Oculus Rift S: Pre-Order, Price, and Release Date for the Upgraded VR Rig

The successor to the original Oculus Rift has arrived.

Facebook’s F8 developer conference began Tuesday and the social media giant kicked things off with a flurry of virtual reality tech announcements. Its its $399 PC VR headset, the Oculus Rift S, is available for pre-order alongside the wireless Oculus Quest.

The headset was first announced at the Game Developers Conference on March 20 as a slight upgrade from the Rift, which starts at $349. For that extra $50, the Oculus Rift S promises sharper graphics, double the pixels, and a more immersive experience which should cut down on fatigue. You will also need to have a PC gaming rig in order to run the S.

Next to the Oculus Quest, the Rift S is a more traditional VR headset that has to be connected to a computer to function. But for what it lacks in portability it makes up in power.

Instead of having to house an internal computer to run games, like the Quest, the Rift S acts like a display for your PC. This will let users play a roster of vast, graphically demanding games that simply can’t be run on the Quest. Here’s everything we know about the successor to the original Rift.

Oculus Rift S: Pre-Orders, Release Date, and Price

The Rift S will be available is available for pre-order on the Oculus website or Amazon. The device was announced to ship on May 21 and starts at $399.

Oculus Rift S: What’s Inside the Box

Upon purchasing the Oculus Rift S, customers will get the follows components shipped to them as early as May 21:

  • The Oculus Rift S headset
  • Two, AA battery-powered touch controllers
  • A pair of AA batteries for the controller
  • A 5-meter cable connects your headset to your gaming PC.
  • A Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter for PC

Oculus Rift S: PC Requirements

To run the Oculus Rift S, you’ll need a gaming PC that runs Windows 10 or better and with at least 8GB of RAM. You will need a graphics card, either NVIDIA’s GTX 1050Ti or an AMD Radon RX 470, or greater. You can check out the rest of the PC requirements below or just head over to the Oculus site and download their compatibility checker to make sure your PC is up to the challenge.

Oculus Rift S PC Requirements

Oculus Rift S: Specs

The Rift S will offer a resolution of 1,280 × 1,440 per eye (2,560 × 1,440 total), a refresh rate of 80Hz, and a field of view that’s slightly larger than the original Oculus Rift. The main selling point for the upgrade will be the higher resolution, which Oculus says will offer improved optics and more immersive gaming.

For tracking, the Rift S will do away with external sensors and instead incorporate 5 internal sensors to let you capture, trace, and navigate through physical spaces in real time. Oculus partnered with another hardware-maker, Lenovo, to overhaul the hardware and make it a little bit simpler. In addition to doing away with external sensors, the Rift S will only come one cable, should be a little lighter, and offer better weight distribution than its predecessor.

To make it easier to pause and re-start gaming, the Rift S will also introduce a new feature it’s calling Passthrough+, which makes use of a new smoothing technique called Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) which Oculus says halves the CPU/GPU time. This will reduce depth disparity or performance impact if you happen to glance outside of your lens.

One particularly interesting change — unlike the original Rift, the Rift S will use LED screens instead of the typically higher-end OLED screens. RoadtoVR notes that transitioning to LED will yield a few benefits, mainly by reducing the “screen door effect,” the little array of black lines that can sometimes appear in your display.

Oculus Rift S will still run on the same Rift platform and include access to the same games, including the upcoming Asgard's Wrath.

Oculus Rift S: Reviews

Some of the first impressions from publications that have gotten hands-on time with the device have been skeptical. In their review, TechCrunch wrote that the “the ‘S’ stands for Subpar.” The writer accused partner manufacturer Lenovo in particular of giving the hardware a cheaper look and feel than the original Oculus hardware, calling it “ rickety.” It does sound like the decision to move to a single, LED display made the experience a little clearer.

Ars Technica also got some time with the device at GDC and were a little more favorable. Their critic wrote that while he was “a bit bummed” with some of the hand-tracking, the combination of the lighter hardware and the incorporation of Passthrough+ cut down significantly on fatigue.

Based on the first impressions, it sounds like there is still more work to be done refining the Rift S. But at $399 (plus a gaming rig), it’s also clear that we’re starting to get closer to realizing an entry-level VR device that could appeal to a broader audience besides diehards.

Media via Oculus, Oculus Rift S