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What hardware do you need to become a VR or AR developer?

Despite the technology still being in its infancy, virtual reality has already made a big impact in the world of games, architecture and product design, and the demand for immersive application development is high. If you have the skills for it (or the ambition to learn those skills), with the cost of the necessary hardware coming down all the time, there’s never been a better time to branch out into developing virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR)/mixed reality (MR) experiences.

The most important skill you will need is the ability to design in three dimensions as these experiences need to let the consumer interact with them in 3D. This means mastering 3D modelling or scanning in 3D, becoming familiar with 3D game-development platforms like Unity and Unreal, and learning how to manipulate 360 images and video. All of these processes are very compute-heavy, so you need high-end computing power if you don’t want to be staring at the screen twiddling your thumbs when you apply changes or re-render your designs.

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What tech do I need?
To avoid these possible lags in your work schedule, you will need to invest in a powerful, air-cooled workstation or server, with some high-end graphic cards that can deal with these kinds of applications. It’s also worth futureproofing yourself by choosing a flexible set up that allows you to upgrade or expand on its functionality and power as you need it.

Fortunately, there are computing rigs out there specifically designed for 3D and VR development straight off the shelf. The creators of headsets such as Oculus and HoloLens have gone out of their way to work with computing suppliers to ensure that their server or workstation set-ups are as pain-free as possible for you to create experiences on (as it’s in their interests to encourage you to develop for them).

When you are looking for suitable graphics cards and rigs that can provide what you need in order to develop for an immersive VR experience it’s worth looking for products that are marketed to be suitable for VR and AR development. For example ASUS labels its products Beyond VR Ready. This means there’s a wide selection of ASUS motherboards, graphics cards and systems are designed to work seamlessly together to help you develop for the new generation of fully immersive VR headsets and accessories.

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The ESC700 G3, a popular workstation for VR development.

Some of the most popular ASUS server/workstations used by developers of immersive experiences are the ESC500 G4 or ESC700 G3. They offer industry-leading power solutions and efficiency, high-speed connectivity and the flexibility needed for higher-end VR applications, the moment you get them out of the box.

The ESC500 G4 also boasts 10Gb/s USB 3.1 connectivity for high transfer speeds, the ability to drive three independent displays at once and it enables you to add extended add-on cards. Meanwhile the ESC700 G3 features traffic-shaping technology to reduce lag even further and is a low-noise system, meaning your creative processes won’t be disturbed when it is taking on more power-hungry computing tasks.

It also has the capacity for 128GB of memory and it features SATA 3 that has a data throughput speed of 6Gb/s, which is the sort of speed that you will need when it comes to dealing with the large files related to VR and AR.

With these types of systems readily available and optimised for the 3D applications you’ll need, it’s never been easier to take your developer skills into a new dimension – so what are you waiting for?

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