Update, 2/10/16, 9:50 am PT: Oculus has let us know that these bundles will be available in Canada in April, but a company rep was not able to provide any further details. Also, the bundle price for the lowest-end Asus offering is $1,499 according to the Best Buy website and the copy of the Oculus announcement blog, matching Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe's earlier $1,500 all-in statement.
Just over a month ago at CES, Oculus and Dell announced the first Oculus Ready PC bundles. These bundles, consisting of either an Alienware X51 R3 or Dell XPS 8900 SE, were welcome news after the sting of the higher than expected (by some) price of the Oculus Rift. This is because the bundles include a discount, which in the case of Dell’s original announcements worked out to $200, which you could look at as either a discount on the PC or on the Rift itself.
With these initial bundles coming up to $1,600 all-in, Oculus could come close to the $1,500 all-in price Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe had announced earlier in 2015. However, what was missing from the CES news were the actual details about additional Oculus Ready PCs and how the bundle discount would work – all we were told was that to qualify, you have to have pre-ordered a Rift.
Well, here we are, a month later, and right on target Oculus has announced the full details of the Oculus Ready PC program, including the first PCs that will be available from Asus, Alienware and Dell; how the discounts work; and where you can buy them, starting February 16.
This also marks the first time that Oculus has announced its retail/e-tail partners for these bundles (and presumably the Rift too), which are Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store. Also, as we speculated last month, it seems if you want a Rift faster than the July date shown now on Oculus’ pre-order page, a bundle is the way to go; they're expected to ship in late April, so clearly Oculus has put stock aside for them.
Expanded Alienware Offerings
Alienware’s Oculus Ready PC offerings have expanded beyond the single GTX-970 powered X51 R3 we originally wrote about. Now you can get the same machine with more RAM (16 GB), an SSD and a GTX 980 GPU. However, it looks like, at least according to the graphic above, that the bundle discounts have yet to be finalized for the new models added. On Best Buy’s pre-order page, the higher-end X51 is shown with a $100 discount and the Area 51 with none. Of note, the Area 51 looks to be the most powerful Oculus Ready PC announced today, with a Core i7-5820K Haswell-E processor, GTX-980, 16 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD + 2 TB hard drive for storage.
Dell Stays The Same
Dell is still offering the same XPS 8900 Special Edition tower we wrote about last month, and the discount for the bundle works about to be $200.
Asus Offers The Best Bundle Value
There are three Asus Oculus Ready PC offerings, and the base model is currently the cheapest way to get a Rift bundled with a PC, for $1,549 all-in. However, with the regular price of the G11CD desktop on offer being $1,049, you are only saving $100. This model matches the specs of the base Alienware and Dell offerings, so it is pretty bare bones with an i5, GTX 970 and no SSD. Asus’s other offerings are higher-end and go up to the ROG G20CB with an i7-6700 and GTX 980. This model, along with the midrange offering, work out to have a $100 bundle discount, so it seems that Asus isn’t being as generous as Dell.
AMD Is Still A Bundle No Show
One disappointing aspect of today’s announcement for Team Red fans is that, unfortunately, none of the bundles announced are available with Radeon GPUs, even though AMD has offerings that meet Oculus’ recommended specifications for the Rift. This is a bit of a surprise, especially after we talked to AMD’s Director of VR, Daryl Sartain about this, and he told us that he hoped to get this corrected. Hopefully for AMD fans, there will be additional Oculus Ready PCs and bundles announced with R9 290s or higher soon.
How To Claim Your Discount
There are a few ways to take advantage of these Oculus Ready PC bundles. The first applies to those who have already ordered a Rift. For those people, starting February 16, you’ll be able to opt-in to “partner offers” on your order status page and receive a code that can be applied to one of these PCs. You’ll then need to order your PC of choice directly from the respective vendor, where the discount will be applied. If you order your bundle in this fashion, we assume your Rift and PC will ship separately (which is what Dell told us at CES), with the PC shipping first. It’s not clear if opting into a bundle will move your Rift order up in the queue, but we doubt that, because the logistics would add unneeded complexity.
The other option, which applies to those who have not already pre-ordered a Rift, is to buy one of the bundles from Oculus’ chosen retail/e-tail partners starting on February 16, 8 am PST. Both Amazon and Best Buy have the bundles showing already, and from what we can see, it looks like these bundles will ship the PC AND the Rift together.
More importantly, the sites also show that the bundles will start shipping April 23, so with Rift pre-orders now not shipping until July, the fastest way to get a Rift today if cost is no object (or if you do need a new gaming PC!) is to order one of these bundles. Although Oculus doesn’t state anything on its blog, Asus’ site handily says that the bundle promos will end April 30, 2016. It also looks like at this time that these bundles and promos are U.S. only.
One must also assume the very same store partners who will be selling the bundles will more than likely also be selling the Oculus Rift as a standalone offering. It’s possible, then, that you may be able to get a Rift from them faster (either online or in-store) than pre-ordering it from Oculus, though that is definitely speculation on our part. With the need to get VR onto the heads of the masses before it can really take off, brick-and-mortar Best Buy and Microsoft store locations will be ideal spots for Oculus demo stations.
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+.