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Do VR Headsets Need A Computer?

VR headsets have come a long way from their first generations. They let people play realistic games, practice professional skills, close a real-estate deal, and even tour the world, all from their homes.

VR headsets are known to work with strong computers through wires. But do all VR headsets need a computer to function? Read on to find out.

Do VR Headsets Need A Computer?

The first generation of VR headsets needed powerful computers to provide an excellent virtual reality experience. They connected to a PC through wires and used its processor, graphic video card, and other components. Nowadays, some of the most high-quality headsets still need a computer.

The newest virtual reality headsets are called standalone headsets, meaning they don’t need a computer to function. They have all the parts and qualities needed for working on their own. You just have to put them on and start the fun!

Some VR headsets work with gaming consoles without needing a computer connection, and some can work with smartphones.

If you are a Mac user, check VR headset for Mac.

What Is Oculus?

The Oculus brand is the producer of Virtual Reality hardware and software. The company is a subsidiary of Facebook, built in the USA. They also partner with big companies like Samsung and Microsoft. The Oculus company produces virtual reality headsets with accessories and develops apps and games. Their two current product lines are Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift.

Oculus VR headsets are originally for the gaming industry, but their high quality and precise simulations have caught the attention of media, tourism, and many other industries.

Oculus is one of the headsets that are Compatible For Drone Flying.

Can You Use Oculus Without a PC?

Oculus has two types of VR headsets. The first ones that fall under the Oculus Rift line are for use with PCs. The second group with the Oculus Quest name are standalone headsets with built-in mobile computing hardware. They don’t need a PC to function, though you can use them with PC-based games through a USB connection.

The Oculus Rift is a PC-based VR headset that was discontinued. It gave its place to Oculus Rift S, which also works with a PC.

The standalone headsets, Oculus Go and Oculus Quest were also discontinued in favor of Oculus Quest 2, which is currently one of the most popular VR headsets.

Which VR Does Not Need A PC?

There are four types of virtual reality headsets, considering how you use them.


The First group needs a nearby PC to function. They were the first VR headsets to go up for sale. You need wires and excess assistive devices to connect the VR headsets to the PCs, which should also meet the high specifications required for a good VR experience.

Most of the PC VR headsets also need you to place sensors around the room to track your movements. They won’t function out of that specific area. Although they’re limited and expensive, they offer unmatchable graphic quality that makes them worth it for some people.

Console VR

These types of VR headsets work with gaming consoles. Currently, they’re only available for Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

Both PlayStation VR and Nintendo Labo VR need to connect to the console via a wire. The PS4 VR uses the PlayStation camera that you should buy with the headset to track your moves. However, some of the games require PlayStation Move controllers.

Phone VR

Some cheap versions of VR headsets are available that can use your smartphone’s display and processor to function. They definitely won’t provide the image quality and experience of the other kinds, but they can be a decent start to the VR world.

Additionally, some of the professional VR headsets that use PCs can also work with phones. Learn more about whether you can VR headsets with any phone

Standalone VR

The latest generation of VR headsets is the standalone ones. They don’t need any pre-existing equipment or technology to work, including a computer or console. They’ve got a built-in screen processor and battery.

There are several viewfinders integrated into the headset that recognize your position and moves. That eliminates the need for multiple external trackers placed around the room.

Much like the PC VR, these headsets have 6 degrees of freedom. However, there are no wires to limit your moves and make you uncomfortable.

The image quality and graphic chips of standalone VR headsets have been improved to meet modern standards. Although the PC VRs provide higher quality images, standalone headsets won’t disappoint you.

Lastly, standalone VR headsets are relatively cheaper than the other types, making them a more affordable choice for users.

Is VR Worth Getting 2020?

When virtual reality headsets were first introduced, they were expensive and not so easy to work with. They required powerful PCs to operate, plus multiple trackers and cables.

Because of all these barriers, VR wasn’t worth it to the majority of the people.

