There comes a moment when it is time to retire your old computer and make room for a new one. My laptop, unfortunately, saw its life ended prematurely through the hands of my 1,5-year-old toddler, who fiercely introduced it to the laws of gravity.
What is done, is done – can’t change it. Anyways, it was time for me to start looking for a new PC. Since I consider myself a VR enthusiast and regularly write here, I knew only one thing for sure – the new computer has to be able to comfortably run VR games.
But how and what to choose exactly? Next, I am going to guide you through my thought process on choosing a PC for VR (Oculus Quest 2 and Oculus Link more specifically) and how I arrived at my final choice.
Let’s get started!
Thinking Through My Personal Needs & Budget for New PC
Before I started looking for any specific devices, I thought it would be a good idea to establish my personal requirements and budget for the new PC. After some brainstorming and thinking things through for myself, here’s the list I came up with:
- VR-Ready – the PC has to be able to comfortably run VR games. However, playing at ultra max graphics settings is not important for me. The medium to high range is enough.
- Future proof – Although I am not looking for the absolute top-of-the-line specs, I want the PC to have enough “reserve” to be able to satisfy my needs for at least two years.
- Decent Screen / Monitor – Since I regularly write for this blog and also plan on starting creating videos, I want the PC to have a good screen (easy on the eyes, good pixel density, correct colors)
- 1TB+ Storage – Games and videos can take up a lot of space and I want at least 1TB of storage, preferably an SSD
- Price 1500 EUR (~1750 USD) or less – This is the budget I felt comfortable with and thought should be enough.
Desktop PC or Laptop?
For a really long time, I have been a “laptop guy”. It is mostly because my work required me to move around and work from different places. This has changed lately and I work more from home than not (but I still do move around a fair bit).
So should I switch from a laptop to a desktop PC now? To help me decide, I wrote down the main difference between laptops and desktops:
- Desktops outperform laptops with the same specifications. Better cooling and more power to components. Laptops have “cut-down” GPU-s that underperform when compared to a desktop.
- PCs usually offer higher performance in general (for the same money)
- Monitor is better than a laptop screen for both writing and video editing. But on the other hand I could buy a monitor for my laptop as well if I wanted.
- Portability. You can carry your laptop anywhere, but can not do it with a desktop.
- Upgradeability – You can quite easily upgrade your PC components. For laptops, your options are limited and you will realistically only be upgrading RAM after the warranty period.
In the end, it comes down to the question of whether the portability of laptops outweighs all of the other advantages of having a PC. After having glanced at both laptops and desktops in the sub 1800$ range, I decided that it does for me.
I think it was mostly the “old habit” of always owning a laptop and knowing I can take my computer with me and work/play from anywhere, that was the main deciding factor. However, I was also able to quickly find a large selection of Nvidia 30XX GPU laptops in the price range, which I knew were going to be enough for my needs.
So laptop it is! But which one? Time to establish some system requirements and start looking for specific laptops that would suit my needs.
Future-Proof Laptop Specification for Oculus Link & Quest 2 (2021)
As mentioned earlier, my overall goal was not to get a PC that would be able to play all VR titles near the maximum graphics levels. I am just not a “graphics nerd” per se and with a laptop, that is not likely going to happen anyway (unless I pay top dollars)
However, I do want to be able to run most games in the medium to high graphics range. And ideally, I would like the same laptop to comfortably handle VR games in the year 2023 as well.
Based on my experience and some research I did on the topic, the high-end specifications for a future proof Oculus Link compatible laptop are:
|CPU||Intel i7 10th generation and better|
AMD Ryzen 5000 series and better
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series or better|
AMD Radeon RX 6000 series or better
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 RAM or more|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|USB Ports||USB-C port available|
Note! I have listed the official system requirements for Oculus Link, combined with real-life user performance feedback in my previous article.
Keep in mind that these specifications in the table above are my subjective estimations and not the absolute truth. I have been a long-time reader of Reddit VR threads and have taken notice of performance feedback from regular VR users. These specifications I feel should be enough for a future-proof gaming laptop in 2021.
Also, as I found out, there are actually many different factors at play that affect the overall performance you can expect from a laptop. For example, I learned that with laptop graphic cards it is crucial to check the GPU Power Limit (TPD). The same graphics card in a laptop with a lower power limit will perform worse compared to one with a higher power limit.
Then there are factors such as how well the cooling and insulation are implemented (to avoid GPU and CPU throttling), the difference in RAM performance, etc.
Even though I consider myself fairly tech-savvy in general, all the different aspects that one needs to consider were a bit overwhelming, to be honest.
How and What Laptop I Chose In the End
Anyways, now that I had a general idea of what I was looking for, it was time to pick out specific laptops that meet my criteria. My process for choosing and eliminating suitable gaming laptops was really quite simple:
- Searched three of the most popular PC e-stores in my country
- Filtered out laptops that meet my requirements specification wise
- Started watching and reading reviews about specific models that fit the criteria
After watching some Youtube videos and eliminating two laptops from the list (MSI GF75 10UEK Thin & Asus TUF Dash FX516P), the Levono Legion 5 series caught my eye. Based on the reviews, it was often regarded as one of the best cheap gaming laptops available with lots of pros (performance, etc) and very few flaws.
After digging in deeper and watching/reading several hours’ worth of material, I decided that It would make sense for me to go for the “Pro” model which has a slightly larger and ultra-responsive bright (500 nits) screen with a refresh rate of 165 Hz.
Lenovo Legion Pro 5
So the laptop I chose in the end as my primary work and VR gaming device was Lenovo Legion 5 Pro with the following specifications:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600H
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (130W)
- Memory: 16GB DDR4-3200
- Screen: 16 ” 2560 x 1600 165 Hz
- Storage: 1TB NVME M.2 SSD
- Price: 1422 EUR ($1662)
If you would like to know more about the device, I found that Jarrod’sTech did a really good job of reviewing laptops. However, since his device had a Ryzen 5800H and an RTX 3070, you can see the comparison to the base model by clicking on the link.
After having used the laptop for about a week now, I must say I am impressed. I especially like the colors and pixel density of the 16-inch QHD screen – an absolute pleasure for the eye to watch and a world of difference compared to my previous laptop.
Specification-wise, even though it can be called the “base model of the 5 Pro series”, it has performed excellently at everything I have thrown at it. I also had no trouble at all getting Oculus Link and SteamVR to work properly out of the box.
I might actually make a separate article in the close future on how it performs with different VR games. So if you are interested, be sure to come back.
Currently, based on the short experience I have had, I can definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced good all-arounder gaming laptop and I do hope it will serve me nicely for multiple years to come!