Graphics card-wise, the cheaper but less capable Radeon RX 470 and 3GB GeForce GTX 1060 aren’t satisfying virtual reality options, full stop. You can always splurge for a more potent card than the Radeon RX 480, but that flies in the face of crafting a budget build. On the processor side, the $118 FX-6350’s an aging favorite of price-conscious PC gamers, but you’d need to spend a lot more to upgrade to a more powerful Intel system. Intel CPUs that cut the mustard for VR start at $180 on Amazon, and Intel Core-compatible motherboards cost much more than their AMD AM3+ rivals, too. Simply put, Intel would shatter the budget of this budget build.
Then again, if you’re planning on buying a $600 to $800 VR headset, spending a bit more for additional future-proofing may be worthwhile to you. That’s up to you and your wallet.
But forget about cobbling together a whole PC.
The most exciting part of this whole endeavor was discovering that yes, despite being a bit long in the tooth and nowhere near as powerful as Intel’s Core i5 processors in a vacuum, the people’s champion FX-6350 is utterly capable of handling virtual reality workloads. That may change in the future if CPU-intensive AAA games descend on the Vive and Rift in droves—though DirectX 12’s expanded multi-core capabilities could help on that front, as the FX-6350 packs six cores.
AMD powers about a quarter of all PCs connected to Steam, and chips like the FX-6350 and FX-8350 ($146 on Amazon) are beloved by PC gamers on a budget. This system proves not only that VR-ready PCs can be built for significantly less than most people think, but that a horde of FX-packing PC gamers are just a $200 Radeon RX 480 graphics card upgrade away from being able to experience virtual reality. That’s eye-opening.
Then again, the sky-high cost of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are just as eye-opening—but that’s a whole other article.
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