Half-Life: Alyx demands more than a VR headset – it also needs 12GB RAM (minimum)

(Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Half-Life: Alyx was recently revealed by Valve, but as well as requiring a VR headset, the minimum system requirements may also mean that some gamers have to upgrade their PC to play – particularly when it comes to RAM.

The official specs for Half-Life: Alyx are detailed on the game’s product page on Steam, and call for a minimum of 12GB of system memory. Remember, this is the minimum spec, not recommended...

Minimum PC system requirements

  • OS: Windows 10
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-7500 / AMD Ryzen 5 1600
  • RAM: 12GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD RX 580 - 6GB VRAM

As The Verge, which highlighted the game specs, points out, if we look at the Steam hardware survey as an indication of what the average PC gamer is running with these days, only 45% actually have 12GB of RAM or more in their PC. And only 35% have the requisite graphics card or better…

So on the face of it, it seems like a lot of people may be reaching for PC upgrades on top of the cost of a VR headset, if they don’t already own the latter. Making Half-Life: Alyx one potentially expensive game…

Digging deeper

However, there’s plenty more to consider when chewing over this one. For starters, the Steam survey may well include a whole load of secondary systems and laptops (looking at drive space, only 51% of those surveyed have 1TB or more – so draw your own conclusions from that about who runs a contemporary desktop PC with less than 1TB of storage on-board).

And at any rate, on the GPU front, asking for a GTX 1060 or RX 580 isn’t exactly demanding the world on the spec front, and many of those serious about their gaming – certainly those serious enough to be into VR and fork out for a headset as well – will likely have a better graphics card than this.

The GTX 1060 is, for example, the recommended requirement (although not minimum) in terms of the GPU for Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

The 12GB of memory requirement is the more eyebrow-raising element here, though, as while the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 – and a number of other games of late – have asked for this as a recommended spec, they haven’t demanded it as a minimum.

To our knowledge, very few games have actually demanded more than 8GB as a minimum, with only outliers such as Fade to Silence needing 12GB in this respect. Even Control only asks for 8GB (albeit 16GB recommended – the difference between recommending, and demanding as a minimum, though, is obviously a big one).

The good news concerning system memory is that if you do need to upgrade, RAM prices are cheap right now (thanks to an ongoing oversupply issue). And it’s probably about time you looked at future-proofing anyway, if recent trends in system requirements are anything to go by, for those still running with 8GB. Plus with Black Friday deals coming up, next week could be an ideal time to pull the trigger…

That said, it still won’t make the cost of Half-Life: Alyx any easier to stomach if you’re needing to make component upgrades on top of forking out for a VR headset. All of which puts a bit of extra weight on the shoulders of this game, and it’s already carrying a hefty amount, certainly in terms of expectations – in fact, we’ve argued that the importance of Alyx can’t be understated in terms of the future of VR gaming.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).