If you’re tired of underperforming gaming experience with your VR headset, you need to consider the best graphics cards for VR. The virtual technology gaming world is changing fast but it may still not be are advanced as many gamers would like. Here are few signs that your current graphics card need to be updated with the best graphics card for VR.
Poor rendering capability – your current graphics card might be underperforming as it struggles to render 2 images (one for each eye) at a high or even at a medium resolution. How can you know this is the case of your current graphics card? If you get motion sickness from your VR game, it might be because of poor rendering capabilities that are based on an outdated graphics card.
Inability to maintain a good frame per second performance – your current graphic card can struggle to keep up with the required fps for your VR games to be playable. Unlike a desktop monitor, a VR headset works with 2 viewpoints which means it requires a double performance capacity. A game that runs on 90fps on a monitor is the approximate equivalent of a 180fps framerate on a VR headset.
The processing power needs to be superior when playing virtual reality games compared to 4K gaming on a computer. As a result, only the best VR graphics cards can be truly up to standard. Here are the results of our research on which of these are worth your money.
Best Graphics card for VR top picks
Best overall – ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 2060
With solid 1080p performance, the small graphics card is the top choice for most users.
Best budget graphics card – ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX570
The best 8GB graphics card for the money.
Best for Oculus Rift – MSI GTX 1070
Flawless with Oculus Rift, the graphics card already comes with VR presets.
Best Graphics Card For VR – Ranked By Performance
Nvidia, MSI, Asus, and Sapphire are just a few names on our list of the top recommended graphics card. Since not everybody needs a top-specification product, the right choice is a bit more nuanced, depending on the type of user and the VR games to be played.
1. ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 2060
Using 6GB GDDR6 RAM, this balanced graphics card is one of the top performers for the average VR gaming fan. Unlike most of its rivals, it’s compatible with iTx and small case computers which means it could fit into any computer without modifications made to the case.
We all know just how demanding graphics are on chipsets today. This is the main reason ASUS chose 2 ball-bearing fans to be used on this graphics card. They are smoother and many even consider them more efficient than the cheaper sleeve-bearing alternatives.
GPU Tweak II technology is used on the performance side of the graphics card. It allows gamers to tweak its settings for optimum performance, particularly important in the VR world. Core clocks and memory frequency are among the settings you can adjust yourself.
DirectX 12 and Shadowplay Record are just a few other parameters it comes with. But Auto-Extreme is the technology that makes things a bit easier on your side as it uses automation to perform better on its own.
Another good reason to consider this graphics car even above those with higher specs (Nvidia RTX 2060 Super or GTX 16xx series) is the ease of installation. The graphics card doesn’t require a separate power cable. It uses power directly from the motherboard of your computer. Made for games that run-up to a resolution of 1080p, the graphics card ticks all the right boxes for the average gamer.
Graphics card features
- 14000 MHz clock speed
- PCI-E interface
- Made with 6 GB GDDR6 Memory
2. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
The GTX 1050 Ti is still one of the most reliable graphics cards that’s worth buying. Sure, you can always save up a few more months to buy the AMD RX570 or a similar graphics card, but reliability would take a hit. There are almost no complaints about the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to this day which shows just how well it’s made. The fans always work and it doesn’t overheat even with high settings in the graphics area of new game releases. It can still be a safe purchase if you don’t want to take any risks.
There are a few good reasons why this graphics card is so reliable. Let’s start with how the fans look and work. A triangle fan design with stripes is added on the graphics card. This helps guide air a bit more efficiently than on regular fans. Gigabyte says it guides air 23% better. We don’t know if this is the exact percentage, but the graphics card doesn’t overheat so the design works.
Further heat reduction measures have been thought out with the material of the heat pipes. Made from composite, they are a bit more efficient at cooling off while still making the connection between 2 chipsets. These come in direct contact with the GPU on the front side of the card while its backside is protected by an all-black plate.
