VR Headsets – Which is best for you?

VR Headset - Which is best for you?

With the recent release of Valve’s long-awaited next entry in the Half-Life series, Half-Life: Alyx, the VR industry has been booming. Couple this in with the recent pandemic we’re in and loads of people are looking to buy a VR headset. Unfortunately, the VR market can be a confusing one with all the headsets. Luckily, we’re here to help you pick out the perfect one for you! The options range from the entry-level Oculus devices at 400$ all the way up to the Vive Pro Eye at 1,439€, and we’re here to cover (almost) all of them.

Common VR Terminology

Before we start, here are a couple of terms to understand.

  • Refresh Rate – The refresh rate is how many times the screen refreshes in a second. It is measured in Hz which stands for hertz. If your FPS is higher than your refresh rate, you will observe no difference versus if it was exactly your refresh rate. The more hertz, the smoother the image can reach.
  • Field Of View – The field of view is how wide of an area you can see. Abbreviated FoV, it is measured in degrees (°), and the FoV of the human eyes is 150 vertical, 210 horizontal.
  • (AM)OLED – An (AM)OLED screen is a screen that fully turns off the black pixels, rather than emitting a dark colour in place. This looks much better than regular screens (LED) and helps with the immersiveness.
  • Base Stations – These are rotating lasers that must be set up to see your controllers and set boundaries.
    • Inside Out tracking – Tracking your controllers and setting boundaries with built-in cameras rather than base stations.
  • Screen resolution – This is the number of pixels the screen can show. It is referred to as [wdith]x[height]. A video of 1080p would require a screen resolution of 1920*1280 to play at a standard aspect ratio.
  • VR Ready PC – A VR Ready PC (or laptop) is one that meets the minimum specifications. This varies by headset but is typically defined as a GTX 1060/RX 480 GPU + an i5-4590/Ryzen 5 1500X CPU or equivalent. Moreover, you need at minimum 8GB of RAM, and some free I/O ports which should not be a problem.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s hop into the actual information.

Oculus Quest

Oculus Quest + Oculus Touch controllers
Oculus Quest + Oculus Touch controllers
  • Can be used completely wirelessly
    • Alternatively, for apps/games not on the Oculus Quest, you can plug it into your computer with an optional cable
  • OLED screen, 95 degrees FoV, 72Hz, 1440×1600 per eye
  • 400 USD, cheapest full VR experience
  • Inside-out tracking, does not require base stations

If you’re just getting into VR, or do not have a powerful enough computer to run VR, this is a good place to start as it works perfectly fine without being connected to anything except the controllers. This allows for freedom that is especially appreciated in games such as Beat Saber or SUPERHOT where not getting tangled into your wires is hard to do otherwise. Another aspect that adds to the imersiveness is the fact that the screen is OLED. Additionally, it is the cheapest VR set, even without factoring in the price for a PC! The controllers that the Quest uses are the same Touch controllers as the Rift S, which are great, as long as they don’t break along the seam. In that case, however, Oculus support typically provides a free replacement.

Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S + Controllers
Oculus Rift S + Controllers
  • Requires a VR Ready PC
  • LED, 95 degrees FoV, 80Hz, 1280×1440 per eye
  • 400 USD
  • Inside-out tracking, does not require base stations

While this VR headset is 8 hertz smoother than the Oculus Quest, it has nothing else going for it. It has a lower resolution, an LED screen, and requires a VR Ready PC. Even if you purely want to play PC VR games, getting a Quest and an Anker USB 3 USB C cable would be slightly more expensive but better than a Rift S, due to the better screen and ability to use it standalone.

HTC Vive

HTC Vive Headset
HTC Vive Headset
  • Requires a VR Ready PC
  • OLED, 110 degrees FoV, 90Hz, 1080×1200 per eye
  • 599 EUR
  • Requires base stations

The basic HTC Vive shines both in its FOV and refresh rate. If you have a PC that can push this, and the cash, the Vive is a good headset for you. However, one must ask themselves whether the approximately 150 extra euros is worth the 10/18 extra hertz and 15 extra degrees of FoV versus the Rift S and Quest. Additionally, the controllers on the Vive aren’t the most loved, however, I have no experience with them. I will not be going over the other HTC headsets as they all retail for a similar price to the Index which I believe to be better.


PSVR + PS Camera + PS Move controllers
PSVR + PS Camera + PS Move controllers
  • OLED, 100 degrees FoV, 90-120Hz, 960×1080 per eye w/RGB sub-pixels
    • The hertz varies as the PSVR has 3 modes of operation
      • The first mode is the game natively running at 90fps
      • The second mode is the game natively running at 120fps
      • The third, and most common mode, is where the game runs at 60fps, but an additional 60 frames are generated by warping the last frame to the reflect the positional change done since then to run the game at a perceived 120fps.
    • RGB sub-pixels make the perceived resolution higher.
  • Requires the Playstation Camera to track controllers
  • It’s almost always sold in a bundle. Two standouts are:
    • 290 USD for 5 games + a PS Camera + PSVR
    • 250 USD for 1 game + a PS Camera
  • Does not come with PS Move controllers, which are required for some games such as Beat Saber
  • Requires a Playstation 4 to play. However, there are unofficial ways to get it working on PC.

If you have a Playstation, this is the VR for you. It’s the cheapest VR if you’ve already got a system to run it with (PC/Playstation). It also has a praised screen due to the perceived high refresh rate. The bundles especially make PSVR a good deal as you get many games right away, unlike the other VR systems which generally do not come with any games (with the exception of Vive systems coming with Viveport).

Valve Index

Valve Index
Valve Index
  • Requires a VR Ready PC
  • LCD, 130 degrees FoV, 120Hz with the option of 144Hz, 1440×1600 per eye w/RGB sub-pixels
    • As previously explained, RGB sub-pixels increase the perceived resolution
  • Requires base stations
  • 1,000 USD, only officially sold in countries listed here

If you’re looking for a top of the line option, look no further. The Valve Index is the undisputed king of both resolution and refresh rate in consumer-level VR headsets. Fortunately, this high quality carries on from the headset itself to the controllers, which feature per finger tracking.  These controllers are also available to purchase on their own for usage with Vive headsets (279 USD). Additionally, the headset alone (if you’ve got base stations) will net you 500 USD. The only downside to this headset is that it requires a powerful PC, but you cannot reasonably expect the performance needed to run this headset in anything less than a PC.

Final Verdict

To conclude, we have three main VR headsets to recommend to you. If you’re looking for entry-level or standalone VR, the Oculus Quest is the best one for you. Even if you have a PC powerful enough to push PCVR, a Rift S isn’t worth it considering the meer 8 extra hertz & decrease in resolution. However, if you already have a PlayStation 4, PSVR with a bundle of games & PS Move controllers is the way to go due to the relatively cheap price. Meanwhile, if you want the absolute top of the line, the Valve Index is the best you can get as a consumer-focused product right now. If you want something in between the Quest and Index, an HTC Vive or Windows Mixed Reality headset could be a good option, however, we haven’t looked at Mixed Reality headsets here, and I would personally get a Quest over a Vive.

If you’re looking for a laptop that can handle PC VR, check out our review of the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Author: Ahmed

Hey! I'm a young boy who's very into technology, gaming, reading, and more. I enjoy taking long walks, going to the gym, and of course, messing around on my laptop :p

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