We have all been there: We are in VR, but we are stuck in our living room and can not take our metaverse experience to the local coffee shop. (Have we all been here? And are we sure we will go? -Oath)
Zotac’s VR GO 4.0 backpack PC hopes to change that. It’s a full-fledged workstation-slash-mobile gaming PC in a backpack form factor. As the name implies, it is the fourth generation of Zotac laptops. It is actually a sleek PC with a desktop GPU that you can attach to your back. It can sit on your desktop like a regular computer, and then disconnect 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 attach it to a portable harness. There is also the option to disconnect it so that it runs on battery, even if you do not want to spend hours in the meta verse. The 6000mAh battery is only intended for 50 minutes of playing time. Fortunately, it comes with an extra battery that can be replaced, but it’s probably not nice to carry extra batteries with you. You can buy as many extra batteries as you want, but it is unclear how much they cost. A similar battery for the 2.0 version costs $ 149.
Despite the form factor, it seems like a pretty decent gaming PC, albeit with some unexpected components. For example, it has an 11th generation Tiger Lake Core i7-11800H CPU, which is a 45W mobile part. Why Zotac did not go for an Alder Lake part is a mystery. The GPU is weird though; it is an Nvidia RTX a4500 “professional” Ampere card with 16 GB VRAM. We contacted Zotac about why it chose this particular GPU, but got no feedback. Suffice it to say that it is a very strange inclusion in a product that is marketed to players. This is the type of GPU you use to run professional computer programs, not Beat Saber. The company also offers the same solution in a new SFF workstation. This can be a configuration the company took on for several projects – the workstation has the same specifications as VR GO, but is not mounted in a harness.
Other specifications include 16 GB DDR4 SO-DIMM memory, a 512 GB M.2 SSD, Wi-Fi 6e and all the usual connectivity options. It allows expansion via USB and has HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 for desktop use. Of course, it also has RGB light because you need it on a PC you have on your back. It’s good for battery life, after all.
Overall, this is a strange product from Zotac. The marketing copy that comes with it is a PR phrase salad about breaking boundaries and envisioning new experiences. In other words, the same old metaverse girls we’ve heard before. It even includes bizarre reviews of “increasing computer science model training” and running engineering simulations. We’re a little confused about that, to be honest. It is also difficult for us to imagine a scenario where we want to use a VR headset in an environment other than a spacious living room. Oh, and did we mention that it weighs 11 kg? Due to its size, the Zotac includes a metal support frame and a support strap that goes around your waist. Suffice it to say that you want to know that you are wearing this thing despite the reported “comfort all day.” Maybe it’s good that the battery only lasts for 50 minutes.