VR was pretty much seen as a joke for the longest time. Every time a manufacturer attempted to release a VR product, the product was shot down with criticism. The older headsets caused headaches, motion sickness, and discomfort. That’s not the case anymore.
Virtual reality has improved tremendously over the last decade, and it’s actually enjoyable. It allows you to put yourself inside of your favorite games, and it can bring the movie theater experience to the comfort of your own couch. It’s one of the finest luxuries in today’s digital world.
However, it’s still a confusing form of technology. It’s just now leaving its baby phase, and there are a lot of people out there who don’t know much about it. That’s why we’ve put tons of work into finding the best VR headset models available, and we’ve put together a guide that will make it a lot easier for you to figure out what all the VR fuss is about. First, we’ll go over the best VR systems you can get your hands on.
- View the Best VR Headsets, Below.
- Best VR Headsets Buyer’s Guide
View the Best VR Headsets, Below.
1. Oculus Rift + Touch System
The Oculus Rift was one of the first products that showed off how great VR can actually be. In some ways, it helped start the VR craze in the first place. So, it's only natural that it find its place on our list.
This iteration of the Rift features latency reducing technology, touch controls, high-end graphical capabilities, and it's powered by your PC. This is definitely one of the higher quality models on our list.
The Oculus line of products was made with gaming in mind. The Rift isn't some glorified video machine. That comes with a couple of drawbacks, though. If you don't have a decent computer, you won't be able to use it. The Rift is packing some serious technological power, and it requires a computer with a decent graphics card and processor. If you do have a decent computer, you can enjoy the best VR headset for PC, and you'll open up an unlimited amount of possibilities.
As an added note, the Rift comes with a touch controller. However, you can also connect an Xbox controller to control your games. While this isn't a Microsoft VR headset, it's the closest you're going to get to a Microsoft gaming experience in VR.
2. HTC VIVE Pro
The HTC Vive Pro is one of the most advanced VR systems on this list, and it has a price to match the technology used in it. It comes in at a little under $800 dollars, and it provides more features than any other headset on this list.
It has removable high-definition headphones. So, you don't have to use your own headset. However, it does have a standard audio jack. If you have a headset that you'd prefer to use with it, you can use it.
It has a resolution of 2880x1600 pixels to provide a remarkable level of visual detail to your favorite shows and movies. It also utilizes some of the most advanced sensors around to track your movements with an unbelievable amount of precision. The sensors can also pick up your surroundings in a 20x20' environment.
When you take into account its Steam compatibility, enhanced features, and its built-in VivePort compatibility, this is one of the best headsets around. It isn't cheap, though. This is definitely something for more advanced users.
3. Oculus Go Standalone Headset
We can't review VR headsets without looking at a few of the Oculus models. The brand has become one of the most dominant names in virtual reality. This particular model is a standalone unit like the Mirage Solo that we reviewed earlier. That means that you won't need any computers, phones, or consoles to run it.
As with all Oculus products, the Oculus Go is in a league of its own. The display is a 2560x1440 WQHD LCD screen, and it boasts a 74Hz refresh rate. The display provides stunning graphical clarity, and the refresh rate means that you won't experience any motion sickness while using it. Since motion sickness is a big problem with VR, that enhanced refresh rate is blessing.
The Oculus Go doesn't come with any pre-loaded content, but the Oculus app has tons of TV shows, movies, and games to choose from. It's also compatible with YouTube and most streaming services.
This is great for casual users, but more advanced VR enthusiasts will benefit more from the PC version. It's just more powerful, and there are a lot more games that you can play on the PC version.
4. HTC VIVE Virtual Reality System
The VIVE is built from the ground up for Steam users. It connects to the Steam app to allow access to thousands of VR games that are designed for the platform, and it benefits from all of Steam's most popular features. That makes it the best Steam VR headset available. Other models will work with Steam, but they aren't built for it.
The Vive is also one of the most advanced VR headsets available. It's capable of tracking the user's movements by the millimeter. That's more precise than the vast majority of VR headsets. It also features 360 degree tracking to ensure that none of the user's movements are missed.
The display is also fairly impressive for such a small device. The OLED screen is capable of displaying images in 1920x1080 resolution. There are also 3000 pixels per inch. That's more than double the amount of last year's best VR displays.
The only real drawback that the HTC VR headset has is its complexity. With the PSVR headset, users know that the headset will work with their PS4. They just have to plug it in and play. The Vive relies on a computer for most of its processing power, and that means that every user will have a vastly different experience due to how many different computer variations there are.
