The best graphics cards for VR: 2023 List

Your VR headset will work best with these graphics cards.
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The best graphics cards for VR: 2023 List - W3Tekno

With the new Meta Quest scheduled for release in three weeks, interest in virtual reality is once again growing and a variety of VR hardware is now available. Unless the VR device is controlled from an internal computer like the Meta Quest, the quality of the VR headset is decided by the power of the computer powering it. The graphics card GPU is the key to getting the most out of the new line of high-powered headsets.

Using our knowledge of graphics cards, we've compiled a list of the best GPUs for VR right now. Many of these cards have been used by us personally; comprehensive reviews will be published eventually. In making our decision, we considered Video RAM and power consumption and determined which ones were an exact match to deliver the power and efficiency needed to play in a VR headset. Of course, cost is another factor, so we've presented a variety of solutions.

NVIDIA RTX 4090 - Best gaming graphics card for VR

NVIDIA RTX 4090

Best gaming graphics card for VR
Specifications
  • Video RAM: 24GB
  • Power consumption: 450W
  • Reasons To Buy
  • Perfect for VR for use and creation
  • Lots of different versions now on the market
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • May not fit in all PC cases
  • Needs a massive Power unit
  • There's no denying that NVIDIA knocked the ball out of the park with the NVIDIA RTX 4090. It is an excellent product in every aspect, so its price is more than justified.

    The Nvidia RTX 4090's modern Ada Lovelace processor and 24GB of fast GDDR6X video RAM make it ideal for VR rendering and gaming. NVIDIA's RTX 4090 PCIE 4.0 architecture allows it to integrate with the latest CPU generations from AMD and Intel.

    The NVIDIA RTX 4090 requires a lot of power and most of the variations are large and may not fit in all PC cases, so your PC may not be able to support it. The size has advantages for VR applications as it makes the RTX 4090 quieter under load than other GPUs.

    The pictured ZOTAC Extreme Airo RTX 4090 retails for around $1600, making the Nvidia RTX 4090 a (relatively) good value for money.

    NVIDIA RTX 4060 - Best budget graphics card for VR

    NVIDIA RTX 4060

    Best budget graphics card for VR
    Specifications
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Power consumption : 115W
  • Reasons To Buy
  • Supports the latest Nvidia Technology
  • Easy to get hold of and cheap
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • SRAM size is potentially limiting
  • Retailing for $299 in the Gigabyte Windforce OC version shown, the Nvidia RTX 4060 offers excellent VR performance as well as passable content production capabilities for those looking to build a low-cost workstation.

    While some RTX 30-generation cards are currently available at deep discounts, we still recommend the RTX 4060 for its Ada Lovelace architecture-based future-proof technology. All in all, it's a great starting point for people looking to experiment with virtual reality.

    The main drawback is the insufficient 8GB VRAM, like many GPUs in NVIDIA's current generation. Although it is GDDR6, 8GB is not enough and can act as a bottleneck for VR use. The NVIDIA RTX 4060 is a VR starter card that is hard to beat.

    AMD Radeon PRO W7900 - Best AMD graphics card for VR

    AMD Radeon PRO W7900

    Best AMD graphics card for VR
    Specifications
  • Video RAM: 48GB RAM
  • Power consumption: 295W
  • Reasons To Buy
  • 48GB of VRAM on a single card
  • Incredible Video performance for next-generation display technology
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • Still very expensive at $4794
  • Takes up 3 slots in a desktop
  • The recommended and most reliable method for VR is to use a single card, but many professional producers use multiple GPU setups. This means that a graphics card with a LOT of fast video RAM that can run for hours is required.

    Fortunately, AMD has provided the solution with the recently announced AMD RADEON PRO W7900, which offers 48 GB of RAM and is designed for VR development.

    Despite featuring the latest RDNA 3 architecture and 96 processing units, the AMD RADEON PRO W7900 is still capable of satisfyingly outputting 12K TVs at 120HZ thanks to DisplayPort 2.1 connections and full compatibility with next generation VR headsets and monitors.

    AMD RADEON PRO W7900 does all this while consuming about the same amount of power as a mid-range gaming card, making it great value for money.

    Nvidia RTX 4090 (Laptop) - Best VR graphics card for a laptop

    Nvidia RTX 4090 (Laptop)

    Best VR graphics card for a laptop
    Specifications
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Power consumption: 200W
  • Reasons To Buy
  • Truly portable VR solution
  • Barely any compromise on performance when compared to a desktop GPU
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • Noisy and heavy
  • For best performance, it cannot run off the battery.
  • A laptop with the NVIDIA RTX 4090 installed can make an engaging mobile VR setup if the power connection is long enough. While the RTX 4090 for a laptop only has 16GB of RAM instead of 24, it's still our top pick for a mobile VR station, as its performance is on par with the RTX 4080 for a desktop.

    For example, the Alienware m18 laptop, which is large and effectively replaces a desktop, works well with the 4090. The RTX 4090 requires a lot of cooling when under load, so fan noise can be annoying. Also, battery usage while running can be measured in minutes rather than hours, reducing GPU performance.

    While not ideal, if you're a content creator who often does VR demos, this might be the best answer for a full VR experience while travelling.

    AMD Radeon R7900 XTX - Best value graphics card for VR

    AMD Radeon R7900 XTX

    Best value graphics card for VR
    Specifications
  • Video RAM: 24GB
  • Power consumption: 355W
  • Reasons To Buy
  • USB-C display connection
  • Tons of Video Ram for the Price
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • Some programs still require AMD card optimisation.
  • We picked AMD RADEON R7900 XTX as the best value GPU for VR because it comes with all the components needed for a great VR card.

    With 24GB of GDDR6 video RAM and a much lower price point than the competition, AMD RADEON R7900 XTX is AMD's best gaming card right now, and it's a great deal because VR titles love video RAM. Based on the latest RDNATM3 architecture, AMD R7900 XTX is future-proofed with the latest Displayport 2.1 and HDMI 2.1 connections, as well as a USB-C port perfect for VR use.

    Compared to its competitors, AMD RADEON R7900 XTX consumes less power. It uses two conventional 8-pin connections, making it easy to upgrade existing systems.

    Do you need a powerful GPU for VR?

    A graphics card must be powerful enough to drive a display that allows people to see what you're doing and play it back in the VR headset, whether the VR headset is being used for gaming or content creation. To perform equal to or better than previous generation cards, the GPU must have lots of video RAM and preferably the latest GPU architecture.

    A fair baseline for frame rate performance in a VR headset is at least 90 frames per second, as lower frame rates are much more likely to make the user nauseous. A GPU capable of running the latest VR apps and games at this speed or faster is required to make the most of the amazing possibilities offered by VR technology.

    How do I beat motion sickness with VR?

    As we mentioned earlier, the graphics card is crucial to ensure that VR experiences run at the maximum frame rates possible. People often experience motion sickness with VR due to the lower frame rates that the brain tries to compensate for. But some people will always experience motion sickness with VR, so we recommend taking frequent breaks when using a headset.

    Are Macs suitable for VR?

    The short answer is no, but the long answer is Apple With the release of Apple Vision Pro, Apple will offer Apple device users a completely different VR and AR experience. Even so, it is almost certainly incompatible with products made by other manufacturers.

    Do I need a cable tethered to my PC to run a VR headset?

    No, after the initial setup, many VR headsets can now work wirelessly from the host computer. To minimise any performance issues when using a wireless headset instead of a headset physically connected to the computer, the computer should have as powerful a graphics card as possible. However, some latency issues may occur.

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