VR developer focused on creating immersive storytelling experiences. Follow me on Twitter: @VRHeavenNews
December 29th, 2023

GPU art

Looking to build a PC to play SteamVR, but don’t know which graphics card to get?

The GPU is the most important component for virtual reality, so it’s important you get it right.

There are various differences between VR gaming and flatscreen gaming which you need to be aware of when choosing a graphics card for VR.


  • Avoid AMD GPUs if possible
  • Look for AV1 Codec support (if you can afford it)
  • Consider one with VirtualLink port

These will be explained later. For now, here’s a list of best graphics cards for the Meta Quest 3, ranked from best to worst:

GPUs for VR

Best GPU:

  • RTX 4090

Great GPUs:

  • RTX 4080
  • RTX 4070 Super (great value) *NEW*
  • RTX 4070 Ti (good value)
  • RTX 4070 (good value)
  • RTX 3090 Ti
  • RTX 3090
  • RTX 3080

Ideal for those seeking high performance without going to the absolute extreme. The RTX 4070 Ti and 4070 stand out as particularly good value options, offering a balance of cost and performance.

With these graphics cards, you’ll be able to play SteamVR games on some of the highest render resolutions with 90 Hz refresh rate, sometimes even pushing it to 120 Hz.

Unless you find a good deal for the 30-series, I recommend sticking with the RTX 40 series for the av1 codec – more on this later.

Good GPUs:

  • RTX 4060 Ti
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 4060 (good value)
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070 Super (good value)
  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • RTX 3060

GPUs in this category are perfect for those who want good performance at a more accessible price point. Even though some of the GPUs here are older, they still perform extremely well for Quest 3 PCVR – especially if you’re okay with playing on 72 Hz refresh rate.

At 72 Hz, you’ll be able to achieve high render resolutions of 130-150% for most games. This is the “sweet spot” for where VR looks amazing. With the stronger GPUs like the 2080 Ti, you’ll also be able to comfortably achieve 90 Hz refresh rate.


  • RTX 2060
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1070 Ti
  • GTX 1070

These graphics cards are barely passable for VR nowadays, but they still work fine at 72 Hz and lower settings.

Only get these if you’re really on a budget!

Now, before we dive into the details of the best GPUs, here are some things to keep in mind of:

Things to Look Out For in a GPU for VR

AV1 Codec

AV1 is an open, royalty-free video coding format developed by the Alliance for Open Media. It’s designed to be more efficient than its predecessors like H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC), meaning it can provide higher quality video at lower bitrates.

Videos encoded with AV1 can maintain high visual quality while using less data, which can be particularly useful for PC VR streaming.

This isn’t going to make or break VR, but it makes a difference and should be considered when choosing a GPU for VR.

Graphics Cards with AV1 Codec: Only the RTX 40- series graphics cards have dedicated hardware to decode and encode AV1 streams. Some of the AMD graphics cards have it too, but trust me, they’re bad. Avoid AMD for VR – even the high end ones.

Render Resolution Settings

Oculus App Resolution Settings

In VR, there’s a setting called supersampling or “render resolution” which significantly impact image quality and performance. The higher you set it, the more beautiful and immersive the game will look, but the more more graphical processing power it requires.

SteamVR Render Resolution

In VR you can always push the boundaries for these settings, so you can never have enough GPU processing power. However, there is certainly a sweet spot:

  • under 100% = meh/bad
  • 100-130% render resolution = good
  • 130-150% render resolution = great
  • 150%+ = diminishing returns

I’d aim for a GPU that can sustain 130-150% render resolution with smooth frame rates, but 100-130% is fine too.

VirtualLink Port

GPU with VirtualLink USB-C port for VR

VirtualLink is a USB-C port designed specifically to enhance the connection between VR headsets and the PC. It combines video, audio, data, and power inputs into a single USB Type-C cable, offering high bandwith and data transfer required for VR.

Having this port not only makes it less troublesome for setting up PC VR with a Quest Link cable, but it allows you to charge while playing VR. The Quest 3 is a very power hungry headset and will frequently run out of battery, so having this port will allow you to play for an unlimited time in VR.

Unfortunately, only the older RTX 20-series models have this port, but when deciding between the 20-series vs. 30-series, this factor could be the difference maker.

For example, the RTX 3070 performs similarly to the RTX 2080 Ti, but since it doesn’t have a VirtualLink port, I would take the RTX 2080 Ti all day (if they’re similar price).

Best Graphics Cards for the Quest 3

1. Overall Best GPU for Quest 3: RTX 4070 Super *NEW*

RTX 4070 Super

NVIDIA finally released the RTX 4070 Super, an upgraded version of the RTX 4070 with 16 GB of VRAM instead of 12. This extra VRAM makes a big difference in VR gaming.

