An Evening With the Oculus Rift DK1

Through work I’ve managed to get access to an Oculus Rift DK1. It was manufactured back in 2013, which makes it quite old in technology years, and I had a slim hope that it would be compatible with my even older computer.

So yesterday night, after the kid was safely tucked in and sleeping, I carried the spare heater into my freezing basement office, poured myself a glass of Johnnie Walker, and started to rig the Rift.

I wanted to try the virtual reality support in Euro Truck Simulator 2, which is without doubt the game if you’re looking for something that simulates the experience of driving a truck around Europe. You might think that sounds like something immensely boring, but the game is amazingly popular: It’s one of the the highest rated games on Steam, with reviews like “I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair”, “if you didn’t find inner peace while playing this game you were playing it wrong”, and “like Skyrim with trucks”.

“I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair.”

At first, setting up the Rift went smoothly. The Windows drives, although still in beta, was compatible with Windows 10, and installed without any trouble. I connected the headset to my graphics card with the provided HDMI cable, the card’s configuration utility reported that the Rift was connected, and I even saw the extended Windows desktop when peeking into the headset. Everything literately looked good.

But then; catastrophe!

When opening the Oculus Rift’s configuration utility, it reported that no headset was found, in spite of it being powered up and displaying an image in each of its tiny screens. But most worrying was the message that my display drivers were too old - worrying because I knew I had the latest drivers for my GeForce 9800 GT installed already. That was when I decided to do what I should have done prior to even taking the Rift out of its secret agent enclosure: Check the minimum hardware requirements.

  • A desktop computer running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports (at least one powered
  • A dedicated graphics card, Nvidia GTX 600 series or AMD Radeon HD 7000 series (or better) with DVI-D or HDMI graphics output

My GeForce 9800 GT is not even close to the specifications of the graphic cards in the GTX 600 and HD 7000 series, meaning there’s no way for me to get the Oculus Rift - not even the aging DK1 - to work with my current hardware. A little research showed that all the GTX 600 and HD 7000 series cards require a PCI Express 3.0 expansion slot, which my mother board doesn’t have. Evidently, I was back at square one, the same square I occupied a few days ago.

In the end, everything was pretty anti-climatic. I was hoping to write a long entry about how amazing virtual reality and the Oculus Rift are, but that never happened. Instead I wrote an entry that can only serve as a warning to others with old computers who get access to an Oculus Rift: Check the minimum hardware requirements before getting your hopes up.

But despite the failure to get the Oculus Rift to work with my stone age hardware, I spent an hour hauling ammunition from Luxembourg to London in Euro Truck Simulator 2. As always, I had a great time, even if it was only in 2D - and with the candy and Cola provided by my better half, the evening’s technical defeat was soon forgotten. Perhaps I should get that Scandinavia DLC?

Yes. Yes, I should.


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