There are affordable Graphics cards for Virtual Reality available on the market today. Unfortunately, many cheap GPU’s will likely not run virtual reality at the quality that you want. In order to determine which graphics card to use in a Virtual Reality PC build, I did a pretty comprehensive analysis of the current video card market. I did my analysis on the best bank for buck. As part of my previous Virtual Reality PC build under $430 article, I went into some details into how I was able to put together a VR Ready computer for a very affordable price.
Why should I worry about the Graphics Card I use for VR?
- If you are going to spend money on a Virtual Reality Headset wouldn’t it be a huge disappointment if a weak GPU kept, you from being able to take advantage of it? A very poor GPU will not be able to run games at even moderate graphics quality. Keep in mind that a virtual reality headset has two very high-resolution screens in it. An example is the Samsung Odysseys resolution is 1440×1600 @ 90hz. Running a resource hungry game like Skyrim VR which came out in 2017 could be too much for even a new graphics card. To run Skyrim VR, it is recommended to use a graphics card with a Benchmark over 12,000.
- Future-proofing your virtual reality setup. It would be unfortunate if future games needed too much horsepower for your GPU. Imagine having to go out and buy and upgrade your computer in a year or two to be able to play a VR game you have been looking forward to. A bit of a higher investment now could save you on having to purchase an entirely new graphics card down the line.
My Cheap Virtual Reality Graphics Card Analysis
I used a very popular computer hardware benchmarking website average benchmark for my analysis. I provided release dates associated with certain graphics cards to help get an idea of how well they retain value over time. My online price is based on a quick search I did on large ecommerce retailers such as Amazon or Newegg. My Used/Open Box prices are an average of prices for those same graphics cards on Ebay or Bestbuy/Microcenter Open Box. I only included cards that had a minimum of a 7,000 on the benchmark as a lower performing card would likely be unable to handle even the more basic Virtual Reality games. I stopped analyzing cards that had over a 13,000 benchmark as they tended to be fairly pricey and the Bang for Buck Ratio dropped dramatically. Don’t let the value graphics card analysis steer you towards the cheapest option.
There are many takeaways from this analysis:
- The Bang for Buck ratio decreases as you begin to look at higher end graphics cards. The higher end graphics card seems to retain their value a bit better than the lower end cards. I believe that this could have more to do with the amount of supply of low-end graphics cards on the market.
- As expected, the older the card (based on release date), the larger the discrepancy in the New to Used Graphics Card pricing. This means that a lot of great deals could be found on older graphics cards as open box or used specials online. It can also be assumed that since the older cards have been around longer that they may also be a riskier purchase. Buying any computer hardware that has been used for a couple of years has inherent risk.
- The real sweet spot when it comes to the performance that we are looking for are obvious in this analysis. The RTX 1650 Super, RTX 1660 and RX Vega 56 all seem to be great deals based on this analysis. Being that the RX Vega 56 is an older card, it is a bit more of a gamble to buy a used one online.
- Depending on your risk tolerance, they are some great deals to be had online on VR-Ready graphics cards. Personally, I found that a used/open box RTX 1660 or Vega 56 would be something that I would purchase for my PC setup.
I have used both an RTX 1660 and RTX 2060 with my Virtual Reality Headsets and believe that both have offered me outstanding performance. A quick google search can give you specific benchmarks for these cards and virtual reality headsets. There are also plenty of benchmarks for specific virtual reality games using these graphics cards.
Take a look and let me know which value graphics card you decide to go with.