Virtual reality is here, but there’s a good chance that you’re way more ready for it than your laptop. If you’re thinking about buying a VR setup, you probably need to be thinking about a new laptop that will actually be able to support it for seamless play and a truly immersive experience.
Overlooking the need for sufficient power will invariably lead to plenty of lagging and crashing, which definitely aren’t experience that you want when you’re interested in virtual reality.
Up until recently, powerful desktops were the preferred systems for use with VR sets – but not everyone wants something so cumbersome.
Technological advancements mean smaller and more powerful laptops than ever before, so if you don’t want to be confined your bedroom on a desktop, then it’s best to go for a laptop that can handle the job.
While most consumer level laptops on the market lack sufficient power, there are a number of gaming laptops and mobile workstations that will prove themselves powerful enough to give you an immersive and seamless VR experience that won’t leave you disappointed.
Recommendations for September 2020
Best VR-Ready Laptops Of 2020
Razer Blade Pro 17 – Powerful Specs
Our editors pick is the Razer Blade, which is arguably one of the best gaming laptops on the market right now. This might be out of your purview if you have limited funds, but it’s hard to go wrong with this one if you can actually afford it.
The Razer Blade comes with a 15.6 inch screen and weighs in at 4.63 pounds, so it’s not impossible to take with you on the go. It comes with the RTX 2080 inside – paving the way for excellent VR performance.
The SSD is only 512GB instead of a full 1TB, and you’ll only get 16GB of RAM instead of 24. Still, this also finds itself among the top choices if you have the budget for it.
Recommended configuration for Razer Blade Pro 17
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H Processor | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super| RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 17″ IPS-Grade 300Hz 4K (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 1 TB SSD | Operating System: | Battery Life: 4 hours | Weight: 10.63 lbs
MSI GS65 Stealth – Sleek And Thin
The MSI GS65 Stealth balances the top capabilities with a stealthy package that won’t make it obvious to everyone in the room that you’re a gaming geek.
It offers a gorgeous display and excellent performance, uses very effective thermal management to keep the thing from overheating, and it looks quite a bit better than most gaming laptops out there.
With lacklustre audio and the tendency to get pretty hot on the bottom, this device does show that there’s still some way to go before we see the perfect laptop for VR.
Recommended configuration for MSI GS65 Stealth
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6″ Fhd, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 240Hz 8ms 1920×1080 16: 9 | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 5.5 hours | Weight: 4.19 lbs
Asus ROG Zephyrus S – RTX 2070 GPU
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is another great laptop for VR, and a massive and beautiful screen makes it excellent for non-VR games It’s thin and light in spite of being a colossus with a 17 inch screen, and offers you the power of the Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics card along with 8GB of VRAM and a whopping 24GB of RAM.
The 512 GB SSD just adds to this massive laptop’s desirability as the ultimate laptop for gaming and VR applications, but of course this comes at a cost. If you can afford it without selling your kidneys or your firstborn child, this should be one of your top choices.
Recommended configuration for Asus ROG Zephyrus S
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-Inch 1920×1080 IPS display| Storage: 512GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 4 hours | Weight: 4.63 lbs
Acer Nitro 5 – Budget VR
Many gamers are still stuck with limited funds, so your dream VR-ready laptop may well remain out of reach due to financial concerns.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get into the action at all, and there are definitely cheaper options out there which still carry specs that are good enough to get you started with virtual reality applications.
At less than $700 on Amazon, the Acer Nitro 5 is the cheapest VR-ready laptop actually worth buying.
You’ll get only 8GB of RAM and a mere 256GB SSD (which are pretty average specifications with consumer laptops), but it comes with a 15.6 inch display at 1080p and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card.
This will be enough to get you started with VR without breaking the bank, but it will not give you the same performance as a high-end VR ready laptop and this is a pretty noticeable difference during gameplay.
In spite of the fact that it’s prone to overheating when overstressed and has limited storage, this remains one of the best gaming laptops in its price range.
The RAM is also upgradeable, so there’s absolutely no reason to worry about being stuck with seemingly mediocre performance. Indeed, it’s advisable for many gamers to upgrade to at least 16GB RAM when you get the means to.
Since you’ll be getting what you pay for, it’s important to note that this laptop has a somewhat disappointing trackpad and speaker system, and the reportedly dim display may annoy some users when playing non-VR games on it.
While most gaming laptops have a disappointing battery life when you’re using VR, this one will only last you an hour or two at most. Battery life is significantly better for other tasks, but will still only last about 7 hours at best which is pretty good actually.