Great Value: The RTX 4070 Super offers the best bang for your buck in terms of power vs. price for newer GPUs. This is perfect for someone who has a decent budget and looking to push the boundaries of VR graphics, but not spend an absurd amount on an RTX 4090.

Performance: From testing, the RTX 4070 Super performs even better than the RTX 4070 Ti! Frame rates are roughly 5-10% better in VR games, showing how important the extra VRAM is for 4K gaming.

AV1 Encoding: Being from the 40-series graphics cards, the RTX 4070 Ti also supports AV1 encoding which aids in PC VR streaming, making it the superior choice over other similar GPUs such as the RTX 3090.

Render Resolution Settings: This GPU can handle most VR games on 90 Hz refresh rate and 150%+ render resolution, often able to reach 120 Hz. With this GPU, you’re going to be able to play pretty much all games on the highest graphical settings and push the boundaries of VR.

Check available RTX 4070 Super stock on Amazon.

2. (Formerly) Best GPU for Quest 3: RTX 4070 Ti

RTX 4070 Ti

The RTX 4070 Ti is a high-performance graphics card from NVIDIA’s 40 series lineup, providing elite performance for virtual reality for a decent price. With the release of the RTX 4070 Super, it has made the 4070 Ti redundant. However, if you can find one for cheap, it can still be a good option, as it performs similarly to the 4070 Super.

AV1 Encoding: Being from the 40-series graphics cards, the RTX 4070 Ti also supports AV1 encoding which aids in PC VR streaming, making it the superior choice over other similar GPUs such as the RTX 3090.

Render Resolution Settings: This GPU can handle most VR games on 90 Hz refresh rate and 150%+ render resolution, sometimes able to reach 120 Hz. With this GPU, you’re going to be able to play pretty much all games on the highest graphical settings and push the boundaries of VR.

Here’s a list of all 4070 Ti GPUs on sale at Amazon. Just find the lowest price and grab it.

3. Best Value Cheaper Graphics Card: RTX 4070

RTX 4070 Graphics Card

The standard RTX 4070 can comfortably run the latest VR titles at high resolutions and frame rates, ensuring a smooth and immersive experience. Although it’s significantly worse than the RTX 4070 Ti, the standard RTX 4070 is still one of the best graphics cards to date, offering exceptional bang for your buck.

Great Value: If your budget is in this price range, I recommend this GPU 10/10 times. In fact, it’s the one I currently have (yeah I’m not crazy enough to go all out on a 4090) and you can get some very high graphical settings at 90 Hz refresh rate and sometimes even 120 Hz. You’ll be hard pressed to find another GPU that offers more value at this price range.

AV1 encoding: Supports AV1 which allows you to achieve higher bitrates through PC VR gaming.

Render Resolution: Despite being significantly weaker than the RTX 4070 Ti, this is still a high-end graphics card that’s capable of running most games at 150% render resolution and 90 Hz refresh rate. Quest 3 owners will be amazed at what this card can do.

Downsides: Not much downsides with this GPU, other than “it’s not the best.”

4. Best Budget GPU for Quest 3: RTX 2070 Super

RTX 2070 Super

The NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super, a part of the older but still quite capable Turing series of graphics cards, offers solid performance for VR, though it’s a step down from the more recent RTX 40. It’s equipped with a substantial number of CUDA cores, along with dedicated ray tracing and tensor cores, though not as advanced or as numerous as those in the Ampere series.

This was actually my old set up for VR with the Quest 1 and 2. I was very happy with it, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to hold up for the Quest 3 which has higher screen resolution. So I decided to pull out the rig once more and test it out. Turns out, everything ran as smoothly as I remembered.

Great value: In terms of older GPUs, the RTX 2070 Super offers good value at a low price. As long as you’re playing on 72 Hz, you’ll be able to achieve top graphical settings on most VR titles including Half-Life: Alyx.

Graphics performance: At 72 Hz refresh rate, most VR games I’ve tried was able to run smoothly on 130-150% render resolution which is the “sweet spot” for beautiful graphics. So even though this GPU is older, most Quest 3 people will be extremely satisfied with what it can offer. For poorly optimized games, you’ll still get good graphics at 100-130% render resolution.

VirtualLink Port: Some 2070s come with a “VirtualLink Port” – you’ll definitely want to look for ones that have it.

It’s basically a USB-C port that’s designed to supply enough power for VR. The Quest 3 is very power hungry and will run out of battery fast, but having a VirtualLink port will allow you to charge while playing – giving unlimited play time. That’s one of the reasons I liked it so much.

