2016 has been dubbed as the year of VR.
Fortune – 2016 The Year of Virtual Reality?
In some ways I agree – I think 2016 is already a year where people all over the world are getting comfortable with the idea of VR. Samsung has done a great job of making an affordable VR experience with the GearVR at $99 but that experience is vastly different in both quality and content than what the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation are bringing to the table.
Here’s the catch. To really maximize the VR experience for the Oculus Rift, you need to either buy or build a high-octane PC to power it. Here’s a quick look at the specs you’ll likely want to have to really experience VR:
Intel i5 or i7 processor
8GB – 16GB of RAM
256GB Solid-state drive
1TB+ secondary drive
Killer graphics card (think $500+)
A high-performance motherboard (think overclocking)
Oh, and after all of this, remember you still need to spend $700 to buy the Oculus Rift itself. In total you’re looking at easily over $2,000 and it’s not hard to get to $3,000 depending on what video card and display you decided to go with. Believe it or not there are video cards that cost over $3,000 alone…and ways to run two together, yes that’s $6,000 just in video cards.
So while Samsung Galaxy phone owners will have the easiest path to a VR experience, it’s pretty well known that the gap between that experience and what you get with a Rift powered by a kick-ass gaming PC is a big one. I think 2016 and 2017 are likely to be more like VR’s Beta years, where early-adopters get a taste of the future, but the average person still isn’t quite prepared to jack into the Matrix.
To close this gap, high-end VR experiences would need to be powered by something different (and cheaper) than a gaming PC. I think 2018 is likely to be the year where this might become a reality, but it’s still too early to tell. For now, I’ll go on record saying that I don’t think 2016 can really be called the year of VR. I think that year isn’t far away, but it will come when VR is as ubiquitous as smart phones, and we’re not going to get there this year.