As an avid VR enthusiast and someone who has dabbled in VR development, I understand how critical it is to find the best laptop for VR development. With the ever-evolving landscape of virtual reality, developers need a powerful and capable machine that can keep up with the demands of creating immersive experiences. This guide aims to help you in your quest for the perfect laptop, keeping in mind the unique requirements of VR development.
When evaluating the best laptop for VR development, I've reviewed an extensive spreadsheet of recent laptop releases, comparing specs and reviews from both professionals and users alike. In my search, I've narrowed down the top contenders based on the specific requirements of VR development and various price ranges. Key factors to consider include processing power, graphics capabilities, RAM, and storage – all crucial components for handling resource-intensive tasks such as 3D modeling, rendering, and real-time testing of VR applications.
It's essential to remember that as a VR developer, you'll be working with game engines like Unity or Unreal Engine, and utilizing 3D modeling software such as Blender or Maya. Moreover, you'll need to ensure compatibility with popular VR platforms, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Valve Index. As you explore the best laptop for VR development, keep in mind that your choice should not only meet the minimum requirements for these tools and platforms but also provide you with enough headroom for future advancements in VR technology.
In the laptop processor market, there have been some big changes recently. Apple's own silicon chips have included their own ARM-based M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M2 system-on-chip modules, which offer exceptional single-core performance and battery life. AMD has also managed to take 20% of the CPU market, with their 6th generation Ryzen processors. As for Intel, we're still waiting for their 13th-gen processors to reach laptops; right now 12th generation is Intel's latest. Both Intel and Apple have adopted a hybrid performance/efficiency core design, based on big.LITTLE.
If you're considering a laptop for VR development, it's worth noting that Apple's MacBooks are still a popular option, but they're not ideal for gaming (though they're getting closer to being on par with Windows laptops). PC laptops can offer much better performance than their mobile counterparts, especially if you're looking for a high-end laptop with a high-end CPU and GPU.
While you can get by with a mid-range processor, I would recommend going for an H-series processor if your budget allows it; these have better thermal design power (TDP) limits, which means they can dissipate more heat without throttling performance. To compare different processors, I personally use PassMark and Cinebench, since these tests are more accurate than others that only test single-thread performance. For the GPU, if you're looking for a gaming laptop, look for one with an Nvidia GPU; AMD GPUs are also fine, but Nvidia is still the best option for gaming laptops.
To make things easier, I've divided some recommended processors into three categories based on price: minimum, recommended and high-end. Here's what you can expect in each price range:
- Processor: i3-1115G4
- Processor: i5-10310U
- Processor: i7-1180G7
The graphics card (GPU) market has been volatile in the past few years, but Nvidia has continued to dominate. Their latest notebook cards are in the RTX 30 series, such as the RTX 3070 Ti. While these are a vast improvement over previous generations, they are not yet available on laptops (expected in 2023). Nvidia also recently released a few RTX 40 series cards, but these are also yet to be seen on laptops.
It's worth noting that desktop GPUs have become increasingly power-hungry in recent years, which has widened the gap between power-limited notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards. Also, Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label for its RTX graphics cards. Now, an exact GPU wattage is determined by a laptop manufacturer (OEM). This results in a wide variance in graphics performance even in laptops with the same GPU chipset.
When it comes to choosing the right graphics card for VR development, it's important to remember that a dedicated GPU is essential for any serious development workstation, especially if you're working with 3D or video. Nvidia's GPUs are more popular among developers than AMD's, and the best option is to get a laptop with a top-end Nvidia RTX series GPU.
There are many ways to compare graphics chips, but the most straightforward method is to look at the 3DMark score. However, these scores can be misleading because they don't take into account the differences between CPUs and GPUs. To get a better idea of how a laptop performs in real-world scenarios, I rely on benchmarks that test the entire system (such as 3DMark). If you're looking for a gaming laptop that can also be used for professional applications, make sure it has a high refresh rate display (at least 240Hz).
In terms of graphics cards that are suitable for VR development, my recommendations are as follows:
- Minimum: GeForce GTX 1650
- Recommended: GeForce RTX 3050
- High-end: GeForce RTX 2060
Whichever you choose, make sure to read user reviews of laptops with the same GPU before making your purchase. This will give you an idea of the kind of performance you can expect from the GPU in real-world scenarios.
