Best GPUs For VR – 2020 Review

Digital Advisor is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

As all companies lay an intensified focus on newer innovative technologies to keep up with the latest consumer trends, VR works in a similar fashion. In this day and age, VR is essentially transforming the gaming industry, driving it into the next phase of advancement. The immersive simulated experience has really caught on, and now, it's one of the most popular technologies in the gaming world.

Being appraised to such an extent, it’s only fair that every consumer now wants to go out and indulge in the virtual reality of the gaming world. The prerequisite here is that your hardware needs to be compatible with VR, and your GPU in particular. 

In this article, we've devised a carefully formulated list of some of the best GPUs that can handle your VR gaming and optimize in-game graphics performance.

Our Top Picks for Best GPUs For VR

  • Multiple display ports
  • High Processor speeds
  • Better performance
View Latest Price →
  • High memory capacity
  • Small form factor
  • Multiple display ports
View Latest Price →
  • Best for the Money
  • Fast Processor speeds
  • Easy to use
View Latest Price →

Comparison of the Best GPUs For VR

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Supports up to 4 monitors with Display Port 1. 4, HDMI 2. 0
  • Use the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics processor
  • Uses GPU Tweak II performance monitoring
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Comes with 6GB 192-bit GDDR6 memory included
  • Support the Super Compact 8.3-Inch card format
  • Comes with 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0B
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best for the Money
  • Comes with the AMD Radeon RX 580 processor
  • Uses the PCI Express x8 interface
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Supports DisplayPort x 3 (V1.4)/ HDMI 2.0B x 1 outputs
  • Use the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics processor
  • Comes with Video Memory of 6GB GDDR6
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Use the AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics processor
  • Uses the Directcu II wing-blade Fans on 0dB fan technology and run 30% cooler
  • Equipped with Tweak II interface and Fan Connect II for GPU and CPU temperature sensing.
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

What Makes a GPU Great for VR?

Apart from the usual advantages of installing a GPU, such as reaping the benefits of a highly efficient cooling mechanism to avert overheating issues, some factors that make a GPU great for VR include:

Higher Memory

Installing a GPU to your PC will elevate its memory, which consequently will enable your system to handle more complex graphics needed for VR. Responsible for storing all graphical data, most cards come with a graphic memory of about 512 MB and 11 GB. Common types in these are the GDDR5 and DDR3. The higher the memory capacity of your GPU, the more it will perform at optimal levels.

Higher Memory Speed

Memory speed is the ability to utilize memory. Upgrading your GPU to a VR-ready system will enhance your device's memory speed, making it faster. The minimum requirement for a VR compatible GPU is 7Gbps.

Good Clock Rate

You’ll be able to enjoy a higher clock rate; a higher clock rate signifies a higher number of pixels that can be easily processed by the GPU in each second.

The varying amount of pixel operating frequencies that can be handled by the card, in turn, elevates its overall performance while keeping overheating problems to a minimum. 

Can Any GPU Be Used For Virtual Reality? 

Virtual reality requires many different components to be considered, and the GPU is perhaps one of the most important, even more than CPU in some aspects. This is because a variable frame rate in VR is unpleasant and unplayable at times and may also cause nausea. So, you need a powerful enough GPU to have a steady and consistent frame rate. 

Now, if we take, for example, the Oculus Rift S, it would require 80fps as it’s panels refresh rate is 80Hz. You need a decently high performing GPU for Virtual Reality and VR gaming. Take note; not every or any GPU can be used.

