Best CPU for VR (Virtual Reality) in 2020

There is a world that only exists inside of computers. It is a world that you can enter and interact with by enjoying different games. These games will throw you into vast new realities. These new innovative realms exist in the world of virtual reality, or VR for short. When it comes to VR Gaming, you need a high-end CPU and a VR-Ready GPU in your computer system that is capable of keeping up with the high demands created by building these entire 3D worlds; the wonderful worlds and realities that are unique to each game.

For this, you need a fast and capable CPU that can process these heavy loads and meet the extreme demands associate with building entire unique virtual worlds. But which is the best CPU for VR gaming?

Best VR-Ready Processors from Intel and AMD Ryzen

Intel Core i9-9900K

The Octa Core Intel i9 Processor for High-end VR Systems

Intel Core i9-9900K - the Best CPU for VR Gaming

This 8 Cores and 16 Threads Intel processor is like the Lamborghini of the CPU world. It rolls in at a cool 5 GHz speed when only one core is under load. However, it rates at about 4.7 GHz when all 8 Cores are being used. This super speed makes it the perfect VR CPU and one of the best on the market.

Although you will have to pay for this supercar-like processor, ringing in at a cool $500 retail. That is without a cooling system and everything else needed to keep this kitten purring. Speaking of cooling, Intel did – in a nod to those overclockers out there – add a solder based thermal interface material (STIM). Instead of the other top models on our list, this solder-based system allows for better heat dissipation. The solder material fills the void between the die and the heat spreader/lid.

So, this is part of how this STIM hardware technology design allows for better heat transfer. This means that under a full load, like when overclocked, it will run cooler and be easier to keep running. What this all adds up to is the perfect design for running the multi-thread loads created by VR Computers. Built to keep up with the operational requirements of a Virtual Reality, this super-fast CPU is almost unbeatable. But our next CPU for VR operations gives it a run for its money.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Most powerful VR-Ready CPU from AMD Ryzen

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X for VR Gaming

This powerhouse CPU from AMD is stunning in its Virtual Reality capabilities. It was built specifically to keep up with the multiple thread running requirements like that of VR systems. If the Intel i9-9900K is the Lambo of CPU’s, then the Ryzen 9 3900X is the Ferrari. With 16 Cores and a whopping 32 Threads, this beast of a chip chews through rendering even in 3D graphics. This is exactly what is needed for a VR processor.

When using a high-end VR headset on this CPU you can expect seamless transition and zero lag. That is in part due to its 3.7 GHz CPU clock speed. But that is not all, it can boost another amazing 1.0 GHz. This gives you a total power of 4.7 GHz for all your VR CPU needs. The biggest downside is that they sacrificed a Wrath Prism cooler for the extra ability. But you always have the choice to go with the AIO route instead, which some consumers would prefer anyway. Having the choice makes up for the sacrifice and can easily be remedied. Plus, for all the power you get, the Ryzen 9 3900X blows Intel Core i9 out of the water.

It beats it out in benchmarks for all three stats in 3D rendering, Video Encoding, and Memory Bandwidth. All these stats apply directly to it being a great CPU for Virtual Reality systems of all kinds. Next up, is supposed to be a slight step down. But we will leave the final judgment in that aspect up to you. Just keep in mind that there is a $400 retail price difference. So, compare what you get with what it costs before making your mind up on this next processor from AMD.

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

Serious powerhouse AMD Processor for VR Gamers

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X for Virtual Reality Systems

This might be considered one step down from the last CPU we just reviewed for you in some ways. Certainly, it is lower in overall price tag, but do not let that fool you. It is an entirely capable VR processor that will do everything perfectly well for an easier to stomach cost.

For starters, it offers 8 Cores with 16 Threads for processing at the high speeds VR needs. It also comes with a great cooling system in-box when you buy it brand new out of the box. This cooling system has a chilly 65 Watt TDP. Which means this CPU requires minimal power to run even at peak levels. This is already a step above the Wrath Prism lacking Ryzen 9 3900X. This also helps with the easy to use overclocking tools it comes with.

So, you can push the clock-speed to its absolute limits for extended periods without much worry. It was made to hold up to the abuse VR Games may put on your computer. That overuse is caused by the strain it puts on the CPU when managing the encoding and graphics processing used in Virtual Reality. This processor really gives the Intel i7 that is next up on our list a run for its money. It is up to you, however, to decide which one really puts the money where its VR CPU processor is.

Intel Core i7-9700K

Mid-range VR-Ready CPU from Intel Core i7

Intel Core i7-9700K Unlocked Processor for Virtual Reality System

This next step down from the i9 by Intel is a real workhorse. It really puts out the power when it comes to being a CPU for Virtual Reality. This 8-Core processor supplies the solid single-core performance many VR enthusiasts look for. It really stands out for its ability to process 3D graphics like those in a virtual world creation. The refresh rate capabilities also add to its ability to give seamless transitions from one angle to the next. So, as you move around and look at a world that is surrounding you 360 degrees, it won’t lag behind.

This VR-Ready processor is a real working mans CPU that does great at performing at the necessary level. It is perfect for creating entire virtual worlds to envelope your senses and immerse you into. One small area where this unit falls behind is the fact that it does not come with a cooling system in-box. This is fine for many custom PC build consumers who want to control every aspect anyway. But it is a negative no less simply because it rings in just a few bucks above the AMD Ryzen 7’s price point. While that one comes with a great cooling system that could even be considered green technology in that it requires minimal power, this one is missing that component. That is where the negatives end really.

