Best VR Headset? VR Headset Comparisons
Choosing the right headset is important when you are looking for the perfect virtual reality set up for your home gaming or virtual office environment. Getting the best VR headset means that you need to consider what your specific needs are.
The best portable VR headset is the Oculus Quest 2, while the Valve Index is currently leading with the best hardware on the market. When working with full motion tracking, the HTC Vive Pro has almost full-body tracking, with the best console VR headset being the PlayStation VR.
You need to consider several things when buying your VR headset, with several sets specifically meant for different budgets and gaming applications. Knowing what is recommended and why will enable you to have the best possible experience with the headset you have.
What Is The Best VR Headset For Each Application?
Now that we know some of the basic headsets you can use, we need to look more specifically at their different applications. There are many things that VR headsets are now used for with limited understanding of their full capability.
Furthermore, when purchasing a headset for a specific application, the most available headsets on the market actually have a lot to offer. It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the right headset for each application, ensuring that you are comfortable with your system. That’s why we’re here.
VR Headsets For Social Games
The best VR headset for social gaming and VR chat would be the Oculus Quest or the HTC Vive. Both of these headsets allow more freedom of movement, with the Quest allowing you to move around without a cable connected to the PC that will limit your mobility.
Social games are usually meant to be played with others, which means that you may be expected to move your body to interact with them. These games require headsets that allow mobility and accurate tracking to recreate interactions that you may have when standing in front of those people.
VR Headset For Virtual Socialising
The world of virtual socialising is radically informed by VR headsets, with many people now opting to create chat rooms and other interactive locations. However, these environments rarely require you to have the best possible headset; instead, something lightweight and affordable options may work better.
For virtual meetings and simpler interactions through controllers only, we recommend systems such as the Samsung HMD Odyssey and the Oculus Quest 2. Both can generally be purchased for under $300 and will run without needing a beefy PC to support the graphics.
VR Headset For Single Player Games
There are some VR headsets optimized for single-player games at home or in a gaming environment. For this, the only answer is the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite or the Valve Index, both of which offer a much more immersive experience than most of their competitors.
These two systems can be set up to track every body movement and ensure that you are playing a game to the best possible quality. However, they usually require quite strong computers to run, which means that you will need to buy more than just the VR headset.
VR Headset For Streaming
When you are streaming, you want a VR headset that looks good and tracks your body properly for your viewers. But it’s important to consider that if your VR headset needs more power, it will negatively impact your stream quality overall and requires a stronger system.
For streaming, we recommend the normal HTC Vive Pro 2 or the Oculus Rift S; these two give a good quality without drawing your computer to a standstill. If you need to stream on a budget, it may be worth looking at the Oculus Quest range, maybe getting a second-hand one from the market.
VR Headset For Console Gaming
When it comes to console gaming, many people are surprised to learn that there are two options to choose from. However, the quality between the two headset options varies greatly as the consoles running them have such a wide range of processing power.
The PlayStation VR headset, or PSVR, is the best console VR headset as Microsoft has not yet released a commercial alternative. However, the Nintendo Labo range has a cardboard VR headset built to work with the Nintendo Switch that can deliver varying levels of performance depending on the game you are playing.
Best All-Purpose VR Headset
The best all-purpose VR headsets are the HTC Vive, the Oculus Quest 2, and the Valve Index. These three systems are easily capable of doing everything you might need and have flexible add-ons that allow you to customize your experience.
We recommend that you start with the HTC Vive line of VR headsets, as they usually allow you to comfortably try motion tracking by buying extra equipment. However, they also work just fine as just the headset and controllers, giving you a clear understanding of every part of the VR world.
Budget VR Headsets
The simple truth is that the best budget VR headsets are always cardboard or phone headsets similar to the Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear. However, it should be noted that these headsets are no longer popular, and many companies are no longer making them.
You will have to buy brands that are not so well known but you can experience the basics of VR headsets in this way. But to play PC games, the HTC Vive or Oculus Quest is required, as most phone VR gear are limited to mobile-only VR games, creating extremely limited experiences.
