HTC Vive laptop
HTC Vive requires a hugely powerful computer to work. This compatible MSI laptop costs over £2,500 IBTimes UK

All articles about the HTC Vive virtual reality system begin in much the same way. 'It's an amazing, groundbreaking and truly extraordinary piece of kit, but...'.

That 'but' is a segue to a variety of requirements and limitations that make buying, installing and playing Vive a tricky and demanding process. This article looks at the minimum PC performance required for running Vive. Anything less, and the system simply won't work, because a small drop in resolution or frame rate would be a disaster and make playing with Vive as comfortable as stumbling through a house of mirrors after eight pints of strong lager.

If you aren't sure whether your computer can handle Vive or not, Stream offers a free app on its store to help you find out. It will benchmark your PC and either say yes or no. If it's a no, the app will help explain where you computer is lacking and what you need to buy to improve it.

HTC Vive
It's expensive, takes ages to set up and needs a powerful computer, but playing Vive is the best VR experience yet. IBTimes UK

As an indication of just what it takes to run Vive, HTC recommends the AMD Radeon R9 390X graphics processor, which costs almost £300 ($433) alone. The laptop we were sent by Nvidia to use with the Vive (an MSI GT72S Dragon Edition G) costs around £2,500 and has a massive 32GB of RAM.

If you manage to set Vive up with a desktop PC instead of an easily moveable laptop, then a compatible Alienware Area-51 will set you back between £1,300 and £2,065.

So there you have it. The HTC Vive is a hugely demanding piece of kit that needs a powerful PC and, as we discover in a related feature, a large amount of free space (and some DIY skills) to work. When you finally overcome all of these hurdles (and the lengthy setup process), you will be in for a real treat. Vive produces the best VR on sale right now.