Virtual reality (VR) has been hailed as the next paradigm for gaming immersion ever since it rolled out back in the early 90s with early implementations like Sony’s Glastron.
Fast forward to today, VR took a huge leap from what it was in the previous years, but it still had a big problem – the price.
However, in recent times, manufacturers have begun making affordable VR laptops and have continued development on some pretty neat invisible mechanisms that work in the background to make VR work on even relatively modest devices.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best VR laptops under $2000.
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Dell has a huge spread of notebooks, but their Inspiron line is normally in the middle of the road.
This means that it is neither super expensive, nor is it super cheap, but they usually don’t put their high-end tech in this line, well, until now.
Visually, the top of the notebook looks and even feels like aluminum. It has a nice smooth finish to it, but it is definitely plastic.
The logo in the middle is also plastic.
The bottom of the notebook is made of the same metallic grey plastic. It really does look like aluminum, but once you pop it off and look it underneath, it becomes very obvious that it is plastic.
There are a handful of star-shaped screws that you can remove to access the internals of the notebook pretty easily.
The intake vents are very prominent and it gives it nice venting.
The rubber feet that run along the length of the notebook feels cheap. You can easily peel off a corner, which is worrisome if you are thinking of long-term use.
The hard drive that Dell puts in this laptop is a 5400 RPM one terabyte drive and the user experience is not so great with this stock drive, but you can have Dell install an SSD or put your own in.
The battery and RAM chips are also removable, but 16Gb is the most RAM that the computer can support.
In terms of the weight, the Inspiron 7000 with the 15-inch 4k screen is 4.65 pounds, which is a little bit heavier than a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and its dimensions are also a little bit bigger as well.
It’s not very massive in terms of weight and size, but it is noticeable.
On the left side of the notebook, there are holes for an AC adapter, an HDMI port, a USB port, and a headphone jack.
The HDMI port does not support 4k 60 Hertz output, which means that if you want to use an external 4k display, you will have to run it at 30 Hertz.
On the right side of the notebook, there is an SD card slot, two more USBs, and a lock slot.
The SD slot actually lets you put the whole card into the slot unlike some of the newer and smaller notebooks.
This VR–ready device has a nice 4k touch screen.
The screen can be a little dim at times, but for indoor use, it’s more than sufficient.
The fans aren’t too loud. It is low to mid-20s when it is idle and up in the 30s when the fans kick in fully.
Even though this laptop uses a Broadwell i7 chip, it is very important to understand that it operates with a 2-core chip and not a 4-core chip like you’ll find in higher-end notebooks.
For any applications that take advantage of multi-core processing, performance hurts.
A 4k screen has a lot of pixels to push out. It’s actually 4 times the number of pixels on a 1080p screen, which means that you will need some serious hardware to use the screen to its full potential.
This VR-ready laptop doesn’t have the best battery life, in fact, it lasts for just three hours even though they advertise four.
This means that when you are playing games at 1080p, you are going to get a little bit less than an hour.
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2. Dell G7 15
The Dell G7 is more or less an update or refresh from the Inspiron 75-77.
Aesthetically speaking, the G7 is very different from the Inspiron laptop.
For starters, the white and blue color makes it the first Dell gaming laptop with such a color scheme, but it also comes in a black and blue version.
The white material is made of a satin finish that looks kind of pearlescent.
The blue on the logo is metallic and has a greenish aqua reflectiveness to it.
You won’t find much flex when you press down on the keyboard, which is quite nice to see on a device that is predominantly plastic.
The hinge also feels a little bit stiffer and more robust than its previous version.
The keyboard deck is dark navy blue and the keyboard lighting is blue.
This VR-ready laptop screen has thinner bezels than the previous version, but the panel itself is much nicer as it uses the AUO 61 IDI.
It also has respectable brightness and the color is pretty good, but the feature that makes it special is the fact that you can overclock it, so coming out of the box, it runs at 60 hertz, which means your game is going to be capped visually at 60 frames per second.
The port selection is quite standard.
The one that sticks out is the Thunderbolt 3 port that supports four lanes of PCIe.
The internals of the laptop are very easy to get into. It’s held by a single screw and that screw is mounted on a C-clip.
Inside you have access to the two RAM slots, an NVME, a two and a half inch SATA, and the Intel 9564 for Wi-Fi.
With Dell, the speakers are always quite good.
This particular device doesn’t have a sub like some of the older Dell laptops, but the sound quality is good and the speaker location up front is nice.
The keyboard is good, but the keystrokes are softer and not as responsive as some of the higher-end laptops.
The touchpad has windows precision drivers with a plastic surface and the tracking experience is nice.
The button mechanism is also good. It’s very clean and simple, and it has a better trackpad experience than some of the devices that are double the price.
It has a six-core 8750H, which is an awesome processor for multiple applications.
The GTX 1050Ti also delivers a very strong performance.
This VR-ready laptop also has excellent thermals with no throttling or stress noise and very reasonable fan noise on load.
Overall, the Dell G7 is a very good laptop, especially at its price point because it has great components, good thermals, and a very nice screen that you can potentially overclock.
It uses a 56-watt-hour battery.
You are going to get around four and a half hours of battery life which is still respectable, even though it is a drop from the Inspiron 75-77.
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This VR-ready laptop is the new second generation of the ROG Scar. It is the newly updated version of the Strix line.
The top surface is metal, but it is a little ‘boxier’ in shape than previous versions. It just has some simple rounded corners with the brushed texture.
The biggest change though is the logo; it can now change colors.
It used to be locked into that old-school gamer red color, but now you can channel your inner rainbow and just let it rip.
