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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.

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.

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.