Virtual reality is an immersive and transformative experience that takes place in a simulated environment.
The computer-generated experience incorporates mainly visual and auditory feedback, delivering an almost real-world or fantastical experience with the use of proper devices.
For gamers, playing in 3D like you’re in the same environment is brought to life through virtual reality, thanks to the expanding advancements in the tech world.
The other device is the VR-ready laptop, which is fast enough to run VR games or applications, though there are specific ones geared towards playing VR games only.
While this may sound expensive, there are several VR-ready laptops you can get on the market that won’t break the bank, but still afford you a good VR experience.
The downside with heading into the under $1,000 range is that you’ll have to make compromises, and these become even more significant in this lower price point.
While cutting corners is more or less a risky affair, our top picks for the best VR-ready laptops under $1,000 prove that they know what features matter to buyers on a budget.
Best VR-ready laptops under $1,000
1. Dell G3 15
The Dell G3 15 laptop is among the best budget-gaming laptops, offering a competent experience without the bells and whistles. This is where concessions are made to compensate for its lower price.
Some of the compromises you have to put up with this VR-ready laptop include the plastic build, and dated massive bezels.
On the bright side, the laptop’s 1080p gaming performance allows you to enjoy the latest games in a bright environment. You also get a fast processor, good aesthetics, and a keyboard with tactile feedback.
Spec wise, the Dell G3 15 sports an 8th Gen Core i5 processor, Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics card (4GB GDDR5), RAM: 8GB DDR4, and storage 128GB SSD: 1TB HDD @5400RPM.
With such specs, you can game on the go, what with its long battery life, loud speakers, and thin chassis.
There’s a lot to like about the Dell G3 15 VR-ready laptop, like its solid build, affordability, strong performance, and plenty of storage. The interior is also stylish, and battery life is good with solid audio.
However, it has a flimsy build and its display is dim and dull. But for a budget VR-ready laptop, this one packs a punch and is a great performer.
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Unlike the Dell G3, this one has a thin NanoEdge bezel around its display screen, fitted with a webcam.
It is portable, light in weight, with a 15.6 inch FHD Wide View color-rich display, which offers lots of details to the movie or picture being displayed, even games.
The display is also quite bright if you use it indoors, with about 238 nits on average, though compared to other models with similar specs, this is a bit low.
While in Vivid mode, the ASUS Vivo book maintains clearer and sharper reds and greens, but you can also choose between Normal and Eye Care modes to your liking.
In terms of performance, this VR-ready laptop doesn’t disappoint. It packs 8GB RAM and an i7 Intel Core processor with storage drives of 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD.
So it can clearly handle any multitasking you want it to. Even with several web page tabs open and running – it won’t lag.
Several ports are available on either side, with the right side having a USB 3.0 port, audio jack, USB-C type port, and a charging port. The left side has an SD card reader port and two other USB 3.0 ports.
What we like about this laptop is its dual storage drives, its light weight, and great audio that is good for gaming. However, its battery life is pretty short, and the webcam quality isn’t that good.
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It has an affordable starting price for a VR-ready laptop but this doesn’t mean its performance is cheap.
The laptop has four starting points, all of which rely on IPS-based screens with high resolutions, and system memory of 8GB or 16GB. Also, there’s a 56WHr battery with external power supply of 180-watts, plus two built-in MaxxAudio Pro speakers for great sound while gaming.
Other powerful specs on this budget VR-ready device are the 256GB and 512B SSD storage, and optional 1TB HDD @5,400RPM.
In terms of ports and connectivity points, the Dell Inspiron packs one HDMI port, one Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB-A 3.1 Gen1 ports, an SD card slot, mic or headphone combo jack, and an Ethernet port.
It also has Bluetooth 4.2 and Wireless AC for wireless connectivity supporting up to 867Mbps.
The downsides with the Dell 15 7577 are its slow card reader, lack of dedicated subwoofer and type C USB port, and the keyboard’s backlight is optional.
Overall, this lightweight, affordable, VR-ready laptop delivers a solid performance for its price point. It also doesn’t throttle when gaming, and the battery life is fantastic.
It is solidly built even though the chassis is heavy on the plastic, but it is one of the updated gaming laptops in Dell’s stable.
The slim machine packs NVidia’s latest RTX graphics card, and is powered by an 8th gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, paired with 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and 1TB HDD storage.
It also features a 15.6 inch FHD IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, and is 19.9mm thick.
Although its display doesn’t pop, the G7 15 delivers strong performance for a budget VR-ready laptop, with loud audio from front-firing speakers, though the display is dim and the hard drive is sluggish.
Unlike other laptops here, the G7 doesn’t have as many ports, but they’re enough slots, inputs, and jacks for a modest gaming station. It features an Ethernet port, extra USB 3.1 port, noble lock slot, 2-in-1 card reader, and power jack.
The G7 15 notebook is cut from a different cloth if you look at its aesthetics, as it takes on an identity of its own. For its affordable price point, the laptop meets your multitasking needs while still offering a solid performance.
And thanks to its GTX 1060 graphics card, you still get good frame rates with games that are graphically tasking even for budget-conscious gamers.
