5 Best VR Ready PC Computers and Laptops for HTC Vive

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We are in an exciting time as gamers. The HTC Vive and other similar VR equipment are pushing the limits of our VR tech and making VR gaming more and more a possibility of the now rather than the future.

We may not be at Sword Art Online or The Matrix levels of VR realism. But, given the horrors of those plotlines, maybe we should be grateful that those possibilities haven’t yet been realized.

Still, as VR is coming into its own as a gaming style, you’re probably wondering what kind of machine you need to get a quality VR experience. Looking specifically at HTC Vive, we’re looking at a range of the best computers for this VR headset.

While you could look at the recommended specs for the Vive, we’ve found that you need a slightly beefier computer than they recommend to get the most out of it. To that end, we’ve also provided a buying guide so you can prioritize the features most important to you.

We’ll also provide a brief discussion of the advantages of the HTC Vive itself, so you can be as confident in your VR headset as you are the computer that runs it.

Budget
best-budget-PC-for-HTC-Vive
Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop Computer
4.5/5.0
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X 8-Core
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 480
SSD: 1 Tb SSD
RAM: 16 Gb
AMD processor, highly affordable, and some expansion slots included.
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Best Value
best-value-PC-for-HTC-Vive
Omen by HP Obelisk
4.8/5.0
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900k
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
SSD: 1 Tb SSD
RAM: 32 Gb
Attractive design, and designed for mid-level gaming professionals.
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Top Pick
top-value-PC-for-HTC-Vive
ROG Strix GL12 Gaming Desktop
5.0/5.0
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
SSD: 1Tb SSD
RAM: 32Gb
Comes with premium graphics card and processor, runs on a solid-state drive.
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ProcessorGraphics CardMemoryOperating SystemUSB PortsVideo Output
Minimum RequiredIntel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or betterNVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better4 GB RAM or moreWindows 7 or more recent1x USB 2.0 or newerHDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
Recommended SpecsIntel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or betterNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or better4 GB RAM or moreWindows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 101 x USB 3.0 portHDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

Buying Guide

Processor

All VR headsets need a decent processor. When it comes to a gaming computer, this is probably the most important single component. You can have a fantastic graphics card, but it won’t give you nearly the benefit unless you have a processor that can run it.

The recommended specs for running the Vive are a computer with a minimum Intel® Core™ i5-4590 or AMD FX™ 8350.

However, we recommend something a little more powerful. An Intel i7 or better tend to run the Vive, not to mention other games, with fewer hiccoughs and other problems.

Ultimately, though, the better the processor the better your computer is likely to perform. A great processor is also key to a computer that lasts through innovations and improvements.

AMD processors have shone recently. While they’re a little less common than Intel processors, especially in pre-built machines, you may be better served by the AMD line. AMD Ryzen, in particular, offers superior speed and processing power. They offer a range of processors in this line, so feel free to shop around a little.

Processors are one of those parts where you really do get what you pay for.

If you have to choose between what parts you pour money into, we’d recommend the processor first, and the graphics card second.

Graphics Card

Similar to the processor, the recommended specs for the HTC Vive are well under the specs that allow it to perform at it’s best. For graphics, they recommend either an NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon™ RX 480. Equivalent cards work, though performance and durability may vary more with other manufacturers.

Ideally, however, you’ll use a graphics card slightly better than this. At this level, you can expect reasonable graphics performance, with a slightly lower framerate and less clarity than with a better graphics card.

If you can afford it, you’ll see the best performance from the very best cards, like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. However, if you’re looking for a more conservative option that’s still a little beefier than the minimum, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super or the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, will serve you well.

As we mentioned with processors, you need to have a processor up to scratch before you can add on a better graphics card and expect performance improvements.

RAM

RAM is the third most important consideration, and third only by a hair.

This is one of the considerations where the HTC Vive has an advantage over the competition. It only requires 4 Gb of RAM. Most other VR sets require a minimum of 8 Gb. But, like other VR headsets, the Vive will perform better with more RAM available.

We recommend starting at 8 Gb RAM if you can afford it. 16 Gb RAM will help your computer and VR system run better overall. Fortunately, if you upgrade the RAM, it will also help your computer last longer without needing a significant upgrade.

Other Considerations

Other things, like the cooling system, memory, and whether the hard drive is a traditional disk drive or a solid-state drive, are also important.

Your cooling system will allow you to play longer and helps prevent wear and tear on high-use components. While some computers can act as a space heater, ideally, they shouldn’t heat a room. Your cooling system will help your computer last longer and keep you more comfortable while you game as well.

