On the 28th of June 2019, Valve Corporation released its own VR headset, called Valve Index. When looking for the best laptop for Valve Index, there are a few specs to take into consideration. To spare you some time searching, I compiled a list of the best laptops for your VR headset.

First, of course, it depends on the budget you are willing to spend on a new  VR gaming machine. Second, a good starting point would be meeting at least the recommended system requirements. Why recommended and not minimum? Because minimum requirements are based on what developers define that games are playable at the lowest graphic settings values. Whereas the recommended requirements are what is needed to run a game with decent or highest graphical settings with a high enough frame rate for the best gaming experience.

Recommended

1. Acer Predator Helios 300

2. MSI GL65 Leopard

3. Razer Blade 15

4. MSI GS66 Stealth

5. Gigabyte AORUS 15G

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, Intel i7-10750H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB,...
MSI GL65 Leopard 10SFK-062 15.6" FHD 144Hz 3ms Thin Bezel Gaming Laptop Intel Core...
Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop 2020: Intel Core i7-10750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
MSI GS66 Stealth 10SFS-037 15.6" 300Hz 3ms Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop Intel Core...
AORUS 15G (YB) Performance Gaming Laptop, 15.6-inch FHD 240Hz IPS, GeForce RTX 2080 Super...
Processor
i7-10750H
i7-10750H
i7-10875H
i7-10750H
i7-10875H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2060
GeForce RTX 2070
GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q
GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
RAM
16GB DDR4
16GB DDR4
16GB DDR4
32GB DDR4
16GB DDR4
Storage
512GB NVMe SSD
512GB NVMe SSD
512TB NVMe SSD
512GB NVMe SSD
512GB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6”, 144Hz, Full HD, IPS
15.6", 144Hz, Full HD, IPS-Level
15.6", 144Hz, Full HD, IPS
15.6", 300Hz, Full HD, IPS
15.6", 240Hz, Full HD, IPS
3,459 Reviews
2,021 Reviews
1,271 Reviews
177 Reviews
89 Reviews
$1,500.00
$1,634.63
$1,999.99
$2,499.00
Price not available
Recommended

1. Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, Intel i7-10750H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB,...
Processor
i7-10750H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2060
RAM
16GB DDR4
Storage
512GB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6”, 144Hz, Full HD, IPS
3,459 Reviews
$1,500.00

2. MSI GL65 Leopard

MSI GL65 Leopard 10SFK-062 15.6" FHD 144Hz 3ms Thin Bezel Gaming Laptop Intel Core...
Processor
i7-10750H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2070
RAM
16GB DDR4
Storage
512GB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6", 144Hz, Full HD, IPS-Level
2,021 Reviews
$1,634.63

3. Razer Blade 15

Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop 2020: Intel Core i7-10750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
Processor
i7-10875H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
RAM
16GB DDR4
Storage
512TB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6", 144Hz, Full HD, IPS
1,271 Reviews
$1,999.99

4. MSI GS66 Stealth

MSI GS66 Stealth 10SFS-037 15.6" 300Hz 3ms Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop Intel Core...
Processor
i7-10750H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q
RAM
32GB DDR4
Storage
512GB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6", 300Hz, Full HD, IPS
177 Reviews
$2,499.00

5. Gigabyte AORUS 15G

AORUS 15G (YB) Performance Gaming Laptop, 15.6-inch FHD 240Hz IPS, GeForce RTX 2080 Super...
Processor
i7-10875H
GPU
GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
RAM
16GB DDR4
Storage
512GB NVMe SSD
Display
15.6", 240Hz, Full HD, IPS
89 Reviews
Price not available

Last update on 2021-09-12.

Valve Index System Requirements

Minimum

  • OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows® 10 64-bit
  • PROCESSOR: Dual Core with Hyper-Threading
  • GRAPHICS: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD RX480
  • MEMORY: 8 GB
  • PORTS: Available DisplayPort (or Mini DisplayPort) Version 1.2 and USB (2.0+) Port Required

Recommended

  • OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows® 10 64-bit
  • PROCESSOR: Quad Core +
  • GRAPHICS: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 or better
  • MEMORY: 8 GB+
  • PORTS: Available USB (3.0+) Port Required for Headset Pass-Through Camera & USB Port Support

Source: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=4061-QUZB-4602

Important: The components listed (especially processor and graphics card) in the requirements are all meant to be the desktop versions. They’re up to 20% faster than mobile versions, and we must consider this fact. So we don’t end up with an underpowered laptop even though being within the recommended requirement.

