Oculus Rift (on a budget …)

Anyone who knows me knows of my interest in all things 3d (stereoscopy) and won’t be at all surprised by my interest in the Oculus Rift. (DK2).

However, as most of my stereoscopic viewing equipment looks like this, and not having a particular interest in ‘gaming’ I found that I was lacking in the hardware required to do the Rift justice!

I also wanted to look at development opportunities for the Rift so decided to dip a toe into the water and build an entry-level gaming PC to utilise with it:


Using this page I set about picking out what I hoped would be good value kit with which to build my machine.


My first ‘compromise’ was a new Lenovo desktop machine that came up ‘cheap’ at just under £250 delivered:


  • Processor: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3470S Processor (6MB Cache, up to 3.60GHz)
  • Operating system: Windows 8.1 Professional 64 English (via included discs)
  • System Graphics: Intel Integrated HD Graphics
  • Total memory: 4GB PC3-12800 1600MHz UDIMM DDR3
  • Pointing device: Lenovo Edge Enhanced Optical USB Mouse
  • Hard drive device: 3.5″ – 500GB 7200rpm SATA
  • Optical device: HH Rambo 8 16x/48x SATA DVD-R/CD-RW
  • Network card: Integrated Intel 82579 Gigabit Network Adapter


I spotted a sell-off of some ‘custom RAM’, not the fastest, but good value at this price (£69.37)

  • Crucial Ballistix BLT2CP8G3D1608DT2TXOBCEU Tracer 16GB kit (8GB x 2) 240-pin DIMM (with LEDs) DDR3 PC3-12800 Memory Module – Orange/Blue


Next up someone posted a good deal (£149) on a mid-range graphics card (GPU).

 I liked this option as if it proved to be lacking I could always get another card and link them together to boost performance using ‘crossfire’:

  • VTX3D AMD Radeon R9 280 X-Edition Graphics Card (3GB, GDDR5, PCI Express 3.0)


Finally I opted to upgrade the PSU as the ‘business oriented’ PSU that came with the shell (180w) would struggle to power the GPU (I wanted 750w or ideally 1000w to give me the crossfire option).  If there is room in the case I will keep both PSU’s otherwise I will ditch the 180w.

  • Coolermaster GM-Series 750W Semi Modular 80+ Bronze Power Supply (£57.90)



So along with the monitor and keyboard (which I already have ‘knocking around’) this would be my starting point (with an SSD and second graphics card being logical upgrades should I need or particularly desire them).

My initial total spend was a little over £500 and looks like this:

  • Processor: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3470S Processor
  • Operating system: Windows 8.1 Professional 64 English
  • Graphics: VTX3D AMD Radeon R9 280
  • Memory: 16GB  (8GB x 2) 240-pin DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Pointing device: Lenovo Edge Enhanced Optical USB Mouse
  • Hard drive : 3.5″ – 500GB 7200rpm SATA
  • Optical device: HH Rambo 8 16x/48x SATA DVD-R/CD-RW
  • Network card: Integrated Intel 82579 Gigabit Network Adapter
  • PSU:Coolermaster GM-Series 750W Semi Modular 80+ Bronze


UPDATE 26/08/2014

Kit arrived after a shipping delay – bonus as it also included keyboard, mouse and 3 Windows 8 related discs (I have got used to Windows 8 so am installing that instead of Win 7).

imageI found a 4GB stick in my toolbox so have installed that while waiting for the 2x8GB sticks.  The recovery session is underway as I type this …. my plan is to get Win8 up and running then substitute the PSU, check functionality, then substitute the GPU …

… Fitted new PSU and Left overnight running the update from Win8 to 8.1 so was ready for fitting GPU this morning.  All went smoothly and internals now look like the image here..


Now onto the process of installing Visual Studio and the Rift itself ….



… Oculus Rift up and running.  (wow)

and I cannot say that loud enough … The system coped well with what was thrown at it – if you get a chance sit down in ‘the chair’.  It coped well with all the animations only faltering with some head movement at the point at which I suspect the on screen animations and graphic density was maxed out.  Words do not do it justice :and I am looking forward to seeing what I can bring to the table with my own dev chops!


UPDATE 6/1/2016

Sadly this spec PC fails on the CPU and GPU reccomended minimums but my approach will be to wait and see how performance fairs on release with overclocking (see below) and then upgrade components as required (sadly I am not a millionaire yet Winking smile)

Here’s the recommendations from Oculus for the “full Rift experience”:

graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
processor: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
memory: 8GB+ RAM
output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
input: 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
operating system: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

When you use the comptibility tool here and don’t meet the recommendations you will see something like this:



GPU Over clocking




NB There appear to be some notes on over clocking this GPU here

I ended up using the utility mentioned and the settings shown.

(I elected not to set these at startup as unless I am running a GPU intensive task I prefer to leave the card at the manufacturers settings, consequently running a little cooler).



Rift Code / Visual Studio

I fired up VS with one of the demo projects and had a ‘play’.  Not being a native C coder means that I wasn’t very comfortable – I look forward to the time when the current managed code native compiler helps to unlock the door to c# development for the Rift!


4 thoughts on “Oculus Rift (on a budget …)

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