It’s no secret that you need a well-specified computer to handle the requirements of modern VR computers. Building a desktop to meet those hefty specs can put a dent in your wallet. That might lead you to think a VR-ready laptop is completely out of the question. The truth is, thanks to Nvidia’s 10-series graphics chips, (relatively) affordable VR-ready laptops abound. If you have plenty of money, then you’ll also be happy to hear that top-level chips such as the GTX 1080 are available in laptop form.
Here I’ve gathered together four VR-ready laptops that I think represent the best deals at their individual price points and specification levels. I’m not comparing them to each other, so they’ve been arranged from cheapest to most expensive. These machines are each aimed at users with different needs, but all of them will play ball with an Oculus Rift or other comparable VR system.
Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator series is about graphics and flashiness, with no apologies about being an entertainment-focused machine. They have also not been shy about sticking big price tags on their machines. But in regard to that last point, the Helios 300 is a bit of an exception. This is the VR-ready laptop coming close to a thousands dollars that I would actually want to own.
It’s a 15.6” laptop, which is pretty much as large as you should go if you plan on doing mobile work, at least in my opinion. 17” and larger laptops do better moving from desk to desk. I wouldn’t want one on my actual lap or an airplane. This little guy weighs a mere 2.7KG, or 6 lbs for our American friends. It’s a little crazy that such a waifish laptop can house enough power to push VR applications, but there you have it.
I was amazed to find a laptop with such a low price tag featuring a 6GB GTX 1060 as its graphics core. The 1060 is amazingly capable and there is essentially no modern video game that won’t run maxed out on the built-in 1080p screen. Coupled with the tried and tested i7-7700HQ and 16GB of RAM, there are very few consumer entertainment apps that would make this machine break a sweat.
I just can’t believe the value for money this machine represents. It even has a metal chassis and a backlit keyboard. This is not just the best VR laptop at this price, I think it’s the best laptop at this price, period.
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The Razer Blade VR Laptop
The Razer Blade is an absolute miracle of engineering. It’s an ultrabook form-factor machine with the guts of a full-on gaming laptop inside. Moreover, it’s completely VR-ready. It squeezes almost exactly the same components as the Helios into a 14” ultrathin aluminum chassis. The main display is a gorgeous 1080p IPS LCD, which is way below the sorts of resolutions that would give a GTX 1060 any sort of trouble.
The privilege of this ultra-portability comes at a steep premium – almost double the price of the Helios. The only real downside to this laptop is the meager 256GB SSD. You can double that, but the price is already high. Still, if you have the money, this is one impressive little laptop.
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MSI GS73VR STEALTH PRO-060
MSI is one of my favorite hardware makers. I’ve owned a few of their netbooks back in the day and more than my share of MSI graphics cards. They never really wowed me with their gaming laptop offerings, and yet now there are two of these machines on my list. It’s almost as if they were just waiting for something like the 10-series to come along to really blossom.
This Stealth Pro-60 comes in at just about double the price of the Helios, but the difference in specification is vast. The GTX 1070 might not be equal to two 1060s, but it makes a big difference. The 1070 generally has 40% faster performance. That doesn’t sound like a good deal so far, but it’s not just the GPU that’s beefier. This laptop has the same 7700HQ CPU as the rest, but that’s because this is the sweet spot between power consumption and performance. It’s a great choice of chip. The 16GB of RAM is also not a step up for the money, so where does the cash go?
Well, this machine is equipped with a blazing 120Hz screen which can actually take advantage of the 1070’s power to push high frame rates. It’s also got two 256GB SSDs in a RAID configuration for truly incredible primary storage throughput speeds. There’s also a 2TB mechanical drive for media storage. The RAM can be upgraded to 32GB by adding another stick to the second slot. This overall performance balance makes this a real corker of a machine, and the screen is an enormous 17.3” as well.
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MSI GT83VR TITAN SLI-252
Do you suffer from excessive money? Large bank account weighing you down? Do you lie awake at night wondering what you’ll spend your fortune on? Well, I have good news for you because I’ve found a fast way to burn through a cool five grand.
This utter monster from MSI comes with everything you could ever want, performance-wise, from a laptop – unless, of course, you’re an engineer or a scientist, in which case you’d want something with workstation components. If, however, you care about 3D graphics for VR and for the times you aren’t wearing your HMD, there are few machines that can top this.
Let’s go straight to the absolutely beastly graphics setup that comes with this machine . The GTX 1080 is basically the most powerful graphics chip that Nvidia has managed to squeeze into a laptop. And this machine has TWO of them. That means the GT83VR has more graphical power than you probably have a use for, but that also means there’s a fair bit of future-proofing built in for the money. Each card has 8GB of VRAM, which is plenty for the time being.
Powering those two monsters is a i7-7920HQ, which will hit a stonking 4.1 Ghz if you’re only really using one or two cores. If all four cores are cranking at full tilt, the minimum speed is 3.1Ghz. Either way, there’s plenty of horsepower on tap. RAM is also a healthy 32GB, which will be more than enough for the lifespan of this laptop. Honestly, even 16GB is overkill these days.
The main drive is a Samsung 960 EVO SSD. My own machine has an EVO 850, so I can attest to Samsung’s dominance in the SSD industry. There’s also a secondary mechanical drive at 1TB for media files and backups. Even this drive is faster than average, with a 7200 rpm speed.
All of these fast and hot components have one big drawback and that’s how large the chassis has to be. However, thanks to that fat body, this laptop comes with a rare feature – a BluRay drive. Sadly it’s not a BluRay burner, but even so – finding Blu Ray drives in modern PCs is a true rarity. Heck, finding any sort of optical drive is a bonus.
Other incredibly premium features include a mechanical keyboard, which is widely considered to be the best (if noisiest) of keyboard technologies. This particular bundle also comes with a whole bunch of gaming gear which you may or may not care about. The gaming mouse is a nice addition and the fancy back is also a great pack in. That mouse will likely be your main weapon outside of VR, but I really like the right-handed touchpad that doubles as a numpad.
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The Time has Come
If you had asked me two years ago whether it would ever be worth it to buy a gaming laptop for VR or anything else, I would have give you a flat-out “no”. Oh, how times have changed! There seems to be a VR-ready machine for almost every budget, which means we can now go the mobile route with little hesitation.