Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store.
PC Makers On Board
The evolution of the content and the pricing of the Oculus-ready PCs will likely be watched by business owners as well as gamers. To name one industry, makers of productivity software are eagerly awaiting systems that will encourage workers in all sectors to work and create in a VR environment.
The gaming desktops are designed to work with Oculus Rift's published minimum system requirements, which include an Intel Core i5 or better processor and a Nvidia 970 or AMD 290 desktop graphics card. Because the system requires a desktop graphics card, most laptops and tablets won’t work with the Oculus software.
Above all, the attempt to create enticing VR-themed bundles indicated that PC makers are willing to work with Oculus specifically and support their efforts to bring VR to more people, Jeremy Joachim, an analyst with business intelligence firm Greenlight VR, told us.
"Will it actually convince non-hardcore adopters? Probably not," said Joachim. "We've seen in our consumer research that mainstream consumers require a lot of category and product education, including trying VR first hand, in order to make a significant financial commitment."
Still, it’s positive for the industry to have different technology vendors partnering in this way "to remove key obstacles to broader category adoption," he said.
Build Your Own?
Oculus is promoting several particular PCs as part of the Oculus Ready PC program. The models include the Asus ROG G20 and G11; Alienware Area 51 and X51; and the Dell XPS 8900 SE desktop tower. The Asus G11, at $1,499, is the least expensive bundle while the temporary discounts are in place, with the Dell close behind at $1,599. The price in each case reflects hardware that meets the minimal required specs to run Oculus, with an Intel Core i5 CPU and Nvidia 970 desktop graphics card.
None of the bundled PCs include Radeon graphics cards. That omission is notable because Radeon has been a major VR proponent and supporter of Oculus. That brings up the option of building one’s own Oculus-ready PC, which can be done for several hundred dollars less than the cost of a ready-made system, according to some reports.
The first Oculus Rift headsets are expected to ship in March, but the Rift pre-order page notes orders for the whole system will ship in July. Best Buy said it has an expected release date of of April 23 for the bundles.
Image Credit: Oculus Ready PCs image via Oculus.
Image credit: Product shots by Oculus.
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