Quick Take - Best GPUs For VR

Just looking for the three best GPUs for VR? Here they are:

  1. Asus ROG STRIX RTX 2080TI
  2. ZOTAC Gaming GTX 1660 Ti
  3. XFX Radeon RX-580P8DFD6

Review of the Best GPUs For VR 

Now that you know the benefits and prerequisites of a VR-ready GPU, let's jump right into our reviews list of the best GPUs that you must consider when making a purchase:

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080TI-O11G Overclocked 11G GDDR6 HDMI DP 1.4 USB Type-C Gaming Graphics Card (ROG-STRIX-RTX-2080TI-O11G)

PROS

  • Excellent 4K at 60Hz and 1440p at 144Hz
  • Can stay extremely silent when the “quiet” BIOS are enabled
  • Comes packed with features such as RGB, Dual BIOS, and fan headers
  • Features the latest AA method being DLSS, tensor and RT cores for ray tracing
  • High-performance beast that can stay ice-cold at impressive performance settings

CONS

  • Can be quite bulky and not fit in some cases such as Small Form Factor (SFF)

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers seemed to be extremely pleased with their purchase, with many bringing up the same features: high performance, speed, and excellent cooling. The packaging and the size of the card definitely stood out to most. And the RGB lighting is a great additional touch which can be customized through the software or turned off if desired.

Why it Stands Out to Us

At first glance, the Asus ROG STRIX RTX 2080 TI is a sight in its own right with its massive size and triple fans, which clearly shows it is built for enthusiasts. It’s still one of the best graphic cards available on the market today. 

This beast is packed to the core to give you the highest performance possible so that you can enjoy consistently higher frame rates faster and at higher resolutions. So even after a few hours of consistent gaming at 4K, you will surely get 60fps consistently.

The cooling system works wonders without making any noise at all. With the Aura Sync software, you get a wide range of features and control over the RGB lighting, giving you a unique aesthetic. You can go stealth mode and turn the lights off completely if you want.  

Bottom Line

This card was built for specifically 4K and VR gaming in mind, and that is how it was marketed. With its advanced VR rendering and AI with real-time ray tracing to top it off, it will surely not disappoint. It's quite difficult to see how anyone could go wrong with having such an item in their PC arsenal.

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card Super Compact - ZT-T16610F-10L

PROS

  • Excellent for gaming at 1080p and VR Ready
  • Highly energy efficient and supports up to 4 monitors
  • Small compact design which would fit 99% of systems yet be a powerhouse
  • Packed with features such as HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4 and VESA Adaptive-Sync, etc.
  • Twin fans help with airflow, keeping the card cool even after prolonged sessions of gaming

CONS

  • No display out for Type-C nor RTS and DLSS support
  • Some games require more than 6GB of memory, which is the memory capacity of this card

What Recent Buyers Report

Many users regard this as a great card that provides substantial value for the amount of money it costs. The high performance and the features it boasts don't make it feel like a budget-gaming card at all. On top of that, the build quality is quite sturdy and great. 

Both noise and heat levels are extremely optimized even after hours of graphics-intensive processing. All in all, most users recommend this card without any issues.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The ZOTAC GAMING GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB is one of the most affordable graphic cards to offer 4K gaming at the benchmarks it does. It performs excellent at 1080p with settings maxed out all while consistently maintaining 60fps or even higher. 

It comes with a fantastic cooling system consisting of copper heat pipes, aluminum heatsink, and wide curved fans to help maximize airflow. The Firestorm utility is a great minimalistic and intuitive interface that helps give you more control and information about your card. You get all this with GeForce Experience and much more.

Bottom Line

There is little you can complain about when considering this graphic card. It is one of the best budget VR-Ready cards available on the market with 4K support. Everyone is in unison about the GTX 1660 Ti chip itself being amazing. All in all, it is a great card for any setup. 

Best for the Money:
XFX Radeon RX-580P8DFD6

XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition 1386MHz OC+, 8GB GDDR5, VR Ready, Dual BIOS, 3xDP HDMI DVI, AMD Graphics Card (RX-580P8DFD6)

PROS

  • Specially designed XL inductors to eliminate inductor noise
  • XFX double dissipation cooling technology for efficient cooling performance
  • Showcases the new FinFET 14 process technology ensuring optimized performance
  • Offers multiple GPU overclocked settings ranging from 1366 MHz true clock and 1386 MHz OC+
  • Boasts AMD VR-ready premium technology to deliver a stutter-free superior virtual reality experience

CONS

  • Creates more heat
  • Some might feel it uses higher power

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers were content with their purchase because this card can efficiently handle heavy games at higher frames per second without any issues, making it perfect for VR. They say the value they receive in terms of specs is excellent for the price they paid. Overall, users were happy with both the performance, compatibility with VR, and the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

A dual-fan system cools the XFX Radeon by featuring a double dissipation cooling technology with a minimum power requirement of 500 watts. Talking about the overall construction, the card is embedded with the latest Polaris architecture, representing the 4th generation GCN graphics core and FinFET 14 process technology for supreme performance.