VR RAM Basics
VR development requires a laptop that can handle intense computing needs, and RAM plays a big role in this. Generally, most mid-range laptops come with 16 GB of RAM and high-end – 32 GB or more. The latest-gen Intel and AMD CPUs support DDR4 and DDR5, though DDR5 is still quite expensive and needs time to mature as a technology.
VR games require a lot of memory, and 16 GB is the bare minimum for most titles. 32 GB is ideal if you're working with complex scenes or using many assets at once. 64 GB is overkill for most people, but it's not uncommon for professionals to use that much RAM. While more memory is always better, it's not as critical as it used to be. That's because modern CPUs can access system memory much faster than before, so we don't need as much DDR5 RAM as we used to need DDR4 RAM.
If you're looking for a laptop that will last you through the years, I'd recommend getting one with upgradable RAM (not soldered). For recommended RAM configurations and average laptop prices, see the table below.
|Configuration||RAM (GB)||Average Laptop Price|
Q: What are the recommended laptop specs for VR development?
When it comes to VR development, you need a laptop that can handle the intense demands of creating virtual reality experiences. The recommended specs include at least 16 GB of RAM, a GeForce RTX 3050 or higher graphics card, and a processor like the i5-10310U or better.
Can you develop VR applications on a laptop?
Absolutely! Laptops have come a long way in terms of power and performance. With the right specs, you can definitely develop VR applications on a laptop. Just make sure to choose a laptop with the necessary hardware requirements to handle the workload.
Which laptops are best for VR development?
There are several laptops that are well-suited for VR development. Here are a few recommendations:
- Acer Predator Helios 16 Ph16-71 Ph16-71-71av: This laptop offers great performance and is priced at a reasonable $60.
- HP Victus: Another solid option with a price tag of $890.
- ASUS TUF F15 FX507ZM-ES74: This laptop is highly recommended for VR development, and its price falls within the RECOMMENDATIONS_ALL,300 range.
- ASUS ROG Strix G15 G513RM: If you're willing to spend a bit more, this laptop is a fantastic choice. It falls within the RECOMMENDATIONS_ALL,700 price range.
- Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16: For those who want top-tier performance, this laptop offers exceptional power but comes at a higher price point of $3,390.
- Dell XPS 17 9720: If budget is not a concern and you're looking for the absolute best, this laptop is a premium option priced at $5,600.
How much RAM is needed for VR development on a laptop?
VR development requires a significant amount of memory to handle the complex processes involved. It is recommended to have at least 16 GB of RAM for a smooth VR development experience. This ensures that you have enough memory to run resource-intensive applications and avoid any lag or performance issues.
What graphics card is required for VR development on a laptop?
A powerful graphics card is crucial for VR development, as it handles rendering and visual processing. For a laptop, it is recommended to have a GeForce RTX 3050 or higher graphics card. These cards are capable of delivering the necessary performance to create immersive VR experiences without compromising on quality.
Is a gaming laptop suitable for VR development?
Absolutely! Gaming laptops are often equipped with the necessary hardware to handle VR development tasks. They typically have powerful processors, ample RAM, and dedicated graphics cards that can handle the demanding nature of VR applications. However, it's essential to ensure that the specific gaming laptop you choose meets the recommended requirements for VR development.
What CPU is recommended for VR development on a laptop?
The processor plays a significant role in VR development, as it handles the calculations and calculations required for a smooth experience. For VR development on a laptop, it is recommended to have a processor like the i5-10310U or better. This will provide sufficient processing power to handle the intensive workloads involved in creating VR applications.
Can you use Oculus Rift with a laptop for VR development?
Yes, you can use Oculus Rift with a laptop for VR development. However, it is crucial to ensure that your laptop meets the recommended specifications provided by Oculus for a smooth and immersive experience. This includes having a compatible graphics card, sufficient RAM, and a powerful processor.
What storage capacity is needed for VR development on a laptop?
VR development involves working with large files and assets, so having enough storage capacity is essential. While the minimum storage requirement can vary depending on your specific needs, it is recommended to have at least 512 GB of SSD storage. This will provide you with ample space to store your VR projects, applications, and other related files without running out of storage too quickly.