The quality and comfort of using VR headsets began to increase with time. When the headsets like Oculus Rift S and HTC VIVE Pro went up for sale, the high-quality experience and improved display resolution and performance that they provided amazed the users.

The same happened for PlayStation VR gaming headsets.

Then the newest generation of VR headsets that didn’t need any additional devices to run became available. You could just put them on and start gaming, watch a full-360 movie, and so on.

Plus, the brands like Oculus provided Oculus Quest, which was even cheaper than the older models. This technology was a significant leap forward.

The Oculus Quest 2 is even more improved than the previous model. The headset is lighter and carries better RAM. It offers more pixels for better immersion, and it’s also cheaper than Oculus Quest.

Plus, the library of VR games has gotten more and more complete during the past few years, reaching its peak recently. There’s a game for every taste, meaning you won’t be disappointed.

All in all, it seems like a great time to start exploring the VR world. The specs are definitely going to get better, and you might want to wait for Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset. But the available models are worth it now.

What PC Do You Need for VR?

If you want to get the best out of a tethered VR headset, you need to have a high-performing gaming computer. A regular PC or laptop will either not work or provide a slow and irritating VR experience with lots of lag and discomfort.

Each brand has recommended different hardware configurations for their VR headsets, depending on the product.

However, three main components determine if your PC can work well with VR:

Processor or CPU

Your computer should have four processors or more to provide enough computational power. The minimum CPU requirements for HTC, Oculus, or Valve models is Intel i5-4590 or greater.

Graphic Video Card or GPU

The GPU of the PC should be powerful since it has to render two displays for each of your eyes. The average GPU will provide a lower fps rate, which could cause nausea for some people. A consistent 90+ fps rate is the minimum requirement.

Valve Index headset has a minimum requirement of GTX 1070 or greater for the computer’s GPU.

Oculus Rift S and HTC Vive need the Nvidia GTX 970 or a greater GPU to function well.

Random Access Memory or RAM

Most of the known brands require a RAM of at least 8 GB for their VR headsets. Two of the exceptions are HTC Vive Pro and HTC Vive Pro Eye. They can run a RAM of 4 GB.

Additionally, some VR headsets need base stations and lighthouse boxes to track your movements. Professional headsets like the Valve Index and HTC Vive products need base stations in addition to a PC.

Some VR headsets can also work with Mac computers, but with different requirements. 

Check If Your PC is Oculus Ready

Different Oculus VR headsets have different requirements for working with a PC:

Oculus Rift CV1 Recommended Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater
  • Memory: 8GB RAM or greater
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.3 video output
  • USB Ports: Three USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 10

Oculus Rift S Recommended Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater
  • Memory: 8GB RAM or greater
  • Video Output: Compatible DisplayPort
  • USB Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port
  • OS: Windows 10

Oculus Quest Recommended Specifications

As mentioned, the Oculus Quest VR headsets don’t need a PC and can run independently. However, if you want to play PC VR games like Rift and Steam games via these headsets, you need the Oculus Link feature. You’ll have to plug the headsets into a computer with the minimum required specs.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
  • GPU: 
    • NVIDIA Titan X
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (desktop, 6GB)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (all)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (all)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 TI
    • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series (all)
    • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series (all)
    • AMD Radeon 400 Series
    • AMD Radeon 500 Series
    • AMD Radeon 5000 Series
    • AMD Radeon Vega Series
    • Memory: 8GB RAM or greater
  • Video Output: Compatible DisplayPort
  • USB Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port
  • OS: Windows 10

Final Thoughts

Much like any other new technology, VR is slowly finding its place in our houses. It’s a break from the real world, which many of us need from time to time. With the improving quality of devices and increasing convenience, the Virtual Reality experience is becoming the ultimate fun activity!

One of the most important questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a VR headset is if you want to use it with your PC, PS4, smartphone, or on its own? If you get an answer to that question, it’ll be downhills from there.