Moreover, this model rocks brand new multimedia cores and a display engine. It’s a pro when it comes to hardware-controlled clock speed performance optimization, enabling efficient performance at all times. 

Last but not least, the premium AMD VR-ready technology makes it highly compatible to be paired with the latest VR headsets. Together with the AMD LiquidVR technology, this card creates an immaculate experience, implementing a stutter-free, low latency experience translating into a VR escapade of the highest standards. 

Bottom Line

With an efficient Radeon chill technology specially designed to lower GPU temperatures, increase performance, save power, and ensure longevity, this product ticks all the right boxes. This technology works efficiently at peak gameplay to deliver full-frame rate potential for an optimal VR gaming experience.

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDRR6 192-bit HDMI/DP Ray Tracing Turing Architecture VR Ready Graphics Card (RTX 2060 VENTUS XS 6G OC)

PROS

  • Cooling mechanism is efficient yet quiet
  • Delivers optimal performance for 1080p and 1440p gaming
  • Comes overclocked out the box and has the headroom for further overclocking
  • Blades on the twin cooling fans are smooth and steeper in curvature to improve airflow

CONS

  • Offers no VirtualLink port
  • Backplate is constructed from plastic instead of metal

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users reported back saying the product works great, giving them double the frame rates compared to older models. It works well at high graphic settings and delivers high frame rates. Overall, users like it because it hasn't created any issues for them with whatever game they have engaged in.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The MSI RTX features 6 gigabytes of GDDR6 RAM and operates on the base clock frequency of 1365 MHz and a boost speed of 1680 MHz. It features an overclocked GPU that can run to a clock speed of 1710 MHz.

As far as the device's impressive cooling process is concerned, it comes with a large heat sink with copper heat pipes and is cooled by dual Torx 2.0 fans. For connectivity, there are a total of three display ports and one HDMI, which is more than enough. The backplate boasts a nice design giving an overall ruggedness to the whole assembly.

Bottom Line

The MSI RTX graphics card is one of the best cards in the market, offering ray-tracing capabilities, GDDR6 video RAM, as well as an overclocked GPU. It delivers optimal performance with high resolution and desired frame rates. Above all, it promises great value for the money.   

Asus ROG Strix Radeon Rx 570 O4G Gaming OC Edition GDDR5 DP HDMI DVI VR Ready AMD Graphics Card (ROG-STRIX-RX570-O4G-GAMING)

PROS

  • Offers a three-year warranty
  • Boats a 1310 MHz boost clock offer a 7% improvement in performance
  • DirectCU II cooling technology for 30% cooler and 3x quieter performance
  • Intuitive GPU Tweak II interface for monitoring and controlling GPU performance
  • Manufactured using auto-extreme manufacturing technology to validate the premium quality and reliability

CONS

  • Cooling fans can get noisy at heavier loads
  • Great starter card but not suitable for higher-end games

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers seem to claim this is one of the best mid-range graphic cards in the market. The built-in heat detection is excellent, and it's possible to overclock the product while maintaining a safe heat index. Overall, it offers value for the money and has an efficient cooling system.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

The ASUS ROG STRIX is one of the fastest clocks boasting a 1310 MHz boost clock. We enjoy this card because the fans are completely silent until the card goes past 55 degrees Celsius. The model fashions a four-pin fan header that you can use to control an external fan directly, keeping the heat low by bringing in more cooling as needed. The RGB LED installed on the GPU can be controlled by the ASUS aura software. 

This graphics model is a dual-slot card with a dual heat pot design to bring the heat to the featured heat sink for efficient dissipation.