Are there any specific laptop brands recommended for VR development?
While there are many laptop brands available in the market, some brands have established themselves as reliable choices for VR development. Acer, HP, ASUS, Lenovo, and Dell are among the brands known for producing laptops with powerful hardware and excellent performance. It's important to consider factors such as specific models, specs, and pricing within these brands to find the best fit for your VR development needs.
6 Best Laptops for VR Development
- Strong entry-level gaming performance
- Solid productivity performance
- Inexpensive for a gaming laptop
- Display and webcam could be better
- Too much pre-installed software
- Single-channel RAM in our review unit
The HP Victus 15 provides decent gaming and productivity performance for its budget price, but sacrifices are made in terms of display quality, webcam, and pre-installed software.
- Exceptional processor (i5-12450H)
- Lightweight (5.06 lbs)
- Run-of-the-mill graphics card (GTX 1650)
- So-so memory amount (32GB)
- Superb 1080p gaming performance
- Strong productivity capabilities
- Great price for the features offered
- Poor webcam, touchpad, and speakers
- Some games appear washed out on display
The ASUS TUF F15 FX507VU-ES53 is a budget gaming laptop that excels in 1080p gaming and offers strong productivity capabilities. However, it falls short in terms of webcam and speaker quality, and some games may appear washed out on the display.
- Lightweight and well-built
- Good performance and competitive pricing
- Some quirks affecting everyday ergonomics
- Ports squeezed together on the left edge
- Stylish, sleek form factor
- Gorgeous display
- Strong performance
- Quiet fans
- Webcam quality is disappointing
- No biometrics for added security
- SSD is slightly slower than competition
The Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 is an impressive gaming laptop that combines sleek design, strong performance, and a beautiful display. It offers plenty of ports and runs quietly. However, the webcam quality is disappointing, there are no biometrics for added security, and the SSD is slightly slower compared to its competitors.
- Adequate processor (i9-12900HX)
- Very good graphics card (RTX 3080 Ti)
- Underwhelming memory amount (32GB)
- Bulky (6.16 lbs)
- Relatively affordable
- Upgradeable RAM and SSD slots
- Impressive color accuracy and fast refresh rate options
- Good performer
- Heavier and thicker than competitors
- Thunderbolt 4 only available on more expensive models
- No SD card reader
- Very short battery life
The Dell G16 is a solid option for VR development with its powerful specs, upgradeable RAM and SSD slots, and robust cooling solution. However, it lacks power efficiency, portability, and some key features like Thunderbolt 4 and an SD card reader.
- High performance CPU and GPU
- Good workmanship and design
- Skimpy connectivity
- Coil whine in certain situations
- Strong overall performance
- Display is big, bright, and fast
- Per-key RGB lighting
- Some flex to keyboard deck
- Poor battery life
The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 is a mid-priced powerhouse laptop armed with a 13th-gen Core i9 CPU and RTX 4090 graphics. It offers strong overall performance, a big and bright display, and per-key RGB lighting.
- QHD display with 165 Hz for high-quality visuals
- Advanced Optimus technology for seamless graphics switching
- High noise level during heavy usage
- Clattery case design may not be appealing to some users
- QHD display with 165 Hz
- Expandable working memory
- Thunderbolt 4 with Power Delivery
- Individual key illumination
- Slightly below-average performance for a RTX 4080
- High noise level
- Clattery case
The HP Omen 17 is a high-end gaming laptop with a powerful Core i9 processor and GeForce RTX graphics, making it suitable for VR development, video processing, rendering, and QHD gaming. It features a QHD display with a high refresh rate, expandable working memory, and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. However, it falls slightly short in terms of performance compared to other laptops with similar graphics, and it has a high noise level and limited battery life.
- Excellent mechanical keyboard
- Class-leading Mini-LED display
- Uninspired design
- Short battery life
Table of the Best Laptops for VR Development
|HP Victus 15||$710|
|ASUS TUF F15 FX507VU-ES53||$1,100|
|Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16||$1,300|
|Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16||$3,390|
|HP Omen 17||$4,290|