With 4GB DDR5 RAM, the graphics card is still a top performer, which might just be influenced by the way its constructed. But this performance can be tweaked to a certain degree even if you’re not an overclocking guru. One-click Super overclocking also makes the graphics card score highly on user experience.
Graphics card features
- Made with a Windforce 2X blade fan design
- Compatible with VR and 8K displays
- Phase transition and thermally conductive heat pipes
3. MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti
Sitting at 3rd place on our list, the MSI GeForce GTX 1660Ti is another top performer in the VR space. After analyzing what gamers say about it, we can safely conclude this graphics card remains cool while playing VR titles. It runs anywhere between 50 and 60 degrees without any overclocking which is impressive.
Virtually the same with the 1070Ti in performance, this graphics card might be heavy but it runs smoothly with its redesigned fans. The TORX fans 3.0 are made with steeped blades for faster hot air dispersion. The heatsink is also optimized for proper heat dispersion. There are even RGB lights added on the fans if you want to show it off with a see-through case.
Operating smoothly with MSI Afterburner, the graphics card can still be optimized easily for better performance, depending on your VR gaming need. You may also use it to share videos and live stream your game without too much overheating as a result.
Graphics card features
- Made with 6GB GDDR6 RAM
- Designed with 3 display ports
- 1875 MHz core clock speed
4. ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX570
One of the main attraction of this graphics card is just how quiet it is. It might be a bit unrealistic or simply not productive to have a loud graphics card when you try to get yourself immersed in virtual reality. This is the main reason ASUS incorporated the 0dB technology on the graphics card. Other tweaks such as only powering on the fans when the graphics card overheats also help.
Another technology called DirectCU II has been updated. It looks at all the pipes on the graphics card and their heat dissipation efficiency. These copper pipes are renowned for their durability. But as one of the best graphics cards for VR it is also IP5X-rated for dust protection. If you live in a place where dust tends to build up quicker such as an area with plenty of construction, you might need to prioritize it over its alternatives.
With 8GB GDDR5 RAM, you won’t have any issues on the performance side either. You get a reliable product that can play all types of VR games form sports simulators to first-person shooters without lag even when you connect your VR headset.
Graphics card features
- Made with 1 display port and 1 HDMI port
- Added DVI ports
- Compatible with 5K resolution displays
5. Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070
Made with USB C connectivity for VR headsets, the graphics card impresses even with the newest games released this year. Specifications are as impressive as you’d expect when it comes to a top performer. This includes SLI support and 2-way Nvidia Nvlink compatibility.
Its performance is something which might make you think about investing a bit more to play the latest titles on the highest settings. Running at 3440 X 1440 at 60fps doesn’t overheat the card as it remains below the 60 degrees mark. At the same time, we must admit the card is a bit too much in terms of performance for the average gamer. Both in VR and on monitors with a refresh rate of 240Hz, this graphics card impressed with the highest amount of detail.
Most gamers consider this graphics card a top performer for 1440p and even 2K displays. If you’re a person who only plays at 1080p and the occasional VR title, it might be an unnecessary choice. If, on the other hand, you’re upgrading your old graphics card, there’s no need to look elsewhere, especially if you plan to play the latest titles.
Graphics card features
- Integrated 8GB DDR6 memory
- Made with Windforce 3X cooling memory
- Designed with a USB-C port
6. MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060
Based on 6GDDR RAM, the graphics card is a good performer, albeit a bit below the Gigabyte RTX 2070 in temperature performance. By comparison, the graphics card is a bit hotter but there are no issues cause by this. You can adjust the fans in Afterburner if you need to. Another good part of the graphics card is that its backplate also does a good job at keeping it in an acceptable temperature range.
You might also want to consider this best MSI graphics card for your gaming needs if you occasionally play on a TV. It’s here that its 7680 x 4320 resolution stands out the most. If you like to combine different styles of VR gaming that include VR and HD TV play, it can be a solution for you.
