After years of stagnation, there is finally a reason to upgrade your desktop, if VR and AR are your thing.
I have in my possession a symbol of why computing hardware manufacturers have had such a hard time in recent years. It's a desktop computer made up of a circa 2009 i7-920 processor, and over the years has been updated to possess a 2012 GPU, and a new dose of memory and SSD storage from 2014.
And frankly, the only times I am reminded of its age are when it comes to recent gaming and doing large amounts of compilation.
Despite the wishing of Microsoft, OEM vendors, and other associated hardware suppliers, recent versions of Windows have not pushed consumers to new purchases of PC hardware like they used to.
This isn't surprising when one of hyped features of Windows 10 is the ability to log in without a password, hardly something that drives hardware upgrades.
In the time since my 2009 desktop first turned on, chips have got faster and better with power usage, memory bandwidth has improved, and storage has come along in leaps and bounds. But for everyday usage, the sort that happens in the lower end of the market, there's been no application that has pushed that seven-year-old hardware.
At the recent Computex event earlier this month, there was a nice surprise. After years of trying virtual reality headsets and walking away disappointed by tearing, a frame rate that wasn't quite there, or simply watching a pre-rendered scene because the hardware couldn't keep up with real-time interaction, in 2016 it looked as though VR was finally ready for prime time.
Powered by the latest GPUs, and coupled with a number of handset options incorporating handheld controllers, from this point on the hardware is in place to make VR an option for the masses. To which there is no lack of interest, over the past 18 months at computing conferences across the globe, there have been few things that punters will line up for to give it a try. One is electric cars, and the other is to experience virtual reality.
While VR usage is currently residing with the enthusiast and gamer crowd, as other applications of the technology slowly appear, mainstream users will need updated hardware to get on board...