Virtual Reality Computers vs. Building Your Own: Which is Better?

Let’s start with something everyone can agree with: There are a lot of assholes on the internet.

And this topic seems to bring them out of the woodwork. Some of the comments I read on YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook make me ginger-pissed. Have you seen a ginger’s bright red face when they’re angry? That’s a whole other level of pissed – ask the creators of South Park.

“Do You Like Fish Sticks?”

That has nothing to do with this post, but I mentioned South Park so it came to mind. What I really wanted to ask is: Are you a lazy bum?

Because if you are, you can watch this video instead of reading this post. Reading is hard, especially if you’ve never attended the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.

Everything I discuss in this post is also discussed in this video:

Custom Built PCs vs. Virtual Reality Computers

There’s no universally correct answer here, as some of the aforementioned “assholes of the internet” might have you believe. There’s only what’s right for you, and depending on what’s most important to you, “Oculus-Ready Computers” might be a decent option.

The Advantages of Custom Computers

It isn’t as hard as you might think. If the only reason you’re thinking about buying a VR-ready PC vs. building your own is because you’ve never done it before and you’re too intimidated, I highly recommend reconsidering. With all of the helpful tutorials on YouTube, you should be able to build a custom PC within a few hours, even if it’s your first time.

There are a lot of advantages to building your own virtual reality PC and, overall, custom-building has a slight edge over pre-built VR computers for most users.

Custom-built PCs are truly customizable (who would have thought?!). You get to allocate your resources to whatever is most important to you. If you want a more powerful processor or a solid-state-drive, you just buy the part and install it in your computer. You can also easily add on to your gaming rig down the road if you can’t throw all of the money you want into it right now.

Finally, custom builders usually save at least $100-$200 over similar pre-built options. If you’re willing to spend the time ordering the parts, waiting for them to ship, and then piecing it all together, there’s almost always a noteworthy cost advantage to building your own rig over buying a virtual reality computer that comes pre-built.

The Advantages of Virtual Reality Computers

Compared to the advantages of custom-built PCs, these are fairly minor. But nevertheless, if any of them speak strongly to you and what you’re looking for in your virtual reality PC, it’s quite possible they’re your best option.

Some of the Oculus-ready PCs are more portable and better looking than what a first-time or inexperienced builder might feel comfortable putting together.

There are definitely smaller cases available on the market for custom builds, and sites like PCPartPicker.com and Reddit have some suggested builds that are pretty easy to follow. But if you don’t pay close attention to cooling and cord management with such a powerful computer, you could end up feeling like you bit off more than you can chew pretty quickly.

Not to mention that some of the Oculus-Ready computers are quieter than a lot of the custom builds being suggested. Again, this is pretty nitpicky, but since my virtual reality gaming rig will usually be in our living room, I want it to be as whisper-quiet as possible.

But lastly, and most importantly, buying a pre-built VR computer is easier and consumes significantly less time. After the $100 bundle discount I qualified for through Oculus Rift, my ASUS G20CB-WS71 was only about $150 more than the custom-build I pieced together on PCPartPicker with the same specs.

That was for a significantly more compact, quieter, better-looking gaming rig than I was prepping to build myself. Granted, I could have changed all of that by picking a smaller, more attractive case with quieter cooling fans, but then the cost advantage of custom-building dwindles even more.

As a fairly busy person, I chose my time over money and sprang for a powerful pre-built. Even though I’ve built computers on my own in the past and generally enjoy doing so, this Oculus-Ready PC is more than powerful enough to accommodate all of my virtual reality needs for at least a year or two to come.

So What’s Right for YOU?

If you want a rig that’s more powerful, easier to upgrade, and you’re looking to save a bit of cash, then custom building is probably the route you should take if you have a few hours to invest.

But if you’re intimidated by the wire management and cooling aspects of a smaller custom-build but want something that’s quiet/portable, good-looking, and the easiest option that takes the least amount of time, buying an Oculus-Ready computer or another pre-built PC that meets Oculus’ and HTC’s specs is probably what’s right for you.

For either route, I recommend PCPartPicker.com if you’re looking to custom build, as well as this Oculus subreddit thread for additional advice/support.

If you’re looking to buy a pre-built PC, Amazon has all of the Oculus-Ready bundles available (which will work for other VR headsets too) and you can also purchase these bundles through Best Buy for the same price.

Comments or Insight to Add?

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Please feel free to open a dialogue with the rest of the community by sharing your thoughts, questions, and insight in the comments section below!

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