Last year, the market came headset virtual reality Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, laying a solid foundation for further expansion of infrastructure. Many other manufacturers have also announced their ambitions in the field of VR. Perhaps in a few years, every gamer will have at its disposal the means of immersion in virtual reality. But back to today. To rid of annoying cables gamer, some manufacturers have introduced a computer in a backpack. In our test lab just received two MSI VR models One and Zotac VR Go.
State VR hardware has reached a level where the delay is no longer felt, and other negative effects almost in the past. However, weaknesses remain. The display still does not have enough permissions between VR headset and computer accounts to support the cable connection that is impeding in everyday use. Of course, all the major manufacturers of the VR headset, namely HTC, Oculus and the Sony, has announced work on wireless technology, but it will be some time before they come to market. However, the issue of battery life still remains open.
Some producers had an idea: “Why not place the PC close to VR headset “? The result was a compact computer, which can be carried in a backpack. Even at Computex 2016 in June last year, MSI and Zotac showed the first prototypes. By the end of 2016 they became available on the market, so it’s time to conduct tests.
Between MSI VR One and Zotac VR Go there were no significant differences in hardware specifications. Both manufacturers have chosen fairly close hardware configuration of their systems, which can be worn behind. Processors Core i7-6820HK and Core i7-6700T give similar level of performance, we will just below the tests. In the case of Core i7-6820HK we are dealing with a mobile version of Skylake processor. Both manufacturers have installed 16 GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card with nearly identical clock speeds (the specifications).
Depending on the model, the equipment is still different. MSI chose the 512 GB SSD, but Zotac – only 240 GB SSD. However, there is a less expensive configuration MSI VR One, which is equipped with only a 256 GB SSD. Unlike Zotac, MSI did not add a wired connection Ethernet, WLAN modules identical characteristics.
There are some differences in the interfaces. Zotac offers substantially more HDMI ports and the DisplayPort, but MSI provides port Thunderbolt 3. Zotac, in turn, install more USB 3.0 ports.
According to the dimensions of the two models are quite close to each other, except that we have differences in weight. But MSI indicates the weight of only a PC without Shoulder straps, and Zotac – a computer with a backdrop and straps. In any case, behind have to carry about 4-5 kg. Battery capacity is almost identical, so it will be interesting to evaluate the battery life.
We’ll start with MSI VR Go system.
MSI has made in VR One supplied with all the necessary accessories, so you can immediately start to dive into virtual reality. Of course, the biggest and most important component is a backpack with a computer. But the buyer will also receive an external power supply, plus a connection cable for HTC Vive.
Backpack MSI has dimensions of 409 x 292 x 54 mm. The weight is 3.6 kg, but without the shoulder straps connected. About the design is nothing special to say, MSI components packed in large plastic enclosure. Of course, the design – a matter of taste, but the logo and red inserts lend a certain variety. Another question – is it important design as a gamer still can not see the backpack.
On the left and on the right you can see two compartments for batteries, which we will discuss in more detail. Long element in the center of – charge indicator.
To remove the battery, you must move the latch, then the battery can be easily removed to the side. MSI VR One can run both on one and two batteries. Of course, as a result of battery life differs. The batteries are charged only by the computer itself, external charging station is not provided.
After the battery is removed become visible contacts, through which they are connected. The battery capacity of 6.365 mAh or 91.66 Wh at a voltage of 14.4 V. Here we will test battery life, it will be interesting to see how long will the MSI VR One.
Components mounted in the upper part of the housing, the batteries are located in the lower part. The upper part of the left and right added ventilating holes through which hot air is blown out of the housing. Still warm Intel Core i7-6820HK and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 must be removed.
The upper housing MSI VR One set all interfaces. From left to right: mini-DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Type C, 4x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 12 V power supply for the HTC Vive, two mini-jack – analog input and output.
Bottom MSI VR One mounted power connector. It must be connected in the case of stationary operation of the computer or charging the battery.
We have already mentioned the battery indicator in the front housing, the photograph it shows in the work. Four LED on the right and on the left show the battery charge. Each LED corresponds to 25% of capacity. During charging, the indicator light is flashing.
Behind backpack added frame, which is pressed to the back in a state of wearing the MSI VR One. Frankly, the plastic can not be called comfortable. But, at least, the holes prevent the accumulation of heat under a backpack and reduce sweating.
Top and bottom of the housing mounted brackets for Shoulder straps. They are easily inserted into the fastening straps are removed too easily. On the comfort of wearing, we’ll talk later.
To connect HTC Vive MSI makes the cable as shown above. It combines the power connectors, HDMI and USB. HTC completes headset cable three meters long, which is quite reasonable when used in tandem with a stationary PC. In such case the length of the backpack is required. Therefore, MSI has added a shorter cable.
Zotac also provides VR Go in a big box. You will not only get a backpack with a computer, but also accessories. The box added two more boxes containing itseft a backpack with a computer and accessories.
Zotac VR One has dimensions of 410 x 270 x 76 mm and a weight of about 5 kg. The weight of the backpack comes with backpack straps. Design Zotac VR Go is hardly aggressive, the manufacturer chose the black color and plastic. In contrast, MSI, Zotac has refused optical inserts and complex shapes.
Zotac brought almost all of the interfaces on the right panel. From right to left: 2x Gigabit Ethernet port, 2x HDMI 2.0a, 2x DisplayPort 1.3 / 1.4, 4x USB 3.0, SDHX card slot, an analog audio input and output. From the left edge of the slot is located Zotac VR Go food. On the right side you can see the output of 12 V for power supply HTC Vive.