In terms of PCB layout and power phase, it's a six-plus two power face design boasting ASUS's custom choke coils assembly for power delivery. The long-life capacitors are rated 2½x the average lifetime of electrolytic capacitors.

Bottom Line

If you're interested in building a cost-efficient 1080p gaming system or you want a home theatre PC, this product is a pretty good choice. It's a terrific deal for the money in terms of the value you receive.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying 

One should consider some aspects before purchasing anything; they play a massive role in helping you make a decision that goes a long way. Below are the aspects you should keep in mind when you sort through GPU systems, searching for the perfect companion to your PC.

Physical Compatibility; GPU Width and Length

For your GPU to run efficiently in your CPU, it first has to fit into it, right? GPU length is more of a pressing concern for some users in contrast to the width. Sometimes the length doesn't exactly go with the insides of the chassis. This is why you must make sure your case's length corresponds with the length of the GPU you're going to buy. Otherwise, the card will be of no use.

Budget

Budget is a paramount factor for most consumers as it should be; not all people have the leverage of buying expensive products without it taking a toll on their savings. It’s better to look for products within your budget instead of looking at higher-end options. That can lead to high expectations and, in turn, dissatisfaction. 

It's nice to be well aware of what you're paying and what you deserve in return, but you should also keep in mind to be realistic with your expectations as well. All this has been made considerably easier for you because the products listed in our guide are high in performance, compatible with VR, and budget-friendly.

Memory

Responsible for storing every bit of your graphic information, you must buy a product with a memory that can hold your graphic-intensive VR games. Higher memory contributes to your GPU performing at optimal levels. We personally recommend buying a card with a memory of 11GB but generally speaking, 8 GB or higher is the minimum requirement for most gamers.

How Do I Know if My PC is VR Ready?

Checking whether your PC or laptop is VR ready has been made easier because companies have published their minimum recommended requirements for a superior virtual reality escapade.

Minimum Requirements for Oculus Rift

  1. RAM: 8GB+

  2. CPU: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater

  3. GPU: NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater

  4. USB Ports 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port

  5. Video Output Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output

  6. OS Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

Minimum Requirements for HTC Vive

  1. RAM: 4GB+

  2. CPU: Intel i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or greater

  3. GPU: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970/AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or greater

  4. USB Port: 1x USB 2.0 or greater port

  5. Video Output: HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

  6. Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Steam has released a VR performance test to see whether your system is compatible with it and can run the content at 90 fps. Oculus has a similar test as well, so it's reasonably easy to run a compatibility test and check for yourself.

How to Tell if My GPU is Bottlenecking VR

Bottlenecking is a complicated topic, even for regular gaming, let alone VR. Under the right circumstances, any CPU can bottleneck a GPU or vice versa, depending on the graphic settings. 

Sometimes, you can identify a bottleneck by just your resolution settings, glitching, and certain graphics popping up after a slight delay. 

You can identify whether your GPU or CPU is bottlenecking VR by using software such as MSI Afterburner. You can bind a certain key and hence display said variables on the screen while you are in play. This will show you your CPU or GPU load on the top, and hence you would be able to identify which is bottlenecking. 

What GPU is the Minimum Requirement For VR?

For Oculus Rift, the minimum requirement of GPU for VR is Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or greater or AMD Radeon RX 470 or better.

For HTC Vive, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon R9 480 equivalent, or better is recommended.

How to Optimize GPU Performance For VR 

One of the most common ways to optimize GPU performance for VR is by regularly updating your graphics card drivers. Nvidia and AMD are the two biggest companies when it comes to GPUs, and they constantly update their drivers, especially when new games are revealed.

Hence, if your graphics output is not up to the mark, check out the relevant app (Nvidia GeForce or AMD gaming evolved), depending upon your card company to update. For the procedure, just follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Type the relevant app on your search bar

  2. Click on it

  3. Click the drivers' tab usually displayed on top of the window

  4. Click automatic or custom installation depending on your preferences

The company will take care of the rest once you click automatic installation while you'll have the margin to select your preferred settings if you select the latter.