While there is a lot of variability in cooling between computers, it’s worth checking out before you invest in a new machine. We recommend looking at product reviews, as well as professional evaluations of each computer to get a sense of how well the cooling system performs.

As a side note, fan-based cooling systems can get loud if you’re gaming for an extended period of time. If white noise is a potential irritant for you, it may be worth looking into a liquid cooling system instead.

We won’t spend too long on memory, other than noting the more is almost always better. With modern games taking up more and more space, a larger memory means more games, more save files, and less worry about external memory.

Lastly, a traditional disk drive is significantly cheaper than a solid-state drive with the same capacity. They’re also slower, a little louder, and more vulnerable to damage than solid-state drives.

Solid-state drives are significantly more expensive, but also much faster and slightly more durable.

Anymore you can find gaming computers with hard disk drives, solid-state drives, or a combination of both. Knowing that a solid-state drive increases the price, we still recommend going for a solid-state drive for as much of your memory as possible.

That may mean that you have a solid-state drive for your OS and a few other critical files, and a hard disk for everything else, or that you have a solid-state drive for everything. Whatever your combination, buying a computer designed this way ensures fast speeds and minimal lag.

Why the HTC Vive

Since the HTC Vive is an older VR model than it’s primary competitor, the latest Oculus Rift S, you may well be wondering why we chose it for this buying guide. The fact of the matter is, while the HTC Vive is the older machine, it still has some advantages over even the latest Oculus can offer.

For one thing, the Vive has a superior refresh rate. 90 Hz compared to the Rift’s 80 Hz. While the latest Oculus does have slightly better graphics, the Vive still offers good graphics and performance. The HTC Vive also has less color distortion than the Rift, making it a good choice for richly colored backgrounds and technicolor games.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to getting an older machine. The HTC Vive is still the slightly more expensive option over the Oculus Rift. But, it’s also more likely to go on sale. However, it’s a little harder to find a new Vive, refurbished models are more common.

The Vive also still has better body tracking than the Oculus Rift. It requires external sensors set up in the room, but allows for more realistic body movement and tracking in-game. It doesn’t have the same eye-tracking as the Rift, but relatively few games utilize that feature.

While overall the computer requirements for both machines are similar, the HTC does require slightly less RAM for its floor specs.

That means there are a few more computers to choose from that will run this system. Even though the VR headset itself is more expensive, the more flexible computer requirements can make it a more affordable option overall.

So, while there are certainly advantages to the Rift, we’ve chosen the HTC Vive as our focus since it’s a balanced system and available to most gamers with a middle-to-high gaming budget. We’ll also discuss the latest Rift in another post.

The Best Gaming Computers for the HTC Vive

Before we get started here, there are a few things we want to clear up about this list. This list is geared toward people who are looking for a pre-built computer.

While you can potentially get better performance from a custom-built or modified computer, we’re focusing on computers that are as close to set up and go as we can make them.

5 Best PC’s for HTC Vive Comparison Table

ImageComputerProcessorGraphics CardPrice
ROG Strix GL12 Gaming Desktop9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core processorNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GBCheck Price
Corsair One i164 Compact Gaming PCIntel Core i9-9900k 8-Core ProcessorNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GBCheck Price
CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PCIntel Core i9-9900k 3. 6GHz 8-CoreNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB Video CardCheck Price
Omen by HP Obelisk9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900k Processor, 8-Core OR AMD Ryzen 7NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SuperCheck Price
Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop ComputerAMD Ryzen 7AMD Radeon RX 480 8GBCheck Price

5 Best PC’s for HTC Vive: Detailed Review

1. ROG Strix GL12 Gaming Desktop (Top Pick)

ROG Strix GL12 Gaming DesktopView on Amazon

Editors Rating: 5.0/5.0

If you’re looking for a computer that checks all the boxes, this is probably it. While more expensive than most of the computers on this list, it’s still well within reasonable price averages for a great gaming computer.

Plus, it would be difficult to match the specs on the Strix GL12 building your own. You’d spend this much and more getting the parts alone, not to mention the case and additional customization.

Let’s talk specs for a moment. This computer is rocking NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB graphics card, with a 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core processor. Yes, this processor is designed to support overclocking.

The built-in liquid cooling system will also keep your machine running smoothly. No heat damage here.

It also boasts a 1Tb SSD (solid-state drive), to make sure you have smooth, lag-free, performance.

If you’re looking at E-sports or professional gaming, you can use the SSD hot-swap bay that comes standard with this computer.

