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Virtual reality is obviously not going anywhere 9 Virtual Reality Games You Absolutely Must Play in 2016 9 Virtual Reality Games You Absolutely Must Play in 2016 Three VR devices -- and possibly more -- are launcing in 2016. Here are some of the most impressive VR games that you'll be able to play this year! Read More , but it very well could be the future of video games.

Actually, it might just be the here and now, but there’s one big drawback: it’s expensive. Not only do you need to buy the VR hardware itself, but you also need a fairly high-end computer or PlayStation 4 to run the graphics-intense games.

That brings us to why we’re here today: to talk about using a laptop to power your virtual reality headset. Is it even possible? If so, is the Vive or Oculus better suited to the task? We’re going to figure it out together!

The Bad News: VR Gaming on a Laptop…

There’s no reason to beat around the bush here: a laptop isn’t the ideal way to run VR if budget is even remotely a concern. If you’ve ever shopped for PC gaming components How to Buy a Cheap Gaming PC With an Nvidia Graphics Card How to Buy a Cheap Gaming PC With an Nvidia Graphics Card Looking to build a cheap gaming PC? Dann Albright built an Nvidia-based gaming machine on-the-cheap. And he's going to show you how it's done for under $600. Read More , then you know that, in spite of being less powerful, laptop hardware costs more.

In all cases, you’re going to spend less to get a VR-ready desktop than a laptop. Going off the Oculus website, the Asus VivoPC X starts at $799. Even cheaper, Oculus advertises the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y700 at $649 as VR ready. The cheapest laptop listed is the Alienware 17 at $1,649 (although you can go cheaper than that, as we’ll get to later in this article).

Alienware AW17R4-7345SLV-PUS 17" Laptop (7th Generation Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Silver) VR Ready with NVIDIA GTX 1070 Alienware AW17R4-7345SLV-PUS 17" Laptop (7th Generation Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Silver) VR Ready with NVIDIA GTX 1070 Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.8GHz w/Turbo Boost) Buy Now At Amazon $1,290.00

Remember, these prices are from the company that makes one of the major VR headsets — it wants you to buy one so it’s not listing PCs with discouraging prices. A VR-ready laptop is going to cost big bucks.

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The last scare you will face is heat: running VR on a laptop will push it to its limits. When a laptop is pushed, it’s going to get hot These Laptop Computer Temperature Monitor Apps Could Save Your Hard Drive These Laptop Computer Temperature Monitor Apps Could Save Your Hard Drive Overheating is a leading cause of hardware failure. But heat can also make your computer slow. Use one of these apps to monitor and control the temperature of computer components. Read More . Even if you spend far more than the models we’re looking at today, you’re going to need to take steps to cool things down or you could seriously decrease the lifespan of your expensive device!

Why Would You Want VR on a Laptop?

Not everyone can have more than one computer. If you live in a small space How You Can Transform Your Apartment Into a Smart Home How You Can Transform Your Apartment Into a Smart Home I'm here to tell you that it's possible to transform your apartment, duplex, or anywhere else you might live into a smart place, one that'll impress your friends and ease your life. Read More and can’t fit a desktop, should you be excluded from the future of gaming (in some ways, you will be, as room-scale VR exists How to Set Up the Perfect VR Room How to Set Up the Perfect VR Room If you've got an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, crafting an awesome VR room will make your virtual reality experience even better. Here are some important tips for setting yours up. Read More , but still…)?

oculus rift front

By going the laptop route, you can get one computer that does everything. You won’t need a work PC and a gaming PC. Essentially, the argument used by laptop gamers to defend traditional gaming What's The Real Difference Between A Gaming Laptop And Desktop? What's The Real Difference Between A Gaming Laptop And Desktop? The fact that laptops are slower than desktops is common knowledge, but how much slower is hard to quantify, and gamers find themselves weighing the reduction in performance against the price tag and the portability. Read More laptops also applies to VR.

Another reason a laptop is cool for VR: it gives you a portable way to bring VR to your friends. Instead of always having everyone come to you, the VR can go to them. This could come in handy if you have a friend who’s a serious VR naysayer 3 Major Security & Privacy Concerns Over Virtual Reality 3 Major Security & Privacy Concerns Over Virtual Reality 2016 is purported to be "the year of virtual reality". Here are just a few of the security and privacy concerns that need addressing before the masses can happily embrace VR. Read More . You won’t need to convince them that it’s worth the trip to try it out.

