High-end virtual reality is typically associated with desktops, but you don’t need a bulky PC for a great experience. Laptops work just as well, but like desktops, you can’t simply pull one off the shelf and expect it to work with your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. They need specific hardware to run these high-end VR headsets, and that’s where our list of the best laptops for VR come into play.

Keep in mind that the bulk of your VR experience rests on the required discrete graphics chip, not the processor, as your CPU can be a couple of years old and you’ll be just fine. The GPU needs enough horsepower to maintain a rate of 90 frames per second across two displays, as anything less than that could cause motion sickness.

That said, everything we list here provides more than enough power to meet the recommended requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. But we also include the minimum and recommended hardware requirements at the end of our list in case you’re on the market for both a laptop and a high-end VR headset.

Our Favorite

Alienware 17 R5
Starting price: $1,499

Best laptops for VR

Kicking off our list is Dell’s latest Alienware 17.3-inch laptop with a very decent starting price. We’re not exactly keen with the bezels surrounding the display, it’s not the lightest notebook on the planet (9.74 pounds) nor the thinnest (1.18 inches). But that’s okay: It’s a desktop-class device for on-the-go PC gamers. It focuses on blowing out your eyeballs rather than feeling comfy under your arm or in a backpack.

The base configuration starts you with an eighth-generation Core i7-8750H six-core processor, an overclocked GeForce GTX 1060 discrete graphics chip (6GB), 8GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz and a hybrid drive with 8GB of SSD cache and 1TB of hard drive space. If you’re willing to spend the big bucks, you can cram in Intel’s Core i9-8950HK six-core chip, Nvidia’s overclocked GTX 1080, 32GB of system memory and dual storage drives.

Given this is a gaming laptop at heart, you’re not going to see all-day battery life. But there’s loads of visual bling, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, plenty of ports for your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, an Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port for adding an external graphics card, optional Tobii eye tracking and loads more features. Screen resolutions span from Full HD at 60Hz to Ultra HD at 60Hz with optional Tobii eye tracking and facial recognition.

On the battery front, configurations include 68WHr or 99WHr batteries although the hardware will drain them dry quick. They’re also powered by 180-watt (GTX 1060), 240-watt (GTX 1070) and 330-watt (GTX 1080) external power supplies.

The Others

Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501GI
Starting price: $2,899

 Best laptops for VR

The latest ROG Zephyrus isn’t exactly cheap, but there’s a lot of bang for your buck including Intel’s new Core i7-8750H six-core processor and Nvidia’s discrete GeForce GTX 1080 “Max-Q” chip with 8GB of dedicated video memory. If you’re not familiar with the term, Nvidia essentially tweaked its GPUs for mobile so that they could run within a thin and light laptop without the bulky fans, but at a 10-percent (+/-) performance reduction. Nvidia tacks the “Max-Q” label onto the names of these tweaked chips while its untouched mobile GPUs don’t have the Max-Q label.

That said, this laptop measures just 0.66 inches at its thinnest point and weighs a mere 2.2 pounds, making it ideal for moving your VR setup from location to location. It’s based on a 15.6-inch screen with a Full HD resolution, a high 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which synchronizes the output of the graphics chip with the refresh rate of the screen, eliminating visual tearing and stuttering. This screen also has a 3ms response time.

Other ingredients thrown into this laptop include 16GB of DDR4 system memory (manually upgradable to 24GB), a 512GB M.2 HyperDrive SSD (supports up to 1TB), a pair of two-watt speakers, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and more. The port complement includes one Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps), two USB-A ports at 10Gbps, two USB-A ports at 5Gbps and HDMI output. This laptop is powered by a battery that only provides two hours of standard use and a 230-watt external power supply.

Acer Predator 17 X
Starting price: $2,499

Best laptops for VR

This is another laptop with a 17.3-inch screen. Here Acer only serves up two non-configurable models, both of which rely on seventh-generation processors and Nvidia’s discrete GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip for mobile. The default configuration ships with an older seventh-generation Core i7-7700HQ processor, a Full HD resolution, 16GB of DDR4 system memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. For $500 more, you can get Intel’s Core i7-7820HK chip, an Ultra HD screen, 32GB of memory and a 512GB SSD (along with the 1TB hard drive).

Unlike the Alienware model, Acer’s laptop weighs a heavier 10.03 pounds and measures 1.8 inches thick. It’s powered by a 6000 mAh battery promising a mere three hours and a 330-watt external power supply. You won’t find a dedicated port for external graphics, but there are plenty of connectivity options including DisplayPort output, four USB-A ports (5Gbps), one USB-C port (5Gbps), a gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI output and more. You’ll also get four speakers for great sound while gaming or watching media.

Both configurations support Nvidia’s G-Sync technology. You can also easily overclock both the processor and the graphics chip using Acer’s PredatorSense utility adding “faster” and “turbo” speeds on top of the normal, default speed. PredatorSense also manages the keyboard’s RGB backlighting.

Razer Blade Pro
Starting price: $2,299

Best laptops for VR

With the Blade Pro, Razer focused on cramming loads of performance into a thin and light form factor. That means using Nvidia’s Max-Q graphics chips although Razer doesn’t specifically state it’s using this technology. That said, Razer serves up the Blade Pro in two configurations, both of which rely on a 17.3-inch screen.

The cheaper configuration includes Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7-7700HQ four-core processor, a Full HD resolution, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q graphics chip, 16GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz, a 256GB M.2 SSD and a 2TB hard drive. The other configuration relies on Intel’s Core i7-7820HK four-core processor, an Ultra HD resolution, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Max-Q GPU, 32GB of memory and your choice of a 512GB, 1TB or 2TB M.2 SSD: There’s no second hard drive.