All in all, it’s worth the money that you’ll end up paying – and this remains a solid budget option in spite of a few drawbacks.
Recommended configuration for Acer Nitro 5
CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H Processor | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM| RAM: 8 GB RAM| Screen: 15″ Full HD Widescreen IPS LED-backlit Display| Storage: 256 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 7 hours | Weight: 5.07 lbs
ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop – Upgradable Specs
It’s no surprise that all the laptops on this list are gaming laptops because running VR games requires powerful specs and a top of the line GPU. With this in mind, expect the majority of laptops that can run VR games to be sold at a premium price. And the problem with this is that not everyone can afford a premium gaming laptop right away.
Thankfully there’s a solution for this which is to buy an affordable laptop that has the minimum requirement to run VR games. The ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop is a good example of this, its has a reliable CPU with the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H and a good GPU (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti )which meets the basic requirements of running VR games.
This is more than enough for you to run VR games without problems but if you’re having troule with running multiple apps at once or you’re simply lacking in storage space, then you’re in luck because RAM and storage and very upgradable.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop’s RAM can be upgraded up to 32 GB and its storge can be raised up to 2 TB with an SSD. But we doubt you’ll need to upgrade anytime soon since it has an initial RAM of 16 GB and an initial 512 GB SSD storage.
Hardware specifications for ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop
CPU:Quad-core AMD Ryzen 7 3750H Processor | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6” Full HD (1920×1080) 120Hz IPS-Type display| Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 4.85 lbs
Lenovo Legion Y540 – Anti-Glare Display
The Lenovo Legion Y540 is a powerful laptop with amazing specs that is more than enough to run a lot of VR games.
It features an 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with the Intel Core i7-9750H and its 24 GB of RAM space that allows you to run multiple programs in the background even when playing a VR game. This makes the laptop perfect for streaming or recording your VR plays because recording and screen capture software does take up a lot of RAM and processing power.
You also won’t have trouble with storage as well since it has a good combination of an HDD for file storage and an SSD for games and important files. You’ll have a total of 1 TB in HDD space and 512 GB in SSD space.
Most importantly, the Lenovo Legion Y540’s GPU is no joke. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is capable of running a lot of VR games easily, although don’t expect it to be as good as RTX 2060 and above GPUs.
Asides from VR, the laptop is good for playing other video games as well thanks to its FHD IPS display which gives you a good view of the crisp graphical settings of your game. It also has an anti-glare feature in its display which allows you to play and see the screen even on the brightest of days.
Hardware specifications for Lenovo Legion Y540
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 | RAM: 24 GB RAM | Screen: 15. 6” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare display | Storage: 1TB HDD + 512 GB SDD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 9.38 lbs
MSI GV62 8RD-276 – Affordable VR
If you want a slightly upgraded version of the Acer Nitro 4, then this is a good choice for you. The MSI GV62 8RD-276 comes with a powerful 8t gen i7 processors (Intel Core i7-8750H|), and over 16 GB of RAM for all of your multitasking needs.
It also has a NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti GPU with over 4 GB of VRAM. Its not the best laptop when it comes to running VR but it’s one of the best when it comes between affordability and performance.
It also has a hybrid storage as it gives you a 128 GB SSD with a 1 TB HDD space. Its not bad and you can always replace the 128 GB SSD later with a much larger SSD.
The only problem we have over it is its 2 hour battery life but this is a gaming laptop with powerful specs, so that is to be expected.
Overall, the MSI GV62 8RD-276 is a good enough laptop for VR and it won’t cost a fortune to purchase it.
Hardware specifications for MSI GV62 8RD-276
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H| Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti 4GB| RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15. 6 Inches Full HD eDP IPS-Level 45% NTSC | Storage: 128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD| Operating System: Win 10 Home | Battery Life: 2 hours | Weight: 4.4 lbs
Alienware M15 – Lightweight VR Laptop
The NVIDIA RTX series is one of the best GPUs for VR games, they’re very powerful and they have lots of VRAM. However, the problem with them is that they’re very bulky which makes the laptop that has it in turn be very unportable and heavy.
The Alienware M15 is an exception though. This is a thin and relatively lightweight laptop despite having an powerful RTX GPU. This makes it more portable and desirable compared to its other RTX laptop brethren.
Asides front the sleek chassis and lightweight build, this laptop has powerful specs that matches its NVIDIA RTX 2060. It features an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and an amazing FHD display.
The GPU itself has over 6 GB VRAM and it’s one of the best GPUs in the market right now. So overall, the Alienware M15 has the specs and additional features that makes it more than a VR laptop.
