Although I would recommend you invest your money into an upgradable asset, like a desktop, I understand that there are some people that find themselves constantly on the move and can only really get the opportunity to work on a mobile laptop. Laptops are also great if you are going to meetings and want to do mobile presentations.
The best laptop for virtual reality development is the MSI GL73 9SD.
But if youre only looking to use a laptop for presentation purposes, you can afford your specs to be lower.
Why I Picked The MSI GL73 9SD.
The MSI GL73 9SD has a more-than-good-enough 9th Gen i7 processor with 6 cores and a clock speed of 4.5GHz which will ensure quick and smooth rendering speeds. The built-in graphics card is an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM, which has gotten several great reviews and will not cost you an arm and a leg for good real-time rendering.
It comes with a 512GB (essential) SSD, which will be okay but not for all that long. I would suggest you get an additional external hard drive for backup and extra storage space as your development files can become pretty big.
This laptop has 16GB RAM, which means you can run several programs at a time without any serious lag issues. It also has an HDMI, USB 3.0, and display port, which means you will not need to buy any additional adaptors for your virtual reality headset. Although, it will be highly recommended that you invest in a good mouse – because 3D modeling, animation, and game development, in general, is a huge pain on a trackpad.
What To Look for in a Laptop for VR Development
Your graphics card will be a really important component in allowing your VR environment to render in real-time. We recommend you have dedicated GPU with at least 8GB VRAM. We recommend the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super, AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT, or equivalent.
When it comes to modeling your environment, you need a laptop that has a superior clock speed. A CPU that can handle a higher clock will over-all perform better and consume a lot more power. We recommend a minimum clock speed of 3.5GHz.
The CPU is used for pretty much everything you do on a computer, so the better the CPU, the better your software will operate. When rendering an image, you can choose to either use your CPU or GPU (not recommended if you have a weak graphics card). Generally, the better your CPU, the faster an image will render. And when it comes to VR, you need your laptop to render very quickly in real-time.
With CPU rendering, your machine will be able to disperse the rendering workload across multiple cores – so the more cores the better.
Always pick an SSD when it comes to any type of development. Solid State Drives perform way better than HDD. We will recommend you go for at least 512GB storage – and an extra external hard drive for back-up.
Game development will consume a lot of RAM, especially if you’re working cross-platform and will find yourself with Photoshop, Illustrator, Blender, and Unity all open up at the same time. We recommend you get a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM.
To avoid buying additional adaptors, make sure your laptop has USB 3.0 port and one HDMI. Some laptops have Display ports instead of HDMI, which is more than okay, but keep in mind you will need to buy an additional adaptor if this is the case.
A good mouse. There are not a lot of things worse than trying to 3D model or animate something without a mouse. Here is the mouse I use:
The Downside to Getting a Laptop vs a PC
Sometimes you cant get away without using a laptop. A lot of people are on the go – in, out and between several jobs, and need to get out to see clients. But the downside of investing cash into a laptop is that you can’t really upgrade a laptop. The harsh reality is that tech is changing and getting better every day, and you will not have the specs that you have today, next year.
And in the long-run of virtual reality development, it would be ideal to make your initial investments into a computer that you can upgrade, i.e., a desktop.
What we suggest is to make your initial investments into a mid-range desktop (you can see our recommended specs on that, too) and then to buy a laptop only if it is necessary or if you find yourself in a field on VR where you need to travel and take your computer and headset along with you.