From the first Oculus Rift teasers, the dream of a fantastic virtual reality experience seemed to be finally being fulfilled. While still a relatively new technological field, the experience of virtual reality varies widely, as each player has an almost entirely unique version. To help you get the best experience, we wanted to teach you how to choose a virtual reality graphics card.
Because VR games require a fairly rugged PC, we started by covering the minimum GPU requirements for popular VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift S, HTC VIVE, and Valve Index.
Minimum VR graphics cards
For the Oculus Rift S, the company recommends a minimum of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 4GB, AMD Radeon R9 290 and AMD Radeon RX 470 or higher. With VIVE headphones, HTC recommends at least one Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290 or higher. Finally, for the index, Valve recommends an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher.
While these minimal graphics cards may open the door to virtual reality for many gamers, they may not necessarily have the expected experience. Performance is always important to enjoy a game, but performance is even more important for a virtual reality game. For virtual reality games, computers will need to offer very high framing speeds to make gaming with headphones feel smoother and help reduce the chances of causing motion sickness.
Related: The best pre-built gaming computers ready for virtual reality
Luckily, every page of the product and headset manufacturer offers recommended hardware settings.
Recommended VR graphics cards
For the Oculus Rift S, the company recommends Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon R9 290 and AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher. With VIVE headphones, HTC recommends an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher. Finally, for the valve index, the company recommends an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or higher.
While these are the recommended graphics cards directly from the respective manufacturers, virtual reality titles have continued to grow and evolve over the years. The first batch of virtual reality games acted as technological demonstrations of the new hardware while game developers used to create titles with this release movement. Now, AAA games are being built specifically for virtual reality, such as Valve Half-Life: Alyx, which requires at least a 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon 580.
To choose a graphics card for virtual reality, start with the recommended specifications of the headphones as a base, and then look for a better graphics card than this, such as an Nvidia GTX 1080 or equivalent card. For the best virtual reality gaming experience, here you can see our options for getting the best virtual reality graphics cards.