As we wrote about last week, today is the day when pre-orders for Oculus-Ready PCs from Alienware, Asus and Dell start. Those who already pre-ordered a Rift can get a coupon from Oculus to put towards one of the seven models on offer. For people who didn’t already get on the Rift bandwagon last month, you can pre-order the bundles from Amazon, Best Buy and the Microsoft Store. The bundled machines range in price all the way from $1,500 for the base Asus offering (all-in, PC and headset), up to $3,150 for an Alienware Area 51 and Rift.
More Retail Bundle Details
Of course, now that we’ve hit the date that this promotion launches, there are more details that we can share. First, it does look like the bundles being offered by the retailers/e-tailers are staying U.S.-only for now. We reached out to see if they might come to Canada, and even though we were told there is a possibility that Best Buy might sell Dell’s offerings in the Great White North, as of today there is nothing on Best Buy’s .ca site.
It does seem that Amazon will currently ship the bundles to Canada from the U.S., but that might be a glitch, and even if it isn’t, the additional duties and fees, along with the exchange rate will make the bundles ridiculously expensive for Canucks. As for other markets, we have no information if there will be any retail or e-tail partners selling bundles there at this time, but one would hope this might change.
For U.S residents, all three retail/e-tail partners still look to have the bundles in stock, even though they went on sale this morning, and the expected shipping date of both the PC and Oculus Rift is still April 23, 2016. This means that if you order a bundle today, you’ll get a Rift much faster than many who have pre-ordered the Rift directly from Oculus. Unfortunately, this is to be expected, because for the OEMs to get on board with Oculus and create these bundle deals, Rifts have to be allocated to them so the bundles can be fulfilled in a timely fashion.
Discount Coupon Details
As mentioned, along with the bundles being available in stores, those who already pre-ordered a Rift and can go to their Oculus order page and claim a discount coupon towards one of these Oculus-ready PCs. Those who pre-ordered in the U.S. will have full access to all the machines on offer, but, unfortunately, those in other markets will not.
On Oculus’s support page, it details how the bundle coupons will work for each OEM it’s partnered with. For Asus, it says:
Schedule for ASUS discount availability:
February 2016: The United States, Netherlands, Taiwan
There is better news for those interested in Dell’s Oculus-Ready offerings:
Schedule for Alienware and Dell XPS discount codes:
February 2016: The United States and Canada
March 2016: The United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden
Tentative Q2: Australia, Japan, New Zealand
Tentative Q3-Q4: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Poland
Looking at the above, it’s clear which OEM to go with if you are an international Rift pre-order customer, so let’s hope Asus announces the availability of its Oculus-Ready machines in more markets soon.
The Exchange Rate Shafts Canadians
Even though there is good news for America’s politer neighbors to the North, in that Dell will, at least, be offering us the coupon, it appears that the low value of the Canadian dollar is going to hurt. For example, to start, it looks like the value of the coupon is $200 Canadian, whereas south of the border it’s the same in U.S. funds. Also, the Oculus-Ready PCs are quite a bit more money. The Alienware X51 R3 starts at $1,600 before the coupon, not including the price of the Rift; the next model up is $1,800; and Dell’s XPS 8900 SE is $1,500, again not including the discount and Rift price.
Consequently, all-in you are looking at $2,250, $2,450 and $2,150, respectively, in Canada’s cool plastic bills to get a Rift bundle (the Rift is $850 CAD). That’s a big chunk of change to drop, and probably off-putting to most interested in taking advantage of the coupon. What we would have like to have seen is perhaps some generosity on Oculus' and Dell’s part, with a discount coupon with a higher value to offset some of the exchange rate pricing issues.
Build Your Own Is Still The Best Way To Go
Despite some advantages to buying a pre-built PC, namely that its pre-tested and has a better warranty than a machine you can build yourself, you’re still going to be able to get a significantly better VR-ready machine for a comparable price to the bundles, or something equivalent for a lot less, if you go DIY.
This month’s Tom’s Hardware Best PC builds has a $1,000 build with an Intel Core i5-6600, 16 GB of RAM, a 120 GB SSD and a Radeon R9 390X 8 GB GPU. This machine will easily outperform the similarly-priced Oculus-Ready PCs in VR for the same price, and there is no need to worry about a coupon. There is also our $750 build that is equivalent to the base Oculus-Ready machines for quite a lot less.
Or course, going this route doesn’t help you get an Oculus Rift any faster, so if you are in need of a new PC for VR, pre-ordering one of the retail/e-tail bundles is still fastest way to get a Rift onto your head today. As mentioned above, the bundles are scheduled to ship on April 23. If you are pre-ordering a Rift today from Oculus.com, it won’t ship until July 2016.
Alex Davies is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware and Tom's IT Pro, covering Smartphones, Tablets, and Virtual Reality. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.