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Alienware teases a VR-ready PC built into a backpack

This AMD-powered device joins the small but growing list of VR backpack prototypes.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
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Dan Ackerman

Virtual-reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require heavy duty desktop gaming PC parts to run, and they require you to be tethered to a PC by a long cable. Seeking to break gamers free of that, Alienware is showing off a reference design of a portable VR-ready PC, built into a slick-looking backpack.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

It's not a brand-new idea. We've previously seen an Alienware Alpha desktop turned into portable VR backpack to run the earlier Oculus DK2 development kit, and HP has also recently shown off a prototype design for a very similar system.

We got a closer look at the Alienware version, designed in collaboration with a VR company called Zero Latency, at the PC Gaming Show, an annual event held alongside E3 in Los Angeles. The backpack seen here uses AMD's new RX 480 graphics card, a new GPU that offers VR-ready performance for about $200.

The Alienware VR backpack prototype (pictures)

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Keep in mind this is a reference design, which means it's a prototype-like device meant to act as a starting point for a potential future product (the HP version is similarly early in its development), so there's no word on a possible price or release date yet.