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If you’ve been holding out for VR hardware to mature, you chose wisely. Headsets have come a long way since the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive six years ago. The Meta Quest 3 has just come out, and it’s the best standalone headset we’ve ever seen. And if you’re looking for a more immersive experience, high-end PC headsets are getting cheaper and the PS VR2 is a solid option for console gamers. The VR market is in a state of flux as we await Apple’s Vision Pro, but if you’re still hankering for some virtual action, we’ve collected some of the best options that we've tested and reviewed below.
I tend to judge them on a few basic criteria: Ergonomics, immersion and controls. It's not that hard to shove a mobile display into a plastic headset and strap some cheap elastic headbands onto it. But it takes skill to craft something that's well balanced and doesn't feel uncomfortable after 30 minutes.
Immersion, meanwhile, comes from having high resolution screens with fast refresh rates, so everything looks sharp and smooth. Field of view is also a major element, as it describes how well VR screens can cover what you see. Having a narrow field of view makes it feel like you’re looking through a pair of binoculars, and limits your sense of “presence.” But a wide field of view can make it seem like you’re actually flying over the globe in Google Earth.
And when it comes to controllers, the best options fit naturally in your hands and offer accurate tracking. The industry has basically adopted the design of Meta’s excellent touch controllers, but we're also seeing intriguing leaps forward like Valve's finger tracking gamepads.
The long-awaited follow-up to the Quest 2 is an upgrade in every respect: It’s more comfortable to wear, it has higher quality screens and it has full-color mixed reality cameras, allowing you to see the real world alongside virtual elements. While it’s more expensive at $500, it’s also a far more capable headset than the Quest 2, with hardware and optics that will keep you happily immersed in VR for years.
The Quest 3 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip, which Meta says has double the graphics power of the Quest 2. That additional power is noticeable in games like Red Matter 2, which feature updated textures that deliver an experience closer to PC VR. The Quest 3’s new displays run at 2,064 by 2,208 pixels per eye, offering an even better experience than the PlayStation VR2. Its mixed reality cameras also let you easily see the real world, in case you need to quickly answer a text or Slack message. And they enable games that can be built around your room.
What makes the Quest 3 interesting is that it offers more than just solid VR: It also gives you a glimpse at what a mixed reality future could be. While it’s not as sharp or capable as Apple’s Vision Pro, that’s understandable. And just like previous Quest headsets, you can also plug it into a gaming PC for higher quality VR experiences.
Over years since its release, the Meta Quest 2 remains the best budget VR option for the vast majority of consumers. It's completely cordless, and it's comfortable to wear for long sessions. And now that it’s back down to its $299 launch price, it remains the best way to jump into VR without spending a ton of money.
Here’s what’s still good, though: there's a huge library of titles that you can experience anywhere, and it's bundled with Meta’s great motion controllers. You can also connect the Quest 2 to a gaming PC to stream more complex VR experiences.
The Quest 2 features fast-switching LCDs with a resolution 1832x1920 per eye,t It also has a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, which is impressive for something running entirely on mobile hardware. The Quest 2's field of view isn't the best — it's been measured at just around 90 degrees — but it's still enough to enjoy most VR experiences. You can also use different face pads to increase its field of view a bit. And if you want an even more comfortable fit, you can snag the Elite headstrap for $49 (or $129 with a built-in battery and case).
The Quest 2 may not offer the best VR experience, but it's certainly the most accessible headset on the market.
The PS VR2 is one of the best headset we’ve tested. It offers dual 2K OLED HDR screens, effectively giving you 4K quality. It’s one of the most comfortable headsets around. And it has some genuinely refreshing new features, like eye tracking and headset haptics. (Yes, it can literally rock your noggin.) Best of all, the PS VR2 delivers high-quality virtual reality without the need for a $1,000+ gaming PC – all you need is a PlayStation 5.
Now, our recommendation comes with a few caveats. At $550, the PS VR2 is more expensive than the PS5 itself. And it’s unclear how quickly its game library will fill up. The initial run has only a few exclusives, like Horizon VR and Gran Turismo 7, and we haven’t seen many new titles since then. But it’s still the easiest way to experience high-end VR, and it’s a major upgrade over the original PS VR.
If you don't care about wireless VR, and you want to invest a bit more in a high-quality PC headset, HP's $599 Reverb G2 is meant for you. It was developed in cooperation with Valve and has some of the best features from the pricier Index headset, like near-field speakers. The Reverb G2 also has sharp screens, offering 2,160 by 2,160 pixels per eye, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a relatively wide 114-degree field of view.