If you live with children and noise is an issue while VR gaming, you may also consider this graphics card which doesn’t turn on the fans all the time. It’s only with the most demanding applications that it starts the cooling process which then takes short breaks as well. Finally, if you’re the type of gamer who loves RGB effects in the graphics card, you’re going to have something to show here.
Graphics card features
- Designed with an aerodynamic heatsink
- Made with a brushed metal black plate
- 192-bit memory interface
7. XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition
Based on the new Polaris architecture, the XFX Radeon graphics card has now practically reinvented itself. There’s a new 4th generation GCN graphics core that’s responsible for smooth operation with medium and high graphic details on old and new games.
Maybe it’s not quite there in terms of GCN graphics for 1440p with high settings but it certainly works without major concerns at 1080p with new VR games. Under tests, it performs smoothly with games such as Just Cause where a 1080p resolution is paired with 60fps with no lag.
When you decide to switch up your VR gaming, you can also make the most of its 4096 x 2160 resolution on the right display. However, most users won’t be needing this resolution just yet. The graphics card is a bit more affordable than its alternatives and this comes at the cost of size and heat. It’s a bit hotter and larger than other graphics card but if you have space and a good cooling case, it’s worth the low investment.
Graphics card features
- 8GB GDDR5 memory
- 7000 MHz memory clock speed
- 4096 x 2160 maximum resolution
8. PNY Nvidia Quadro P5000
Not everybody using VR technology is interested in gaming. The Nvidia Quadro P5000 is specifically designed for VR architecture and multi-level projects. Most users applaud its performance in Adobe 10-bit colour performance. If you use it with a monitor, you also probably need to upgrade your display to a 10-bit capable screen.
Other benefits of this best graphics cards for VR include connectivity options. You can add up to 3 monitors which can all work at 4K resolution based on 60fps with thisbest graphics cards for VR . Suitable for architecture studios, architecture professionals and freelancers, the graphics card is also quite small and easy to install through PCI E.
Graphics card features
- 16GB RAM
- 2 GHz clock speed
- Lag-free in the Adobe Suite, Solidworks, and Visualize
9. MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X
With VR ready technology, this affordable graphics card can be the option for the daily gamer who doesn’t want to overspend. It installs easily with a 6-pin and 8-pin connector. But we mostly like it because its handles demanding VR applications well. There are even VR settings you can adjust its software so that you can map out all of the adjustments you need to make for your games or software application.
You can expect games to run smoothly on your VR headset and monitor with 1080p resolution. On the other hand, you can expect it to show signs of weakness past 20fps in 4K. But if you aren’t interested in the latest 4K technology, the video card is still an affordable option given its considerable price drop from its launch date.
Graphics card features
- Based on 8GB DDR5
- Made with 3 DVI ports
- It includes 3 DP ports
Workstation graphics cards
If you need a graphics card for your VR creative projects such as immersive architecture planning, you can find a dedicated graphics card that performs. Here’s our suggestion.
AMD Radeon Pro Graphics Card WX8200
The WX8200 is a professional graphics card with VR ready technology. If you’re simply planning to play games on your VR device, this is not the option for you. However, this is the type of graphics card for studio work as it comes with superior colour reproduction and representation compared to all other consumer-level graphics card.
It can be used in architecture or video production. You’ll notice immediately superior colour reproduction in blacks and a dynamic range of the colours. Running on state of the art 8GB HBM2 memory, it’s among the leading performers for creatives in multiple industries. It also debunks the myth that professional graphics cards can’t be used for gaming.
Graphics card features
- Used in architecture and entertainment
- It supports 10-bit colours
- It runs in WRAM
How to choose the best graphics card for VR
If you’re new to the gaming world, you might be overwhelmed by all of the features of a graphics card. Those who play games on laptops might also struggle when turning towards a desktop computer which is superior when combined with a VR headset in terms of performance.
Why is a graphics card important for VR?
Virtual reality gaming is very demanding in resources and computer specs. But even without a VR headset, a gaming computer finds the graphics card or the GPU to be its most important component.
