Laptops for VR
The Dell Alienware m15 R3 has an impressive mix of performance configuration options, ports, display options, and pricing that makes it our top pick for a VR laptop. If its unique style isn’t quite what you’re looking for, there are some other suitable laptops that we’ve rounded up right here, some of which also appear on our list of the very best Windows laptops available today.
Best overall: Dell Alienware m15 R3
Dell’s Alienware m15 R3 is an excellent pick for a laptop to power VR. Models with enough power to get most headsets off the ground start at a relatively affordable price. Budget allowing, you can add up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK processor (CPU), NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card (GPU) with 8GB of VRAM (one of our picks for overall best graphics cards out there), 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and 4TB of M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) storage coupled with a secondary 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD.
The magnesium alloy chassis weighs just less than five pounds for a mid-range unit, and you can choose from a couple of different colors to go along with extensive RGB customization for the keyboard, lid, and vents.
Ports include three USB-A 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, Ethernet, microSD (UHS-II) card reader, and 3.5mm audio. You should be able to connect any head-mounted display (HMD) with, at most, a DisplayPort adapter for newer VR systems.
Though you likely plan on having your head stuffed into a VR headset, the Alienware m15 R3 has several killer 15.6-inch display options if you’d also like to do some standard “flat” gaming. Go with 1080p and a 144Hz refresh rate as a baseline, up it to 300Hz with better color, or go all out with 4K OLED at 60Hz with a 1ms response time.
- Impressive performance
- Reasonable starting price for VR performance
- Plenty of configurations available
- Varied port selection
- Multiple display options
- High-end models get expensive
- Some might not like the design
Something for every VR user
From a modest baseline model to a high-end powerhouse, the Alienware m15 R3 has what’s needed for VR.
Runner-up: Razer Blade 15
The Razer Blade 15 is our top pick overall for best gaming laptops, and it’s available in “Base” or “Advanced” models depending on the price you’re willing to pay. The Base model has up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, and 16GB of RAM with a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD. On the Advanced side, you can get up to a Core i7-10875H CPU with two extra cores, an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD.
The aluminum chassis has precise angles and measures just 0.78 inches (1.99cm) thin on the Base model, or 0.70 inches thin on the Advanced model. They have an enormous Precision touchpad and keyboard with RGB lighting to spice things up. As for display options, go with up to OLED 4K touch or FHD with a 300Hz refresh rate on the Advanced model. For the base model, it’s up to FHD with 144Hz refresh or OLED 4K.
You’ll likely need to invest in a DisplayPort adapter if you’re using a newer VR system, but rest assured the Blade 15 comes with plenty of ports. HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3, and three USB-A 3.2, and USB-C 3.2 should make it easy to connect everything else.
- Thin, premium chassis
- Right ports for VR
- High-end display options available
- RGB keyboard and enormous Precision touchpad
- Huge performance
- Runs hot due to size
- Models are expensive
Expensive but exceptional
If you don’t mind dropping big money alongside a VR system, the Blade 15 is going to please.
AMD power: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
If you’re looking for an AMD-powered gaming laptop for VR, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is an outstanding option. A model with Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU (a direct competition to the Intel Core i9 CPU) is going to have more than enough power, thanks to eight cores, 4.3GHz clock speed, and a TDP of just 35W. Pair the CPU with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 SSD for a truly potent laptop.
A 14-inch display with FHD resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and IPS panel ties it all together, but there’s HDMI out if you’re looking to game on an external monitor. Also included for ports are two USB-C 3.2, two USB-A 3.2, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 is also included instead of an Ethernet port. Depending on your headset, a DisplayPort adapter might be required.
- AMD Ryzen 9 is potent
- Thin and light
- Fingerprint reader
- Competitive price
- Does run hot
- Some might prefer full 15-inch display
AMD Ryzen 9 is a game-changer
Those on Team Red who want a new laptop for VR won’t want to miss out on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14.
Mid-Range Performance: Lenovo Legion 5i 15
Lenovo’s Legion series saw a rebrand and refresh that resulted in the Legion 5i 15, a mid-range gaming laptop with excellent thermals and a slick, minimalistic design. Most ports, including two USB-A 3.1, USB-C 3.1 (with DP 1.2), HDMI 2.0, and Ethernet, are positioned along the back of the laptop for easy cable management. Two more USB-A and a 3.5mm audio jack are situated on the side of the laptop.
There are several introductory models with lesser hardware, but for a genuinely mid-range experience, check out the Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and M.2 PCIe storage. This is the hardware that was in our review model, and it delivered cool, unthrottled performance. Also, you get a 15.6-inch FHD display with a 144Hz refresh rate for flat gaming when you’re not in VR.
