Best CPU For VR

Products like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have massively expanded the world of virtual reality. Many more gamers are giving it a try every day, leading us to wonder about PC builds and what’s necessary to bring these huge 4D universes alive.

In order to run the latest and greatest games with the most demanding specs, you need a computer that can provide some serious power. Just one factor in providing that is your CPU or Central Processing Unit.

We’re here to present you with five of the best CPUs available to buy right now. Each one is more than capable of withstanding the intense FPS and refresh rates that even the simplest of contemporary games require. 

If you’d like to know just how much CPU matters in terms of your VR experience and overall performance, have a look at the Buyer’s Guide. We’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you, so you’ll only need to open this single tab to find everything needed.

Don’t worry if you’ve still got questions - we have your back on that one too. Consult our set of FAQs right at the end to look for the answers you seek. We picked the most common questions from fellow gamers, so yours could well be one of them.


AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX

Meets Recommended Specs - Oculus Rift/S

As “the highest multiprocessing performance in its class for gamers and creators,” as well as being certified VR ready, the Ryzen 5 2600 from AMD is an excellent choice for any Oculus fan. It’s packed full of high-performance technology!

Thanks to AMD StoreMI technology, boot and load times are drastically reduced, with file management and overall system responsiveness seeing a huge increase. Downloading your newest games will be a quicker process than ever before.

Another impressive feature is the AMD SenseMI capability, which combines genuine machine intelligence and puts accelerating your system’s performance - and the power to overclock freely - right at your fingertips.

Given it also comes with the AMD Ryzen Socket AM4 platform and the latest and greatest X740 and B450 chipsets, it’s a CPU that’s going to last you long into the future. Don’t worry about future upgrades - you won’t need those anytime soon.

Running near-silently, especially with the addition of more capable thermal cooling hardware, those who can’t abide a noisy PC will be pleasantly surprised. This bad boy packs a Wraith Stealth cooler, so it’s whisper quiet.


  • 6 cores, 12 threads, for huge amounts of processing power
  • Unlocked overclocking - go as hard and fast as you like
  • Max speeds of 3.9 GHz
  • Wraith Stealth cooler included as standard


  • Heatsink is difficult to install according to customer reviews


AMD FD8350FRHKBOX FX-8350 FX-Series 8-Core Black Edition Processor

Meets Recommended Specs - HTC Vive

Those rocking a Vive would absolutely benefit from upgrading to AMD’s F series, in particular this FX-8350, which rocks a massive eight processors. Promising a 24% increase in frame rates, even for demanding games, this is a revolutionary CPU.

Being the first ever eight-core desktop processor, overclocking is a breeze with existing AMD Catalyst Control Center software - supreme power can be harnessed from just about any core configuration. It boasts truly aggressive performance.

Thanks to silicon enhancements, designed to improve not just performance but reliability and security for virtual gaming, AMD’s Virtualization Technology which supports virtual apps by allowing direct, rapid access to memory. Ideal for VR!

Plus the integrated DRAM controller boasts AMD Memory Optimizer technology; AMD’s FX Vishera automatically directs memory, supporting faster voltage memories and improving direct communications between each core. Super efficient.

A 32 nanometer die shrink is incorporated for reduced leakage and improved thermals. Also included with your purchase are an additional Heatsink and Fan, with thermal paste already having been applied; this should make installation a lot easier.


  • First ever eight-core desktop processor 
  • Reach speeds of up to 5GHz with serious overclocking and cooling solutions
  • 24% increase in frame rate when compared to other units
  • Includes Heatsink, fan, and pre-applied thermal paste


  • Reviews indicate this can run hot, in spite of the cooling technology supplied


Intel Core i3-9100F Desktop Processor 4 Core Up to 4.2 GHz without Processor Graphics LGA1151 300 Series 65W

Meets Minimum Specs - Oculus Rift/S

With the requisite four cores, the i3-9100F from Intel’s 300 series is an affordable option for a CPU that’s compatible with VR. In spite of its budget-friendly price, it remains a powerful processor that can handle more than you might expect.

Do bear in mind that these babies can only be used with Intel 300 Series chipset-based motherboards, and you’ll need your own existing graphics card. If that’s you, get excited: you’re about to access a whole lot more power. 

