Virtual Reality: How to Spec a VR Computer
Technology is growing and changing every day in the engineering world. To help keep up with these trends on the virtual reality side of things, having the right equipment is essential. This blog will go through some steps and some things to look out for when it comes to a virtual reality capable computer.
With all the computer and laptop options, a single area listing minimum specs to run virtual reality is useful. This blog will hopefully help eliminate some of this confusion and help to test your computer to see that it’s ready to run the virtual reality. We will also show where to find the current specs for the laptop or desktop is used. Last will be some programs that can be downloaded and used to test your system for virtual reality and some computer recommendations based on experience and applications we have used at Perception Engineering.
For this blog, we will mainly be comparing the recommended specs for the HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, and the Oculus Rift. Both have similar recommended computer specs with some variation. There is some fluctuation in some areas and different hardware/software that can be used and still run virtual reality perfectly fine. These specs are taken from the headset manufacturers’ websites.
Figure 1: Recommended Specs
Below will be the listed links to these websites. Many of these websites will also include a separate list of the minimum requirements and some replacements to their recommended lists. These specs are provided to aid in providing the most optimal performance without going overkill and searching for the top-of-the-line components that are potentially unnecessary for the given application.
HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro – https://www.vive.com/us/ready/
Oculus Rift - https://www.oculus.com/rift/#oui-csl-rift-games=mages-tale (3/4 down the page)
How to Identify Current Computer Specs
Now that the information on what is recommended has been provided, how can the current computer be used to find it’s specs? There are a couple of different ways to find this information, but for this blog, we will stick to one. First, for the USB and video output, the best way to find this information is to locate the manufacture website where they’ll have this laid out. If the computer is custom built, wherever the component was bought from will have all the necessary information either on the website or on the box it came in. The processor, graphics, memory, and operating system can be located using the computers search option. The first thing to do is to utilize the search option and search ‘Run’.
Figure 2: Searching Run
Once that app has been selected, the app will open, and it will prompt for information to be inputted. This will search for the specific information that has been entered and open the dialog box used to find the computer specs. Enter in ‘dxdiag’ and select OK.
Figure 3: DxDiag Search
The computer will now open the DirectX Diagnostic Tool and have all the information, except the USB and video output options, displayed in the window. Some of the information, such as the graphics card, will be listed on other pages. Comparing specs to the recommended specs supplied above can now be achieved and the ability to decide whether to upgrade individual components or computers as a whole can be decided.
Figure 4: Computer Specs
With all the computer specs lining up with the recommended specs from the company to the respective headset, there are some more tests that can be done to help ensure optimal performance and see areas that may need improvement. These tests are done through Steam. For those who may not know, Steam is an entertainment platform that is leading the way with virtual reality information, tests, and games. For our application, Steam has been essential for viewing CAD files in SolidWorks. Download, install and make a Steam account to be able to use this platform for testing the computer's capability with virtual reality. Once all this is completed, the next step is to search the store and type ‘SteamVR Performance Test’. This is a free performance test provided by the company Valve. Download this test and run it.
Figure 5: SteamVR Performance Test
The software will run for a couple of minutes doing multiple tests including running some higher quality graphics while it monitors the number of frames tested, percentage of frames that drop below 90 fps, and the average quality. In the system specs area, it will highlight the OS, GPU, or CPU green, red, or yellow. Green being ready for virtual reality, yellow for it is capable, but it could be upgraded, or red for it not being ready. At the bottom of the results window, there is the option to show details and it will provide information from the test.
Figure 6: SteamVR Performance Test Results
Virtual Reality at Perception Engineering
Here at Perception Engineering, we have been implementing virtual reality with some of our CAD designs and experimenting first hand some of the benefits of this technology. We have run our virtual reality software on two different laptops and haven’t faced too many issues. The main issue has been with the size of some of the CAD files we have tested. With some upgraded components to the computers, these issues will be eliminated. The previous laptop we had been using for virtual reality was an MSI GT72 Dominator Pro. This laptop has been able to handle what has been required from our virtual reality needs. Our current laptop that we’ve switched to is an Eluktronics P650 laptop. This has been able to keep up with some of our larger files with no issues graphically with very limited to no lag problems with certain files.
Figure 7: Current VR Laptops at Perception Engineering
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