Oculus Rift pre-orders start shipping March 28th, but the headset is only one part of the VR equation. The PC it plugs into is critically important because virtual reality is extremely sensitive to performance. Even the slightest hiccup can disrupt an otherwise captivating experience, and powering that experience requires serious muscle. The Rift’s dual displays pump out a resolution of 1080×1200 per eye at a refresh rate 90Hz, which works out to over 233 million pixels per second.
The recommended system specifications Oculus defined last year lay out the blueprint for people who want to build their own rigs for virtual reality. You can also get complete PCs that are certified as Oculus Ready. These machines meet stringent standards and are guaranteed by Oculus to deliver a great VR experience right out of the box.
ASUS has three Oculus Ready gaming desktops split between the G11CD and ROG G20CB families. They’re all based on the latest 6th Generation Intel Core processors and NVIDIA GeForce graphics. Until April 30th, they’re also $100 off when ordered in conjunction with an Oculus Rift headset. But how do they stack up, and which one is right for you?
Our Oculus Ready lineup starts with the G11CD-WS51, which rings in at $1049–or $949 after discount. This mid-tower desktop has the same form factor as typical gaming PCs, with a stealthy exterior punctuated by red LED accents and a customizable RGB light bar that glows in millions of colors. It also offers modern conveniences like USB 3.1, a fast-charging USB port for mobile devices, and the latest 802.11ac wireless connectivity.
Under the hood, the G11CD-WS51 has a Core i5-6400 processor backed by 8GB of DDR4 memory. The quad-core CPU clocks up to 3.3GHz, providing plenty of horsepower for VR and whatever else you want to throw at the machine. Graphics is handled by a GeForce GTX 970 that not only meets Oculus’ recommended spec for VR, but also exceeds the suggested specs for most traditional PC games. Speaking of games, there’s a 1TB hard drive with loads of room for all your favorites.
The ROG G20CB brings VR readiness to a much smaller chassis that occupies just one third the volume of the G11CD. It fits into much tighter spaces without compromising on the hardware on the inside–or the looks on the outside. With a slim profile, angular lines, and additional RGB lighting, the G20CB looks more like an alien spacecraft than a gaming PC.
Like the G11CD, the G20CB has bells and whistles like USB 3.1, fast-charging support, and wicked-fast Wi-Fi. The G20CB-WS51 variant boasts the same Core i5-6400 processor and GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, as well, but it’s been upgraded in a couple of key areas. The memory is doubled to 16GB, which provides additional headroom for multitasking and serious work. Also, the hard drive has been swapped for a 512GB SSD that makes games load faster and the entire system feel much more responsive.
The bolstered memory and storage make the G20CB-WS51 a more well-rounded system overall–one that’s good for not only running VR applications, but also developing your own and creating content. Coupled with the radically downsized chassis, these improvements raise the price tag to $1449 before the $100 discount.
For $250 more, the G20CB-WS71 takes things to the next level. This iteration upgrades to a Core i7-6700 CPU clocked up to an incredible 4GHz. The higher frequency delivers superior performance across a wide range of applications, while Hyper-Threading spreads the work over eight virtual cores. You can game and stream simultaneously with ease or execute multi-threaded workloads in a fraction of the time required by conventional quad-core CPUs.
The theme of more faster cores carries over to the GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, which has more shader cores and higher clock speeds than the GTX 970. VR applications run smoother as a result, and traditional games get a nice FPS boost. The additional graphics power can also be used to accelerate performance in other applications, like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, and Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max, just to name a few.
On the storage front, the G20CB-WS71 balances the best of both worlds. Its 256GB SSD lets you put critical applications, games, and data on an ultra-fast system drive, while its 1TB HDD supplies copious storage for the rest of your data.[table id=1 /]
If you can afford it, the G20CB-WS71 is undoubtedly the best of our Oculus Ready desktops. But the entry-level G11CD-WS51 still offers a fantastic VR experience for under a grand with the current discount. To cash in, all you have to do is pre-order the Oculus Rift headset and register your interest in ASUS desktops when prompted. You’ll be sent a link to verify your order with us, after which you’re eligible for $100 off any of our Oculus Ready systems.