Oculus Rift Won't Support Mac Until Apple Releases a 'Good Computer'

During a recent Xbox press event, ShackNews had an opportunity to speak with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and asked him whether the company plans to implement Mac support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

In response to the question, Luckey said Oculus Rift support for the Mac was "up to Apple," and that the company needed to "prioritize higher-end GPUs." If Apple builds a machine that can handle the hardware, Oculus VR would "love to support Mac."

That is up to Apple and if they ever release a good computer we will do it. It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn't prioritize high-end GPUs. You can a buy $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700s and it still doesn't match our recommended spec. If they prioritize higher-end GPUs like they used to for awhile back in the day I think we'd love to support Mac.

Right now there's just not a single machine out there that supports it so even if we can support it on the software side there's just no audience of people that can run the vast majority of software out there.

The Oculus Rift, which is available for pre-order, will begin shipping out later this month to PC users. While Mac support was planned early on, work on a Mac version was halted once it became clear Mac machines would not have the graphics capabilities to power the headset.

As Luckey mentions, the Oculus Rift requires a computer with a powerful GPU. Oculus VR's recommended specs for the Rift include an NVIDIA GTX 970, AMD 290, or equivalent, because the Oculus Rift needs to render approximately 400 million shaded pixels per second. Mac machines, even the high-end ones, don't have the graphics power to handle that kind of system load.

On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160x1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering.

With interest in virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift picking up, Apple will need to focus more heavily on the graphics capabilities with Macs if it hopes to keep up with PC makers and avoid disappointing customers who want to use the latest technology and gaming peripherals. Rumors suggest Apple is even developing its own virtual reality headset, so there's a good chance the company is already well aware of the need for improved GPUs and working towards improvements.

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