Why should you even spend money on a VR headset? Well, when it comes to entertainment, there’s nothing that even remotely compares to VR. When it comes to immersion, you simply can’t beat VR if you have the right setup with the best VR headset for your needs. Then you can literally feel yourself entering another dimension. It is entirely up to you how you use the portal into the virtual world. Whether you want to watch movies in your personal digital cinema, explore the edge of the known universe with educational apps and games, or hang out with friends in apps like Altspace VR, it’s all possible.
There are currently four main players when it comes to mainstream VR headsets – Oculus, PlayStation, HTC and Valve, which launched its own headset called the Valve Index in late 2019.
Not sure which one is right for you? Do not worry. We have tried them all and can give clear advice for each model. So, without beating around the bush, take a look at our pick of the best VR headset for a wide range of setups and budgets.
The best VR headset for PC: Valve Index
The Valve Index is the next-gen VR headset we’ve been waiting for
+ Widest field of view
+ “Finger tracking” controller
– Requires a good graphics card
– Quite expensive
The Valve Index offers you a great overall package for the PC. It features an ultra-sharp display that runs pretty well even with older GPUs, a larger field of view, a higher refresh rate, and Valve’s finger-tracking controllers that can track the movement of each finger. This is a nice experience, especially with Half Life Alyx.
The Valve Index cuts a fine figure, especially compared to the HTC Vive Classic and the HTC Vive Pro. The HMD is really comfortable to wear and the sound is absolutely terrific. The resolution is specified as 1440 × 1600 RGB per eye and uses LC display technology. However, the “God Rays” are problematic on the lenses, which lead to an unsightly effect of reflections in dark experiences with bright elements.
Setting it up can also be a bit strenuous for laypeople and we recommend reading the instructions for use very carefully or watching a video on YouTube. You also need a powerful gaming PC, which makes VR fun quite expensive overall.
Yes, it’s expensive, but for gamers who want a good, well-rounded, high-level VR experience, the Valve Index is a great choice.
The best standalone VR headset: Oculus Quest 2
An all-in-one virtual reality system
+ Excellent VR for a standalone device
– Requires a Facebook account
– Battery life
With the Oculus Quest 2, Meta is the market leader in VR and has managed to publish a comparatively inexpensive VR headset. If you’re not willing to buy a PC or console for a VR experience, then you’ll have a hard time getting past the Oculus Quest 2.
The setup in particular is very easy and suitable for beginners in VR. No PC, no console and no cable (except for charging) makes the device a totally promising headset. With this device, Meta (or Facebook) has brought what is probably the most mass-market VR headset to the market. With a resolution of 1,832 x 1,920 pixels per eye, a very sharp image is ensured here. The fly screen effect is not completely gone, but you have to look closely to see it.
Many big VR titles are released exclusively for the Oculus Quest 2 and the few PCVR-only games can be streamed to the device via Link/AirLink. Here you need the potent gaming PC again.
A really big shortcoming is the Facebook login requirement. So you cannot use Quest 2 without a working Facebook account. Anyone who has no problem with forwarding their data to the meta group, which is then mainly used for advertising purposes, cannot avoid the Oculus Quest 2.
Best VR for Console Gamers: PlayStation VR
Virtual reality has made it to consoles and it’s stunning
+ Good selection of games
– Let quite a bit of light through
– Patchy tracking of motion controllers
Considering the huge difference in performance between PS4 and PC, the PlayStation VR headset is a surprisingly powerful VR headset. Its refresh rate is still good.
Thanks to the support from Sony, the collection of cool VR games is also quite impressive. There were already dozens of games available when it was launched and now you can keep busy in the Playstation Store for a long time.
Sony has addressed one of our biggest objections to the PlayStation VR – that the accessories are sold separately – by offering a variety of packs and bundles with devices like the PlayStation Camera. The PlayStation Move controllers are included in some bundles, but not all.
It may not be the best VR headset out there, but the PSVR is a great deal, and PS4 owners in particular will find that it’s the best for them right now. And if you’re thinking about staying true to PlayStation in the next generation, then you’ll be happy to know that PS5 will also support PSVR. The PSVR 2 is also coming next year!
PC, second place: HP Reverb G2
Rather Oculus Rift 1.5 as a real successor
+ No external tracking stations
+ Great sound
+ Good picture
Even if many people had problems with incompatibilities with certain mainboards and the new Nvidia GPUs at the beginning, these problems have now been resolved. So you can definitely say that HP reacts to its community and implements their criticism.
The HP Reverb G2 currently offers one of the best images that can be seen in virtual reality. In a direct comparison with the Quest 2 or the Valve Index, the G2 clearly has the better resolution and stronger contrasts. Just like the Index, the sound will knock your socks off. This is because there was a collaboration with Valve.
Unfortunately, the headset is not free from flaws. You have to make compromises with the controllers, which do not work quite as precisely as the index or quest controllers. The general tracking also does a worse job than the competition in some places. This is also the reason why this headset only ranks #2 in PC VR. If a G3 comes onto the market in the foreseeable future and HP gets the points of criticism mentioned under control, then we will have to list a new 1st place here.
Which VR Headset Should You Buy?
Price and platform will be the two most important factors influencing your decision – for console gamers there’s only the PlayStation VR, and if you want a standalone headset you’re left with the Oculus Quest 2.
Currently the top four out there – the Valve Index and the HP Reverb G2 are Oculus Quest 2 and PlayStation VR, but there are also less expensive options if you want to try VR before you spend your month’s salary.
Each headset has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and not knowing what to do could be a costly mistake for you. But that’s exactly why we wrote this guide.