It's the first Windows Mixed Reality headset to include four sensors, which helps to ensure more accurate VR tracking, especially during fast-paced games. I also have to give HP credit for making a headset that’s extremely comfortable, thanks to its luxurious cushioning around the eye-piece and rear strap.
The Reverb G2's motion controllers aren't my favorite, but they're a big step up from HP's previous model. You could always upgrade it to use Valve's finger-tracking controllers, but that involves snagging SteamVR sensors and a lot more setup. Still, it's nice to have the upgrade path available.
Valve's Index kit remains one of the best high-end VR solutions on the market. For $999 you get the Index headset, Valve's finger tracking controllers and two SteamVR base stations. While we've seen higher-resolution headsets arrive in the last two years, it's still a very solid option, with a 1,440 by 1,600 pixel resolution, an eye-watering 144Hz refresh rate and a massive 130-degree field of view. I'd gladly lose a few pixels for the Index’s smoother and more expansive screen, which are still far beyond most other consumer headsets.
As a SteamVR product, the Index requires installing two sensors at opposite corners of your room. And of course, it's wired to your PC. But that clunkiness is worth it for the higher refresh rate and more accurate tracking. Sure, it's not as easy to use as the Quest 2, but at this price range, we assume you'll suffer a bit of inconvenience to get a truly high-quality VR experience.
Valve's finger tracking controllers are fantastic as well, with a convenient strap that locks them onto your hands. They make playing Half-Life: Alyx feel like a dream. It's unfortunate that other VR games haven't fully taken advantage of the finger tracking though.
Essentially an upgrade for the Index, the Beyond is a unique spin on a VR headset from Bigscreen, the developer of a popular app for watching video in VR. It looks more like an oversized pair of goggles than a massive VR headset. The $999 Beyond is the lightest VR option we’ve ever seen (it weighs a tad more than a deck of playing cards), and its Micro-OLED screens are sharp and offer near-perfect contrast. Unlike LCD screens, black can look genuinely black with the Beyond.
The downside, though, is that the Bigscreen Beyond is expensive. It’s $999 on its own if you’re just upgrading a Valve Index setup. If you’re starting from scratch, though, you’ll also need to buy two Steam VR base stations and a pair of Index controllers. That adds up to a whopping $1,578.
The Bigscreen Beyond also requires a custom face cushion, which is built from a 3D facescan when you place your order. Unfortunately, that makes it harder to share than other headsets. There’s also no room for glasses, since it’s so slim. You can buy prescription lens inserts from Bigscreen for an additional fee. And of course, you’ll have to live with a cable tethered to your PC, there’s none of the freedom of the cordless Meta Quest headsets.
For all of its complexity, though, the Bigscreen Beyond delivers the most immersive PC VR experience I’ve ever seen. Since it’s so light, you can easily wear it for hours. Together with its glorious screens, it’s the best option for VR enthusiasts who don’t mind dealing with cost and complexity for true immersion.
At the most basic level, a VR headset is simply a high quality screen that you’re holding up to your face. For a wired headset, the actual work of rendering a game is done on either a PC or game console. For completely wireless devices, like the Meta Quest 3, that work is handled right on the headset. They rely on either external sensors, or sensors built into the headsets, to map your physical space. While you can use a traditional gamepad or keyboard and mouse in VR, they typically use motion tracking controllers to immerse you in their 3D environments.
What VR headset is best for full body tracking?
While we’re still waiting for a truly great haptic VR bodysuit to arrive, you can still achieve accurate body tracking with most Steam VR-compatible PC headsets. The Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro 2 both rely on room-tracking sensors that can map your body more effectively than the built-in sensors on competitors. You can also add HTC Vive Trackers to wrist and leg straps, as well as belts, for even better coverage. The Meta Quest 3 doesn’t have any easy body tracking solutions, but you can add Vive trackers when it’s plugged into your PC to mimic a Steam VR headset.
Only a few experiences, like VRChat, take advantage of full body tracking at the moment. Currently there aren’t any body tracking solutions for the PlayStation VR and VR2, but we’re intrigued by the company’s Mocopi body trackers, which were really announced in Japan.
What VR headsets are better than Oculus?
Oculus is the previous name for Meta’s VR hardware. Currently, Meta only supports the Quest 3, Quest 2 and Quest Pro, all of which are wireless headsets. As we explain above, PC VR headsets can generally achieve better quality virtual reality, since they rely on more powerful graphics hardware.
What VR headsets work with Xbox?
Currently, Microsoft’s Xbox consoles don’t support any VR headsets.
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