Go big or go back to 2D! Alienware and MSI offer powerful Vive Optimized systems

Even though most would prefer the commercial launch of virtual reality headsets not to turn into a platform war, system makers know there is always money to be made in appealing to different camps. Following on from the launch of Oculus Rift Ready bundles earlier this year, Alienware and MSI have now shown off their new ‘HTC Vive Optimized’ gaming PCs.

For Alienware, it’s promoting its Area 51 system, which comes with a beautifully designed, unique looking chassis, packed with fourth generation i7 CPUs, a multitude of memory and a variety of graphics card choices. At the default level, it’s priced at $2,100, offering 8GB of RAM and a GTX 970, with 4GB of its own video memory.

There are more expensive alternatives of course, with a $3,250 version upping the ante with 32GB of RAM and a GTX 980 Ti. The big daddy of the lot packs a pair of GTX 980s in SLI. That one is a bit more pricey at $3,900.

All systems come with a free Xbox One controller.

All of those systems are said to be “Vive optimized” and tuned with virtual reality in mind. All of them are above and beyond what Oculus and HTC/Valve claim early VR games will require, so they would certainly cater to whatever experience people are excited for day-one virtual reality.

MSI is making things even more compact with its Vive optimized systems, by fitting them into notebooks. They are all high-end, as you would expect for a VR-ready laptop, but they go beyond the recommended specifications for early virtual reality, packing a GTX 980 under the hood of all of them. They also have 8GB of VRAM, which would suggest some sort of custom GPU configuration, as traditionally that chip is paired with just 4GB.

The GT72S 6QF comes in three different variants, offering the aforementioned GPU, alongside a Intel Core i7-6820HK, which features an unlocked multiplier, so it has the potential for overclocking if the cooling (and your nerves) can handle it. It will also come with options for a 17.3 inch 1080P or UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS display, options for up to 64GB of DDR4, and a single 2.5 inch HDD for storage.

MSI doesn’t specify exactly how much space you get with that hard drive, but traditionally it’s offered a terabyte of HDD storage with similar models. It also offers options for two NVMe M.2 SSDs paired in RAID 0 for incredible bandwidth.

This laptop will come in a few variants, including the Anniversary Edition, the Dominator Pro G Heroes Special Edition and the Dragon Edition G 29th Anniversary Edition — the only real difference being the color scheme and stickers applied to the jet-black casing.

Although dependent on configuration, the MSI GT72S starts at just under $2,100.

If you really want to go high-end, MSI is also offering its “Vive Optimized” GT80S Titan SLI, which (confusingly) doesn’t come fitted with a Titan graphics chip, but a pair of SLI linked GTX 980s, which should have no problem with anything VR can throw at them. Oddly enough, that model also only comes with a 1080P display, though it is larger at 18.4 inches.

Also available in two different styles, the GT80 Titan will set users back $3,825.

Although these systems are all very capable, it’s worth noting that they are far in excess of the $1,500 “Oculus Ready” bundles that we’ve seen put up for pre-order in recent weeks. While these feature more hardware capable, it is perhaps indicative of the more premium strategy manufacturers are attaching to the Vive.

None of these systems include the headset, which is another $800 to factor on top.

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