Some VR Basics

Before we get into laptops, let’s take a look at some of the key things you need to know about VR. For PC VR, there are two different models that rule the roost: the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. The PlayStation VR PlayStation VR Review PlayStation VR Review Sony has finally released their low-cost headset to the world, along with a slew of Playstation games that support the device. Is it worth it? Read More is out there, but that’s not going to work with a laptop, so we can exclude that.

Here are the minimum PC specs as outlined by each of the two companies:

Oculus Rift

  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater (older graphics cards: NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater).
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater.
  • Memory: 8GB RAM or more.
  • Video Output Compatible: HDMI 1.3 video output.
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 ports, plus 1x USB 2.0 port.
  • OS: Windows 10.

Vive

  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480, equivalent or better.
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, equivalent or better.
  • Memory: 4GB RAM or more.
  • Video Output Compatible: 1x HDMI 1.4 port, or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer.
  • USB Ports: 1x USB 2.0 port or newer.
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later or Windows 10.

As you can see, those specs are no joke, and they’re much higher than the requirements of your average gaming PC.

Don’t worry, we have plenty of articles about virtual reality that’ll help you get your feet wet:

Those are just a few VR-related articles that help you figure things out. Now, if you’ve looked those over and decided that you do want to give VR a shot, and you’re sure a desktop isn’t feasible for you, the laptops we’re going to look at will do the job.

The Cheapest Models

If you buy an expensive gaming laptop (over $2,000) with a dedicated graphics card from the last year or so, it’s going to work with VR, as long as it has enough USB ports for the Rift. That’s not what we’re here to look at. Instead, we want to look at some of the laptops that are toeing the line between VR ready and not so you can spend as little as possible and still get the immersive experience you crave.

This is not an exhaustive list of sub-$1,500 VR laptops by any means, but rather it’s a list meant to give you an idea of what you can expect to find when you’re shopping.

Note: All models below come with Windows 10 as required by Oculus.

1. MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro-406 15.6″ Gaming Laptop

MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro-406 15.6" Performance Gaming Laptop Core i7-7700HQ GTX 1060 16GB 256GB SSD VR Ready MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro-406 15.6" Performance Gaming Laptop Core i7-7700HQ GTX 1060 16GB 256GB SSD VR Ready Display: 15.6" Full HD | eDP Vivid Color 1920x1080 | Operating System: Windows 10. Buy Now At Amazon $1,199.00
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1USB 2.0 port (enough for Oculus and Vive)

2. ASUS FX502VM-AS73 15.6-inch Full HD Gaming Laptop

ASUS FX502VM-AS73 15.6-inch Full HD Gaming Laptop, 7th-Gen Core i7, GTX 1060 3GB 16GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD with Windows 10 ASUS FX502VM-AS73 15.6-inch Full HD Gaming Laptop, 7th-Gen Core i7, GTX 1060 3GB 16GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD with Windows 10 15.6 Inch Full HD Display with Windows 10 Pre-installed Buy Now At Amazon $1,224.00
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, no USB 2.0 ports

3. Alienware 13

alienware 13

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, no USB 2.0 ports

Again, there are other laptops out there at this price point, but any of these will run your VR games well enough.

Vive or Oculus?

For our purposes, the main thing to consider is USB ports. The Rift requires three USB 3.0 ports and getting a laptop that has all those really limits your options. Going with the Vive can solve that problem, but it costs more than the Rift.

In the end, choosing between the two headsets is hard, and this article will help you decide Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive vs. Playstation VR: Which Should You Buy? Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive vs. Playstation VR: Which Should You Buy? Virtual reality is right around the corner and there are three systems to choose from. Here's what you need to know to make an informed, smart decision. Read More based purely on features. It also digs into the factors such a space requirements. Your lifestyle (and USB ports) will be the ultimate factor.

Are You Going to Take the Plunge?

Are you going to jump into VR with a laptop? Have you already? Do you have a model to recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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