Building an affordable Virtual Reality setup for Under $430

As my inaugural post I decided to talk a bit about building an affordable virtual reality setup. Many individuals may still believe that having a virtual reality setup for recreational is an expensive undertaking. Of course, this is understandable because in many cases it is not just a virtual reality headset that you are purchasing. Years ago, a overpowered gaming computer was essential to even an entry level virtual reality setup. Lucky for us, this has changed over the years. I was able to build a powerful and extremely capable virtual reality setup for under $430 by just upgrading my old desktop PC. I have had no problems running virtual reality games at the highest graphics detail with a great FPS (Frames per Second). Here is the breakdown:

For a general idea of virtual reality setups you will need:

  1. A Computer (There are of course stand-alone virtual reality headsets that have their own computers built-in but they generally are not nearly as powerful as using a computer)
    • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) $120 to $260 – You will ultimately need a dedicated graphics card in the computer capable of rendering what the virtual reality headset is showing. You can easily spend $1000s of dollars on an excellent and probably wasteful graphics card. In the future I will go into detail on how I purchased a powerful graphic card (One that has no problem playing most virtual reality games at the highest setting) for a very reasonable price.
    • Overall decent desktop PC or laptop $350 to $550 – At first glance this may look like a budget breaker but we have to keep in mind that most people already have a relatively new desktop PC at home. Laptops will be extremely hard and frustrating to upgrade (maybe even impossible if you are trying to add a GPU). Really a modern mid-end PC with 16gb of ram, a relatively new mid-end CPU and a SSD hard drive should be more than capable of running your virtual reality setup. Also, an upgrades to a desktop PC is generally very easy and something anyone could do with the help of a couple of YouTube videos. See system requirements here. Keep in mind that you would want to meet the “ultra” system requirements.
  2. Virtual Reality headset
    • The Headset $160 – $400 – This is arguably the most important part of the entire setup. What is the point of building a powerful and capable computer if you don’t have a virtual reality headset to connect to it? I will also go into more detail on how I was able to purchase an open box virtual reality headset with great specs for less than $175. A quick search shows Samsung.com is selling the Odyssey+ for only $229.99 as of February 2020. That is an absolute bargain when you take into consideration that you can now own a high specification virtual reality headset for less than the price of an XBOX one or a PS4. Initially I will admit that I didn’t expect much from a cheap (not necessarily that much lower end) virtual reality headset. I was impressed and very happy with my purchase. I have put together a setup guide for the Samsung Odyssey + which is my first affordable Virtual Reality Headset here.
    • Minimal home or apartment space – In many cases this may not be an issue. For those of you living in cramped apartments, this may take some cleaning up. Many of the newer headsets do not need a significant amount of space. A 8 x 6 or 8 x 8 area (without anything you could hit your head on) should be more than adequate for your recreational virtual reality needs.
  3. THATS IT!
    • Seriously, that’s really all you need. When I mentioned above that I spent less than $430 for my virtual reality setup I wasn’t kidding. The prices and overall cost could fluctuate from country to country and region to region, but I believe that a very usable virtual reality is easily within a lot of people’s grasp. With so many free games and virtual reality apps, there is plenty of content to keep you busy. From Google Maps to Netflix, you can quickly lose track of time without spending a fortune on content. You are now on your way to having an affordable virtual reality setup.

 

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