The build quality and the reliability of the Strix laptops have always been pretty good, which is probably why they are very popular on Amazon.
It is a predominantly plastic device.
The top panel is metallic, but the inside and bottom panels are all polycarbonate.
One of its more unique features is the light strip up front.
You get full control of the software and there are two regions to light up, which you will find quite relaxing.
One of the biggest changes on this laptop is the screen.
The previous generations of Strix had some pretty thick bezels which were some of the biggest complaints a lot of people had about it.
This new generation has a pretty thin bezel and it looks much nicer.
It’s not completely bezels as there’s also a chin where they put the webcam at the bottom.
The previous Strix model was tough to open up fully. There was a hatch to access the RAM, but if you needed to open it up completely, it was a huge nightmare.
With this new version, there’s no more hatch; you can open the whole back panel easily and you have access to the fans, the RAM, the SSD, and the hard drive.
The Wifi card uses a quad antenna for better reception.
There is a USB C port, but it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3.
The display panel itself is excellent. It’s bright with good color accuracy and it’s fast.
It has a 144Htz super fast refresh rate and it is one of the fastest 144Hz panels in the market. This makes gaming look so good on the screen.
The speakers are located on the side and they sound way better than previous versions. The mids are clean, the highs are clean, and the base is actually present, but there is no sub.
The keyboard is comfortable and durable.
Its layout may take a little bit of time to get used to because of the arrow key placement between the numbers pad, but the keyboard is good overall.
The tracking is pretty accurate. It uses windows precision drivers and there are dedicated hardware buttons.
This Strix version has a GTX 1070 to go with that 6-core 8750H.
The CPU is a multi-core beast and the GPU uses that 144Hz panel.
This laptop doesn’t have the biggest of batteries.
It is a 64-watt-hour piece and you will only get three and half hours of battery life, so you will definitely need a charger in your backpack if you are going to take it to class or work because three and a half hours is not going to cut it for a full day.
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4. MSI GS65
This laptop is MSI’s latest thin and light gaming laptop, and it meets the requirement for VR.
It is running the new six-core CPU from Intel with the GTX1070 max-Q.
This version has been completely redesigned. The previous generations all share the same chassis, but with the new model, everything is brand new.
The build quality is good. It feels slightly better than GS63.
It has no red on it at all, which makes it the very first gaming laptop from MSI that isn’t black and red.
It has this black and gold theme going on that is very subtle. It’s super stealth and looks like a premium black and gold laptop.
The logo on the top panel is completely flush to the surface so you can get a skin for it if you are inclined to mask the logo out.
The hinge is on each side, so it doesn’t run along the whole length, but it feels really well built. This kind of hinge aesthetic is not something we’ve seen from MSI before.
Inside, the power button is in the middle of the laptop.
There are some panels with a little bit of flex from the perforations but it is a pretty good laptop.
The keyboard is pretty much your standard MSI keyboard. It is steelseries backlit, but the keys have this layout that takes a little bit of time to get used to.
Once you do, you will be comfortable with it.
Technically, the trackpad is running on a Windows precision touchpad, but it is using Synaptics software underneath. It feels good, but the acceleration is a bit too fast.
The accessibility is also a bit of a problem.
Generally, MSI laptops are very difficult to open because they do not have one single screw, but this model is especially difficult.
In terms of connectivity, the port selection is quite good. It even has an Ethernet port, but it would have been a lot better with an extra Thunderbolt three USB-C.
The display is excellent. It is bright, fast, and 144 Hertz.
One thing to note though is that this display does not have G-sync, and while this may be a deal breaker for some people, it isn’t the worst thing ever.
For starters, it keeps the price down.
If they had a display that was licensed for G-sync, the laptop will cost extra.
The other thing is the battery life.
By not having G-sync, you get to use Nvidia Optimus, so you can use the onboard graphics to keep your battery consumption down when you are not playing games.
The performance of this VR-ready device is excellent.
It is the six-core i7 8750H and for multi-core applications, it is a big step up from the last generation.
The battery has been significantly upgraded from the previous generations. It is now 82 watt-hours. It is a six-hour battery for regular use.
The AC adapter is 180 watts.
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The Triton 500 is a brand new, VR-ready laptop and the first truly thin and light gaming laptop that Acer has ever made.
It is basically a clone on the inside to the MSI GS65, but it is a better-built device than the MSI.
The Triton weighs 250g more than the MSI and still costs less.
You don’t have easy access to your RAM and drives; you only have access to your Wifi card and battery.
The speakers are very average sounding, but Acer has some software to try to make them sound better.
The keyboard and trackpad are also very similar to the GS65. The mechanism of the keys is a little bit different, but the layout is more similar to the GS65.
The lighting on the keyboard is zoned and they have three different zones.
Its trackpad is pretty good. It runs on Windows precision drivers and has a very smooth surface.
The Triton 500 also has very similar ports to the GS65:
3 USB-A, 1 USB-C that supports Thunderbolt 3, and an Ethernet jack.
Gaming performance is very good on this device.
The display looks smooth on the 144Hz panel and all the popular titles will play well on it.
It also has an overclockable GPU and a great thermal performance.
If you activate cooler boost and crank up the fan to the max, you will get the best thermal performance, but the fans will get louder.
The screen is overclockable to 3ms, but it’s bright and reasonably color accurate.
It’s an 84-watt-hour battery and you‘ll get up to 6 hours of battery life.
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If you can spare a couple of dollars, I recommend splurging on any of these five VR-ready laptops if you are looking for a device with a compact design and powerful performance.