5. Sony PlayStation VR
Sony was one of the first companies to hop on the virtual reality bandwagon, and that allowed them to perfect their own system long before the competition did. The Playstation VR is one of the most user-friendly virtual reality peripherals on the market. It doesn't require any complex calibration. It's a simply plug-and-play design, and it still offers all of the functionality that people expect from a high-end VR headset.
The OLED display is capable of rendering VR games in 1080p, and it has a maximum field of view of 110 degrees. The displays is also a generous 5.7 inches in width. The quality of the display makes it a lot easier to play some of the more advanced VR games on the market. The display is accompanied by a 3D sound system that puts surround sound to shame. This makes the overall VR experience a lot more immersive.
The overall quality of this headset is astounding, but it's a PS4 VR headset. That means that it's basically a paperweight for anyone that doesn't own a PS4.
6. Samsung Gear VR 2017
This Samsung VR headset isn't as advanced as our other options, but it's probably the best cheap VR headset that you can get. It doesn't rely on any complex technology to work. You just slide your favorite Samsung smartphone into the headset, connect the remote, and enjoy virtual reality content.
That's also one of its biggest drawbacks. It doesn't have a dedicated screen, processor, or any other features that make it better than the phone you power it with. In fact, the only real tech inside of this thing are the sensors that keep you from walking into walls. The headset just works as a housing for your phone. That doesn't mean that it's sub-par. It's built extremely well, and it doesn't cost a fortune. However, it's limited to playing mobile content, and all of its technical specs are dependent on which phone you put in it.
7. Google Daydream View
This is another VR headset that uses your phone to do most of the heavy lifting. Unlike the Samsung VR, this Google VR headset has a much higher compatibility rating. It will work with pretty much any phone that can download the Daydream app. It also tends to be more comfortable for people who wear glasses. Considering that, that's one of the major complaints that crop up in the VR world, glasses wearers should feel pretty excited about that.
However, it has the same drawbacks as the Samsung VR. It's basically a fancy case for your phone. You'll be limited to mobile content, and the resolution, audio, and other technical specs are all dependent on which phone you put in it.
8. Lenovo Standalone VR Headset
So far, we've only reviewed headsets that need an external system to work. Now, we're going to review our first standalone headset. Nothing is required to use this headset. Once it's charged, you can simply turn it on, open up Google Daydream, and start experiencing some of the best VR content available. It works with YouTube, Netflix, mobile games, movies, and anything else that you can access via a mobile phone. It uses the same technology as your average smartphone. So, you shouldn't have any problems adjusting to it. In addition, this is the first 4K VR headset that we've reviewed.
The only real drawback to this unit is its inability to work with PC or consoles. The standalone design is convenient, but it means that some of the best VR experiences aren't available on it. That mostly affects people that are into gaming, though. If you just want to watch movies, YouTube, and TV shows, this is perfect for you.
9. Pansonite Vr Headset
This Pansonite headset provides theater-quality video experiences, and it doesn't cost an outrageous amount. You probably won't want to play a lot of games with it, but it can make your favorite movies and TV shows more enjoyable.
The Pansonite doesn't have a whole lot going on inside of it. It's another headset that enhances your phone. However, it does that very well. It has knobs that allow you to fine tune your camera placement, and it's designed to be comfortable. The pads are more than enough to keep your nose and forehead from hurting, and the band keeps the headset firmly planted on your head. It's also compatible with more phones than any of the other phone-based option we reviewed. You can use iPhones, Androids, and Google Daydream enabled phones with this headset. It's not something that serious VR gaming enthusiasts will enjoy, but it's great for simply sliding your phone in to enjoy a movie.
10. HP Mixed Reality Headset
The Mixed Reality by HP is similar to the Oculus Rift. It packs a lot of features into its sleek case, but it requires a decent computer to run, too. In fact, this HP VR system has more requirements than the Oculus VR headset. A lot of the features are the same, too.
It packs enough graphical power to run AAA titles that have VR support, it doesn't have any latency issues, and it can take advantage of the immense power that high-end gaming computers have. In addition, it's a little less expensive than the Oculus Rift. It's not the a cheap VR headset, and it's not the best VR headset, but it's a great mid-range option. With its large amount of graphical power and compatibility with AAA games, this can be a great starter headset for serious VR enthusiasts.
Best VR Headsets Buyer’s Guide
When you go to buy a VR system, it’s not as easy as simply grabbing whatever you can find and plugging it in. Different systems require different things. If you go with a high-end gaming headset, you’ll have to have an equally high-end computer to run it. If you pick a simple phone-based headset, you’ll have to have a compatible phone.