While owning the fastest processor or the highest RAM computer is nice, you won’t get far without a good GPU. You might even find some new games don’t run on your graphics card at all. As a result, you need to invest both money and time to research your graphic card purchase for proper VR playability.
Another good reason to invest only in the best graphics card for VR is futureproofing your computer. You might not realize it now, but new games are only going to require higher specs to run properly. The better your graphics card, the more chances you have on playing with it for years without looking for an upgrade.
But what if you don’t use VR for gaming? If you’re a creative professional, a person working with Autocad, the Adobe Creative Suite, or other architecture software, you also need a good graphics card if you want to see your creations in virtual reality.
If you’re a professional doing editing or architecture work in VR, you need to know there’s a category of graphics card that’s specialized for your needs. At the end of this buying guide, we detail the differences between gaming graphics cards and workstation gaming cards.
Before jumping in to purchase the best graphics card, you need to ensure it fits your computer. You need sufficient power for the graphics card (measured in watts) and sufficient space for it inside the computer. There are plenty of instances where a graphics card simply cannot fit into a computer either due to its length or due to its width. But the most common fit issue is with the thickness of the best graphics cards for VR which is higher on most products due to the added cooling fans.
The refresh rate is one of the most important characteristics in smooth gameplay and healthy vision. While we don’t have data on the impact of VR on eye health, we know high refresh rate is easier on the eyes. There are 2 refresh rates you need to consider when purchasing your graphics card.
The refresh rate if the VR headset is the most important in this case. This varies from one product to another. For example, Oculus Rift S has a refresh rate of 80Hz while Oculus Rift has a refresh rate of 90Hz. These are most demanding refresh rates that require your graphics card to work hard.
But the refresh rate of your monitor is also important if you decide to play on your computer from time to time with the best graphics card for VR. This refresh rate can be even higher than on the VR headset. You will also notice the best monitors (check out the best 27 inch monitors under £200 for a better idea) come with high refresh rates and high prices.
Installing a graphics card should not be a complicated task regardless of the type of product you choose. This can be done entirely by yourself without the help of a computer technician. Here’s how to do it.
You first need to disconnect the power from your computer to ensure a safe installation. You then open up the computer case and find the PCI-E slot for your graphics card. If you have multiple PCI-E slots, you need to choose which one will be dedicated to your graphics card. Good practices recommend having your graphics card in one place alone as you need to remove a small metal piece at the back of the case in the location were ports on the graphics card need to connect to your monitor or VR device.
You then need to install the graphics card software. Both Nvidia and AMD have their software to install. Some graphic cards software come with a range of settings which allows them to be used directly with VR without adjusting the image from the headset. Clarity, brightness and the level of detail can be set independently in this software.
One of the biggest concerns in the VR and graphics card industry is chipset overheating. Simply put, the high heat emitted while running demanding software requires proper cooling power. This is one of the main areas of progress as most new graphics card first advertise their cooling power.
Fan design and performance tends to improve slowly, but does it matter? In most situations, you won’t need any extra cooling power for your graphics card that what is already offered. This is also the case with VR use. But since VR is more demanding, your fans might work a bit more.
As a result, you may experience a louder graphics card since you don’t have the same quiet operation you might be used to with normal computer use. Is a graphics card louder when paired with VR? This is a question which can’t be answered generally as it depends on the exact type of graphics card. Simply put, some graphics cards tend to be louder while others don’t when paired with VR headsets.
RAM helps store information from the game on the best graphics cards for VR. Measured in GB, RAM is crucial for a good graphics card. You will see that a fast graphics card mostly comes with plenty of RAM. In general, the more you pay for a graphics card, the better the chances of it coming with sufficient RAM to play the latest games.
The RAM of the GPU is independent of the RAM of your computer. You need to ensure both of these types of memory meet the minimum requirements of your game for it to even start.
A dedicated graphics card for VR needs to be connected to a power source separately. Each card has different requirements in terms of the power consumption which can be considerably higher than what you might first expect given they come with 2 or 3 small fans as well.