Valve Index Technical Specifications

Displays

Dual 1440 x 1600 LCDs, full RGB per pixel, ultra-low persistence global backlight illumination (0.330ms at 144Hz)

Framerate

80/90/120/144Hz

Optics

Double element, canted lens design

Field of View (FOV)

Optimized eye relief adjustment allows a typical user experience 20º more than the HTC Vive

Inter-pupillary Distance (IPD)

58mm – 70mm range physical adjustment

Ergonomic Adjustments

Head size, eye relief (FOV), IPD, speaker positions. Rear cradle adapter included.

Connections

5m tether, 1m breakaway trident connector. USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power

Tracking

SteamVR 2.0 sensors, compatible with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations

Audio

Built-in: 37.5mm off-ear Balanced Mode Radiators (BMR), Frequency Response: 40Hz – 24KHz, Impedance: 6 Ohm, SPL: 98.96 dBSPL at 1cm.

Aux Headphone Out 3.5mm

Microphone

Dual Microphone Array, Frequency response: 20Hz – 24kHz, Sensitivity: -25dBFS/Pa @ 1kHz

Cameras

Stereo 960 x 960 pixel, global shutter, RGB (Bayer)

The Importance of Frame Rates

One of the significant technical challenges of VR is delivering content at a high enough frame rate to accurately “fool” our brain into believing it is experiencing an artificial environment.

Studies have shown that any VR setup that generates frame rates below 90 frames per second (FPS) is likely to induce disorientation, nausea, and other unpleasant effects. The lower the frame rate, the worse the effects.

The goal for VR software developers is to target at least 90 FPS at all times in their software. On the hardware side, running a Valve Index as smoothly as possible requires the high processing and rendering capabilities of a VR-Ready laptop, which mostly boils down to a powerful graphics card (GPU).

To ensure a realistic and comfortable experience, the laptop must achieve the upper display limit of Valve Index display characteristics, which is 144 Hz refresh rate at 2x (as it has two LCDs inside, one for each eye) 1440×1600 resolution as close as possible. 

What is the best VR gaming laptop for Valve Index?

There are two main factors for the laptop being suitable for Valve Index. First is no brainer, meeting the recommended system requirements. Do yourself a favor and never go for the minimum. 🙂

And the other is connectivity. A laptop must have the right ports to hook up the VR headset to.

Meeting the Recommended System Requirements

The main part of the laptop to be able to run VR content on Valve Index is a graphics card or GPU. The recommended one is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. Although this is recommended by Valve Corporation itself, I noticed quite a different recommended specs for different VR games on the Steam platform. For example, the popular game Beat Saber, the recommended GPU is GTX 1060. On the other hand Fallout 4 VR, requires an Nvidia GTX 1080. So this is really game-specific. That’s why this list of laptops contains laptops from GTX 1660 Ti up to RTX 2080 SUPER.

My recommendation is to go for an RTX laptop as new VR games are being released constantly. Even with higher system requirements.

The recommended 8 GBs of ram has pretty much every gaming laptop nowadays.

For the CPU, I find it a bit amusing as all they say is “Quad Core +”. I guess a CPU back from 2006 (let’s say Core 2 Extreme QX6700) wouldn’t do any good, would it? 🤣

Anyway, all the laptops listed here have more than enough powerful CPU to run Valve Index with ease.

Connectivity

Valve Index requires only one USB 3.0 and a DisplayPort 1.2 (or Mini DisplayPort). This is very important as there are many gaming laptops on the market with only an HDMI port. And there are no HDMI to DisplayPort adapters that support the bandwidth throughput required.

