Best Video Card (GPU) for Virtual Reality

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Best Video Card (GPU) for Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is one of the best ways of gaming, because it’s so all-immersive. We’re transported into new worlds. But the right hardware can make all the difference between an ordinary experience and a mind-blowing immersion into those worlds. By far the most important part in your cpmputer is the GPU: the video card. Especially for VR, this is a critical component that ensures smooth visuals, seamless gameplay, and an overall immersive journey. Let’s explore the best video cards tailored specifically to elevate your VR adventures to new heights.

Also read: Pre-built VR-ready gaming PCs and Is my PC Ready for VR?

Why you need a good video card for Virtual Reality

A good video card for VR is pretty important, because VR demands a lot more from a system than a regular monitor setup for a few key reasons:

1: Heavy on the GPU: VR requires rendering two distinct images (one for each eye) simultaneously and at high resolution for a realistic experience. A good video card ensures that these images are generated at high resolution and at a high frame rate to prevent motion sickness or discomfort.

2: Low Latency: VR heavily relies on low latency to maintain immersion. Any delay between your movement and the corresponding visual response can lead to motion sickness or a disorienting experience. A powerful graphics card helps minimize latency by rendering frames quickly.

3: Complex Rendering: VR environments can be complex, with intricate details and 3D models that need to be rendered in real-time. A strong GPU handles this workload more effectively, ensuring smoother and more detailed visuals.

4: Stereoscopic Rendering: VR involves rendering two slightly different images for each eye to create a 3D effect. This doubles the rendering workload compared to a traditional monitor setup, demanding more computational power from the GPU.

5: Consistent Performance: VR demands consistent high performance to maintain immersion. A good GPU helps in maintaining a steady frame rate and high graphical settings, preventing stuttering or lag that could break the immersion.

Overall, while a standard monitor setup might function adequately with a mid-range graphics card for many tasks, VR demands significantly more graphical power and efficiency due to the complexities involved in rendering two high-resolution, high-frame-rate images simultaneously.

NVidia vs AMD for Virtual Reality

We would highly recommend going for NVidia for Virtual Reality, over AMD. As you can see perhaps, our top video cards feature mostly Nvidia cards, because more headsets, functions or games are supported (or simply have better stability and performance) with Nvidia. AMD has caught up a little bit, but for Virtual Reality, Nvidia is still (in general) the better choice.

Top video cards for VR

Fantastic for VR: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 (16GB)

Obviously, the top pick would be the NVIDIA 4090, but in the ranking of price vs value, we’re going for the 4080, as it has 16GB VRAM and close performance. It’s currently on sale for around 800 USD (just like the 4070 Ti). They’re closely matched but for VR we would pick the 4080.

Fantastic for VR: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090

The 4090 is used by a lot of flight simmers and is right now the king of consumer GPU’s, but with a price tag of a whopping around or above 2500 USD, it’s not for everyone. It’s also huge and will not fit in all PCs. But, its high performance means you can play most VR games at a really high graphical setting, if not maxed out. Fantastic power consumption for this type of performance.

Fantastic for VR: (Used) Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

If you’re looking for an affordable yet great option for Virtual Reality, a used Nvidia 3090 GPU will give you a lot of bang for your buck. It has 24GB of VRAM and can be bought for around 600 USD, if not lower.

Fantastic for VR: (Used) Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060

Similarly, another fantastic budget option is to get a 4060 on the used market. Depending on your location, you may find them on the second hand market for a similar price of a used 3090.

(Read here PC World’s tips for buying a second-hand GPU.)

Great picks

Great for VR: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti

The 4070 Ti is currently priced at around 870 USD and so it’s a much better price-performance balance than the 4090, while still having very impressive performance. One often-mentioned benefit of the 4070 Ti is fantastic cooling.

Great for VR: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070

The 4070 isn’t the same as the 4070 Ti. It’s cheaper and has slightly lower performance, especially for older games. Performance benchmarks consistently show the 4070 Ti is faster:

Good for VR: AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT is still a fantastic GPU from AMD, suitable for VR, similarly priced to the 4070 Ti. It also has fantastic cooling.

Make sure your desired VR headset is compatible! The Pimax Crystal has this AMD compatability for the 7900 XT.

Good for VR: AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

The RX7900 XTX is a very similar card to the RX 7900 XT (without the last X), but it’s slightly more powerful and higher priced. At the end of 2022, the XT was priced 900 USD, with the XTX being 1000. In the performance test, the latter performed slightly higher (see the report from Digital Trends).

Good for VR: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Renowned for its performance, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is a great budget option while still having fantastic performance.

Good for VR: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

Offering a balanced blend of performance and affordability, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 remains a popular choice for VR enthusiasts. Its impressive power and ray-tracing capabilities ensure smooth VR experiences without breaking the bank.

Good for VR: AMD Radeon RX6950XT

The AMD Radeon RX6950XT is a formidable contender in the VR space, providing excellent performance and ray-tracing capabilities. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a high-end VR experience with robust features.

Good for VR: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060

Balancing performance and value, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 (bought new) offers good (not great) VR capabilities at a more budget-friendly price point. At around 250 to 300 USD, it’s a reliable option for users aiming for solid VR performance without compromising quality.

The least favoured video cards for VR

We wouldn’t recommend buying any GPU lower than an Nvidia 2080 (ideally no longer than the 3080…), but also don’t recommend buying the 3090 Ti — if you want to game using VR. This GPU is poorly compatible with many VR headsets and requires a repeater.

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