10 Best CPUs for VR Gaming
Virtual reality—no two words carry that exciting “futuristic” connotation more than these. Okay, maybe the Meta-verse does. But it’s 2022, dear reader, and you probably are a giant ignoramus if you don’t have a fleeting idea of what it means. Needless to say, for video gamers, now is the best time to jump on the virtual bandwagon and get a feel of what VR gaming looks like. While we can’t possibly replicate the ‘thrill’ of VR gaming in words here, here’s a mini-explaner: The experience is totally immersive and realistic. Each time you turn your head, the world turns with you. It’s like you’re ‘virtually’ – mentally and physically – in the game. To break it down, you’re in some other universe.
But to land in another universe, you need your technical gear sorted. VR games carry advanced graphics, requiring a higher refresh rate to enhance the overall experience. Before you look for a VR headset or anything else, it’s time to upgrade your CPU for VR. Of course, you’ll need the best CPU for VR gaming available on the market-one that fits your budget.
Best CPU for VR – Our Top Picks
And that’s what this article will do for you — walk you through the purchase of the best VR CPU.
1. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X-High-End VR Gaming CPU
In fact, AMD Ryzen 9 3900X had to be at the top of this list because it is one of the mainstream processors that offers great performance at a reasonable price.The gaming community refers to Ryzen as “the beast CPU,” and we’ll explain why.Built with 12 cores and 24 threads, it gives the Intel Core solid competition in the AMD vs. Intel processing war, particularly with the price that it offers. It has all the features to be dubbed the best CPU for VR gaming, promising an unbeatable price-to-performance ratio over the Intel Core i9-10900K with its 8 cores and 16 threads. And this is where the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X shines; with more cores, it offers a better streaming and multitasking experience.
The RGB Wraith Prism cooler comes with the promise of high performance, making it a much-recommended stock cooler amongst gamers. When it comes to VR gaming performance, Ryzen is packed with an excellent graphics card, with zero bad reviews to its name (so far). A noted feature is how the graphic cards aptly support and render 3D graphics, a game-changing feature in VR gaming. For many gamers, AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has already dethroned the competition with its smooth, lag-free experience in the most popular VR games:processor Intel Core i9-9900K.
2. Intel Core i9-9900K–High-Speed CPU for Virtual Gaming
With its 8 cores and 16 threads, the Intel Core i9-9900K is a deal-seal when it comes to high-end processors and the best CPUs for VR. Often called the “Lamborghini” of the CPU world, the Intel Core i9-9900k is known for its super-fast performance, ranking it among the top-tier choices for professional gamers. The makers have taken care of its cooling system by adding STIM technology (solder-based thermal interface material), a hardware technology that works great against any ‘heating up’ problems and guarantees smooth running.
Another strong point for the Intel Core i9-9900K is that its modern design supports all multi-thread loads produced by VR. This means it is well-equipped to meet the operational requirements of VR gaming.
Tech-geeks and avid gamers claim the Core i9-9900K to be the fastest CPU they have tested. However, this CPU suffers at its price point. It is one of the most expensive VR gaming CPUs available, and for many, it does not provide the value proposition that its competitors do.
3. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – Best Budget-Friendly CPU for VR Gaming
With its feasible price point and advanced performance, the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X gives both the above-mentioned CPUs for VR a run for their money. You can pair the 7 3700X with the most costly graphics cards and enjoy lag-free virtual gaming for hours. Of course, with Ryzen 9 3900X and Intel Core i9-9900K, you are compromising on 12 cores, but this hardly affects your virtual gaming experience. In fact, most VR games do not require them anyway.
With its 8 cores and 16 threads, the Ryzen 7 3700X offers almost 4.4 GHz – almost as close as the 9 3900 X. Many gamers have tested overclocking on this system, and its Wraith Prism cooler greatly facilitates that. Here is a bonus tip from tech-geeks: When Ryzen 7 3700X is paired with DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, it runs very quickly and gives you an amazing VR gaming experience.
Another standout feature of the Ryzen 7 3700X is that it allows gamers to play VR games at ultra settings, guaranteeing you 60 FPS. You just need a good graphics card to make this happen!
4. Intel Core I7-9700K – Best Intel CPU for Virtual Reality
Packed with 8 cores and 8 threads, the Intel Core I7-9700K can boost up to 4.9 GHz. But if you compare it with the Ryzen chip, you do compromise on the number of cores, which slightly affects the speed. Furthermore, the I7-9700K does not offer a stock cooler, which may cause issues with heat dissipation in the long run, although most users found it manageable.