The computing power of the i7 is incredible and Intel lives up to their regular high standards with this CPU. If they continue to live up to these as we work out way down in price and power is yet to be seen. We, once again, will leave that up to you and your judgment. But the i5 that is up next is another workhorse processor from Intel. So let’s take a look and see for ourselves.

Intel Core i5-9600K

Budget-friendly CPU for VR Gaming

Intel Core i5-9600K - Budget-friendly VR-Ready Processor

Running off the same base model of 6 Cores and 6 Threads design as before, this 9th generation i5 sticks with the basics. It is a perfect mid-range offering for gamers who want as much bang as they can get for their buck, without dishing out a whole lot of those bucks for the CPU to begin with. It has a great unlocked multiplier option that makes it easy to overclock. This is great for all of those VR gamers out there. The ones who want to eke out as much power as they can manage to get from their gaming CPU.

This great mid-range VR capable CPU is the perfect option for budget-conscious system builders. The reason it is such a great deal has to do with pure speed. The i5-9600K clocks in at a speed of 3.7 GHz and with a Turbo Boost it can reach up to 4.6 GHz. This is some serious power for a 6-Core 6-Thread CPU and can easily power a great VR-Ready Desktop PC.

Anyone looking to build a CPU for Virtual Reality Gaming would be smart to go with this more budget-friendly option. Thankfully Intel offers a viable VR capable processor on this mid-range level for those who want to get into gaming.

Up next is another great Intel Core i5, just because these CPUs are so great two ended up making our list. It is no surprise to those in the know about this type of hardware. This is because Intel has been the leader in the industry since the birth of the PC and staying at the forefront of the technology has always been their aim. They have the drive to stay ahead of the competition and will continue to set the bar when it comes to VR capable technology.

Intel Core i5-10400

Best Intel i5 Gaming CPU for Virtual Reality

Intel Core i5-10400 - the best i5 Processor for Virtual Reality

The second Intel i5 processor to make our list is the 10th Gen. That is one generation newer than the last version above and comes with a few improvements over that model. These upgrades start with the fact that the same 6 Cores now have 12 Threads. This is instead of the 6 basic threads of the last model’s design.

This offers even more power and speed to the capabilities of the Core i5 design. Next, Intel offers new Turbo Boost Technology in this CPU. It offers a higher available power for performing under heavy load. It also goes the other way and improves energy efficiency when under a lower load amount of computing needs. With 12 MB Smart Cache memory available you can be sure this i5 CPU will keep up with all your VR requirements.

It also has a wonderful in-box 65W TDP for cooling the unit down under heavy loads. It will also lower the use of energy when not under heavy load. This equates to some energy efficiency in its operation. Next up are the more budget-friendly AMD offerings that should also be considered for your next CPU for VR build. They are definitely viable options as VR CPU chips and should never be left out of consideration.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Entry-level AMD Ryzen 5 Gaming CPU for VR

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 - Entry-level Gaming CPU

This wallet-friendly 6 Core processor from AMD lights the way for entry-level gamers. If they are looking to build a VR-Ready system that can operate under the load requirements for that kind of gaming then they are in luck.

Coming with a Wrath Stealth cooling unit, this great VR CPU chip is a wonderful option for any build. It is super speedy and even comes with a 200 Mhz boost capability to really push those graphics needs through it. The ability of this little processor is delightfully surprising for its price point. It clocks in at a lightning-fast 3.6 GHz with a turbo boost overclocking capability of a whopping 4.2 GHz. This means it is plenty fast enough to keep up with most VR games you may want to explore. Also, it comes with a stunning 36 MB cache memory that allows it to never miss a beat in processing transitions.

It is just one step above our last CPU option to make our list for VR processors. That last one is yet another great VR-Ready AMD mid-to-low-range option for all those unable to afford the more expensive chips above.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

Cheapest VR CPU for beginners in Virtual Reality

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is the cheapest VR CPU for beginners

Our final CPU chip for operating VR Games and exploring their virtual worlds is this AMD design. It is the slowest and cheapest one to make our list, but do not let that fool you. It is completely capable of keeping up with many of your gaming needs.

While it may have some transition lag on super graphics-heavy games, the majority of applications will run smoothly. It runs a considerable 3.6 GHz and can hit overclock turbo boost speeds of 4.2 GHz. This means it is fast enough to handle most VR needs. Also, its 6 Cores stick with the dual-threading design, AMD has made their name with and the 12 Threads offer multitasking capabilities to rival chips at twice its price point.

Speaking of price point, it is a great processor for VR considering its minimal cost. It rings in at under $200 and a considerable 30% drop below the Ryzen 5 3600. This makes it the most affordable CPU chip to make our list. While it may not be able to process the most graphics and transition heavy VR worlds you may want to explore, it is still plenty powerful enough to game with. Especially a good choice if you do not want to drain your bank account on a new PC build.

Final Words

This wraps up our list of the top 8 CPU options for building yourself a VR system of your own. We hope you found exactly what you are looking for. Or at least now know what to look for when shopping for your next CPU for exploring virtual worlds on your own.

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Richard is a 27-year-old Tech enthusiast working as a Editor-in-Chief for LookGadgets. He is passionate about new Technology and a die-hard fan of Microsoft Surface.

1 thought on “Best CPU for VR (Virtual Reality) in 2020”

  1. Thank you for the great information. I have one major question though: Did you consider the Intel i7 10700K in your rankings? If so, do you contend that the Intel i9-9900k, AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, and AMD Ryzen 7 3700X are all better for VR? If not, where would you rank the i7-10700K in comparison to these?

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