So it’s an absolute must for a laptop to have a Display Port or Mini Display Port (mDP). DisplayPort to Mini Display Port adapter is not included in the box, you need to buy it separately. But it costs just a few bucks. For example, this adapter works flawlessly: Rankie Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort Adapter 

If there is no Mini Display Port, another option is the newest standard of USB Type-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode. But not all the laptops have this option. There is a DisplayPort icon near it if it has this capability as shown below…

Then you can make it work with the USB Type-C -> Display Port adapter. This adapter works perfectly: Cable Matters USB C to DisplayPort Adapter 

Also, considering having both HDMI and DisplayPort (or Mini) is also a great choice if you plan to hook up an external monitor, TV or projector for the spectators. Let’s say if you are hosting a VR party. 🙂

 

Acer Predator Helios 300

Key Components:

PROCESSOR: i7-10750H • GRAPHICS: GeForce RTX 2060 • MEMORY: 16GB DDR4 • DISPLAY: 15.6″, 144Hz, Full HD, IPS • STORAGE: 512GB NVMe SSD

Acer Predator Helios 300 - 2020  offers a lot for its price. You can play most of the latest games without a problem as it has a powerful RTX 2060 6GB GPU. With extra storage slots, you can easily upgrade for more disk space. It also has a screen refresh rate of 144Hz.

PROS / CONS

Price/performance
Great display

Battery life

Last update on 2021-09-12.


Razer Blade 15

Image credit: Future

Key Components:

PROCESSOR: i7-10875H • GRAPHICS: GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q • MEMORY: 16GB DDR4 • DISPLAY: 15.6″, 144Hz, Full HD, IPS • STORAGE: 512GB NVMe SSD

Razer Blade 15 packs lots of power with the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, high-end graphics with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, and a fast 144Hz FHD matte display for an obscene competitive advantage in high-FPS games. All this performance is packed into in a durable, precision-crafted aluminum chassis that remains as compact as ever at 0.7-inches thin.

PROS / CONS

Attractive aluminum chassis
Huge battery life

Relative expensive

Last update on 2021-09-12.


MSI GS66 Stealth

Key Components:

PROCESSOR: i7-10750H • GRAPHICS: GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q • MEMORY: 32GB DDR4 • DISPLAY: 15.6″, 300Hz, Full HD, IPS • STORAGE: 512GB NVMe SSD

The MSI GS66 Stealth is a strong player in this field, with a nice build and high-end features that match its high price. It’s a reasonably portable, high-performing machine.

It has plenty of advanced features and will perform at very high frame rates in all games. The price tag is quite high, though, so I can only recommend it to hardcore enthusiasts with big budgets.

PROS

Impressive 300Hz display
Plenty of ports
 Sturdy but portable metal build

CONS

Relative small storage for the price

Last update on 2021-09-12.


Gigabyte AORUS 15G

Key Components:

PROCESSOR: i7-10875H • GRAPHICS: GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q • MEMORY: 16GB DDR4 • DISPLAY: 15.6″, 240Hz, Full HD, IPS • STORAGE: 512GB NVMe SSD

The Aorus 15G is a well-designed laptop with outstanding performance, that’s for sure. It’s quite an investment, but a smart one if your pockets allow you. From the mechanical keyboard to the cooling system, packing the latest CPUs (10th Generation H-Series) from Intel and GPUs (GeForceRTX Super) from Nvidia, the Aorus 15G is a winner of gaming laptops to date.

PROS / CONS

Mechanical keyboard
Strong graphics and overall performance
Long battery life

Aggressive design (for some may actually be a Pro)
Awkward webcam placement

Last update on 2021-09-16.


Conclusion

As mentioned, these laptops don’t have full-blown pc, but only the laptop-sized GPUs, which are slightly weaker. Also, the cooling system is not as efficient as in desktop PCs as it must be smaller to fit into the laptop body. It may result in some thermal throttling of GPU and CPU under heavy load, and you may see some slight jittering from time to time.
GTX 1660 Ti laptop is a bare minimum. To run thigs great, go for RTX 2070 SUPER. But if you want to achieve the best VR experience possible with no unpleasant effects whatsoever, the RTX 2800 SUPER laptop will do the job in the best way possible.

One more thing. If you’re interested in cable management, here’s how I’ve done it. I’s for the Oculus Rift S, though, but it’s the same principle for Valve Index.

Have fun, and take care! 🙂