While VR technology is still relatively new, the prices for the required equipment are now within the consumer’s reach.
Not only that but the technology has matured enough for you to have high-quality, enjoyable experiences in VR, rather than nauseating, frustrating ones.
That’s why, in this post, we will discuss our top 3 picks for the best CPUs you can go for when you build a VR PC rig.
Now that you know what our top picks have to offer, let’s take a closer look so you can decide which one suits your needs best.
This powerhouse from Intel is a high-end processing unit with 8 cores, 16 threads, a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz, and a boost clock speed of 5.0 GHz.
It’s one of the best, if not the best, performing CPUs when it comes to single-core performance.
If you pair it with a powerful GPU, there’s no title that it won’t be able to run at max settings with smooth FPS.
VR headset requirements: You really don’t have to worry about VR headset requirements when it comes to this CPU since it will easily match all of them. Just ensure you have a comparable GPU to support it.
Price: The price is its only downside as it may be out of the budget range of many PC builders out there.
Future-proofing: While its multi-threading performance is not better than some AMD CPUs, it’s still good enough to keep it relevant for many years to come.
The best overall VR CPU is the Intel Core i9-9900K thanks to its unmatched single-core performance, great compatibility, and overclocking options.
Next, we shift our attention towards what AMD has to offer us in terms of CPUs. The brand has presented us with the powerhouse that is the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x.
It features a whopping 16 cores with 32 threads, a base clock speed of 3.8 GHz, and a boost clock speed of 4.6 GHz.
This CPU is insanely powerful when you look under the hood and has more than enough computing power to easily run any VR game with smooth FPS.
Not only that but you can also experience the stunning visuals of all of these VR games in overwhelming detail since you’ll easily be able to run them at max settings.
VR headset requirements: Similar to our top pick, you really don’t have to worry about this CPU not being good enough for any VR headset out there. It’s more than enough.
The only thing you must ensure is that it has a comparable GPU to support it so you can enjoy your VR games properly.
Price: Unlike Intel’s CPUs, AMD’s CPUs are much more reasonably priced and this one is no exception. It’s definitely a high-value CPU to get for the price that it’s available at.
Future-proofing: AMD is consistently showing that it’s the king of multi-threading in recent years. This CPU is no exception. VR developers are still researching how they can use multi-threading to its fullest potential to push their games to the next level.
When these VR games finally come out, this CPU will be ready as your VR processor of choice.
The best future-proof VR CPU is the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X thanks to its high core count and astounding multi-threading performance.
The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is one of the most popular CPUs out there and for good reason.
Not only does it have great performance but it’s also available to you at a very budget-friendly price.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend or want to spend most of your budget on a high-end GPU, then this is definitely an option worth considering.
This is because while it may not be the best CPU on the market, it still offers performance that is able to run AAA VR games with ease.
The CPU boasts 6 cores, 12 threads, a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz, and a 4.2 GHz boost clock speed.
VR headset requirements: Again, you don’t have to worry about this since it will be able to fill the requirements of all current VR headsets. Just make sure you’re all good in the GPU department.
It should be noted, however, that if newer VR headsets come out in the future, they might have higher requirements that this CPU might not be able to fulfill.
Price: As mentioned earlier, this is the most budget-friendly CPU on our list. Even though it’s cheap, its performance is not to be underestimated.
Future-proofing: This is really the only downside of this CPU as it is fairly old at this point. It works great now for most titles out there. However, nobody is sure how much longer it will stay relevant.
The best budget-friendly VR CPU is the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 thanks to its reasonable pricing and comparable performance to higher-end CPUs.
It can be mind-boggling to understand what makes a CPU (Central Processing Unit) worth your money or not. This is especially true if you’re not tech-savvy. Even if you are, you may not be that well-versed in computer hardware specifically.
That’s why, in this section, we will discuss some factors that you must look out for when you buy a CPU for a PC rig that is focused on VR gaming.
These factors are:
Depending on the VR headset that you already have or one that you intend to get, you may have to consider what CPU to get carefully.
This is because different VR headsets have different CPU requirements.
Many people feel that the best approach is to just get the best CPU that money can buy. While that can definitely work, it can oftentimes be a waste of money.
If you can figure out what the CPU requirements of your VR headset are, you can wisely purchase a CPU for a reasonable price. Then, the money that you save can be put towards other components of your PC such as a powerful GPU.
Remember that a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is just as important, if not more when it comes to the performance you will get out of your PC rig.
Hence, first, decide what VR headset you want to get. Next, look up its CPU requirements. Then, make a logical choice of what the best CPU for your rig would be.
As mentioned above, it’s not always the wisest option to just throw money at a CPU in hopes that you’ll have a PC that outputs amazing performance.
Always remember that a PC is only the sum of its parts. While a CPU is definitely important, you also have to save a fair amount of your budget so that you can have a powerful GPU inside it as well.
One route that you can take is to have a budget-friendly CPU that can still output a fair amount of performance so that you can eventually replace it in a couple of years. The money that you save initially can be put towards a decent GPU.
Many people think they can have an expensive CPU and save money by having a budget GPU within their PC rig. They hope that they can replace the GPU in a couple of years.
While this is certainly a common and reasonable approach if you were to use the PC to play regular games, it might not work when it comes to VR gaming.
This is because many of the newer VR headsets are not compatible with many older GPUs.
For example, the Oculus Quest 2 does not work with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1650 and 1060 GPUs.
Hence, always make sure that you know what the VR headset’s requirements are and space your budget out accordingly.
When we say “future-proofing”, what we mean is that you have to be smart about the components that you put in your PC.
The world of VR is rapidly evolving and it’s important that you choose a CPU that will be able to keep up with it. You don’t want to be stuck in a position where you spend a ton of money on a CPU only to find that you must replace it within a year in order to keep up.
Hence, always opt for options that you know have capabilities that are still being researched by VR developers so they can get the full potential out of it, e.g., multi-threading.
Yes, a good CPU is essential if you want to have an enjoyable VR experience.
Do you think dropped frames and laggy gameplay is bad when you’re gaming regularly? Try experiencing that in VR. It’s extremely frustrating and pretty much unplayable.
This really depends on the VR headset that you have or that you intend to buy.
Most VR headsets could work on CPUs like the Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 or better.
However, newer ones that are more high-end might need more computer power in order to be sustained.
Yes, a 4-core CPU is definitely good enough for most VR games. In fact, many VR games are designed with a 4-core CPU in mind.
There are a few newer games that have VR performance that can take advantage of even more cores on a CPU.
Again, it depends on the VR headset that you have or that you intend to buy.
As we mentioned above, many VR headsets are not compatible with certain older GPUs so you have to be wary of that. The CPU is also important since your PC needs to be able to keep up with the refresh rates of your VR headset.
Overall, it’ll be a combination of both.
As you can see, it can be fairly difficult to choose the best CPU for VR gaming.
Your choice is between an AMD CPU or an Intel CPU but here’s what you should account for overall: Ensure the CPU can run the titles you want and supports the VR headset you have or intend to buy. Next, ensure that the CPU is future-proof.
If it’s not future-proof, make sure that you have a plan for your PC in terms of replacement in the future so that you can keep up with evolving technologies.
As far as our own opinion, we feel that the Intel Core i9-9900K is definitely the best of the bunch. It’ll definitely do a lot of damage to your pocket but if you have the money to dish out, it’s most certainly worth it.
What do you think of our picks? Which CPU do you have for your VR PC rig? Let us know in the comments below.