How To Choose The Best VR Headset For Your Needs?
Now that we know the best headsets for specific use cases, we need to take a look at how to choose the best headset for your needs. It is important to remember that everyone who uses VR has different needs.
With corporations now employing VR to create virtual environments for industry applications, we also need to consider further gamified applications and those who may simply want a more immersive screen versus the full range of motion.
Ultimately it comes down to budget; from the total cost of the headset, any PC requirements, motion tracking, and the controls. If you are only going to sit on your chair with an Xbox controller, then systems that are just headsets will be the most affordable. But if you will be playing games like Beatsaber or Half-Life Alyx while jumping and dancing, then getting something with more motion tracking is important. Often it can be costly to buy tracking sensors one by one compared to some of the larger bundles on the market.
The Computer Requirements
We cannot count the number of times people bought the best VR headsets on the market only to find that their computer is completely incapable of supporting them. You need some of the latest hardware on the market to play the latest and greatest games on the market.
This has always been the second barrier for many people entering the world of VR gaming, as PC capabilities sometimes hold back the headsets. When playing a VR game, we need to consider that the PC has to run two full 4K screens at an extremely high frame rate.
Wireless Or Wired Systems
The Oculus Quest does not provide the best visual fidelity; however, it means that you are completely wireless from any computer system. The Quest can often be run without a computer, making you free to move and do what you want without a worry.
Meanwhile, systems connected by a wire have drastically increased, only requiring one wire to the PC. Wired systems have much better quality, weigh a lot less, and mean that you can play anything that can be converted into a VR world with almost any game when the right settings are applied.
Full Motion Tracking Or Not
The most complicated part of choosing your VR headset, while still not creating a full barrier of entry, is the ability to track what you are doing. VR sets from HTC focus greatly on motion tracking your entire body and space while Oculus has intentionally moved away from these setups.
If you have a lot of space in your gaming room then going with full motion tracking will significantly enhance the immersive experience. When living in a room that you have to share with your bed, couch, TV, and PC, then motion tracking becomes a lot less convenient, and hand tracking becomes the most practical addition.
The Gaming Platforms
Generally speaking, you will be playing VR games through Steam VR as this offers the largest library of games. However, Oculus from Meta has disconnected the Oculus system from Steam, making it much harder to enter the Steam library. This means that you need to consider how connected you already are to certain gaming platforms.
Few people who have not experienced different systems realise this but the screen sizes inside VR headsets are all different. A smaller 4K screen is easier to run than a larger 4K screen, while some smaller screens can only be 1440p rather than full 4K.
This greatly affects how your eyes view the screens as you are extremely close to them, and pixel density starts to play a big factor in your overall experience. If you are bothered by seeing the pixels on a normal High-Definition screen, then you need to consider getting something with more pixel density.
The Room Size
No matter how full your room is or whether it is meant for only VR use, you need to consider its total size, which will affect your decision. If you have a small empty room, it will mean that you cannot install full motion tracking; accidentally walking into a wall is never a fun experience.
Whereas a large room with only one or two things can still work perfectly fine as a VR environment, giving you full range of motion. We recommend that you measure the total available space in any room that will get used as the VR space before you make your final purchase.
Length Of Play Or Stream
The last thing to consider is how long you will be playing games at any given time, as wired systems are the best for longer sessions. Wireless systems, even those that use your phone, can only be used for a short amount of time before needing to be charged with a battery or a full dock.
We have seen many people that only play VR for one to two hours a week spend far too much money on a system that isn’t best suited for their play style while others try to save a buck but attempt to play 4 hours each day on a system that cannot sustain that. This quickly breeds frustration and disappointment in the technology as you are not getting the best possible experience from the systems.
The best VR headsets are the ones that do almost exactly what you need them to do without wasting time or money. We recommend that you look at the entire market before making your purchase, as you may find yourself choosing a VR headset that everyone likes but that you hate.
It is always a great idea to try a few of the headsets in your local markets before getting your own!