You Can Finally Build an Affordable Virtual Reality Rig Thanks to AMD

AMD pushes to bring the price of entry to VR down with their $199 RX480 GPU.

GPU strength is unlikely to be of concern for most editors and filmmakers, but 3D VFX artists and VR enthusiasts may be pleased with the development of AMD's RX480, a cheaper entry into the next generation of desktop GPUs.

If you're familiar with the growing VR landscape, you'll know that the price of entry to using desktop VR headsets is still prohibitive to most. The Oculus Rift retails for $599 alone, and HTC's Vive goes for $799 (although the Vive will ship with its handheld controllers, while the Rift's controllers will need to be purchased separately). 

AMD's GPU significantly decreases the cost of building a VR-compatible rig.

VR headset prices aside, running the 90HZ 2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye) displays will require a capable desktop rig. Both headset manufacturers recommend NVIDIA's GTX 970 or AMD's 280 (but Rift encourages the 290).

Nvidia recently released their new flagship cards, the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080, but these are priced at $380 and $600, taking aim at the medium to high-end market.

AMD's new RX 480 is intended to take out the lower end of the market at $199, which significantly decreases the cost of building a VR-compatible rig. VR filmmakers will then be able to preview their material on high-end headsets as opposed to the current smartphone adapters like the Samsung Gear ($99) or Google Cardboard.

Aside from being able to run VR headsets, GPU acceleration is vital to VFX work and even Red workflows, so this is a considerably cheaper upgrade for those looking to beef up their editing stations.

Have you been considering a GPU upgrade for VR or editing?

Additional specs here    

Top article photo credit:  / Shutterstock

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Your Comment


Sweet googly moogly, 8GB of VRAM for $230.

June 1, 2016 at 3:13PM

Sean Sims
Wannabe DOP

Good news but what about we, that use Premiere Pro and it requires the CUDA cores of Nvidia? Do we need to wait for a similar price from Nvidia?...

June 1, 2016 at 11:38PM


Premiere also supports openCL which can be used with any GPU. I think the only benefit CUDA has is specific to ray-tracing in AE.

June 2, 2016 at 6:40AM


And Raytracing is being phased out of After Effects. At this point modern NVIDIA cards don't support Raytrace, only the older ones can. They are encouraging using C4D instead.

June 3, 2016 at 9:20AM

Andy Zou
Filmmaker / Creative Director

Take a look at Macvid Cards. They flash Nvidia cards to Mac ROM so you can access the CUDA power.

June 2, 2016 at 12:01PM

Steve Yager

What are you talking about? Nvidia cards support CUDA by default and AMD cards use OpenGL. You don't need to flash a Nvida card to get CUDA. You only need to flash a GPU if it was a PC card and you want to use it with a mac.

June 3, 2016 at 8:04AM, Edited June 3, 8:04AM


Wonder how this card compares to the Nvidia GTX 1070? Let's be honest, VR is not for the masses just yet. It's for us nerdy editors/shooters/gamers that don't chimp on our rigs. Sure we want the best performance/dollar ratio but I have to think that the GTX 1070 wears that crown. I haven't seen any specs on the 480 other than 8gig vram and 5.5Tflops (1070 has 8gig and 6.5TFLOPS). It's faster than a Titan X at $370!!!

June 2, 2016 at 7:40AM


I think they will be pretty far apart, but it seems to me that AMD has become content with grabbing the entry-level market. I'm not sure if they have accepted being the little man in the fight and take what they can get or if they have a bigger plan. Also this is the Polaris set of cards. They still have Vega and Navi which may be in the enthusiast/professional level of price and performance. I do think the 480 will find a home in my next build though. It's really hard to argue with the price.

June 3, 2016 at 5:47AM

Kyle Acker
Cinematographer/ Video Editor