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Need help choosing CPU/GPU for VR-gaming on linux


Hi there!

I’m building a new gaming PC with GNU/Linux as my OS. Normally I am trying to keep in a reasonable best-value-per-€ range, but this time I decided to go VR (also with Proton/SteamPlay… I’m especially interested in SkyrimVR). For this, I don’t want my experience to be ruined by sub-optimal performance or quality so I saved up to go as high as 2000€ (only for the pc, but have to buy all parts new), but would prefer to stay lower (like around 1200€).
Normally I can live with a lower framerate or graphics quality, but I assume with VR that might ruin the experience (at least with low framerate…). I don’t need to be able to turn anything to the highest settings, but all games should look good, run smoothly and there has to be a little overhead for future titles too.

As for the VR-headset I went for the HTC Vive. I will also buy a new monitor (1440p/144Hz I think… also new ground for me…) because I won’t play exclusively VR-titles of course.

Would you please help me choose the right CPU und GPU for this rig? Has anyone of you already experience with VR on linux / VR with SteamPlay? (Especially with AMD-GPUs?)

I would prefer AMD-GPUs for the open source drivers, but I am not sure if this might cause problems or at least a worse fps/€-ratio with VR-games (and SteamPlay(?)). Also I always tend to think that Intel CPUs are more future-proof (although more expensive), but can’t point the finger to the reason.

As mentioned above, I’m not on a tight budget (at least for my standards…), but would of course like it to be as cheap as possible without sacrificing gameplay-experience. (I don’t care if I have 90 or 140 fps, as long as it’s a smooth and tear-free (VR-) experience and has enough room for future titles to be nicely playable too… I think you get what I mean…)

BTW: Normally I don’t overclock, because I’m afraid of shortening the lifetime of my components (In our house PCs have a very long lifecycle (with few upgrades reused from gaming to working), but I’m not totally opposed to.

Thanks in advance!

(see larger answer-post for more details…)
I got a new rig. Main parts: Ryzen7 2700X, 16GB DDR4 RAM @3200MHz, Zotac RTX2070 Amp Extreme;
Got some minor issues and had to solve a problem before being able to use the Vive, but the Experience is great so far. Will report back when I tried out some games…
Can’t get it to work as a generic output/input device to use it for something outside steam (like 360°videos) and would appreciate some help regarding this…


Haven’t tried VR under linux yet, but as someone currently running a full AMD linux box (2700X + Vega64) who has had exclusively Nvidia cards between 1998 and 2016 prior, i’d suggest that AMD is now a lot less of a pain in the balls to deal with - both with their Windows drivers and their Linux drivers, performance is great and the money you save on the 2700X vs. anything from intel can go towards a better headset, new GPU next year, or whatever.

Nvidia ultimately currently has the highest performance, but right now IMHO VR is half-baked and you’re going to get an even less prime-time experience under Linux. Steam-play/proton is still early days yet and there’s a lot that doesn’t run with it.

The 2700X today is a great CPU under Linux and intel is only going to be further left behind in terms of bang for buck when ryzen 3000 arrives next year and is socket compatible.


If you haven’t seen it yet, this should give you a pretty good idea of what you are looking for on the GPU side, though not directly for VR.

Notably, he doesn’t tell us what the ‘current’ prices were he was using to get the performance per cost numbers (where the RX 580 usually was best or close), and that can be a big deal when considering current sales on various different cards that are not uniform.

This was also from Julyish, so pre-RTX 2000 series and pre-RX 590 (which has troubles in linux at the moment anyway).

I’m going to guess the CPU won’t be as big of a deal for VR as long as you get a recent, not bottom line, but someone with more experience in VR can speak to that better.


Thank you both for your Input!

@djindy: I had Seen this article a few days before, but couldn’t find it again! :smile: Thanks!

@thro: One of the main advantages of Intel or Nvidia over AMD is less power consumption afaik. Do you know, how much Watt your Rig takes while under light and heavy load? What PSU do you use? Do you have a problem with heat generation?
Also: What monitor do you use? Do you have problems with tearing? Freesync is not working yet on Linux afaik…

Sorry for all those questions… Hope you don’t mind…


Pretty sure among desktop CPUs AMD wins in power efficiency these days.


Hmm… you are right. I was sitting on past information… I looked it up and I would say there isn’t much difference in comparable cpus… maybe a little less power consumption an AMD-side as you said. Thanks for the correction, this will impact my decision!


I have a non-freesync monitor a the moment, an ASUS MX299 ultra-wide 21:9.

Power consumption on Vega isn’t too bad if you aren’t trying to do stupid things with it. I’ve got a Corsair HX850i power supply and i think the very highest load i’ve seen has been around 600 watts (measured by corsair link) when the CPU and 2x Vega 64s were both being pushed hard (but not on turbo profile).

Running turbo mode on the GPUs is pointless. Balanced (or even power save on a reference cooler) is best. Not a huge performance drop for way less power and heat. Talking about when under windows there.

If you’re running a single vega 64 with a 2700X i’d say a 650 watt PSU would be ample unless you have a heap of other stuff in the box.

I have reference coolers and the 2700X box cooler. Temps are fine (given the shitty blower coolers are what they are - i did plan to put them on water at some point). The GPUs blow a bit when working hard but they’re shitty reference coolers, hence my comments about balanced or power save mode above (again, when under windows).

The box 2700X cooler is great. Unless you’re planning on overclocking the snot out of it, don’t bother with an aftermarket cooler. You just don’t need it IMHO.


Update and more questions:
After a long time of consideration, I finished building the new rig. Its main components are a Ryzen7 2700x (not OC atm), 16GBs of DDR4-RAM at 3200MHz and a Zotac RTX 2070 Amp Extreme. Since I wanted an (as far as possible) hassle-free linux-experience, its running Ubuntu 18.04 atm. With the Vive, I set everything up yesterday for testing and did the SteamVR setup and tutorial.
(Had to create the udev-rules by hand following this great github-page: )
(… write a comment if you need further help…)
I still have a few problems (Camera is not working atm… maybe because of USB3-port, and bluetooth isn’t working either (for powering off the base stations automaticly). But even with this minor issues, the experience is great in my opinion. I will try out different games in the next weeks and report back for other linux-gamers stumbling over this thread in search for info…

One big letdown though is that I cant get the headset to work without steamVR… I thought it shouldn’t be a problem using it as some kind of generic output/input-device for 360°-Videos, so I didn’t research this usecase in particular before buying. AFAIK the only way to watch VR-Videos atm is to use steam-apps for VR-video via steamplay… Does anyone of you know a better, more vendor-agnostic way of using the headset for such tasks?