Overall, when it comes to gaming, the Intel Core I7-9700K is a VR-capable PC offering a similar gaming experience as offered by the Ryzen 7 3700X. Naively, nearly all the trending VR games run smoothly on it without lags. Gamers who have used this VR PC do recommend investing in a good graphics card. With this Intel Core I7-9700K, you can expect 5 more FPS than the Ryzen, as well as a lower price tag than the 7 3700X.
It’s the price point that makes it a fitting choice, as it is cheaper than the i9-10900K without compromising on its overall performance and VR gaming.
5. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 – The Best Budget CPU for VR Gaming
For some very good reasons, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 now tops searches as the most recommended CPU for VR. Not only is this an affordable option for those on a budget, but with its VR-ready specs, it tops the list of PCs which offer the best value for money.
With 6 cores, 12 threads, and a base clock speed of up to 4.2 GHz, AMD Ryzen 5 3600 promises exemplary VR game performance with a low TDP offering low power consumption. Of course, it lacks a few high-tech specifications that a higher-end CPU has to offer, but it does compensate with wins like high refresh rates.
Avid gamers suggest in reviews that while AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is a highly recommended entry-level VR ready CPU, its 6 core processor doesn’t give the highest frame rates. The chips do not offer the overclocking speeds of other high-end models. Overall, the Ryzen 5 3600 is a great choice for a mid-range processor.
6. AMD Ryzen 5 2600X – Best Budget VR-Ready CPU for Newcomers
If you are on the hunt for a VR-ready desktop that doesn’t break the bank, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 makes a stellar choice. Although it is an older model from 2018, when it comes to performance, it certainly delivers. It packs 6 cores, and 12 threads and boosts up to 4.2 GHz. It is not compatible with PCIe 4.0, but with its 12 nm mode, it compensates for the performance.
The Ryzen 5 2600X offers a good motherboard, which supports most AM4 sockets without any issues. For the same price range, you can also get the Ryzen 5 2600 non-X-variant, which offers an overclockability element.
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 supports nearly all low- and mid-level graphics cards. Many reviews suggest the RTX 2070 for a smooth VR gaming experience on this PC. Over all, it is a good entry-level CPU for VR gaming, particularly for gamers who are just starting out or are on a budget. Several reviews said that if you don’t want lag, you should lower the settings and play at lower frame rates.
7. The Intel Core i5-9600K is the Best Budget-Friendly Intel CPU for VR Gamers.
A clear favourite amongst the mid-range gamer’s CPUs, the Intel Core i5-9600K is a good choice for PC gamers who know how to tweak hardware for better performance over time. In order to keep up with the tough, growing competition from AMD Ryzen, Intel has worked up its core counts and made high-end advancements, which is evident in this version.
The Core i5-9600K packs 6 cores and 6 threads in a 9th generation i5 model and is a popular choice amongst amateur gamers on a budget. If you are on a budget but still looking for a VR-ready CPU that doesn’t compromise much on speed, you will be happy to know that this one delivers a speed of 3.7 GHz. Supported by a Turbo Boost, you can boost it up to 4.6 GHz, which is not a bad deal for a 6 core, 6 thread VR ready PC.
Many gamers vouched for the Core i5-9600K as a fitting choice for those on the lookout for a good processor on a mid-range budget to try out virtual gaming.
8. Intel Core i5-10400 – Best i5 VR Processor
Often dubbed the best i5 processor for VR freaks, this 10th generation PC comes with some major upgrades from its predecessor. The Core i5-10400 has been upgraded with 6 cores packed with 12 threads now (a big upgrade of 6 cores from its older version!) Of course, this exponentially enhances the speed and capacity of the Core i5, coupled with Intel’s latest Turbo Boost technology. The Core i5-10400 doesn’t wane under heavy load, delivering a powerful performance whilst conserving energy. It also features 12 MB worth of Smart Cache to meet the VR gaming needs of even the highest graphic games.
A 63W TDP is ideal for cooling down the PC during extended hours of gaming while saving energy. This energy efficiency feature is a bonus considering this is already a budget-friendly CPU.
9. Intel CORE i7-10700K VR-Ready CPU
This Intel VR processor packs an 8-core, delivering excellent single-core performance coveted by gaming enthusiasts. With its Core i9 technology, it really packs a punch for an amazing virtual gaming experience. With standout features like 3D graphics, fast refresh rates, and smooth graphic transitions, the Core i7-10700K gives users a 360 degree experience that ranks it amongst the most recommended CPUs in the Intel brand.
