Buying a new gaming PC from Asus, Alienware or Dell may be a faster way to get an Oculus Rift headset.
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After teasing partnerships with PC makers for months, Oculus has announced the specific partners and systems in its "Oculus Ready PC" program. The first gaming desktops to join the program are from Asus and Dell, the latter including both Dell and Alienware-branded systems.
On an update posted February 9 on the Oculus website, the company says: "Today we're excited to introduce the first Oculus Ready PCs from ASUS, Alienware, and Dell! These PCs have been battle tested and certified by Oculus to deliver an incredible Rift experience. We're also thrilled to announce that starting February 16 at 8am Pacific Time, you can pre-order Oculus Ready PC and Rift bundles from Best Buy, Amazon, and the Microsoft Store, starting at $1,499 USD for a limited time only."
The bundles, easiest to see on the Best Buy landing page right now, offer between $100 and $200 off the cost of buying that specific desktop configuration, plus an Oculus Rift headset, which costs $599 in the US on its own right now. These bundle preorders also include the extras sold with the standalone Rift headset, including an Xbox One controller and two early games, Eve: Valkyrie and Lucky's Tail.
These gaming desktops can also be ordered on their own, and in fact many gaming desktops will work just fine with the Rift's published minimum system requirements, which include a recent Intel Core i5 or better processor and an Nvidia 970 or AMD 290 desktop graphics card. Note that nearly all gaming laptops, no matter how powerful, are excluded, as a desktop graphics card is a requirement. A very small handful of laptops that squeeze in a desktop GPU, including the Origin PC Eon17-SLX, should work as well. Oculus has a downloadable compatibility app for testing any Windows PC.
The PCs that Oculus is promoting as part of the Oculus Ready PC program include the Asus ROG G20 and G11; Alienware Area 51 and X51; and a single Dell desktop tower, the XPS 8900 SE. The least expensive bundles right now are the Dell XPS 8900 at $1,599 and the Asus G11 at $1,499, both including an Oculus Rift headset. Both are at the very low end of the required specs, with an Intel Core i5 CPU and Nvidia 970 desktop graphics card.
For those early shoppers who already preordered an Oculus Rift headset when presales started in January, the company says similar discounts on PC hardware will be available: "For those who've already pre-ordered Rift, you'll be able to purchase discounted Oculus Ready PCs in select countries and regions. To claim your discount, check your order status and opt into partner offers if you haven't already. Offer codes will appear on your order status page February 16."
The first Oculus Rift headsets are expected to ship in March, although the preorder page for the virtual-reality systems says new orders will ship in July. Ordering a bundle may be one way to get an Oculus system sooner, as the Best Buy page has an "expected release date" for its bundles of April 23.