Extra features include four-zone RGB keyboard backlighting, Wi-Fi 6, webcam shutter, Kensington lock slot, and upgradeable RAM and storage to keep it relevant longer into the future.
- No throttling under load
- Color-accurate display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Lots of ports (most on the back edge)
- Plenty of extra features
- 60Wh battery (choose 80Wh option)
- No NVIDIA G-Sync
Strong mid-range option
Choose from myriad configuration options starting at a competitive price and enjoy mid-range gaming performance without throttling.
Best 17-Inch: MSI GS75 Stealth
Part of the reason to buy a VR laptop is for portability, but you also might not want to game on a display that’s any smaller than 15 inches. Enter the MSI GS75 Stealth. This 17.3-inch laptop is just 0.79 inches (20.25mm) thin and weighs in at 5.2 pounds (2.4kg), which are specs usually reserved for a smaller 15-inch laptop. The huge display comes with a 240Hz refresh rate, which makes it suitable for standard gaming when you’re not wearing a VR headset.
This model comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, and 32GB of DDR4 RAM. Where the major performance comes is from the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM.
The keyboard has customizable RGB lighting, and the black chassis has some gold accents for extra flair. Ports include Thunderbolt 3, USB-C 3.2, three USB-A 3.2, HDMI, Ethernet, microSD card reader, and 3.5mm audio.
- Huge display with 240Hz refresh rate
- Right ports for VR
- Relatively thin and light for form factor
- Excellent performance hardware options
- RGB keyboard and huge touchpad
- Quite expensive
- Larger size makes it harder to carry around
Big but thin
If you can’t live with anything less than a 17-inch display, the MSI GS75 Stealth keeps things relatively thin and light.
Thin Performance: Acer Predator Triton 500
Acer’s Predator Triton 500 saw a light refresh to 10th Gen Intel hardware, and it’s going to rock your VR world. It measures just 0.70 inches (1.78cm) thin and weighs in at 4.41 pounds (2.0kg) yet includes an NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD. This is getting into the enthusiast range, and you should see excellent performance no matter the VR system you’re using.
The keyboard has customizable RGB lighting to add some flair to the slim black body, and the bezel is thin around the display. This laptop is sleek. The 15.6-inch screen has a 300Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync for a solid flat gaming experience when you’re not enjoying VR. The Predator Triton 500 has the ports needed to connect everything, including HDMI, USB-C, USB-A, Thunderbolt 3, Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio.
- Sleek, light build
- Awesome performance options
- Plenty of ports
- Customizable RGB lighting
- 15.6-inch display with 300Hz refresh rate
- High-end models are expensive
Sleek laptop with high performance
Acer’s Predator Triton 500 is stocked with ports and performance despite the thin and light build.
Best Customization: Origin EVO15-S
Buying a laptop generally means you can choose display and performance hardware options. For a lot of people, that’s enough, but those who want to customize every aspect should check out what Origin has to offer. The EVO15-S is a 15.6-inch laptop that weighs 4.4 pounds (1.99kg) and measures 0.77 inches (1.9cm), altogether a compact package with impressive performance options.
Choose a color for the chassis and lid, then move on to hardware. Add up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU, 64GB of RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and numerous extra features like Wi-Fi 6 or a fingerprint reader for extra security. The keyboard has per-key customizable RGB lighting and a smooth glass touchpad when you’re not using an external mouse.
Ports include Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort 1.3, HDMI, three USB-A 3.2, 3.5mm audio, and Ethernet. If you’re a VR enthusiast and want a laptop that you’ve picked out to fit your needs, Origin’s EVO15-S should make a great choice.
- Customize everything to your liking
- Powerful hardware options for VR
- Up to a 4K OLED display
- Plenty of ports
Make it your own
Origin’s EVO15-S can be extensively customized and has options to handle a high-end VR experience.
Thanks to a wide range of configurations starting at a relatively affordable price, Dell’s Alienware m15 R3 is our top pick for a VR-capable laptop. If you’re a casual user, you can go with a baseline model that will get VR off the ground, and enthusiasts can outfit something far more powerful.
No matter the hardware you choose, it comes in a stylized body with customizable RGB lighting, top-firing speakers, and a comfortable keyboard. Choose up to a 15.6-inch 4K OLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate or keep things affordable with an FHD model with a 144Hz or 300Hz refresh rate.
The Alienware m15 is stocked with ports, though newer headsets will likely require a DisplayPort adapter. Be sure to check system requirements for the VR system as well as the games you’d like to play and keep the future in mind as required specs seem only to go up.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Sean Endicott is an app enthusiast even though he used Windows Phone for years. He’s on an eternal quest to convert every element of his home into something he can control from his phone. Oh, yeah. He’s also fanatic about VR, especially the Oculus Quest.
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This post was written by Cale Hunt and was first posted to WindowsCentral
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