Help me jack into the cyberrealm
September 16, 2013 11:33 AM   Subscribe

So now I have a job I'd like to splash out on a gift for myself for Christmas. I'd like to upgrade my aging desktop rig to something that can handle the Oculus Rift and give the kind of smooth, reliable performance it requires, preferably without breaking the bank. Some advice on recommended specs would be much appreciated.

My understanding is that it's preferable, if not required, to get 60FPS, locked, with VSync, at 1080p, to get the full experience. I'm optimistic (maybe too optimistic) that the implication of this article: "Can a £300 gaming PC compare to a £3000 one?" means that I can achieve this, at least in less-demanding games/VRs, without needing a monster workhorse of a computer. I'm not obsessive about maximum possible performance, or graphics quality, per se, but I don't want to invest in a Rift and have a rig that can't do it justice.

So my working spec, based on that, is:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 960T Black Edition (£100)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 (£80)
Graphics card: Geforce GTX 650 Ti 1GB (£0 - already owned, seems a bit better than the 6850 in the article)
RAM: 2 x 4GB DDR3-1600 (~£35 - I already own one stick)
Storage: 750GB HDD I already own (£0), possibly plus a ~120GB SSD (£70)
Case: Generic Coolermaster case (£0 - already owned)
PSU: Either the 450W Coolermaster RS-460-PCAP-A3 I already own (£0), the Cooler Master Silent Pro 800W from the article, which seems like overkill from their description (£100), or something in between (say £60).
Peripherals: Stuff I already own.

So as it stands that comes to about £350, including a mid-range PSU and the optional SSD. Is that feasible, or do I need to spend more? I'm in the UK. Thanks!
posted by Drexen to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't a direct answer, but you may want to consider asking the fine folks at the "Build a PC for me" reddit, /r/buildapcforme

Their specialty is recommending/critiquing builds [spec lists] within the asker's constraints of budget, country they're shopping from, and usage goals such as supporting particular games or meeting specific performance benchmarks.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:59 AM on September 16, 2013

From what I understand, AMD processors are no longer useful for gaming. Get an i5 processor/motherboard.

From a quick googling, I don't see any specifications for what kind of card the Oculus needs. I know it's supposed to come out in 1080p, which isn't that hard for a decent video card to keep up with. I would switch your AMD choices to Intel and wait and see if you need a video card in the future (hope not, I want one too!)
posted by thylacine at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2013

I disagree about AMD processors no longer being useful for gaming. AMD is definitely way behind the curve in computer technology overall but is very competitive from a value perspective.

That said, I would recommend the FX series over the Phenom you've got listed. Something like the FX-8320 is price comparable but will deliver much better performance on the AM3+ chipset of that motherboard. It's also the "black" edition so an unlocked multiplier for overclocking. Cooling is probably going to be an issue, though, especially if overclocking.

I also don't know much about the specifics of the Oculus requirements but found this on their site:

"Any standard gaming computer should be sufficient to use the Oculus Rift." [cite]

And this statement from one of the devs:
But what kind of hardware are you going to need to run this thing? The good news, according to Mitchell, is that the Rift itself won’t add a lot of extra workload to your rig… but you’ll need some pretty hefty specs anyway.

“You’ll want a decent gaming rig,” he explained. “Because you want to be running at 60 frames per second, with Vsync, in stereo 3D, and that takes a decent graphics card. The Oculus SDK really adds negligible overhead. There’s not really any more overhead for rendering for our device, or anything like that. The onus is really on game developers to optimize their engines to be running at 60 frames per second.” [cite]
All of that leads me to believe that if you've got at huge GPU in there then you can definitely get by with less components in the other areas.

I would be a little wary of only 450W on the rig, though. That GPU will be close to 200W on its own under load.
posted by camcgee at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2013

With camcgee's caveat about the power supply (get the bigger one) that will be fine, though it is a lower-end spec rather than a super-comfortable one. I have slightly worse gear than that and can play pretty much everything at high settings and 1080p. 60fps might be a stretch, though.

PC specs have gotten much more relaxed with the long console generation, expect that to change in the next few years though as the new MS and Sony consoles come online.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:50 PM on September 16, 2013

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