Oculus VR founder: will consider Mac support if Apple ‘ever releases a good computer’


We spoke to Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey recently during an Xbox press event where we took the opportunity to ask him some questions regarding the future of his company, and his product, the Oculus Rift.

One question we were dying to ask is he sees a future for the Oculus Rift with Apple computers. When asked if there would ever be Mac support for the Rift, Palmer responds by saying “That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it.”

And, to clarify:

Palmer continues to clarify what he meant by that blunt statement by saying “It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn’t prioritize high-end GPUs. You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs. So if they prioritize higher-end GPUs like they used to for a while back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine out there that supports it.”

Snarky as all this sounds, I watched the entire interview and I get the sense Palmer truly wants a Mac with a more powerful GPU. But a poor choice of words, especially from a company founder.

That said, it’ll be interesting to see if the coming emergence of VR drives Apple to significantly upgrade Mac GPU options, or perhaps opens the door to a replaceable GPU. VR is a huge wave coming.

  • King Bazzer

    Replaceable GPU! Decent thermal design! Those were the days… My 2012 mac mini is louder than my vacuum cleaner. I built a windows gaming machine from scavenged parts (with an 8 year old CPU) and the only part I bought was a $100 GPU.

    It gets 4x the frame rate of the mini and is MUCH quieter. (it’s not a beautiful sliver of aluminium though)

    • Moe Better 11

      No vacuum should suck so little as to be quieter than a quiet computer…

      It would be nice if Apple made a more modular form factor for something like a “Mini Pro” or “Cube” Mac that would run i5/i7 and have two PCIe 3 slots (@ 16 lanes/8+ lanes).

  • John David

    This technology reminds me allot of having to wear 3D glasses to watch the new 3D televisions that have been available recently & we’ve all seen what a disappointment the experience & sales of that fad has been.

    When there is a working Holodeck system, then I’ll be all in for VR. Until then, I really don’t want to experience VR while wearing a scuba mask!

    • Jack763

      It’s a cliché thing to say, but don’t knock it until you try it. I was a big skeptic until a friend let me try his 2nd-gen developer kit in a few areas where you could actually walk around – and where you could sit in a cockpit of a spaceship. The level of immersion is simply unmatched and makes any “3D TV” comparison a joke. To be able to look in every direction, have true stereo 3D no matter the orientation of your head, and to have it match the movement of your head as you lean in any direction, makes it feel unbelievably life-like. Best Buy will have demo stations shortly after release; give it a whirl and see if you still think it’s a fad!

      • rick gregory

        it’s not whether the experience is good, it’s the wearing of this huge mask thing. I can see some hardcore gamer geek doing that but normals? a couple watching a 3D VR movie? Nah.

      • John David

        No thanks. I don’t want to walk around with this silly mask on my head! I want to be immersed in a world that I can see & experience the same way I do in every day life. If this is something you like & it excites you, hey knock yourself out & enjoy it.

        I have no desire to own anything like this at all. I will certainly give a whirl if I get the chance, but it’s nothing I would want.

        No, I’ll wait for the day I can say “Computer, I’d like to pick up where I left off with my conversation with Thomas Jefferson, sitting outside his lovely home in Monticello, please!”, and then find myself sitting down to a nice cold lemonade with the former President on a hot Virginia summer’s day!

  • Or, I don’t know, design your stupid VR headset to work with more graphics cards then just the “top of the line.” Imagine the crap we’d hear if the next version of iOS could only run on the next iPhone.

    • Mo

      Seems to me he’s either holding the performance standards of his gear to an extremely high level to maintain a good user experience, or he’s just partisan about the familiar hardware he prefers to work with.

      • I just don’t like the way he’s blaming Apple when it’s his choice not to develop for the platform.

        • Mo

          Likewise. I’d want someone who’s followed him for awhile to confirm whether that behavior’s due to myopia or genuine tech issues.

          • is Carmack still at Occulus? he left id for them

          • Mo

            I have no idea. I was trying to come up with a metaphor.

    • Jorge Blasio

      “On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift’s rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering.”



      • If that’s the way you’re going to design your gaming system, then fine. But don’t act like it’s the computer maker’s fault you’re not on their platform.

        • Jorge Blasio

          How could it not be Apple’s fault? Are you expecting Oculus to slap an eGPU behind the headset?

    • Jack763

      Oculus also makes a VR headset specifically for phones, so they know how to support lower-end graphics. Their concern with the powerhouse version is not giving the best impression possible since it’s the first VR to be released in ages. If impressions aren’t good, the movement will die before it has enough traction. Eventually smaller GPUs will be able to handle it; NVidia released a notebook GPU that exceeds the recommended specs (the 980), and it’s possible that Apple could adopt this in a generation or two. The technology will catch up quickly!

      • Exactly, they could do it if they wanted to. Yet, somehow it’s Apple’s fault that they’re not.

        • George

          Games run much better in Windows than they do in OSX, which most certainly IS Apple’s fault. I love my MacBook and my other Apple hardware, but they have never cared about AAA games and aren’t going to start now.

    • rick gregory

      I don’t think that they can without compromising the experience which is, most say, pretty amazing. They’re right to insist on a base level of performance, it’s just that we’ve not seen all that much advancement in high end GPUs over the last decade. I don’t mean that they aren’t faster – they are – but the base level of GPUs are more than enough for anything BUT high end gaming and this kind of stuff… and most people won’t pay the extra money when there’s no benefit.