Another way to optimize performance is to optimize the graphics with your graphics card company’s software. We talk about two software here, from Nvidia and AMD. Both companies are continually attempting to deliver unique ways to optimize your graphics performance. One such way involves the ability to let you optimize your settings for superior in-game performance.  

In order to do that, refer to the following steps:

  1. Click and type Nvidia GeForce or AMD gaming evolved in the search bar of your taskbar

  2. Hit enter, so you land on the page

  3. Select ‘more,’ depending on where it’s located for your relevant page

  4. Click optimize all games

And that's it; now the software will take care of the rest, optimizing the in-game settings according to your hardware.

Conclusion

All in all, when it comes to choosing a GPU for VR, what you need is a sound understanding of your requirements, the requirements of your PC, the crucial aspects to consider before buying, and how to optimize performance once you've got your graphics card of choice. Once these are inline inside your head, we're sure you'll enjoy the best of the best the gaming world has to offer.

People Also Ask

If you still have some questions, go through the following frequently asked questions guide. It’ll put everything into perspective!

Is VR Worth Getting?

It’s safe to say that virtual reality has definitely made a significant impact on hardcore gamers. So yes, VR is definitely worth it. It provides its users with some of the most popular and immersive games in the market with innovative controls and unparalleled simulations. It's a great way to enhance the overall gaming experience.

Why is VR so GPU Intensive?

VR is GPU intensive because it requires a higher fps and higher resolutions. Its 'virtual reality,' so it obviously requires heavier and better graphics performance for a superior experience. If we consider the lower-end side of VR, it requires a resolution of 2160x1200 at 90Hz. 

On the other hand, higher-end headsets are 2880x1600 running at 144Hz. If we talk about the higher-end side, compared with a regular 1920x1080 game running at 30Hz, the former has a fill rate that's 21 times that of the latter. This is why VR is more GPU intensive.

How Long Should You Play VR?

Manufacturers of the most sought-after VR headsets recommend users to take at least a 10-15 minutes break after immersing in a 30-minute virtual reality session.

Why is VR So Hard to Run?

VR games are harder to run than normal PC games because they require a higher frame rate per second for optimal performance. Most games require a constant 90 fps to work efficiently so that users don’t get motion sick. 

Can VR Run on a Laptop?

Your laptop cannot run VR unless it’s specially designed as a high-end gaming laptop. Nevertheless, you need to check the product specifications to see if your system is compatible with virtual reality. 

What GPU Clock is Recommended For VR?

The recommended GPU clock for VR is 1300-1900 MHz

Why Won't Steam VR Use My GPU?

This is a glitch with some systems whereby to save battery, they run off of the integrated GPU and do not use the installed one. In order to switch, you need to open and refer to your Nvidia or AMD control panel. It requires a restart, but you should be good to go.

What Does VR-Ready GPU Mean?

A VR-ready GPU is a graphics card that’s compatible with virtual reality technology. It’s basically a system that’s fast enough to support VR applications and goggles. 

How Do I Increase My FPS On VR?

Installing a good-quality GPU will elevate your frames per second rate significantly. 

Is VR More CPU Or GPU Intensive?

As we mentioned earlier, VR is highly GPU-intensive, but this does not mean that the CPU has no impact on technology. This also depends on whether the VR software is CPU or GPU intensive off the bat, and how it's designed. If we talk about resolution, it leans more on the CPU, while shifting our focus to graphical settings obviously intensifies the need for a stronger GPU, which plays a more significant part.

Who Created the First VR GPU?

Nvidia came out with the world's first GPU, marketing the GeForce 256 as the first of its kind. On the other hand, HTC revealed it's HTC VIVE stream set, which was termed as the first commercial release of a headset. This headset constituted sensor-based tracking. The innovative VR-ready GPU was formulated by integrating the two into one in the years that followed.

Why Does VR Require More GPU Power?

VR is more graphic intensive and requires a lot more pixels to push at the same time as regular games. The time and power needed to render some of the most intensive VR parts are directly related to how many pixels are involved. That's why it requires a higher fps rate to not ruin the overall experience.