ZOTAC VR Go Hands-On: Concept Made Reality
The future is here. We sure have come a long way since the Sega VR with the release of the first Oculus Rift, back in 2013. And the advancement in the VR technology since then is exponential. With new attachments for the Oculus and Vive being released to make VR a truly untethered and immersive experience, the backpack VR PC was a huge step towards the untethered experience. Though not the first VR Backpack, the Zotac VR Go is the first one which has actually got the idea of the "Backpack" concept correctly.
The VR Go is powered by Intel Skylake 6700T processor, along with GTX 1070 GPU, 16Gb of RAM, which can be upgraded to the 32Gb max. For the storage, the GO comes with 240Gb of M.2 SSD preinstalled and one 2.5 inches HDD/SSD bay. For a compact PC, the specs are really good. Now considering upgradability, it is somewhat flexible as you can expand the RAM to 32 GB and can insert your own 2.5 inches SSD/HDD. But, the CPU and GPU, theoretically can be swapped for higher performance upgrades, but won't be recommended as the low profile coolers and TDP were specifically designed for the 6700T and GTX 1070.
Now, a bit more details on the specification.
The CPU is a quad-core 2.8Ghz Skylake, with boost clock speeds up to 3.6Ghz. The GPU, the GTX 1070, is obviously a desktop GPU with no limitations set on it. It rocks full 2048 CUDA cores with 8Gb of GDDR5 memory and a 256-bit memory bus. The RAM is 16Gb DDR4 2133 Mhz and the storage is of the PCIe 3.0 4x interface.
Unfortunately, at the Nvidia event where I tested the VR GO, Zotac was not running any synthetic benchmarks. But, as this is a full-fledged desktop PC, the performance will be equivalent to any PC configuration with a Core i7 6700T and a desktop GTX 1070. Which means you can run any game at max settings on 1080p and high to max settings on a 4k screen.
As the PC is designed to be primarily on your back, it must be compact and lightweight. The PC has the length of 410mm, a width of 270mm and height of 76mm. The PC is fairly long, as compared to its width and height and does actually look like a cuboidal, plastic bag. As for the weight, it might seem a little heavy when you lift it but once it gets on your back the weight is unnoticeable. The VR GO when on your back actually feels way lighter than a laptop bag with the laptop in it and that is a huge plus.
To support the PC on your back it comes with a shoulder strap which you just need to clip onto your PC and then you are good to go. Now, some of us out there might wonder what happens if the PC comes off while gaming. Honestly, I don't think it would come off that easily unless you are to jump all over your room. During my time of gaming, the VR GO was pretty firmly attached and there were no signs of strap loosening.
More about the VR Go
BATTERY and POWER
The VR Go weighs around 4.5 Kg with one battery. Which is very light considering the PC's custom build equivalent. With both, the batteries inside it would weigh near about 5kg which is not that heavy either. As I said, the VR GO comes with 2 batteries, with a charging dock which can charge both the batteries simultaneously. Towards the bottom of the GO, there is the battery holder into which the batteries go. Now, these batteries are hot-swappable i.e if one battery is low on juice the other can be inserted in the second battery slot and the first one can be taken out for charging. One battery lasts about 2 hours of gameplay hours and charging one battery also takes about 2 hours. So, you can hot swap the battery and put it on charging so that you have an uninterrupted VR experience. These batteries are rated at 95Wh and 6600mAh.
Now, theoretically having both the batteries inserted at a time should give about twice the gaming hours as of one battery, but that isn't the case. It would be more preferable if you use one battery for gaming while the other charges and later hot swap them.
When you are not going to use this for an untethered VR experience, you can just keep it on your desk and connect the power cord used for charging the battery, directly into the VR GO. This way you have your traditional desktop PC. As this also doubles as a desktop PC it has wifi and Bluetooth built into it and along with that you have Nvidia G-Sync enabled output
THE I/O and PORTS
- As the VR headsets are to be directly connected to the GO, this has a lot of ports and also a 12V DC power output for the VIVE or Oculus.
- On the top of the GO, there are 2x USB 3.0 ports and x1 12 V DC output.
- On the side of the GO, there is one Power Button, 1x card reader, 4x USB 3.0 ports, 2x Gigabit Lan ports, the 2x battery ports and 1x 12 V DC output.
- Obviously, there are a lot of display outputs on the GO as well, there are
- 2x HDMI 2.0 on the sides,
- 1x HDMI 2.0 on the top,
- And 2 DisplayPort 1.3 on the side.
- Now those are a lot of ports and must satisfy the needs of anyone who might require a lot of ports for.
"Now, keep in mind that this still hasn't hit the consumer market and is not in mass production." This combination of portability and performance is not cheap and comes at a hefty price of tag 2000 USD. But, if you are in for VR and are a huge fan of what Zotac has to offer then start saving because the 2000 USD is excluding the Vive, it is just the PC and you have to pay more for the VIVE.
My experience with the VR GO was pretty pleasant and enjoyable. The untethered VR is truly an amazing experience.