If you’re building your PC from scratch, you need to calculate the overall power output of the power supply in your computer so that it’s not underpowered. If you’re upgrading your old graphics card, you’ll need to find the power capacity of your power supply as well.
Reference and non-reference brands
Reference graphics cards are made directly by brands such as Nvidia and AMD. They are the ones responsible for the research and development of certain technologies in the video world. On the other hand, non-reference brands use the same technologies under license. MSI is one of these brands. So which is better?
One of the main reasons to go for a non-reference brand is the price. They are generally cheaper to purchase, even if this is not a must for many newly-released products. Some of these non-reference brands can also come pre-overclocked. The fans can already be adjusted for gaming performance so that you don’t have to waste any time setting them up.
Connectivity ports – DVI, VGA, HDMI, and what they are used for
Ports are crucial on graphics cards. They include DVI ports and HDMI ports on modern graphic cards. TV sets and other devices can be connected by HDMI which is a type of universal data cable for video and audio.
The number of ports available on graphics cards is limited, however. They only have a small space where they can be added so you shouldn’t expect to connect to many VR headsets or monitors to the same video card.
AMD vs Nvidia
Both AMD and Nvidia have been fighting for supremacy of the best graphics cards for VR title market for a few years. Both companies produce impressive graphics cards which can be used in almost any application. But there are differences you should know about, albeit quite small and unimportant in the big scheme.
One of these differences is in the RTX technology. This is a technology which allows games to offer more realistic lighting and shadows in the best graphics cards for VR. It’s a technology that is only currently available on Nvidia graphics cards. You may find you like more realistic lights and shadows and in this case, you need a Super graphics card from Nvidia to enjoy your game to the fullest potential.
Otherwise, you can still use an AMD video card with these games even without the RTX technology. Some gamers argue it makes a very small difference and it doesn’t affect gameplay at all. Other say that this technology is the best in VR as the entire purpose of a headset such as Oculus Rift is to make the game more realistic.
Gaming graphics cards vs professional workstation graphics cards
Professional workstation graphic cards such as the AMD Radeon Pro Graphics Card WX8200 reviewed above are also compatible with VR headsets. But they’re not made for gaming. Their primary role is to support video graphics in creative software such as Autocad.
These graphics cards cost a few times more than those dedicated to gaming. Depending on the type of activity you plan to use the VR headset for more, you need to find the right graphics card for that application. If you play more, a gaming graphics card is the top choice which is also the cheaper choice. As a workstation graphics card user, you already know which graphics card you need for your demanding software, especially with VR.
|ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 2060||ASUS||View on Amazon|
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||Gigabyte||View on Amazon|
|MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti||MSI||View on Amazon|
|ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX570||ASUS||View on Amazon|
|Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070||Gigabyte||View on Amazon|
|MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060||MSI||View on Amazon|
|XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition||XFX||View on Amazon|
|PNY Nvidia Quadro P5000||PNY||View on Amazon|
|MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X||MSI||View on Amazon|
|AMD Radeon Pro Graphics Card WX8200||AMD||View on Amazon|
What graphics card is recommended for VR?
The ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 2060 is a recommended graphics card with serious potential in VR gaming. It has already reached a level of popularity which makes it easier for the user to find online information about overclocking and gaming tweaks for the best performance.
What is the best graphics card for Oculus Rift?
We recommend the MSI GTX 1070 for Oculus Rift as it already comes with an intuitive menu and settings for this type of headset. Its presets make the VR learning curve shorter and the entire gaming experience easier.
Is GTX 1070 enough for VR?
VR headset manufacturers recommend certain graphics cards for their products. Oculus recommends the GTX 1070 among 20 other graphics cards with an AMD or Nvidia chipset. This is the type of mid-range graphics card to begin your VR journey on.
Is a GTX 1080 Good for VR?
If you have a higher budget, the GTX 1080 is a solid VR performer. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are known to run smoothly with this graphics card even in their newer generations.