Here are a few options with the VirtualLink port:

Downsides: Sometimes it’s difficult to achieve 90 Hz refresh rates for the more intensive games. 120 Hz is generally out of reach unless you’re playing a game like Beat Saber or making a big sacrifice on graphical settings. It’s also not future proof – as it might struggle to run later VR games, although I wouldn’t worry about that too much.

5. Budget GPU for Quest 3: RTX 4060

RTX 4060 GPU

An alternative to the RTX 2070 Super is the RTX 4060 – which is slightly more powerful, but lacks the VirtualLink port. In terms of GPU power for VR, the RTX 4060 performs around the same as an RTX 2080 and marginally more powerful than the RTX 2070 Super.

However, I can’t find any good prices for an RTX 2080, so my recommendation is get the RTX 4060 instead – unless you find an RTX 2080 for a similar price. If you find one for a similar price, you might want to get that instead, because it has the VirtualLink Port and the 4060 doesn’t.

Great value: Overall, the pricing is very friendly for those looking for a solid GPU for VR, but also on a budget.

AV1 encoding: Supports AV1 which allows you to achieve higher bitrates through PC VR gaming.

Graphics performance: Marginally better than the RTX 2070 Super – you can expect similar things: Most games run smoothly on 72 Hz and 130-150% render resolution.

6. Most Powerful GPU for VR: RTX 4090

RTX 4090

It’s no secret that the RTX 4090 is the best consumer GPU on the market currently. It’s extremely powerful, greatly surpassing the RTX 4070 Ti and even the RTX 4080, but it’s also ridiculously expensive.

The question is: If you have the money, is it worth spending this much for VR?

Personally, I think it’s a bit overkill. Compared to my 4070, yes, it runs butter smooth and it’s nearly twice as powerful. However, it’s also ~3 times the price, and after trying it out, I didn’t feel like it justified the price – especially since you start to get diminishing returns for increasing render resolution.

There’s no doubt this graphics card is a beast though, and if you want the best possible and money isn’t an issue for you, then yes, this GPU will satisfy your desire. The RTX 4090 is insanely powerful – achieving roughly double the FPS I was getting on my 4070 and you’ll be well equipped for many years to come.

Who is this for? So overall, this is a killer GPU, but the cost-benefit ratio isn’t great compared to the other GPUs I mentioned. If you can afford it, want the very best and future-proofing, then this might be up your alley.

7. Cheapest GPU for Quest 3: RTX 2060

The RTX 2060 is the minimum I recommend going for – if you’re really on a budget and can’t afford to save for a 2070 Super.

Performance: Most games will still run smoothly on 72 Hz, but you’ll have to make some compromises on graphical settings of higher end games. Although many games can still run fine at 130% render resolution, there were quite a few games where I had to lower it to 100-130%, which still looks fine, and you’ll still be much more immersed than standalone Quest 3, but it’s clearly a downgrade from what I’m used to.

VirtualLink Port: Some RTX 2060s come with a VirtualLink port which is very handy for VR, allowing you to charge while playing. However, this one is cheap and doesn’t have it. I couldn’t find one for a decent price that has VirtualLink.

Who is this for? For those who are strapped on cash, but really want to try PCVR, this is the minimum I would go in order to get a decent or good experience with PC VR.

Why is VR so GPU Intensive?

There are two reasons why VR is so GPU-intensive. Firstly, in VR, you need to render the image twice for each eye, essentially doubling the GPU power requirements. Furthermore, refresh rates in VR are higher than your standard monitor. The Quest 3 refresh rates are 72, 90 and 120 Hz (can be changed in settings), meanwhile most monitors are 60 Hz.

On top of that, if you’re using a standalone headset like the Quest 3, the computer’s GPU also needs to encode the video stream to send to your headset, which uses it’s GPU to decode the video. This can add extra processing load to the GPU.

The Quest 3, being one of the newest VR headset models, also contains more pixels/resolution than most other headsets, which takes more processing power.

For this reason, it’s important to focus on getting a powerful GPU for VR. Other components aren’t as important.

Closing Notes (tl;dr)

While there are many GPUs compatible with VR, the ones on this list are mainly graphics cards that offer great performance-to-cost ratio. My recommendation for most people are the RTX 4070 or 4070 Ti. However, for those on a budget, the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 4060 also do a surprisingly good job on most VR games.

Meanwhile, the 4090 is for those who are rich and want the best GPU possible. I can’t say I recommend the RTX 2060, but it’s the minimum you should go for if you’re really strapped on cash.

Related: Best pre-built computers for the Quest 3

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