Lastly, the Alienware M15 has a decent battery life of 6 hours as well so you might want to get this if you also plan to move around a lot.
Hardware Specifications for Alienware M15
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H| Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 2060 6GB | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) display, 144Hz refresh rate and 300-nit brightness| Storage: 512 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 6 hours| Weight: 4.76 lbs
ROG Mothership GZ700 – Unparalleled Gameplay
With a name coming straight out of a sci-fi film, the ROG Mothership GZ700 has come to invade the market. It’s one of the most powerful laptops on the market and definitely the most powerful laptop on this list.
It has everything you’ll ever want and need in a gaming laptop and you can use it for VR games and more.
The ROG Mothership GZ700 features a Intel Core i9 9980HK processor, 64 GB of RAM, and a 1.5 TB SSD storage for all of your gaming needs. To top it off it has a wonderful 17-inch display with a FHD resolution.
It also has one of the most powerful GPUs on the market as well with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 . You’ll be able to play your VR games quite easily and it’s unlikely you’ll run into graphical problems when you’re using this laptop.
What surprised us is that this laptop has over 5 hours of battery life which breaks the convention of powerful laptops having lower battery lives. The only downside to the ROG Mothership GZ700 is its extremely heavy weighting of about 10.58 lbs, but it’s understandable considering its monstrous specs.
The most powerful laptop requires the most powerful specs as well. Which means it requires the most expensive materials to make so don’t expect this laptop to be cheap. In fact its the most expensive laptop on this list as well.
But if budget is no concern for you, we highly recommend this powerhouse of a laptop.
Recommended Configuration For ROG Mothership GZ700
CPU: Intel Core i9 9980HK | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 | RAM: 64 GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3 inches with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution | Storage: 1.5 TB Flash Memory Solid State | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro | Battery Life: up to 5 hours | Weight: 10.58 lbs
Picking The Best VR-Ready Laptops In 2020
With VR becoming more affordable and thus more popular, a number of gaming laptops available on the market seem to be suitable for the job.
Laptops not specifically designed to be powerful gaming devices are almost certainly unsuitable for the task at hand, and even some high-end laptops might not work for you either.
Finding the best VR ready laptop for your needs means doing your own homework so that you actually know what to work for, and nothing’s going to matter in the end if your headset isn’t
compatible with the device you ultimately end up choosing.
While there are a few factors involved in making the right choice for a gaming laptop, the most important factor by far is the GPU inside of the device.
Therefore, any laptop with the proper specifications will be able to handle the job. While a number of gaming laptops still allow you to upgrade the RAM, the GPU is almost always soldered into place and thus you won’t be able to switch it out.
Therefore, investing in a gaming laptop with a powerful GPU makes a lot of sense if you intend on spending the next few years using VR applications.
The manufacturers of Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive both recommend at least the power of a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or an AMD Radeon RX 480 for smooth and consistent performance.
Oculus has also added the GTX 1050 Ti and RX 470 to another list of minimum requirements, which won’t give you the same performance as their larger siblings but will still give you the minimum requirements for the least investment if you just want to get started with VR.
The GTX 1060 and RX 480 are both popular in modern gaming laptops, but it’s important to keep in mind that even they may give you dropped frames when used at maximum settings.
This is a problem that is particularly noticeable in VR, rather than on a screen which isn’t right up against your face. For maximum performance, you’ll want to look at even more powerful GPUs, like the GTX 1070 or 1080.
Going for a more powerful graphics card will definitely give you increased performance, but it will just as certainly add quite a bit to the investment cost. Weigh your options carefully here.
Most VR headsets are designed to display 90fps, which is vital in preventing motion sickness or simply disorientation in many users.
Even the recommended minimum GPUs above are designed for displaying 60fps at 1080p, which is the target for non-VR gaming. Which is why you’ll also need a powerful CPU to back your GPU up when loading resource intensive files.
These frame rate goals won’t translate directly between non-VR and VR gaming, but it’s definitely important to keep in mind the VR headset manufacturer’s stated requirements if you want everything to run smoothly and not get motion sickness from a lower frame rate.
This is why VR isn’t recommended for lower specced computers. Playing it can be nauseous because you aren’t just seeing lag but you are experiencing it yourself!
VR isn’t actually picky about the CPU as it is the GPU and it has a lower standard requirement for it. A newer generation Intel Core i5 processors or AMD R3 processor beets the bare minimum to run VR games.
