As Oculus VR's Rift virtual reality headset creeps ever closer to market -- the first units are expected to ship at the end of March -- the Facebook-owned company is working to make sure there's an ecosystem available for buyers to actually do something (well "virtually" do something) with the Rift once it's purchased. The partnership it struck up with Microsoft last year is part of a larger plan to tap into the PC games realm, including working with computer manufacturers on systems that can handle the Rift's hardware requirements.
Those specs aren't insignificant -- requiring a powerful graphics card and at least an Intel Core i5 processor -- so Oculus is making things a little easier by certifying some Rift-ready PCs that can handle those requirements. The company just announced the first of these "Oculus Ready PCs," which will be created by Asus, Dell, and Dell's gaming arm, Alienware. Prices will start at $949 for the Asus G11CD, with Dell's XPS 8900 SE and Alienware's X51 R3 close behind at $999. Those models provide the requisite Skylake Core i5 CPU along with Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards.
More powerful configurations will also be available, including the Asus ROG G20CB and Alienware Area 51 desktops, both of which feature Core i7 processors and GeForce GTX 980 cards for much more (roughly $1,500 more in the case of the Area 51 config). Note that you can purchase these systems without a Rift included if you're already pre-ordered one (or plan to in the future).
If you want the whole package, however, Oculus has created special bundles that combine one of those systems with all of the items you'll need to use Rift: a sensor, remote, Xbox One controller, and, of course, the headset itself. Two games are also being thrown in: EVE: Valkyrie Founder's Pack and Lucky's Tale.
Obviously, the bundles cost much more than the Oculus-ready PCs do without the additional hardware (the Rift is being sold for $600, after all), with the starting price rising to $1,499. Beginning on Tuesday, February 16, you'll be able to pre-order the bundles through Amazon, Best Buy, and Microsoft's online store. The shipping date is listed as April 23, which is sooner than you'd get a Rift if you pre-order it separately right now, as shipments are currently back-ordered to July.