ZOTAC this week has formally introduced its VR GO backpack PC designed for virtual reality enthusiasts. The system is equipped with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 graphics, a quad-core CPU from Intel, rich I/O capabilities and a hot-swappable battery. Despite its positioning, the VR GO can be used like a normal desktop computer, which differentiates it from early prototypes of wearable VR PCs from other makers.

ZOTAC is mostly known for its graphics cards and high-performance small form-factor PCs, but not wearable systems (which are not that uncommon: industrial- and even space-grade wearable PCs have existed for years). To develop its VR GO computer, the company had to use experience it obtained from building SFF systems for gamers as well as to find ways to minimize weight and to ensure that the design can handle harsh treatment during gaming sessions. Basically, ZOTAC had to fix everything tightly inside the box while ensuring appropriate cooling and proper position of the I/O ports.

To make it convenient to connect a VR headset to the VR GO, one side of the device has the appropriate ports. The single side has one HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports and one power connector on top of it. Such positioning greatly simplifies cable management and makes VR gaming with a PC on your back a little more comfortable. The system also comes with a removable battery pack that enables autonomous operation for (waiting on offical numbers) hours.

While virtual reality is considered as an important milestone for gaming, it hardly makes sense to develop a PC only for VR, which is why ZOTAC’s VR GO is a powerful PC in general and can be used like a desktop computer too. It has three additional USB 3.0/3.1 Type-A connectors, an SD card reader, four additional display outputs (two HDMI, two DP), two GbE ports as well as two 3.5 mm audio jacks.

Inside the ZOTAC VR GO there is a custom motherboard in a proprietary form-factor carrying an Intel Core i7 CPU, two DDR4 SO-DIMMs, an M.2 SSD (PCIe 3.0 x4), an 802.11ac Wi-Fi module and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 MXM module. To cool down the CPU and the GPU (a total TDP of 150 W), ZOTAC uses a proprietary low-profile air cooling system but has not disclosed details. At this point, we do not know whether the manufacturer reinforced the design of its cooler's backplate somehow, but this is a logical thing to expect. To expand the storage capacity of the system, ZOTAC also added one bay for a SATA-based 2.5" storage device (either HDD, which might be affected by rapid movement, or a high capacity TLC SSD).

ZOTAC’s VR GO system is not the first backpack-type PC developed by the company. At Computex 2016 the hardware manufacturer already demonstrated a wearable system, but that was largely a prototype and still in the early design stage. By contrast, the VR GO looks like a commercial product.

ZOTAC does not specify exact availability timeframe for its VR GO backpack PC other than Q4 2016 as well as its estimated price. We expect to see it at CES in early January for sure.

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Source: ZOTAC

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  • Chipsa - Thursday, November 3, 2016 - link

    The Vive link box provide 12V power to the display. The power connector mentioned in the article supplies 12V power. Other than power, the link box mostly provides strain relief to keep you from killing connectors on your computer. Obvious implication of this to me, is that no link box would be required with this.

    The cable with the Rift being required is probably why they show a Vive in the promo shots.
    Reply
  • fanofanand - Thursday, November 3, 2016 - link

    Nothing says virtual reality like a 15 pound lump hanging off your back in addition to the giant mask adorning your face. This crap will NOT catch on. Reply
  • rhysiam - Thursday, November 3, 2016 - link

    That makes sense, thanks Chipsa. I didn't realise you could entirely bypass the linkbox with the Vive. The weight and battery life are for sure a big issues still, but for the Vive at least, you would get tether free room scale VR. Reply
  • ZipSpeed - Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - link

    Put a neutron wand on the thing and I can cosplay as a Ghostbuster next halloween! Reply
  • powerarmour - Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - link

    And how much of an idiot would you look like wearing this?, ridiculous. Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - link

    What a dumb idea, really.

    First off, Oculus requires the use of multiple USB-connected cameras. That requirement means this "backpack" thing is a no-go right from the jump. The Vive requires the use of stationary lighthouse sensors and has a maximum space of 15mx15m. So you're getting absolutely nothing as far as mobility and movement within the game is concerned, and you've traded in a cable that you forget about 5 seconds after the game starts for a 10 pound PC on your back that you're sure as hell never going to forget is there.
    Reply
  • sorten - Thursday, November 3, 2016 - link

    So I'm going to buy an $800 VR headset and a $1500 backpack PC, so I can strap a computer to my back and explore a virtual world for 30 minutes at a time? How much will the hot swappable batteries cost? $100?

    I think SNL needs to do a skit about VR gaming. Maybe they have?
    Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, November 3, 2016 - link

    It's a new market with few competitors which means, regardless of whether or not it'll go anywhere, companies that can develop a product at low cost to sell for a high margin are wise to take advantage of the situation. They can sling a variety of mud at the proverbial brick wall and if something sticks well enough to earn a few dollars, then they need to go for it.

    Yes, VR in its current form, is unlikely to catch on as more than a few year long fad among a small number of people, but those people are screaming, "Shut up and take my money!" to hardware and software companies. Why not take the cash?
    Reply
  • Endlesspath - Monday, November 7, 2016 - link

    Unless you suspend the power outlet overhead, you'll be continously stumbling over the power cord.

    I'd only seriously consider this when you can clip (with this or better graphics capability) on your belt and have it weigh 2 pounds or less, along with say a 2 pound or less fast change power supply elsewhere on your belt.
    Reply
  • Endlesspath - Monday, November 7, 2016 - link

    Scratch the power outlet portion of my comment, I obviously missed the hot-swappable battery statement in the article. Reply

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