CPU & Motherboard
Valve might only be requiring a Core i5-7500 or Ryzen 5 1600 processor, but what if you wanted to buy a new rig to play it on? Below, I've got a few different CPU/motherboard configurations to recommend. I'm going to presume we're only looking at the CPU and motherboard, while estimating a $200 budget on a kit of 16GB of DDR4 memory.
You'll obviously need an SSD or HDD, case and PSU, and finally an operating system. I'm going to take care of the core components in the CPU, motherboard, RAM, and graphics card. If you would like to see a full recommended list of hardware for Half-Life: Alyx, let me know in the comments and I'll spend the time speccing out a few different PCs.
For now... here's what I would go with.:
Intel Core i9-9900K
The most brute force mainstream gaming CPU would be the Intel Core i9-9900K, offering up 8 cores and 16 threads of CPU power at up to 5GHz. You won't have any issues with this CPU and it would be one of the better ones to not bottleneck your GPU, period -- but it's not the only option. I would also heavily suggest checking out AMD's new third-gen Ryzen 7 3700X processor and getting yourself a shiny new X570/PCIe 4.0-capable chipset.
The kicker? Intel's Core i9-9900K is going to cost you $500+ making the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X all that more attractive.
Going with the 9900K you'll need a Z370/Z390 motherboard, with the GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO WIFI costing around $180. This would see a total cost of $750 or so.
- Intel Core i9-9900K processor - $499 (Buy from Amazon)
- GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO WIFI motherboard - $180 (Buy from Amazon)
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
AMD's new third-gen Ryzen 7 3700X also offers up 8 cores and 16 threads, but the main star here is the X570 chipset. Pair it up with a kick ass X570 motherboard and a super-fast PCIe 4.0 SSD and you'll be loading into Half-Life: Alyx and playing it faster than you probably put the VR headset onto your head.
You can grab the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X for $290 from Amazon.
If you go the route of AMD and their Ryzen 7 3700X, you'll want to get yourself something like the GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Elite which at the time of writing cost $200. This is a steal: an 8-core / 16 thread CPU and next-gen X570 motherboard for less than $500 -- the cost of Intel's Core i9-9900K processor, on its own.
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor - $289 (Buy from Amazon)
- GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Elite motherboard - $199 (Buy from Amazon)
RAM & Storage
As for RAM, I would recommend getting yourself 16GB (if you haven't already, that is). You can grab 16GB kits from the Corsair Vengeance LPX series for around $75-$80, while 32GB kits from Corsair will ramp up to around $160.
If you wanted some RGB lighting on your RAM you could pick up some Corsair Vegeance RGB Pro RAM in a 16GB kit for $90, so we're looking at a $10 premium or so for RGB. You won't see it when you're playing Half-Life: Alyx because you'll have a VR headset on, but when it's off it'll look super-awesome in your rig.
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB - $80 (Buy from Amazon)
- Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 16GB - $90 (Buy from Amazon)
When it comes to storage I will always recommend an SSD for your operating system (in this case Windows 10) and your games. You have a couple of choices here, between a regular 2.5-inch SSD (larger volume, slower speeds) and a super-fast NVMe M.2 SSD but they're more expensive and in smaller volumes.
I would recommend something like the Samsung 970 EVO SSD which comes in 500GB and 1TB sizes for $90 to $170 or so, a great price for some super-fast M.2 action.
- Samsung 970 EVO SSD - 500GB - $88 (Buy from Amazon)
- Samsung 970 EVO SSD - 1TB - $170 (Buy from Amazon)
But if you opted in for the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X + X570 motherboard, then you'll have PCIe 4.0 and will want to take advantage of those ridiculous speeds offered by the PCIe 4.0 standard. In this case, Corsair has its own MP600 Force Series Gen4 SSDs in multiple sizes for the very best in Half-Life: Alyx loading times.
- Corsair MP600 Force Series Gen4 - 500GB - $140 (Buy from Amazon)
- Corsair MP600 Force Series Gen4 - 1TB - $215 (Buy from Amazon)
- Corsair MP600 Force Series Gen4 - 2TB - $424 (Buy from Amazon)
Corsair has some huge speeds on its MP600 Force Series Gen4 SSDs where they offer 5GB/sec reads (yes, 5 gigabytes per second) and up to 4.2GB/sec writes. You will be loading into City 17 in no time, Alyx.