If you don’t mind an older CPU on your VR-ready laptop, the Helios 300 would be a great pick at a similar price, with longer battery life and display that’s slightly better. But for an affordable VR-ready machine with great aesthetics, the G7 15 should be among your top picks.
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VR-Ready Laptops Buyer’s Guide
One of the most difficult things to figure out when trying to bring VR into your home is figuring out the powerful hardware you need to run the headsets and software. Not everyone wants to move about with a beefy rig, even if they’re common options for powering VR headsets and games.
The ability to move around in your own space with your VR machine, or carry it with you on the go is an appealing factor that makes many gamers want to get VR-ready laptops.
Either way, it’s best to know what to look for in a VR-ready laptop suitable to the demands of VR, even at lower price points.
Factors to Consider When Buying a VR-Ready Laptop
What follows is our buyer’s guide on the things to look for when making the decision to purchase a VR-ready laptop.
This is the first aspect you need to find out in a VR-ready laptop. Major headsets for VR like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift dictate several requirements on hardware, especially the video or graphics card.
While checking out the best VR-ready laptop for your budget, look at the ranks of its dedicated graphics chip or video card, as there are few laptops with the muscle to handle VR graphics.
HTC and Oculus manufacturers both recommend that you have at least an NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 or an AMD Radeon RX 480 for the smoothest and best VR gaming experience.
The NVidia GTX 1060 is used in several modern gaming laptops as a middle-of-the-road option, which is also apt for gaming at 60 frames per second (1080p).
To be on the safe side, you need to keenly consider the minimum specifications that headset makers give, so graphics cards with 1060 or higher will run games smoothly at higher settings. They also help you consistently hit ideal frame rates, and make all the difference.
Processor and Memory
The CPU is another VR core-component hardware requirement, besides the graphics or video card, alongside memory. These two are easier to hit as the CPU has a recommended level of at least AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or Intel Core i5 (by Oculus).
Current generation laptops run on better CPUs than these specs, which are older desktop CPUs.
HTC Vive recommends at least Intel FX-8350 or better for AMD, but both makers vary on memory with Vive recommending 4GB, and Oculus 8GB.
You can easily meet this requirement as almost every modern gaming laptop model comes with a minimum of 8GB, and 16GB on the majority of them. If you focus on finding current VR-ready laptops, you won’t need to look for a sufficient processor or more RAM.
When considering port selection for VR-ready laptops, you need to put in extra care as having more outlets means plugging in all accessories, thus you need to check the fine print to understand the kind of ports you’ll need.
Also, different headsets work with different ports, like the Vive can use DisplayPort or HDMI, while Rift needs an HDMI port and three USB ports to operate.
The headset you use also determines largely the kind of VR-ready laptop you’ll choose, so getting the right combination of ports on the laptop you want is worth considering as well.
If you have extra ports left over, it’s a bonus for you because then you can plug in other peripherals besides the VR headset, without swapping cables.
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As long as you have the hardware needs in check, like the graphics card, processor, memory, and ports, everything else, like the screen, is about taste and preference.
There are VR-compatible laptops but your usage of the machine when not wearing headsets determines the panel size you select. This also goes for design and aesthetics.
Some VR-ready laptops are also more portable than others, some slimmer and better if you’re always moving about, but all these are purely individual choices.
Similarly, larger screen sizes are great but mostly best if you’re always at your desk, not moving around. However, they also attract a higher price and are mostly on powerful models, plus they’re heavy and huge.
There are also different visual styles if you really care about what you look at, which again is a matter or preference.
Most VR-ready laptop manufacturers have sensible screens offering native display resolutions that match the graphics card, and this aspect effects performance a lot.
VR applications and games take up a lot of local storage space, so look for a laptop whose system can hold several installations simultaneously.
You can always rotate some games to external storage if the laptop you want has little space, and keep used games installed.
Ideally, the general arrangement would be a lower capacity but fast SSD for the operating system and some key apps, while 1TB HDD would be for games.
There are laptops that pack dual-drive arrangements, such as this one, but some have smaller capacity SSDs instead of a HDD.
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This isn’t much of a deal as such for VR-ready laptops but it affects performance if you use the battery for gaming more than you use the AC adapter.
It also means you force full power, thus draining the battery very quickly.
The same goes for VR, but if you don’t use the AC adapter, look for the models with longer battery life, as there are some that last at least 7, or up to 11 hours.
VR demands more power to run, so for longer jags, you’ll probably need to be tethered to a power cord.
Ultimately, you want a VR-ready laptop that’s under $1,000, which is why you’re reading this. Everything depends on the considerations above, from the graphics card, storage, processor, display, memory, and more.
Therefore you may end up spending anywhere from $750 to a little over $1,000 on a budget VR-ready laptop, but you can’t miss something for sure.
Pricing of VR-ready laptops is also tied to the graphics card, so if you find anything higher than 1060, the price tag is much higher as well, some costing over $2,000.
Budget machines may have the 1050 card, so you may find some under the $1,000 price point.
The VR-ready laptops we’ve listed here represent the best ones you can get on a budget of less than $1,000.
You may not have a lot of options at this price point, but as stated, you’ll have to make some concessions based on your budget.
However, they’ll still provide a strong bang-for-your-buck value.