We’ve all been there: we’re in virtual reality, but we’re stuck in our living room and unable to bring our metaverse experience to the coffee shop on the corner. (Have we all been here? And are we sure we want to go there? -Ed)
Zotac’s VR GO 4.0 backend hopes to change that. It’s a full-fledged mobile gaming PC in a backpack format. As the name suggests, this is Zotac’s fourth generation laptop. It’s basically a slim PC with a desktop GPU that you can strap to your back. It can sit on your desk like a regular computer and then be unplugged for VR gaming on the go. It even includes hot-swappable batteries and an RTX GPU to boot. The VR headset is of course sold separately.
What Zotac has done here is build a small form factor (SFF) PC and then strap it into a portable harness. It also added the ability to unplug it so it runs on battery power, though you won’t be spending hours in the metaverse. The 6000 mAh battery is only rated for 50 minutes of playtime. Fortunately, it comes with a second hot-swappable battery, but carrying around extra batteries probably isn’t pleasant. You can buy as many extra batteries as you want, but it’s unclear how much they cost. A similar battery for version 2.0 costs $149.
Despite its form factor, it appears to be a pretty decent gaming PC, albeit with a few unexpected components. For example, it has an 11th Gen Tiger Lake Core i7-11800H processor, which is a 45W moving part. Why Zotac didn’t go for an Alder Lake part is a mystery. The GPU is weird though; it is a “professional” Nvidia RTX a4500 Ampere card with 16 GB of VRAM. We contacted Zotac to find out why it chose this particular GPU, but got no response. Suffice to say, this is a very odd inclusion in a product marketed to gamers. This is the type of GPU you use to run professional computing applications, not Beat Saber. The company also offers the same solution in a new SFF workstation. This may be a setup the company has settled on for multiple projects – the workstation has the same specs as the VR GO, but is not mounted in a harness.
Other specs include 16GB of DDR4 SO-DIMM memory, a 512GB M.2 SSD, Wi-Fi 6e, and all the usual connectivity options. It allows for expansion via USB and has HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 for office tasks. Naturally, it also has RGB lights because you need them on a PC you carry on your back. It’s great for battery life, after all.
All in all a strange product from Zotac. The accompanying marketing copy is a PR word salad about crossing boundaries and imagining new experiences. In other words, the same old metaverse bullshit we’ve heard before. It even includes bizarre mentions of “boosting data science model training” and running engineering simulations. We’re a bit confused by this, to be honest. It is also difficult for us to imagine a scenario in which we would want to use a VR headset in an environment other than a spacious living room. Oh, and did we mention it weighs 11 pounds? Due to its size, Zotac includes a metal support frame and a support strap that goes around your waist. Suffice it to say, you’ll know you’re wearing this thing despite its “all-day comfort.” Maybe it’s a good thing that the battery only lasts 50 minutes.