There are some limitations to this case. It’s got slots designed for fans, a couple of additional SSD slots, and a few other customizations and upgrade options. But, since this computer is built with a liquid cooling system, you need to be especially careful making any modifications.

As a small note, this computer comes with an upgraded version of Windows 10. Instead of Windows 10 Home, it’s loaded with Windows 10 Professional.

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Tech Specs
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core processor with factory overclock
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Harddisk: 1Tb SSD
USB ports: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 8 USB 3.0 ports
RAM: 32Gb
Product weight: 24.3 lbs
The Pros
Runs on a solid-state drive
Liquid cooling system is more efficient and quieter than fan cooling
Comes with premium graphics card and processor
Windows 10 Professional
Some room for upgrades and further customization built-in to the case
Designed with pro gaming and e-sports in mind
SSD hot-swap tray
Liquid cooling system
The Cons
Shipping packaging doesn’t include protection for internal computer parts
Beefier and more expensive than you really need for VR right now (but it’ll last through many tech upgrades)

2. Corsair One i164 Compact Gaming PC

Corsair One i164 Compact Gaming PCView on Amazon

Editors Rating: 4.7/5.0

Another premium gaming computer, the One i164 is similar in most respects to our top pick computer, but in a smaller more compact case.

While that means you lose some of the customization options that come with a larger case, it’s better for gamers working with a small space. It’s also a better option if you prefer to keep your tower on the desk next to your monitor.

Like the Strix GL12, the One i164 is working with some of the best equipment on the market right now. It has the same processor, the 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core processor. To go with the processing power, you get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB.

It also features 32 Gb RAM. However, it’s a little more conservative when it comes to USB ports. It comes with 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 6 USB 3.0 ports. That’s still more than enough to run the Vive along with several other wireless peripherals.

Unless you’re running a peripheral heavy setup, you should also have plenty of space left over to use with portable USB drives.

Another difference between the two computers, the One i164 comes with Windows 10 Home, not Windows 10 Professional.

But this case is also 8 lbs lighter than the Strix GL12. The slimmer design is good for cramped spaces, and desks with a low total weight limit.

Overall, this may be the better computer of the two if you’re looking for a setup that works and doesn’t want to bother with upgrades and customization.

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Tech Specs
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
USB: 2 USB 2.0, 6 USB 3.0
Product weight: 16.27 lbs
RAM: 32Gb
OS: Windows 10 Home
The Pros
Smaller design
Comes with a premium graphics card and processor
Decent number of USB ports
Custom lighting works with Corsair peripherals for a consistent appearance
Liquid cooling system
Solid-state drive
Liquid cooling system
The Cons
Corsair’s customer service isn’t great
Limited upgradeability. Most parts cannot be switched out when more advanced versions become available

3. CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC

CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PCView on Amazon

Editors Rating: 4.6/5.0

The Cyberpower PC Xtreme isn’t quite as high-end a computer as our previous two entries. That’s okay, though. It’s more than beefy enough to run games on the highest settings and certainly more than up to the VR challenge.

This computer features the same processor as a premium PC, the 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core, while the graphics card is a step down from premium. However, the graphics card is still far from the floor specs required to run a Vive, and indeed, most games.

You’ll be running an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB with this computer.

When it comes to the VR experience, CyberpowerPC is one of the few companies that’s optimizing their computers specifically for use with VR systems. Since this computer is a few good steps above the basics of what you need for the Vive, you can also trust that it will hold up for the next generation or two of VR gear.

Unlike the other computer we’ve discussed so far, this tower also comes with two of the more important peripherals. You’ll receive a keyboard and mouse, both optimized for this system, in the packaging along with the tower.

It’s also worth noting that CyberpowerPC brought home the 2018 PC Magazine Choice Award for Overall Desktop PCs.

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Tech Specs
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB
Harddisk: 1 Tb SSD
RAM: 16GB
USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports, 6 USB 3.1 ports
Memory speed: 2400 MHz
Product weight: 32 lbs
The Pros
Award-winning computer company
Designed specifically with VR in mind
Runs a premium processor
High-quality graphics card, more than good enough for gaming use
Solid-state drive
Reasonable 16 Gb RAM
Comes with a keyboard and mouse
Comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime free tech support
Liquid-cooled system
The Cons
Graphics a step down from the best
Fans sometimes come unplugged during transit
Drivers need updating on arrival

4. Omen by HP Obelisk (Best Value)

Omen by HP ObeliskView on Amazon

Editors Rating: 4.8/5.0

When we choose the Best Value pick we’re looking for a combination of price point and design. The Best Value pick is never going to be a true top of the line machine, but it needs to perform like it is. We’re looking for maximizing the value of every dollar you’re going to spend on the machine.

