Low Cost VR Hardware

Desktop stereoscopic 3D can be done using either a 3D TV or a 3D monitor. Both systems require the same hardware, with the exception of the required graphics card.

Start with a standard desktop computer with:

  • a modern quad-core CPU
  • preferably greater than 4 GB of memory, and
  • enough hard drives for your storage needs.

An example base system (via a newegg.com wish list).

For input, in addition to a standard mouse, a Razer Hydra controller will allow full 6 degree of freedom interaction in the 3D environment.

Still required are the graphics card and display device, described in the following sections.


Our experience has only been with Samsung 7000 series or higher TVs, which have more options for manual 3D mode selection, including checkerboard 3D which provides a balance between resolution and frame rate. The recent models of Samsung 3D TVs come with four pairs of 3D glasses and additional pairs can be purchased if needed.

With a 3D TV, use a high-end NVIDIA desktop graphics card (GTX 670 – GTX 680). A Quadro is not necessary. For example, this GTX 680.

3D Monitor

We have enjoyed success with our ASUS VG278H 3D monitor. This includes a pair of NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 glasses and a built-in emitter.

We also have used the Alienware OptX AW2310. In this case, a pair of glasses and a separate emitter must also be purchased, for example as part of this NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 Wireless Glasses Kit.

For a full list of 3D vision capable monitors please visit NVIDIA.

With a 3D monitor, an NVIDIA Quadro1) graphics card must be used. For example, this Quadro 4000.

For either of the above monitors, extra glasses may be purchased.

Commodity Head-Mounted Displays

The Vrui VR Toolkit now runs natively on HTC Vive head-mounted displays. This is by far the easiest and cheapest option to create a virtual reality environment on the same level of functionality as a CAVE. For a full system, one only needs:

  • An HTC Vive head-mounted display, including a set of tracking base stations, two hand-held motion controllers, and all necessary cables and accessories.
  • A VR-ready computer, ideally a desktop PC, including monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • A current version of the Linux operating system.
  • A free Steam account to download the free SteamVR driver software.
  • The Vrui software and all desired add-ons and Vrui applications.


A Quadro must be used due to limitations imposed on the Linux graphics drivers.