New to VR? Quickguide

If you are new to VR, welcome aboard. This shorter-than-it-should-be document has been written to help get you up to speed to all the current generation consumer level virtual reality systems available today.

Girl wearing VR headset while riding a bike

This is not what VR is.

First off – we need to ask you some questions.

Do you want or own a recent gaming computer? Are you comfortable keeping a computer updated and running? And do you like Windows OS? If so, you’d be best served by PC-based virtual reality. The two most robust platform options are the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. PC-based vr provides the following pros:

  • Best graphics
  • Best tracking solutions (the ability to move flawlessly through virtual space)
  • Far more vr accessories

Cons

  • Tethered by a cable
  • Most expensive ($800 for a vr system, $1000+ for a powerful enough computer)

Recommended PC specs

You need a pretty powerful and recent gaming computer (or laptop). You’ll want at least a 6th generation i5 or i7 CPU, and at least a 960-series or better GPU (you can also use the equivalent AMD version of those chipsets). On the laptop side, I would recommend no less than a 1060 GPU.

See also: VR Hardware

Oculus Rift or HTC Vive?

Personally we love both, and for different reasons. The Vive has better tracking (for room-scale games) and the Rift has better comfort and optics. We recommend looking for deeper reviews into both vr systems and make the decision for yourself. Even better, if you can try them both out, that would better inform your decision.

Do you own a Daydream-ready or a recent Samsung Android phone? If so, mobile virtual reality might be even closer than you think.

Benefits to mobile vr include:

  • Easier to use
  • Less up front investment
  • No cables for free 360 rotations

Cons

  • Battery life and overheating leads to short durations in VR before mandatory breaks
  • Lower graphic fidelity
  • No positional tracking
  • No 1:1 tracked input devices, yet

To get started with mobile virtual reality, you’ll want to get a compatible headset viewer, which is specialized optics that you mount your smartphone in. For compatible Samsung phones, you’ll want the Gear VR headset. For Daydream-ready phones, you can get the Daydream View (additional Daydream smartphones will be coming soon).

Our mobile vr recommendation

If you are looking to buy right now, we think a Google Pixel phone with a Daydream viewer is a smart pick for the time being. The Samsung Gear VR is a close follow-up, but we think the tracked input controller (although not 1:1 like pc-based vr systems) is an OK stop-gap measure. Make sure you get the version with a controller.

See our list of mobile vr platforms

We hope to expand this document as time goes on, but if you have any questions in the meantime, let us know.

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