In this case, that led us t the Omen. It’s not as advanced as a true pro gaming computer like our first two picks for this list, but it’s also beefier than your average casual gamer will need.

That’s not to say that the Omen is a cheap computer. It’s comfortably in the mid-range of gaming computers. You do need to invest a little money to get a good computer after all.

But, let’s get down to business. What does the Omen bring to the table?

In terms of graphics, you’ll be working with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super graphics card. That’s a step down from the 11 Gb versions premium gaming computers run, but a step up from the 2070 or worse graphics cards you’ll usually find in a mid-tier gaming computer.

Is it enough to run a Vive? Comfortably.

By now you should be familiar with the processor. The Omen is rocking the same 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900k Processor, 8-Core process as the other computers on this list so far. Do watch which model you order though, some come with an equivalent AMD Ryzen 7.

Honestly, if we had to choose, the Ryzen might be the better processor overall. But most Omens are going to come with the Intel processor, and it’s still a beast.

You also get 32 Gb of RAM, just like a Premium computer.

So, where does the Omen fall into the mid-tier category? Well, a couple of areas. It’s mostly a liquid-cooled system. But, if you are doing something that challenges the graphics card, the built-in fans are LOUD.

Also, even with the liquid cooling system and fans, it’s prone to overheating if you use it for high-demand tasks like image editing and 3D processing.

Many users end up removing a side panel to improve airflow if they do that kind of editing and processing work regularly.

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Tech Specs
Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900k Processor
Graphic card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
RAM: 32Gb
Harddisk: 1Tb SSD
Product weight: 10.14 lb
The Pros
1 Tb SSD
Liquid and fan cooled
Runs a top of the line processor and a good graphics card
32 Gb RAM
Attractive design
Relatively easy to upgrade and modify
Designed for mid-level gaming professionals
The Cons
Prone to overheating
HP doesn’t publicize some of the specs for this computer
Some variation in parts depending on the model received

5. Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop Computer (Best Budget)

Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop ComputerView on Amazon

Editors Rating: 4.5/5.0

Of course, not all of us need or can afford a premium computer. When we look for a Best Bargain pick we’re looking for an affordable option that performs above expectations for its price point.

In this case, since our minimum requirement was running the HTC Vive well, there was a minimum level we could look at. But, this computer isn’t truly the minimum. Instead, we found a computer at the lowest reasonable price point for this type of computer and found one that surprised us.

That computer was the Aspire.

The Aspire is a little different from the other computers we’ve looked at. Both the processor and the graphic card are AMD products. While we tend to give AMD a better rating for processors than the competitions, NVIDIA tends to beat out AMD when it comes to graphics cards.

So, this is a mixed bag. But, both parts are top of the line, with good specs and superior performance. The Aspire may be a cheaper computer than the others on our list, but it still packs quite the punch.

It was a little surprising to find a 1 TB SSD at this price point, but the Aspire has one. It also has 3 expansion slots for some minimal customization. It comes with a base of 16 Gb RAM but can be upgraded up to 64 Gb.

You also get a total of 8 USB ports. 4 of them are gen 2, which is more than a premium computer would use. A more expensive computer would have more USB 3 ports.

But, the Aspire’s 4 USB 3.1 ports are split between gen 1 USB 3.1 and gen 2 USB 3.1. That gives you quite a bit of flexibility if you keep in mind which ports are which.

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Tech Specs
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 480
RAM: 16Gb
Product weight: 18.4 lbs
Harddisk: 1Tb SSD
USB: 8 USB ports
The Pros
AMD processor
1 Tb SSD
8 USB ports
Highly affordable
Well above minimum specs for a Vive
Some expansion slots included
The Cons
Not as fast as more premium builds
Not liquid-cooled

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve gone over some of the best and most important considerations for an HTC Vive compatible computer.

While the individual specs matter less than the whole, we’ve also outlined some of the most important considerations when you look at a computer. All the computers on this list can and will run a Vive headset. But we’ve also set out to empower you to find your own computer or even build one from scratch.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better sense not only of the requirements for an HTC Vive, but also the advantages of having one. We’ve given you a shortlist of the best computers to choose from, and also discussed the advantages of the Vive itself.

At the end of the day, the right setup for you is entirely up to you, but we’re confident that if you keep this article in mind, you’ll be able to make a solid choice.

More importantly, we’re confident that you’ll find a computer that works now, tomorrow, and for years of VR advancements to come.


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