Ripping open the Rift
There’s a somewhat depressing trend in today’s mobile gear, and that’s the copious use of glue to hold things together. It’s effective, but it also makes do-it-yourself repair a headache. Unlike the majority of desktop PCs, mobile gadgets just aren’t designed to be user serviceable. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and it appears the Oculus Rift might be one of them.
The experienced disassemblers at iFixIt got their paws on an Oculus Rift headset and did the only logical thing—they promptly gutted the thing knowing full well that they were embarking on a journey in which the $600 headset might not return. Respect.
This wasn’t iFixIt’s first rodeo with a virtual reality headset. Those fearless folks tore down two pre-release versions, so they were anxious to see what’s changed in the final build that’s now shipping to consumers.
“This is definitely the sleekest Rift yet—lightweight, impressively comfortable, and now with earphones built right in for maximum immersion,” iFixIt noted right before performing tech surgery.
Things started off easy enough. There’s a thick foam frame that’s attached with clips and is easily removed. With that out of the way, there’s a single cable from the head-mounted display that needs unplugged.
Removing the adjustable earphones proved easy-cheesy as well—an embedded flat barrel nut is all that secures the speaker arm, while spring contacts connect it to the wires inside the headband.
“We’ve seen our share of expensive, un-repairable, nigh-impossible-to-disassemble earphones, so this is a welcome surprise, especially considering these lil guys are prime damage targets should your headset ‘fall’ to the ground following a rough PvP match,” iFixIt says.
The deeper into the teardown you go, the more interesting things get. Negotiating components also becomes a little more tricky with hidden interior clips and delicate parts.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of parts that comprise the Oculus Rift, and that’s the real challenge. Among the negatives, iFixIt noted an “intricate design and delicate ribbon cables,” which makes it “very difficult to remove the lenses, displays, and motherboard.” It’s also impossible to replace the head strap without cutting the fabric on the headset.
On the plus side, there’s no adhesive holding any of the removable parts together, and cable management is much better than it was before. When all was said and done, the Rift left the operating table with a 7 out of 10 Repairability Score—not bad.