MSI brings its VR backpack to PAX Australia, on sale now for $3599

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One of the biggest annoyances about virtual reality is that you are tethered to a machine or console that is plugged to the wall, so you are only limited to how long your cable is. At PAX Australia this year, MSI may have come up with a solution – by putting the machine on your back.

Built in partnership with HTC, the VR One features an overclocked Intel Core i7 processor and a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. MSI says that it is fully optimised for the HTC Vive, but it will also support other headsets such as the Oculus Rift. However, the backpack does have a direct DC12V port to power the Vive.

Other hardware specs include a SSD drive up to 1TB, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi support. It also comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed, and ports for HDMI and DisplayPort.

Now, you’d expect that there would be a lot of heat and noise being generated from this backpack. MSI says that it is able to keep the system to under 85 degrees thanks to its cooling system, consisting of dual 9cm ultra blade fans and 9 heat pipes. They also say that it will keep the noise below 45 dBa.

To ensure you can keep on playing without being tethered, the backpack features two hot-swappable batteries. If you’re running low on power, you can easily switch one of the batteries out and still continue playing. However, if you need to swap both of them out,  you can hook the backpack to an adapter. MSI notes that battery life is one and a half hours – so you might be constantly switching batteries or tethered to the wall if you plan on playing longer than that.

So, how much does this weigh? With the batteries included, the entire backpack weighs 3.6kg – or nearly two MacBook Pro laptops.

At the press conference at PAX Australia today, MSI touted heavily on the VR One’s performance – citing its 17108 3DMark 11 score, its 13789 3DMark Fire Strike score, and its “very high” SteamVR ranking. However, these scores were taken when the backpack was running on two batteries.

Getting the chance to try this out, the VR One’s weight was not an issue when moving around the room with the headset on. However, one thing that might cause an issue will be cable management. But that’s more a problem with virtual reality headsets, not the backpack itself. It didn’t generate that much heat or noise for the few minutes I got to play with it, but it will be interesting to see it in action when used for longer.

The VR One backpack has a starting price of $3599, and is available now.

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