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Oculus Rift launches March 28, and you’ll need some powerful PC hardware to run the virtual reality headset.
Rather than taking that as a negative, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey expects virtual reality to drive consumer demand for PCs that are powerful enough to cope with this medium’s demands. In a Reddit AMA, Luckey said that most people “have not had a reason to own a high-end PC for a long time,” before adding, “VR will change that, much like video-related stuff drove high-end CPU adoption.”
Graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia estimates that only around 13 million PCs (less than 1 percent of the global market) will be able to run VR in the right way when the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive headsets launch this year. That seriously limits the market for these units, putting them out of reach of most consumers. Of course, early adopters snapping up the first wave of pre-orders are tech enthusiasts who have powerful hardware at home, and Luckey is expecting VR to be such a draw that the demand for high-end components grows significantly.
“We have been working with Nvidia, AMD, and Intel since basically the start of Oculus,” he said. “They know that virtual reality is going to demand better and better hardware and drive demand for powerful GPUs and CPUs beyond the existing gaming and enterprise market. That extends to PC manufacturers using their components, obviously.”
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In the long term, Luckey says that more affordable PCs may eventually be good enough to run VR, which would open up the market — including the potential for cheaper headsets than the $600 Oculus Rift. For now, though, Luckey says that anyone without a powerful PC is best off turning to the $100 Gear VR headset which works with flagship Samsung smartphones.
“Your crappy PC is the biggest barrier to adoption, which is why we are working with all the major hardware vendors to optimize for VR,” he said. “If ‘normal’ PCs get good enough to run VR, then the majority of people will be able to buy a relatively cheap headset and just use whatever computer they already own to drive it.”
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