MSI untethers VR gaming with new backpack PC
Spend a few minutes with the HTC Vive and you start to forget about your physical surroundings – which can be a hazard if the cord that tethers the VR headset to a computer wraps itself around your legs. Developers are beginning to solve that problem by stuffing the brains of the hardware into a backpack, keeping the floor trip-hazard-free and letting players sink into those virtual worlds without worry. Now MSI has announced the VR One, a lightweight backpack PC with hot-swappable batteries and the graphical grunt to run VR games on the Vive and other headsets.
A couple of similar prototypes have been discussed or shown off at trade shows this year, and the technology has enabled warehouse-scale VR events like The Void and Zero Latency. Weighing in at 3.6 kg (7.9 lb), MSI claims its VR One is the world's lightest and thinnest backpack PC, and it sheds an extra 1.4 kg (3.1 lb) without its dual battery packs. These power sources reportedly give the system up to 90 minutes of portable play time, and can be swapped out on the go to extend that further. If both batteries are in the charger, gamers can still play by plugging the system into a power adapter.
Under the hood, the VR One is running on an overclocked Intel i7 CPU and an Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card, which in our experience, proves itself a nice "sweet spot" for VR gaming. MSI says the system is capable of running games at 90 FPS in VR. It connects to a VR headset (or, by extension, any external display) via HDMI, Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt3, and there are four USB ports for connecting other devices.
Two 9 cm (3.5 in) ultra blade fans and nine heat pipes cool the VR One, working to keep the system running smoothly and quietly, as MSI says it gives off around 40 dBA of noise during operation (about the same as a babbling brook).
The company hasn't given any details of price or availability just yet, but it is planning to debut the VR One at Tokyo Game Show this weekend, so we might hear more on that soon.