DCS-GPU

Best Graphics Card for VR Gaming (2020)

Gaming in VR is an awesome experience, but it comes with a hefty price tag. The cost of the headset itself, a beefy graphics card and CPU, a good SSD and plenty of RAM are all required. Of course, you can compromise on one or more of these components and still get a great experience.

But the graphics card is the one component that is likely to bottleneck your VR experience the most. With the exception some very poorly optimised games (looking at you DCS), it will be the GPU that bottlenecks your VR frames and not your CPU. That is not to say that the CPU is not important – it’s just that modern VR games generally require a lot more graphical computational power.

Either way, the GPU is super important for VR. You should try to go as high as you can but thankfully there are options at every price point. I have tested half a dozen GPUs for my VR rig and these are the best ones at each price point.

Best Premium GPU

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080TI-O11G Overclocked 11G GDDR6 HDMI DP...
  • Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1665 MHz Boost Clock (OC Mode), 4352 CUDA cores and overclocked 11GB...
  • Supports up-to 4 monitors with DisplayPort 1. 4, HDMI 2. 0 and a VR headset via USB Type C ports

The Nvidia 2080Ti is a BEAST. It dominates all other graphics card and it has a price tag to match. Most VR games that I tried can’t even max it out. But of course you can just keep increasing the super sampling in your VR software and it eventually will begin to sputter. But if you are reasonable with your super sampling and anti-aliasing, this think can handle all your games like a champ.

VR games require a high refresh rate and stable FPS. When the frames are dropped on a monitor, its just an annoyance, when frames are dropped in VR, it means nausea and headaches. Which is why I try to always optimise my graphic settings to keep the frames at 80Hz/ 90Hz depending on which headset I am using. The 2080Ti really help you achieve that.

With 11Gb of DDR6 RAM, ray tracing and decent overclocking potential, the 2080Ti is just the default winner in this list.

Go with a well-known brand – Asus, EVGA, MSI etc. are all good. I personally tend to use an Asus or MSI Seahawk which is liquid cooled.

Best Mid-Range

Asus GeForce RTX 2070 Super Overclocked 8G EVO GDDR6 Dual-Fan Edition...
  • Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1845 MHz Boost Clock (OC Mode), 2560 CUDA Cores and overclocked 8GB...
  • Supports up-to 4 Monitors with 3x DisplayPort 1. 4 and 1x HDMI 2. 0 port

I am going to be honest – choosing the best mid-range option was hard. Part of the reason for that is that there are just so many good options in this range. But also because the difference between them is so little, it can be hard to choose.

After a fair bit of research, I finally chose the 2070 Super for this category. I think it hits the sweet spot when it comes to price/ performance which is what users in this category are looking for.

This baby has 8 GB of DDR6 memory which is plenty for most VR games. It has Ray Tracing which makes it somewhat future proof.

Again, you can go with any well-known manufacturer. Asus, Gigabyte, EVGA, ZOTAC.

Best Budget/ Entry Level

XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS Black Edition 1425MHz OC+, 8GB GDDR5, VR Ready,...
  • Equipped with XFX double dissipation cooling
  • Microsoft Windows 10 support. Microsoft DirectX 12 support

The Radeon RX 580 is not the cheapest card, but I highly recommend it as the minimum you go for VR. It performs decently well for even the newer VR headsets like the Rift S and even the Index (at 90 Hz though). You will have to reduce some settings, but it makes it work without any stutter.

Going below this price point can cause issues. Stutter or dropped frames in VR is not pleasant and ASW/ Motion Smoothing can cause weird artifacting which is problematic for fast paced games.

The RX 580 can handle most VR headsets and games with grace. In fact, the price point at which the 580 provides that performance is almost criminally good!

About the Author

Gary (Flanker)

Gary has been "hard landing" into runways and driving his Mitsubishi Evo off of cliffs since the early 2000s. These days, he spends most of his precious hobby time with his favorite flight, racing and space simulations in VR. He also has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science which helps a lot with his obsession with optimizing PC hardware like CPUs, Graphics Cards, VR Headsets, HOTAS, Racing Wheels etc. for high end sims.