When it comes to VR gaming experiences, this one truly takes home the extra points. It’s a great pick for playing high-level games where virtual worlds are created, teleporting the players away into a futuristic setting. This is the beauty of virtual gaming!
A few downsides to the Core i7-10700K would be the lack of an in-box cooling unit, which does raise questions. While most people would overlook this disadvantage because this VR-ready PC is only a few dollars more expensive than the Ryzen 7 chip.
In terms of its overall performance and computing prowess, the Core i7-10700K does match the promises of high-end Intel technology, which has been greatly challenged by Ryzen in recent times.
10. The Intel Core i5-9600KF is the best mid-range CPU for VR Gamers
Featuring 6 cores and 6 threads, this 9th generation keeps its design model basic. The Intel Core i5-9600KF makes for a good mid-range choice for gaming enthusiasts looking for a VR-ready processor which packs all the basic features of VR gaming.
The processor offers an ‘unlocked’ multiplier option that facilitates overclocking – a feature the VR gaming community simply loves. It also allows gamers to eke out as much power as they want while gaming on the Core i5-9600KF.
Falling again into the mid-range processors, it’s a popular choice for those on a tight budget, but don’t let the price factor confuse you with its gaming prowess. It does pack speed, clocking in at 3.7 GHz. Backed by Turbo Boost technology, it has been tested out to touch at least 4.6 GHz—good power promise for 6 cores and 6 threads! It’s a good buy for new gamers and amateur players, though perhaps not the best option if you want to get into professional gaming. But for the money, this Core i5 delivers the ultimate VR experience!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is VR CPU or GPU intensive?
The GPU is hands down the most important part of the hardware required for VR gaming. But do note that for an ultimate gaming experience, you need the combined power of the CPU, supported by RAM, and the right type of CPU for a balanced configuration. So, you can avoid any lags or slowdowns and still get the best frame rate.
If you’re looking for GPU recommendations, the GeForce RTX 20 or 30 series are the strongest ones to consider. A Ryzen 5 or Core i5 CPU with 16 GB of RAM and a monitor supporting Full HD resolution is also a deal breaker.
It also depends on the types of games you are playing. Some VR games can be an added burden on the PC. A good example is civilization. Some games are more GPU-intensive than others.
VR headsets are equipped with two displays that demand a higher refresh rate along with a high resolution. To ensure solid, lag-free rendering, the GPU does all the heavy-lifting: processing and rendering. Conclusively, VR relies heavily on GPU power.
The GPU’s job is to deliver the VR experience; it does this by rendering two displays. An average graphic processor cannot do this job alone. It is recommended to purchase a GPU with a minimum refresh rate of 90+. A lower FPS will not deliver the best VR experience.
Your CPU should be equipped with a quad-core to ensure power. According to tech geeks, the average CPU requirement for most models is Intel i5-4590 or greater [benchmark 1600+]. AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 2200GE or AMD FX 8350 can make for good alternatives too.
What does VR-Ready mean?
In simple terms, a VR-ready PC is one that is equipped to offer immersive, high-definition 3D graphics. It allows users to experience a real-like environment that is created through high processing and speedy graphics cards that create an augmented reality.
VR games carry advanced graphics, requiring a higher refresh rate to enhance the overall experience. Before you look for a VR headset or anything else, it’s time to upgrade your CPU for VR. Of course, you’ll need the best CPU for VR gaming available on the market-one that fits your budget.
How to Check If Your Current PC Is VR-Ready?
It’s the rule of the thumb: do not rely on written statistics; do a test run yourself. Use software to check if your processing unit has enough power to execute VR. There are many software programs you can check out. The SteamVR Performance Test from the Steam store comes highly recommended by the VR geeks. This application accurately measures the PC’s rendering power with a VR-demo.
How much RAM do you need for the VR CPU?
For a seamless gaming experience, RAM cannot simply be overlooked. Most VR headsets and game titles come with the recommended RAM of at least 8GB. Many tech geeks and avid gamers agree that 8 GB would be sufficient to run the most popular titles. However, when it comes to tasks like video editing, rendering graphics, and more, an upgrade of 16 GB will become quite necessary. Well, the good news is that getting the RAM will not break your bank. It is easily available on a budget and is even easier to install. This means when time comes for an upgrade, you can do it with ease without burning a hole in your pocket.
The majority of VR sets require a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, with a few exceptions like the HTC Vive Pro Eye (just 4 GB of RAM is required here).