GameWorks is one of the technologies used by the GTX 1080. It’s mainly used for cinematic playing experience. But the graphics card also has other advantages such as low latency and XSplit Gamecaster for instant performance tweaking. When you add that it comes with a plug-and-play design, you begin to see the graphics card is one of the leaders in its class with the impressive overall performance for the money. You can also get it from non-reference brands such as ASUS or MSI which also have it VRReady.
What graphics card does the Oculus Rift use?
Apart from the GTX 1070, Oculus Rift is recommended with other graphic cards. These include NVIDIA GTX 970, Nvidia FeGorce RTX, and AMD Radeon R9 290.
How do I make my Oculus Rift graphics better?
Certain graphics options can be adjusted from the Oculus app to make it run a bit better. If you use Oculus Rift S, you need to adjust its performance from the app following certain profile. It’s here that you can choose between performance and quality in terms of graphics. Oculus Quest has automatic, performance, balance, and quality profiles to choose from. Performance preferences are chosen for the lower-end graphics cards. Quality profiles are chosen for the higher-spec configurations with the best graphics cards for VR.
Can a GTX 1050 run Oculus Rift?
Oculus Rift is not compatible with GTX 1050. If you want to use the headset, you need to alternatively use the GTX 1050Ti graphics card.
Can a 1070 TI run VR?
The GTX 1070Ti runs VR with high specifications. It has a similar performance to the powerful and appreciated 1080Ti.
Is a GTX 1070 still good 2019?
The graphics card can still be useful today. It has good performance and it’s among the popular choices on the market. However, it has also been replaced by the RTX 2060 for a much-needed upgrade, but at a higher cost.
How much power does GTX 1070 use?
The GTX 1070 generally requires a minimum power supply of 450 watts but most install it on systems with an 850 watts power supply.
A common practice for those who want to maintain low running temperature is under voltage. If you limit the voltage to the graphics card between 30 and 50 watts you might see lower temperatures even when playing at 60fps. A stable overclock is basically why gamers prefer to send less voltage to their graphics cards.
Is a GTX 1070 good enough for 1440p?
Yes, the GTX 1070 is a good graphics card for 1440p. However, most gamers are rarely using such high resolution at the moment.
What graphics card do I need for VR?
In general, you can start anywhere at GeForce GTX 1060 card from Nvidia, or a Radeon RX 480, Radeon RX 580, and Radeon RX 590. If you can increase your budget, you can see better details and play at a higher frame rate.
You cannot use integrated graphic cards with VR. With some rare exceptions, no games will run on integrated graphics. Even if you manage to launch a demanding application or a game on an integrated graphics card, you will face considerable lag and plenty of glitches while playing.
Do you need two graphics cards for VR?
You don’t need 2 graphic cards for VR. Your VR headset needs to be connected to the primary video card of your computer. Even if some computers now run on 2 graphics cards, you still need to choose one as the dominant chipset. This is also the graphics card you connect the VR headset too.
Is the GTX 1080 VR Ready?
The GTX 1080 is VR ready. It is one of the graphics cards associated with high levels of detail that run smoothly on VR headsets. With the benefit of DirectX 12, it can run all types of games at full detail. But gamers also appreciate its heat management design. It uses the Twin Frozr VI Thermal technology to keep running temperatures low. At the same time, you need to know this graphics card is a bit noisier than others.
Is a 1080ti good for VR?
The 1080ti is a superb graphics card for VR and gaming. It runs on ultra-settings which means you can’t see better performance even when buying a better graphics card. Running without interruptions, the graphics card is superior to many others which show clear glitches when all of the details are set to the highest level.
Is a GTX 1080 Ti still good in 2020?
While its already 3-years old, the GTX 1080 Ti is still a very good video card for VR. You might even want to grab it now as it comes at a better price than at its launch date. It also does well in performance tracking tests. The video card has results similar to the RTX 2070, but with the advantage of the lower price.