Able to reach speeds of 3.6GHz, it features Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which offers mainstream performance and exceptional productivity. When unlocked and overclocked, performance headroom increases to a max of 4.6GHz.

You’ll also receive a fan cooler as standard with every purchase, so if you’re tired of overheating PCs, don’t worry. Equipped with the 9100F and that bonus cooling system, you’ll have absolutely no problems.

Customers indicate that for a budget VR setup, you won’t do better than this. Provided all of your other components are up to scratch, there’s no reason you won’t be able to meet and exceed 60 FPS, in any game.


  • Ready for VR despite its affordable price tag
  • 1080p, 60-80 FPS performance power
  • Easily sustains 4GHz at lower temperatures
  • Best value for money for VR gaming


  • You need an existing dedicated graphics card to run this CPU
  • Only compatible with Intel’s 300 Series chipset based motherboards


Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W

Meets Minimum Specs - HTC Vive

Save a little money but still meet the minimum specifications required to run the Vive by opting for the Intel i5-900K processor from their 300 series. Unlocked, overclockable and boasting six cores, it’s an impressive member of the Intel family.

Thanks to Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, the already impressive 3.7GHz base clock speed can be ramped up to a mega-powerful 4.6Ghz whenever you like, for those additional boosts right when you need them.

Constructed with Solder Thermal Interface Material (STIM), heat transfer efficiency is maximized between the processor and cooling units. Overclockers rejoice: this baby can push your system further for low temperature, high-octane gaming.

If you’re looking to boost your frame rate and picture quality, you should notice a significant improvement by using the 9500K; that being said, those looking to stream or multi-task whilst gaming might benefit from a more powerful unit.

Though not as fancy (and therefore, as expensive) as the real best of the best, this CPU will have your current PC build VR ready as soon as it is installed; for gamers trying to enjoy Vive on a budget, this is your best bet.


  • 6 cores, 4.6GHz maximum speeds
  • Effortlessly maintains a base clock speed of 3.7GHz
  • Impressive STIM construction for superior cooling 
  • Up to 40 Platform PCI Express Lanes


  • Only compatible with Motherboards that utilize Intel 300 Series chipsets


Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W

When Your Budget Is Unlimited (For Vive and Oculus)

For the lucky ducks among us for whom money is no object, why not treat yourself to the absolute best of the best. In our opinion, that’s this i9-9900K processor from Intel’s 300 series. It’s a costly investment, but absolutely a worthwhile one.

Boasting eight cores and sixteen threads, its maximum speed of 3.6GHz is easily attained without hitting high temperatures; overclocking to 5GHz is a breeze too, especially given the 16MB memory cache that comes included as standard.

Their standard use of the Solder Thermal Interface Material (STIM) in order to attain maximum heat transfer efficiency keeps your internal components cool even when you’re overclocking. Push harder and faster than you ever have before!

Consuming a mere fraction of the power that its predecessor, the old x99 chip, required, you’ll also save on your energy consumption, which could reduce your electricity bill, as well as revolutionize your gaming experience!

Only a few years old, and far from being out of date at this point, by picking up such a high-powered CPU today, you’re saving yourself the need to upgrade for at least the next few years, if not longer. If you’ve got the cash: splash it! You won’t regret it.


  • Unlocked and overclockable to a maximum of 5.0 GHz
  • Packed with the latest and greatest technology - you won’t need to upgrade for years
  • 8 processors, sixteen threads - high-octane power processing backed by Turbo Boost 2.0 technology
  • Easily achieves 3.6 GHz without breaking a sweat


  • Cannot be used unless your motherboard utilizes the applicable Intel 300 Series chipset or equivalent
  • Doesn’t come with a cooler - you’ll need to have your own or invest in a decent one in order to maximize the i9’s capabilities

Best CPU For VR Buying Guide

Specifications - How Important Is CPU For VR?

When it comes to Virtual Reality, there are three key factors that indicate whether your PC is capable of running such systems. These are your CPU (processor), GPU (graphics card) and RAM (memory) - today, we’ll be talking about CPU.