    • Moe Better 11

      One would think the developer could leverage the power of OpenCL for a VR headset. The AMD GPUs, so far, are very strong in this area…

  • JimCracky

    So……Apple users will be spared looking like duckweeds when the population is engulfed in VR headsets.

    The funniest comment I heard about the Zuckerberg photo at Barcelona was how this was a perfect opportunity for pickpockets.

  • John Parkinson

    His initial words were very blunt and poorly chosen, but he’s not wrong that Macs have terrible graphics support for high-end gaming (which is what VR needs). But that’s why I use Macs for one thing, iPhone/iPad for other things and have a PC for gaming. You need to pick the right tool for the job.

  • davidfell

    When I read about this yesterday, I was so appalled at his wording that I tweeted to him that I would not buy his product as a result. That’ll show him! https://twitter.com/DavidFell/status/705537242719252480

    • Doesn’t sound like selling these things to Mac users is high on his priority list anyhow.

      • matthewmaurice

        If the graphics requirements are that high, it doesn’t sound selling those things to most users is high on his priority list. PCs in general and Windows machines in particular, are aging and not being replaced by newer PCs, especially with high-end video cards (although they are at least an option).

        • Jack763

          Mark Zuckerberg said himself that he doesn’t expect it to be mainstream for up to a decade. This is about making the potential known, not about getting everyone to adopt it.

          • That sounds like a great business strategy.

  • chjode

    This is why I built a Hackintosh. Mid-range tower with a replaceable GPU for $900.

  • Glaurung-Quena

    If oculus rift won’t run on apple GPUs, then it must not run on 90% of the world’s laptops.

    Maybe the problem here is that the Oculus people have hitched their wagon to desktop-class GPUs, and you know what? That’s where the puck used to be, but nowadays its clear that desktop computers are becoming less and less common as people buy laptops instead. If Oculus wants to be mainstream and not a niche interest of hard core gamers, maybe they ought to rethink what kind of hardware their device requires.

    • matthewmaurice

      Yeah, pushing new hardware to support your app, Killer though it may be, is a hard sell in today’s computing market.

    • Jack763

      Notebooks are already catching up – NVidia has a notebook GPU that already exceeds the recommended specs. It’s only available in gaming notebooks exceeding $3000, but I imagine that price will plummet over the next few years.

  • rick gregory

    I may end up being very wrong about this but I don’t see anything like the current Rift being a huge hit. It has, as far as I can tell, two big strikes against it. First, you look silly, with a huge, face hugging headset strapped on. Come on, admit it… no normal person, even casually tech person, is going to wear that. Oh sure, they’ll try it on at shows, but do any of you see people in your lives wearing one in their living rooms? A segment of hardcore gamers, yes. Aside from those people… I don’t see it.

    Second, The Rift is $600 and needs a PC that is probably $1000 or more. You can buy a bundle from Oculus for $1500… Now, what’s the intersection between people who are willing to blow at least $600 (if they already have the PC) and who are willing to strap that thing on to their heads? Small. Very small.

    I totally get why it’s like this – it’s early days. The Rift, at best, is the early Blackberry of VR sets and just like those weren’t used by most people, neither will this be. For VR to really go mainstream we need the iPhone of VR sets but we need to wrk through the intermediate stages. GPU performance hasn’t been pushed much lately since what’s out there is fine for a very large percentage of people. VR will push it. Size and obtrusiveness will come down. Perhaps we might even see a miracle and Magic Leap (http://www.magicleap.com/#/home) will ship something other than videos…

    • I’ve always imagined that Oculus Rift would be like Laser Tag was in the 80s. No one’s going to be buying these for home use, they’re going to go into some fancy arcade and pay-per-hour to play “Heroes Duty VR” or whatever the killer app will be. Like the holodeck it’s trying to be, one setup will serve many people. Home users get Google Cardboard.

      • rick gregory

        Very possible. I don’t see even that being more than the fad that was Laser Tag, though. People just aren’t going to feel comfortable wearing that headset. Even Cardboard is dorky looking and people just don’t like to look like the classic 80s geek.

  • stsk

    Given Tim Cook’s recent remarks about AR/VR, Palmer’s just Ed Colligan (2006) in sheep’s clothing: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

  • dtj

    I’ve heard that VR is right around the corner, since the early 90’s. Not gonna hold my breath for it any time soon. Back in the good old days of Jaron Lanier and VPL.

  • freediverx

    Apple will refocus their product line to serve VR vendors with the same enthusiasm they’ve accommodated hardcore gamers and proponents of 4K and 3D content.

  • MichaelQ

    VR is very bleeding edge right now. Can’t imaging more than 1% of the existing PC’s will handle it either. But at least it’s an option.

    I like that Oculus is developing for the edge – because that lets them develop the best product, and those spec will be mainstream within 5 years.

    No doubt if it takes off – and there is still a very good chance it might not – Apple will make some machines available to use it.

    Apple is not blameless. Choosing to go with skinny Macs and the like means it can’t handle the thermal pressures of high end graphic cards. In time that will change, but it will never have the same bleeding edge stuff that can go into a big box with dedicated cooling systems.

  • Apple recently hired one of the top experts in VR. You’d think that would be for addressing this very problem. But this guy is an idiot, and I wasn’t planning on buying an Oculus Rift ever since Facebook got their hooks into it.