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How to check if your PC meets the requirements for a VR headset

From graphics cards to CPUs, we’ll show you what you need to know.

valve index vr headset
Image: KnowTechie

With all the current discourse around the metaverse, you might be thinking about picking up a VR headset. Everyone seems to be having fun playing games like Half-Life: Alyx and Beat Saber, but you need to know about PC requirements for VR headsets before diving in.

While some VR headsets like Meta’s Quest 2 can work without any other device, most headsets need a PC. That means you’ll want to know what minimum specifications you’ll need, and if your computer will need an upgrade before it can run your VR headset.

Surprisingly, VR requirements are not as high as you think, so keep reading below to learn everything you need to know about getting your PC ready for VR.

Your PC needs these as a minimum for using a VR headset

man using vr headset to explore a space ship
Image: Unsplash

Every headset on the market needs slightly different requirements to work with your PC. Here are the minimums for the four most popular VR headsets.

Remember, these are the bare minimum requirements for them to work, and the more power you can throw at them, the better your experience will be.

Valve IndexOculus Quest 2HTC Vive Pro 2HP Reverb G2
OSWindows 10 or higher, SteamOS, LinuxWindows 10 or higherWindows 10 or higherWindows 10 or higher
ProcessorDual-core with Hyper-ThreadingIntel Core i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 1500 equivalent or greaterIntel Core i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 1500 equivalent or greaterIntel Core i5, i7 / Intel Xeon E3-1240 v5 / AMD Ryzen 5 equivalent or higher
Memory8GB RAM or more8GB RAM or more8GB RAM or more8GB RAM or more
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD RX 480 equivalent or higherNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 400 Series equivalent or higherNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or higherNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or higher
PortsDisplayPort 1.2 or higher and USB 2.0+ port1 USB portDisplayPort 1.2 or higher, USB 3.0 or newerDisplayPort 1.3, USB 3.0 Type-C

That’s nowhere near the number of headsets on the VR market today, but it’s a good start. Most headsets will require the same level of graphics card or higher, the rest of the specifications might change.

See if you can find the FAQ page from the manufacturer if it’s a headset that’s not on this list, like this one for the Vive Cosmos.

Additionally, Nvidia recommends an RTX3060 or higher for the best VR experience. AMD has higher requirements than all of the VR headset minimums above, saying you should be using a Radeon R590 or higher.

How to check that your computer meets VR requirements

windows 10 and internet explorer
Image: Windows

Windows makes it a snap to find the few pieces of hardware information you need to know, but the most important thing to check? Your graphics card, which is the most vital part.

That is the most important because most PCs have over 8GB of RAM these days. Almost any PC from the last few years has at least a dual-core CPU. And the minimum CPU requirements of an Intel i5-4590 or Ryzen 1500 are from eight years ago and five years ago, respectively.

How to check your graphics card

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu and select Settings
screenshot of windows 11 desktop showing the settings app on the start menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Click on System from the left pane
windows 11 system menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Then click on Display > Advanced display
screenshot of windows 11 advanced display settings
Image: KnowTechie

You’ll see the above screen, which will have your monitor’s name and the name of the graphics card that it’s connected to. In my PC, it’s connected to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, which is above Nvidia’s recommended spec for a smooth VR experience.

windows about menu
Image: KnowTechie

If you go back to the main System page, then click on the bottom entry, About, you’ll see your CPU and RAM specifications.

What about automated tests?

You might have seen VRMark or SteamVR Performance Test mentioned as an easy test for VR compatibility. While it’s true these programs were designed for this, they were created in 2016. VR has moved on substantially since their release.

You can’t count on the rating either program gives as an indicator if your PC can run newer VR headsets. It’s just not going to be accurate when they were designed to say if the original HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headsets were compatible.

Now you know how to check your PC for the minimum specs for any VR headset you might want to buy. Happy gaming!

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