There’s a better way to spend $3,500 on VR than the Apple Vision Pro (and it includes a full gaming PC).

Apple likes to call itself the great innovator, even if the category in which it hopes to succeed is falling apart due to dwindling interest. Virtual reality headsets are ultimately a fad that has come and gone, albeit with a little more staying power than 3D TVs. Still, the average thrift store almost certainly has a fair share of previously acclaimed gadgets on its shelves, while 3D glasses have been kept almost entirely in the landfill.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy VR. I’d go head-to-head with anyone calling Half-Life: Alyx one of the most immersive gaming experiences in recent memory, but then the list ends abruptly. VR has only microscopic appeal for gamers and has a trove of high-value gems, but not even Microsoft saw value in its virtual, mixed reality, and HoloLens development from a business perspective.

Who cares about VR?

Apple Vision Pro in action, conferencing with AI-generated renderings of your colleagues’ faces. (Image credit: Apple)

Convincing a world full of youngsters and adults alike to fall into a desolate, lonely experience of strolling through their empty homes while staring the media plane of a black mirror straight into their eyes is an insanely difficult task, even for Apple – I wish you good luck to them.

Do not worry; I understand that I’m not the target audience. I’m under no illusions and don’t think Apple will ever expect me to buy the Vision Pro (via iMore). The clue lies in the “pro” part of the name, which appears to be aimed primarily at those working from home.

Still, the non-stop footage of consumers enjoying a movie (though no longer than two hours on battery power) or catching up on memories of home does cloud early marketing somewhat.

I still resent the mis-sold wonders of augmented reality via Google Glass, as I’m a glasses wearer who loves biometrics and other trivial data. Part of me wants to envision a video game HUD that shows daily chores and calories burned, like a dreary pip-boy unit from the Fallout games, and the other part still enjoys touching grass.

Instead, experience VR gaming of the highest quality

AMD’s Ryzen 7 7800X3D CPU currently offers unrivaled value for money for PC gaming. (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

I can see the “It’s not a toy” replies already coming, and it’s fine; I agree with you. The Vision Pro is not for gamers. Still, I know how much value I could get from that $3,500 with a gaming desktop, laptop, or even a standalone VR headset that offers just as much versatility with the right apps (especially considering some less official sources includes).

For example, even the cheapest Meta Quest 2 can connect to any powerful gaming PC with a compatible USB-C connection cable or wirelessly over 5GHz WiFi and play PC VR titles from Steam. It’s exactly how I played Half-Life: Alyx the first time, and it’s still my go-to setup for playing Beat Saber with community mods. It’s not the best visual quality, but it works.

Since the Quest 2 costs around $300 at the time of writing, that leaves us with $3,200 for either a pre-built gaming desktop, an equivalent laptop, or the budget to buy the parts separately. That’s a pretty big budget, and any custom builder would probably be happy to put most of that into a graphics card.

There are a handful of components that offer good value for money, like the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D processor and its suitability for high-end gaming, but there’s no avoiding the high GPU price point. You can go lower, but trying to get the value out of entry-level cards with only 8GB of VRAM, like the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, isn’t fun. You might as well get yourself a pre-built gaming desktop.

Augmented Reality is not for gamers

I don’t think Vision Pro will interest rich gamers unless we’re playing Among Us. (Image credit: Apple)

Again, the main attraction of the Apple Vision Pro is its mix of augmented reality and fully immersive virtual reality with an emphasis on working from home (or so it seems). I have no doubt that Tim Cook and his talented developers can make the best device in the world in this category, but I can’t believe it’s lasted more than a year. Mark Zuckerberg has bet his entire company on the success of his “Metaverse,” and that prospect is sinking like a cotton candy lifeboat.

I’m mostly joking, and this isn’t an accurate comparison of two products, just a more versatile use of such a significant amount of cash. It’s not for me to tell Apple fans what to buy and what not to buy, but even some die-hard believers aren’t ready to spend their lives in a headset (via iMore). Especially when it comes to a headset A pair of AI-generated eyes protruding from electronic ski goggles.

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