If you’re looking to achieve that sweet spot of 60 FPS or even a drool-worthy 90, especially on larger, more impressive (and therefore demanding) games, your CPU is very important in completing that goal.

According to this video from Techquickie, pushing more pixels than a standard gaming system, VR technology isn’t just annoying when it comes to lagging or a slow framerate: it can actually break down the immersive VR experience.

Some glitches are so unpleasant that they could even make you feel nauseous and have to stop playing altogether! Avoiding them as much as possible is necessary in order to have an authentic, non-glitchy and wholly believable experience.

Good, consistent frame times ensure that each frame is displayed on screen for the same amount of time, allowing smooth transitions: something that gets in the way of this is a CPU that can’t handle such speeds, leading to stuttery visuals.

If your GPU has to process and render hundreds of frames per second - as is necessary for VR gaming - your CPU also needs to be able to run at the same speeds, if not faster, in order for the whole system to work successfully.

As the most successful providers of a VR experience, Oculus and HTC themselves have provided recommended specifications for a PC builder, in order to achieve optimum performance from their respective systems.

VR System

Recommended CPU Specifications

Minimum CPU Specifications 

Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S

Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater

Intel i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater

HTC Vive

Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better

Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better

A minimum of four cores should allow you enough processing power to successfully run VR, though of course, the Rift can still run on an i3 currently. This does, however, only indicate that the VR will be able to run - it doesn’t mean it works efficiently. 

Those who can afford to match up to the recommended specs should definitely do so, as this will allow you to get the most out of your VR experience, and avoid those unpleasant lagging side-effects we talked about earlier.

If you’re worried about your PC not being up to scratch: take a breath bud. There’s no need to wait for inevitable disappointment. Simply head on over to the SteamVR Performance Test, download it via the Steam store and run the software.

Don’t just rely on the fact that you meet the minimum requirements, or a performance statistic - use their handy tool and find out in minutes whether your system has enough power to effectively run VR, without doing a single thing yourself. 

After running a quick VR demo as a performance test, the program will not only identify your hardware, but also produce a graph that clearly indicates your performance scores. Instantly know whether you need an upgrade!

Best CPU For VR - Frequently Asked Questions

How much RAM should I have for VR?

Taken directly from their respective websites, here are the suggested specifications regarding RAM (Memory) for your PC build in order to have the most success with VR play:

VR System

Recommended RAM Specifications

Minimum RAM Specifications 

Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S

8GB or more of RAM

8GB or more of RAM

HTC Vive

4GB or more of RAM

4GB or more of RAM

Do you need a graphics card for VR?

Yes - in order to properly process the incredible 4D worlds of VR gaming, your PC will need its own dedicated GPU or Graphics Processing Unit. Here are the specifications you should be aiming for with the HTC and Oculus systems:

VR System

Recommended GPU Specifications

Minimum GPU Specifications 

Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S

NVIDIA GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater

NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater

HTC Vive

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or better

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R8 290 equivalent or better

How do I optimize my PC for VR?

Besides ensuring that you have the relevant CPU, GPU and RAM specifications we’ve outlined above, there are several other factors you ought to consider to have your VR running as smoothly and efficiently as it should.

When it comes to the operating system (OS), you need the latest version of Windows 10 at the very least in order to run the Oculus, as they are phasing out support for previous versions. At the moment, HTC suggests the Vive is still compatible with Windows 7 SP1 and  Windows 8.1, but it’s likely that they will soon follow suit and eventually stop providing updates for the earlier versions.

Cleaning out your hard drive with a good old fashioned defrag is very much encouraged. Stagnant, long-unused apps, files and programs can clog up precious memory, causing all kinds of unnecessary lag. Time for some spring cleaning!

If you’re brave enough to open up the casing of your PC and deep clean (very, very carefully) the internal components, we’d also advise this. Dust, hair and other detritus can gather in there, increasing its temperature and wearing down your PC.

Although using a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead of a Hard Drive won’t necessarily net you a significant performance boost, it will certainly result in quicker file downloads and reading/writing speeds, which only improves the gaming experience!

Last but not least, organizing all of your cords and components is highly recommended: no matter which headset and manufacturer you opt for, keeping everything tidy will ensure that you don’t get all of those outputs confused or tangled.