If you’ve been paying attention to the excitement surrounding virtual reality and the Oculus Rift headset one thing should be perfectly clear: Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey isn't happy with Apple's PC hardware. Recently, VR’s biggest booster remarked to Shacknews that Oculus had no plans to support OS X machines.
Okay, he wasn’t that diplomatic. What he actually said when asked about Mac support was, “If they [Apple] ever release a good computer, we will do it.”
Well, that’s harsh. But this isn’t the first time he’s said something like that, either.
@janoc200 Linux support is on the roadmap post-launch, Mac support is on the roadmap post-decent Apple hardware release, whenever that is.— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) December 8, 2015
But that doesn't mean Luckey hates Macs, necessarily. For Oculus, a “decent” or “good” computer means one that’s able to support virtual reality, a.k.a. a top-of-the-line gaming rig.
“It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn’t prioritize high-end GPUs,” Luckey told Shacknews. “You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro...and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs.” Luckey then goes on to say the company would “love to support Mac” if an Apple machine ever met the Rift’s minimum standards.
While Luckey’s comments may not be diplomatic, the fact is he’s right. The minimum recommended specs for a Rift-capable machine include a 3.7GHz quad-core Intel i5-4590 processor or better, 8GB (or more) RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon 290 graphics card or better.
The processor and RAM are easily obtainable with high-end iMacs or the Mac Pro. Where you run into trouble is with the graphics capabilities, which just don’t make the grade. They’re often good enough for at least some mouse and keyboard gaming but not for VR.
A headset like the Rift or the HTC Vive requires a machine that can hit 90 frames per second in VR games. Without that kind of performance, motion sickness can set in, and that’s not a pleasant way to spend your evenings.
But the Mac’s VR deficit probably isn’t all that important. Right now, virtual reality at the consumer level is about gaming, and Windows is the go-to platform for PC gaming. High-level games that work on a Mac are a happy bonus for a machine you likely purchased for other reasons, such as the OS X software ecosystem or a preference for Apple’s hardware design. One thing’s for sure: You didn’t buy a Mac just to download Steam.
If you're itching for a VR headset, you'll have to invest in a Windows-based VR gaming PC. You won’t be alone. Many Windows gaming enthusiasts are scrambling to upgrade their rigs thanks to VR's steep demands.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.