Welcome to the ever-evolving world of Virtual Reality (VR). The game development industry has already made some remarkable strides since the era of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Every step forward has been aided by the rapid advancement of modern laptops.
It stands to reason, then, that the laptop you choose must offer enough power to maintain a steady frame rate when developing a VR application. After all, there's nothing worse than having your VR app's performance suffer due to hardware constraints. That's why I've compiled this buying guide for the best laptops for VR development, geared towards entry-level developers or VR-curious types.
Using vivid language, I will cover the various hardware considerations when looking for a good laptop for VR application development. You'll also get to see real-world test results from popular and powerful laptops to match your budget. By the end, you'll have a firm grasp of what components matter in this complicated landscape and what laptop you should buy.
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 is the best laptop for VR development?
The best laptop for VR development is the MSI Titan GT77 12UHS-064. It has top-of-the-line specs that can handle even the most demanding VR development tasks.
What are the recommended specs for a laptop for VR development?
The recommended specs for a laptop for VR development are:
- Memory: 16 GB or higher
- Graphics: GeForce RTX 3050 or higher
- Processor: i7-1180G7 or higher
Can VR development be done on a laptop?
Yes, VR development can be done on a laptop. However, it's important to make sure that the laptop meets the recommended specs to ensure a smooth development experience.
What graphics card do I need for VR development on a laptop?
For VR development on a laptop, you need a graphics card that can handle the high demands of VR applications. The recommended graphics cards are GeForce RTX 3050 or higher, or GeForce RTX 2060 for maximum performance.
How much RAM do I need for VR development on a laptop?
For VR development on a laptop, it's recommended to have at least 16 GB of RAM to ensure smooth performance.
Is the Nvidia GTX 1660 good enough for VR development on a laptop?
The Nvidia GTX 1660 is not recommended for VR development on a laptop. It may struggle with handling the high demands of VR applications.
What is the ideal CPU for VR development on a laptop?
The ideal CPU for VR development on a laptop is the i7-1180G7 or higher. This will ensure that the laptop can handle the demands of VR development tasks without slowing down.
Are gaming laptops suitable for VR development?
Gaming laptops can be suitable for VR development as they often have high-end specs that can handle demanding tasks. However, it's important to check that the laptop meets the recommended specs for VR development.
What is the best budget laptop for VR development?
The best budget laptop for VR development is the HP Victus 15. It has a GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and 8 GB of RAM, making it a great option for those on a budget.
How to choose a laptop for VR development?
When choosing a laptop for VR development, it's important to consider the recommended specs such as memory, graphics, and processor. It's also important to consider your budget and prioritize the specs that are most important for your specific VR development needs. Additionally, consider reading reviews from trusted sources to get an idea of which laptops are best suited for VR development.
6 Best Laptops for VR Development
1.HP Victus 15Affordable laptop for entry-level VR development with minor drawbacks.
- Strong entry-level gaming performance
- Solid productivity performance
- Affordable 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 delivers a great gaming performance for its price but compromises on display quality and pre-installed software. It's a good pick for VR development on a budget.
- Terrific display (15.6 IPS)
- Splendid memory amount (32GB)
- Garden-variety graphics card (GTX 1650)
2.HP Victus 15tHP Victus 15t: A budget laptop with decent gaming performance.
- Excellent price
- Good gaming performance
- Can double as a work laptop
- Solid array of ports
- Bad battery life
- Rather plain design
- Weak GPU yields unsatisfactory frame rates
- Screen only so-so despite 144Hz refresh rate
The HP Victus 15t is an affordable gaming laptop that offers good gaming performance and can also be used as a work laptop. However, it has a rather plain design and a bad battery life.
- High CPU and GPU performance
- Excellent battery life
- Poor display with low contrast and no variable refresh rate support
- No Thunderbolt support
3.Lenovo Legion 5 ProThe Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a powerful laptop for VR development with a high-quality display and easy serviceability, but suffers from a low-resolution webcam and moderate backlight bleeding.
- High-quality 165 Hz 16:10 IPS display
- Relatively easy serviceability
- Integrated numpad
- Very fast charging
- Low-resolution webcam with no IR or privacy shutter
- Moderate-heavy uneven backlight bleeding
- Only average battery life
With an upgraded CPU and GPU, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a powerful laptop for VR development. It features a high-quality 165 Hz 16:10 IPS display and easy serviceability. However, it suffers from a low-resolution webcam and moderate backlight bleeding.
ASUS TUF F15 FX507ZM-ES74
- Faster than most other GeForce RTX 3060 laptops
- 300 Hz IPS panel with full sRGB coverage
- Chassis base and lid exhibit
4.GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4The GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4 is a powerful VR development machine with great performance and display but is let down by a few missing ports.
- Impressive display with wide colour gamut
- High system performance
- PCIe 4.0 SSD and free M.2 2280 slot (PCIe 4.0)
- Individual key lighting
- High power usage at idle and low load
- No card reader
- Only one USB-A port
The GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4 is a powerhouse with impressive performance and display, making it a great choice for VR development. The laptop also comes with PCIe 4.0 SSDs and solid battery life. However, it has a high power usage at idle, lacks a card reader and has only one USB-A port.
ASUS ROG Strix G15 G513RM
- Solid build quality and design
- Good inputs and IO
- No ThunderboltUSB 4, card-reader, camera or biometrics
- High CPU and GPU temperatures with games and demanding loads
5.ASUS ROG Strix ScarASUS ROG Strix Scar is a powerful laptop for VR development, but with some drawbacks.
- Sturdy construction
- Fast Wi-Fi 6E
- Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070 Ti performance
- Limited display angle
- High heat and noise emissions under load
- Battery backup could have been better
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar comes packed with an upgraded WQHD 240 Hz panel, Intel Alder Lake Core i9-12900H, and Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti. The laptop has excellent performance for enthusiast gamers, but it also comes with some issues related to emissions and power draws.
Acer Predator Triton 500
- High performance capabilities
- Excellent, bright 240-Hz display
- Soldered-in RAM
- Inaccessible SSD
6.MSI Titan GT77MSI Titan GT77: The Covetable Desktop Replacement for VR Development with a Hefty Price Tag
- Highly tactile Cherry MX mechanical keyboard
- Chart-leading CPU and GPU performance
- 360 Hz display with low response times
- Four NVMe slots including one PCIe Gen5 slot
- Extremely pricey
- Severe SSD throttling
- High heat and noise emissions
- Poor 720p webcam
The MSI Titan GT77 is a high-performance laptop designed for desktop replacement, specifically targeting enthusiasts and VR developers. It boasts chart-leading CPU and GPU performance, a 360 Hz display with low response times, and a highly tactile Cherry MX mechanical keyboard. However, it comes with a high price tag and has certain drawbacks like severe SSD throttling, high heat, and noise emissions.
Dell XPS 17 9720
- Excellent 4K display with AdobeRGB
- High-quality case
- Lower graphics performance than the predecessor
- Performance not completely stable under combined load
Table of the Best Laptops for VR Development
|HP Victus 15||$710|
|HP Victus 15t||$900|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro||$1,350|
|GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4||$1,600|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$2,310|
|MSI Titan GT77||$5,500|