The Oculus Rift Specifications Finally Released

Last week, the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset finally received a release window – Q1 of 2016. Today, we actually got some specifications and system requirements to drive this game changing device for the video game industry.

The original Oculus Rift Development Kit – or DK – featured a 1280 x 720 pixel screen at 60Hz. This was enough for developers to get their hands on a virtual reality device at a relatively low cost, and allowed them to make demos and get used to programing so users don’t get motion sickness or experience parallax issues. The DK2 brought a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen at 60Hz, which reduced the noticeability of the pixels on the screen by viewers. As it turns out, the DK2 was actually using Samsung Galaxy Note 3 screens. This partnership with Samsung lead to the development of the Samsung GearVR headset which uses the Galaxy Note 4 – and in the current version, the Galaxy S6 – to power the device. Both feature a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 at 60Hz.

I tell you this to prepare you for the specifications of the soon-to-be released Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift will feature a resolution of 2160 x 1200 at 90Hz, split over dual displays. The 90Hz is important, because this means that your games must run at 1.5 times the traditional 60hz that everyone looks for in games. The resolution is 1.25 times the resolution of the DK2 (1920 x 1080), which means a VR game will require just under 3 times the GPU power to render video at 1080P at 60 frames per second. The resolution is strange – admittedly, I was expecting the Rift to feature the Note 4 or Galaxy S6 display at a resolution of 2560 x 1440. This display is noticeably lower than that, so what’s the deal?

Well, from what they were explaining on their press release, the Oculus is a direct reflection of what our current systems can handle. Here’s the recommended specifications for the system according to the team:


Recommended Specifications:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM


  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture


As you can see, your GPU & CPU have to be fairly beefy to be able to handle the first generation Oculus Rift. This is not to say that slightly lower hardware will not be able to run your games, but if this is the recommended specs, you will want to have at or above these to get the best experience.

If you’re wondering where the Linux and Mac support is – they are focusing on Windows right now. This may upset many Mac users and confuse many Linux users – many of whom have contributed to the development of VR programs and drivers.

Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows. We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux but we don’t have a timeline.

The thing I was slightly confused on was the HDMI specification. HDMI 1.3 with 297Mhz clock? I was under the impression that HDMI 1.3 only handled 1080P at 60Hz, so how are they driving nearly 3 times that using HDMI 1.3? And yes, I am aware that the 297Mhz doesn’t have anything to do with the refresh rate of the video. I was just expecting HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort, since they were going with a resolution higher than 1080P at 60Hz. Here’s their explanation:

The last bullet point is tricky: many discrete GPU laptops have their external video output connected to the integrated GPU and drive the external output via hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift. Since this isn’t something that can be determined by reading the specs of a laptop, we are working on how to identify the right systems. Note that almost no current laptops have the GPU performance for the recommended spec, though upcoming mobile GPUs may be able to support this level of performance.

An important thing to note: There are almost “no current laptops” that have the performance necessary to run the Oculus properly.

So what are your thoughts on the Oculus Rift? Are you disappointed at the screen resolution, the requirements, or the recommended specs? Let us know below. I’m looking to see what else comes out between now and then, because right now I’m not sold on the specs they have listed here.



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Shane Paris

​Shane is the founder and Technical Editor-in-Chief here at That's It Guys. He enjoys Star Trek, 80s and 90s action movies, and everything tech related. Shane is highly skilled with computer hardware, software, and electronics.