Outside those differences, the foundation is the same, providing Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, a Thunderbolt 3 port (40Gbps), HDMI output, three USB-A ports (5Gbps), a 2MP webcam, programmable keyboard, trackpad, lighting and fan control, an SD card reader and more. Note that the Blade Pro is unique in that it crams the trackpad to the right of the keyboard rather than below it. This laptop measures just 0.88 inches thick and weighs up to 7.69 pounds.

Origin PC EVO15-S
Starting price: $1,883

Best laptops for VR

Origin PC is a popular “boutique” desktop and laptop manufacturer that lets you customize many aspects of the product you plan to purchase. The VR-ready EVO15-S is based on a 15.6-inch screen with a Full HD or Ultra HD resolution, depending on your budget. It’s backed by Intel’s Core i7-8750H six-core processor and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q chip. That latter detail means Origin’s laptop is thin and light, measuring just 0.7 inches thick and weighing 4.3 pounds. That’s thinner and lighter than Razer’s Blade Pro although the 15.6-inch screen is part of the size and weight reduction.

Here most of the configuration customization centers on memory and storage. You can choose between 8GB and 32GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz from three vendors at various prices, or between 16GB and 32GB of memory clocked at 2,666MHz from two vendors at various prices. For storage, you have numerous PCIe and SATA-based SSD options ranging from 256GB to 2TB of storage for the primary drive, and a long list of options with SSDs, hard drives and hybrid drives for the secondary drive.

On the connectivity front, the EVO15-S provides two USB-C ports (10Gbps), three USB-A ports (5Gbps), two Mini DisplayPort outputs, one HDMI port, Ethernet, an SD card reader and more. You even get a fingerprint reader for accessing Windows 10 without a password (via Windows Hello). Powering this laptop is a 55WHr battery and a 150-watt external power supply.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
Starting price: $1,788

Best laptops for VR

There are around nine set configurations of MSI’s laptop, the cheapest of which is the $1,788 GS65 Stealth Thin-051. It sports a 15.6-inch screen with a Full HD screen, a hefty 144Hz refresh rate and a 7ms response time. This screen is backed by Intel’s new Core i7-8750H six-core processor, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q chip with 6GB of dedicated video memory and 16GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz (2x 8GB).

The processor selection appears to be the same across all nine models, but if you’re willing to part with more cash, you’ll find models with the beefier GTX 1070 Max-Q discrete graphics chip with 8GB of dedicated video memory. You’ll also find 32GB of system memory and M.2 SSD-based storage between 256GB and 512GB. MSI doesn’t specifically state “Max-Q” on its product pages, but a chassis with a 0.69-inch thickness (and the eventual 4.14-pound weight) doesn’t provide enough room for Nvidia’s vanilla mobile GPUs and their required cooling fan.

Port-wise you have a nice arsenal: Three USB-A ports at 10Gbps, one Thunderbolt 3 port (40Gbps), HDMI output and an audio combo jack. The built-in keyboard stems from gaming peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries, providing per-key RGB illumination. All of this is powered by an 82WHr battery promising around eight hours of 720p video playback and a “slim” 180-watt external power supply.

HP Omen 17t
Starting price: $1,549

Best laptops for VR

HP’s laptop wasn’t designed to be thin and light, enabling the use of Nvidia’s full-blown GTX 1060 (6GB) and GTX 1070 (8GB) discrete graphics chips for mobile. It measures 1.3 inches thick and weighs 8.33 pounds, making it one of the heaviest laptops on our list. But it also has a nice 17.3-inch screen with an Ultra HD resolution that’s powered by an 86WHr battery and a 230-watt external power supply.

Under the hood, you’ll find Intel’s Core i7-8750H six-core processor along with 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,666MHz. You can also configure the laptop to include 16GB of Intel’s Optane-branded memory, which serves as a cache to speed up the laptop’s hard drive performance. That said, you have the hard drive/Optane option along with four hard drive / SSD options spanning 128GB to 512GB on the SSD side and 1TB to 2TB on the hard drive side.

Other ingredients thrown into HP’s laptop include three USB-A ports (5Gbps), one older USB-A port running at 480Mbps, headphone and microphone jacks, an Ethernet port, one Mini DisplayPort output, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and a Dragon Red backlit keyboard with highlighted WASD keys and customizable macros.

Minimum and Recommended system requirements

  HTC Vive
Minimum
HTC Vive
Recommended
Oculus Rift
Minimum
Oculus Rift
Recommended
Processor: Core i5-4590
FX 8350
Core i5-4590
FX 8350
Core i3-6100
Ryzen 3 1200
FX 4350
Core i5-4590
Ryzen 5 1500X
Graphics: GTX 970
Radeon R9 290
GTX 1060
Radeon RX 480
GTX 1050 Ti
Radeon RX 470
GTX 1060
Radeon RX 480
Graphics
(alternative):
N/A N/A GTX 960 4GB
Radeon R9 290
GTX 970
Radeon R9 290
Memory: 4GB 4GB 8GB 8GB
Output: HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.3 HDMI 1.3
USB: 1x USB-A (480Mbps) 1x USB-A (480Mbps) 1x USB-A (5Gbps)
2x USB-A (480Mbps)
1x USB-A (5Gbps)
2x USB-A (480Mbps)
Platform: Windows 7 SP1
Windows 8.1
Windows 10
Windows 7 SP1
Windows 8.1
Windows 10
Windows 10 Windows 10

 

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