But this doesn’t mean that you should choose an i5 CPU if you have the budget to spend more. A core i7 or Ryzen 7 CPU and above is recommended to lighten the load of the GPU as well as for a much easier time of running the game.
Of Course, if you want the best performance out there, go for a Ryzen 9 or an i9 processor if you can. A good suggestion for this would be the Razer Blade Pro 17’s CPU since it’s one of the most latest and most powerful i9 processors out there.
Another important factor is the available storage on the device, since games take up a lot of local storage space and this is even more the case with VR applications than with ordinary games.
The ideal arrangement would be to go for a hard drive with a capacity of at least 1TB for your most-played games, and to keep your OS and other applications on a fast SSD.
HDDs are discouraged if you plan to play high-end video games since it will affect your loading times as well as significantly reduce your overall gaming experience. The same can be said for VR as well since you won’t just need a powerful GPU to render those assets but you’re going to need fast storage to load those assets to begin with.
This is why you’re going to need an SSD especially because a fast HDD can read and write files as fast as 125 MBps. Contrast that with a standard SSD that can do 4 or 5 times faster than that speed with an average speed of 550 MBps.
So an SSD is a must, and a very large one at that.
Display and Battery Life
Larger gaming laptops and mobile workstations can support a dual-drive setup like this, while others may only have an SSD that may be faster but also would tend to lack the same capacity.
Consider your needs carefully – if you have only a few games that you actually play and thus can rotate your selection, then you can get away with less storage space than otherwise.
Choosing the right screen depends on whether you want to play on the go or intend to mostly keep your laptop on a particular desk. A 15 inch screen or less will inherently make your device more portable, and most laptops in this range will be slightly thinner and lighter than those with a larger screen.
That being said, a larger laptop will have more room for a larger battery and will tend to come with a better resolution and better storage options.
While using VR means that you’ll be looking at the headset and not the screen, a larger screen
will still be useful for any non-VR games that you play.
Another consideration when buying a gaming laptop is the battery, since using VR will drain your battery within 3 to 4 hours when it’s not connected to a charger.
Many games already demand a lot of power, and so you will probably notice diminished performance when you’re using the battery – no matter how big it is.
Gaming requires a lot of power, and high-end graphics still basically require you to remain tethered down to a charger if you don’t want to sacrifice performance.
Budget and Size
Both VR technology and battery technology might be improving, but the fact remains that VR uses a lot of power and batteries still haven’t caught up with that yet.
While a proper gaming laptop will inevitably be a bit heftier than a MacBook Air, advancing technology does mean thinner and lighter gaming laptops than ever before.
Going thinner has traditionally meant compromising on power in the past, but that is becoming less and less true in the last few years.
Gaming laptop manufacturers might have long understood that their products are often a bit too bulky and cumbersome to carry around for many folks, but this is changing now that technology has caught up and offers viable solutions without compromise.
There are a number of gaming laptops on the market today that offer a lot of power in a relatively compact body, but larger desktop replacements also remain some of the best devices out there for gaming on.
Finding the right gaming laptop for VR requires a careful consideration in terms of both specifications and budget, and you probably won’t find anything suitable for less than $1000.
While there’s a general trend in consumer laptops where manufacturers are moving more and more towards soldering everything in place, most gaming laptops still allow users to upgrade things like RAM and storage.
If you’re on a more limited budget, don’t fret too much because there’s still the possibility of going for a more affordable model today and upgrading a few things down the road.
CPUs and GPUs generally aren’t easily replaceable though, so you should keep this fact in mind during your initial investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the features that I can upgrade later and save a bit of money in the meantime? What hardware will I not be able to change?
The GPU and CPU in virtually all modern laptops are soldered in place, and generally not at all upgradeable. This should be your priority when looking for any gaming laptop, be it for VR or otherwise, since you will almost certainly not be able to change it later.Other features like the RAM and storage can often be upgraded in gaming laptops, but it’s absolutely vital to look over this information before making a purchase decision. Not all manufacturers encourage their customers to change things around, and more and more companies are taking the same route as Apple where they force you to shell out more money at the time of purchase if you want more storage or more power. It’s bad for consumers, but this practice is great for profit margins.
Is there still a gap between VR-ready desktops and laptops in terms of features and performance?
You might already be aware that even the best gaming laptops have traditionally been considered a step down from their desktop counterparts, and this still remains the case. A desktop tower will still have more ports and more room for more fans to keep everything cool. Large gaming laptops might offer better batteries, but the reality is that most gaming laptops do a lot better in terms of performance when they’re plugged into an adaptor rather than running on the battery.