You’ll also need Windows, since neither the Oculus Rift nor the HTC Vive support Linux yet. Sure, Microsoft lets you install and use Windows 10 without a product key, but you’ll still need to buy a license and activate it to be legal. That’ll cost you another $110, bringing the grand total for this PC closer to $800 in real life, assuming you already have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor on-hand—still a relative steal for a VR-ready machine. And we’ll get into ways to shave more pennies off the total after looking at how this rig actually runs.
Before we dive into performance results, here’s a nifty AMD-made video of FX PR manager Jason De Vos building a digital version of this very rig in VR.
I wish cable management was this effortless in real life—though the AMD employee who built this PC did his damnedest to make it seem so.
That’s pretty good for a low-cost PC! But I’m getting distracted.
Testing AMD’s affordable VR PC
I tested the chops of AMD’s DIY VR PC using the $800 HTC Vive and an array of virtual reality games. Before I slipped the headset on, however, I ran Valve’s SteamVR performance test on the system. Neither Oculus nor HTC officially support the FX-6350 and I feared I'd be transported into a juddering digital world of dropped frames that would instantly spur Exorcist-style vomiting.
I had nothing to worry about. AMD’s machine falls firmly into the VR-ready range despite its humble cost. Satisfied, I slipped the Vive over my head.
And instantly found myself immersed in new realities.
I marveled as the Millennium Falcon swooped mere feet above my head in Star Wars: Trial on Tatooine. I gasped as a gigantic, majestic whale almost swiped me with its tail in theBlu. I braved yawning chasms in Everest VR. Audioshield’s frenetic action left me literally feeling the music—and physically wrecked. Petting and playing fetch with The Lab’s cute robo-dog proved curiously satisfying, while Elite: Dangerous’ impressive universe became downright awe-inspiring armed with the Vive and HOTAS flight stick.
Through it all, AMD’s DIY rig delivered a rock-solid virtual reality experience free of jarring frames drops and stuttering, no matter how quickly I whirled my head around or how hot and heavy the onscreen action became. I experienced some very slight hitching the first time I played fetch with The Lab’s dog, but was never able to reproduce it. Experiencing VR with AMD’s $650 PC feels great, full stop.
Most of the first wave of VR games lean more heavily on GPUs than CPUs, though, and the Radeon RX 480 is a relative beast. If there’s a weak spot in this build, it’s that affordable but years-old FX-6350 chip. So I leaned on it.
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