On / off switch put to the left side of the body. It is highlighted in orange after the Zotac VR Go. Under the button placed air vents through which the fan throws out the heat accumulates in the body.
At the top of the housing arranged HTC Vive connection interfaces. Namely, two ports USB, one HDMI and one 12 V output B, which connect easier than the side. There are rubber caps to protect the connectors from dust when not in use. However, the rubber plug is not the most convenient if you often insert / extract them, then they will last long.
Zotac equips the system with two batteries with a capacity 6,600 mAh or 95.04 Wh, respectively. That is just above the nominal capacity of the MSI VR One, although in practice the difference is unlikely to be noticeable.
Both batteries are inserted into the Zotac VR Go side at the bottom, they are held bindings. It is enough to overcome the attachment, then you can easily remove the battery.
Zotac VR Go on the front panel is equipped with LED-indicator, indicating the level of both battery charging. Five LED correspond to 20% of each container. Also it can be seen from the bottom rubber feet which can set VR Go in the case of stationary operation. Like MSI VR One, Zotac PC can be used not only for VR. So you can do at home without additional gaming PC.
Zotac added supplied charging station that allows you to charge the battery. Just connect your computer’s power unit to the charging station, then it is possible to insert the battery for charging. On the battery also has a LED, showing the capacity level.
a few words should be said about the backpack, or rather, on the shoulder straps and the back side, which are connected to the computer, so it can be worn behind. Zotac has provided not only Shoulder straps, but additional straps that can be buttoned on the chest or abdomen level to improve the wearing comfort.
Zotac also used on the back side of the pads and straps, which also improve comfort. There is also a small loop through which you can skip the cable HTC Vive. But, unlike the MSI, Zotac has not invested in the delivery shorter cables. So we have to think about where to place three meters of cable. However, the special problems it does not deliver.
To ensure reliable fastening of the backdrop to the computer’s chassis, the Zotac has provided three metal pins that are inserted into the corresponding openings on the back of the computer. There are also central locking, which locks the attachment backdrop to your computer.
In comparison with the MSI VR One system, there are some differences on fastening Shoulder straps. At MSI to a computer attached only webbing, the Zotac has provided the backdrop of the entire installation, which contains both straps.
VR Backpacks are designed to solve one of the urgent problems VR points: the connection cable to the PC. The decision to move the computer in a backpack seems clear, at least as long as manufacturers do not develop a reliable technology for wireless data transmission. But this will not happen soon.
MSI VR One and Zotac VR Go rely on the same basic concept. The same applies to the configuration – at least at first glance. Both systems use CPU Intel Core i7 and graphics card GeForce GTX 1070. But in practice, we have a difference in performance, because the system GPU MSI VR One worked for a little higher clock frequencies. Another difference lies in the installed SSD, in the case of MSI VR One drive is much faster. Another plus in the treasury of MSI.
By wearing comfort, too, there are differences, because the manufacturers have taken different approaches to the design of backpacks. Zotac added pads on heel and straps. Even after 100 minutes of play, we are not faced with any comfort problems. If you do not take into account the weight, of course, but longer than 60-90 minutes to play yet difficult to VR. A somewhat different situation with MSI VR One. Manufacturer refused soft pillows behind. And after about an hour of the game you start to move the straps because they are tired of the shoulders. Here the advantage from Zotac VR Go.
In general, we found serious deficiencies on the comfort of wearing, especially since the game time with a backpack is limited by other factors. None of the backpacks are not warmed back too much problems, we also have not found a ventilation components.
MSI adds the supplied shorter cables that connect the system and VR goggles. As a result, problems with cabling is much less. In the case of Zotac VR Go uses regular long cables. So that the user will have to think about how to build them optimally. Fortunately, the Zotac has provided a loop through which the cables can be skipped.
In terms of noise, both systems have proved to be roughly equal. In idle mode, they worked almost inaudibly. Is that close could recognize the quiet rustling. Under load, the noise level increases and becomes noticeable. However, if you play in the VR, then surely with headphones, so the noise of the computer behind is unlikely to be disturbed.
The battery life of both backpacks enough for 90 minutes of play, then it is still worth to take a break. In Zotac VR Go you get a plus for about fifteen minutes, and the opportunity to play on one battery when the second charging. Also later Zotac will sell the battery separately. With three batteries can charge two batteries, but on the third play. The result can be played almost without interruption.
MSI offers two versions of the backpack. Namely, we tested the model and version of the video card GeForce GTX 256 and 1060-Gbaty SSD. Zotac VR Go is available only in one version.
It remains a question of price. Both the backpack at the time of publication have not appeared in Russia. In Europe, for MSI VR One in the tested version will have to pay 2,799 euros . Low-end model with a graphics card GeForce GXT 1060 and two times lower capacity SSD will cost 2.149 euros . Zotac VR Go Backpack is significantly cheaper – 2.060 euros . But the SSD it is smaller in capacity and is much slower, and the overall level of performance below. Of course, more than 2,000 euros for such a computer – the sum of very solid, the more it will have to add the HTC Vive headset cost 899 euros. Therefore, the target group of users is small. Note that you can use both PC and without headset VR. Here goes forward Zotac VR Go, because he has Gigabit Ethernet ports for stationary operation.