The 10 Best Graphics Cards For VR
10. Radeon R9 Nano
9. Aorus Gaming Box
8. Radeon RX Vega 64
7. Radeon Pro Duo
6. GeForce GTX 1070 TI
5. Zotac GeForce GTX Mini
4. Radeon Pro WX9100
3. GeForce GTX 1060 SC
2. XFX RX 580 Black Edition
1. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
The VR Revolution
We have a lot of ways that we choose to escape from our everyday lives. For millennia, we’ve told stories around the campfire that have taken us away from our daily troubles and transported us to other worlds and experiences. We’ve developed painting, theater, fiction, photography, and, more recently, the cinema, not just as a means of artistic expression, but also as a way to forget ourselves and our circumstances, if only for a moment.
It makes sense. Life is tough. Whether you were a cave dweller foraging and hunting for your daily survival, or you’re an office worker struggling to navigate through the choppy waters of intra-office politics, there’s an inherent difficulty to our quotidian existence.
Our modem computer technology has given us a new piece of hardware that can bring us deeper into other worlds than ever before: virtual reality.
If you’re unfamiliar with how VR works, we can simplify it for you. Essentially, a headset projects a stereoscopic image before your eyes while cutting out any other light source, filling both your central and peripheral vision. As you move your head, sensors in the unit move the image in conjunction, with worlds rendered in 360 degrees of reality.
In order for virtual reality to work, it has to constantly keep that entire world ready on demand, so if you suddenly flip your head around, there won’t be any lag in your view. This makes for an engrossing gameplay or moviegoing experience, but it also demands a certain baseline of computing power. That’s why, if you want to get the most out of your virtual reality setup, you’re going to need a high quality graphics card.
How To Choose The Best VR Graphics Card For You
Whether you’re your putting together your first PC capable of creating interactive VR environments or you’re looking to upgrade your current setup to keep up with the demands of the latest software, you’ll likely want to get the best graphics card that you can afford.
Realistically, your budget is a great place to start, as a lot of computer hardware gets better as it gets more expensive. That’s not quite the whole story, however, as your specific needs may exceed your budget, or even allow you to save a little money on your purchase. So, how do you evaluate one card over another?
Practically speaking, you’ll want to make sure that the card you’ve got your eye on will actually fit into your tower. Depending on what else you’ve got crammed in there, you might find that you’ll need to upgrade your tower before picking a card.
After that, you’ll want to dig into the other specs that each card has to offer. This level of computing needs a certain temperature range to keep up optimal performance, so many graphics cards will have their own cooling systems. Generally speaking, more fans will result in a cooler card, but the speed, size, and placement of those fans makes a difference as well. Larger, faster, and closer to an exhaust vent within your tower will be best.
Graphics cards also have their own RAM independent from the RAM in your computer, and more RAM in a VR graphics card will help ensure a lag-free feed with less tearing and potentially less induced nausea.
The other number that you generally want as large as you can afford is clock speed. This specification is measured in GHz, and, like RAM, it goes a long way toward determining the speed and quality of the card’s performance. That said, if a card’s overall architecture is superior, it might outperform a comparable card with higher clock speeds, so if you’re torn between two cards with similar clock speeds, you can probably get away with saving a little money.
Some virtual reality graphics cards also have aesthetic value that you may or may not have any interest in. These often come in the form of colored lights that add a little ambience to your gaming area. This is entirely a matter of personal preference, though it’s worth noting that, with a VR headset on, you won’t be able to enjoy any extra lighting.
A Brief History Of Virtual Reality
As we mentioned above, virtual reality headsets that we use today create a stereoscopic image much like the one that originated in the early 1800s. Not long after the advent of photography, the stereoscope hit the scene, utilizing a pair of twin mirrors to project a single image simultaneously into each eye. The result often created a sense of three dimensionality, giving users the feeling that they were looking at the scene in front of them, not just picture.
Virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction for many decades, and researchers have been delving into the means and materials required to bring the technology to life since at least the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the term virtual reality entered the common vernacular. Around this time, NASA begin to utilize virtual reality like devices in their astronaut training.
Often, virtual reality headsets were accompanied by some kind of controller, most often in the form of a glove or joystick that would allow the user to manipulate aspects of the environment they perceived. Today’s virtual reality systems are no different, relying on remote-control-like devices or actual video game controllers to give users the opportunity to interact with their environment.
That doesn’t mean that virtual reality is confined to the sphere of gaming, however. NASA, for example, continues its virtual reality experiments, allowing people to slap on the headset and walk along the surface of Mars. The technology is also becoming more common place in the field of medicine, where the ability to enter and interact with a simulation of the human body can at times feel like an episode of the Magic School Bus or a potentially hilarious science-fiction comedy, albeit one with potentially life saving benefits.