That’s what this guide is going to cover. You need to know what the different types of headsets are, and you’ll need to know what you need to run them. So, let’s get started.
The type of headset that you buy is going to directly affect what you can do with it. The many different models of VR systems can be broken down into four types.
This is the easiest way to get started in VR. Some of the headsets are a little lackluster, but the vast majority of them will enhance your phone. All you have to do is slide your phone in, connect a controller, and enjoy the content that you love. You won’t do a lot of fancy gaming on these, but they’re great for experiencing movies in a whole new way.
We only reviewed one system that was built for a gaming console. That was the PSVR system. The major console manufacturers are mostly passing on creating their own VR headsets, but most of them will work with the higher-end third party headsets. Compatibility is the main thing that you have to look at with these. You can’t buy a PSVR system for your XBox.
These tend to be the finest headsets available. They’re incredibly powerful, and they’re designed to enhance your gaming experience in ways that you would have never expected. However, they’re expensive. Unless you have a lot of expendable income, these can easily cost you a month’s pay. That’s not including the fancy gaming computer that you’ll have to buy to run them. These are definitely aimed at serious gaming enthusiasts.
The standalone systems don’t require anything besides the headset. They have all of the tech that they require built right into the headset. These can be somewhat expensive, but they’re extremely convenient for casual users. There aren’t a lot of great games available for these, but they make it really easy to enjoy your favorite YouTube channels, streaming sites, and movies. If you just want an easy way to enjoy your favorite media, these are your best option.
How Much Room Do You Have?
This is important. You have to know how much room you have to use your VR system. Most of the expensive models are built to work while you’re seated, but some of the cheaper headsets can require as much as a 20×20′ square of room. Otherwise, you’ll end up running into every wall around you. If you’re just going to use your VR system for movies and streaming, you don’t have to worry about this. You will need to find a headset that lets you sit down, or one that can keep you from running into walls, if you have a small play area.
It’s a little nonsensical to spend $800 on a headset that you have no idea how to use. These aren’t products that you want to buy on impulse alone. If you’re not very experienced with VR, you should try it out with one of the less expensive options. You won’t be able to game much, but a phone-based headset will work great for getting you familiar with the basics. You can also look at Google Cardboard. They’re a bit tacky looking, and you have to build them yourself, but they’re cardboard VR headsets that don’t cost more than a few bucks.
If you’ve already used VR, or if you know that you’ll use your headset for hardcore gaming, you can go ahead and buy an expensive headset. In fact, you’ll have to if you want to play your favorite AAA titles. This entire section is mainly our attempt to tell you to use common sense when you’re buying a headset. If you have no idea what VR is, but you want that expensive Oculus Rift to watch Disney movies on, go ahead and buy it.
Possible Peripherals For Gaming
You might want to use your VR system as a way to enhance your entertainment system as a whole. In that case, you’ll have to make sure that it’s compatible with the gear that you have.
For instance, if you want to use your VR system to enhance your gaming experience, you’ll still want a gaming monitor. If you don’t buy a headset that is compatible with external monitors, you’ll be stuck with the display in the headset.
Controllers are another type of peripheral that you need to consider. If you’re gaming, you probably don’t want touch controls. They’re great for flipping through your video library, browsing the web, and scrolling through YouTube comments, but they suck for gaming. So, you need to make sure that your headset is compatible with some sort of proper gaming controller.
Gaming headsets are some of the most important peripherals a gamer can have. If you buy something that doesn’t allow you to plug in your favorite headset, you’ll be stuck with whatever audio system the manufacturer shoved into the VR headset. That’s fine for casual players and cinema lovers, but a gamer gets attached to their headset. If that applies to you, then you’ll want to ensure that your VR system has an audio jack.
Well, we’ve reached the end of our guide. By now, you’ve seen what the best VR systems are, and you’ve learned what to consider before buying a headset. All of the VR systems on this list are of the highest-quality, but we feel that a few of them stand out, and they’re the best options for certain types of people.
The Mirage Solo is the best standalone option for people who simply want to enjoy movies, TV shows, and other media. It doesn’t require any other systems, and it’s designed to feel like a theater.
The Oculus Rift is the best gaming VR system available, and you’ll have a hard time debating that opinion. It’s simply the most powerful headset available. If you’re a gamer, you’ll want to go with the Rift.
Finally, people who are new to VR will probably enjoy the Google Daydream the most. It’s compatible with a large variety of phones, it’s comfortable, and it’s inexpensive. It’s the best way for a non-gamer to get into VR.