Companies such as Qualcomm (which makes the chips inside most self-contained VR headsets, including the new Quest 2) are building new chips that point to a wave of better standalone headsets at lower prices -- including ones that plug into your phone. The aging PlayStation VR is still fun if it's on sale, and you have a PS4, mainly because there are loads more great games for this device than you'd think.
The PlayStation 5, while it works with PSV, needs older controllers and adapters and doesn't have many graphics-enhanced VR games yet. Sarah Too/CNET Good: Self-contained and wireless; great touch controllers; comfortable design for gaming; doubles as PC VR headset.
At $300 with nothing else needed, the Oculus Quest 2 delivers virtual reality games and an immersive VR experience anywhere. It's faster, smaller, cheaper and more comfortable to wear than the original Quest, but you have to log in to Facebook in order to use it.
The Quest 2 reminds me of the Nintendo Switch for its versatility and fun, plus it takes mere seconds to start up and fits really well over glasses. Its more limited mobile processor still plays games such as Beat Saber, Moss and Superior VR extremely well, and it can even connect with a PC if you want to, using a single USB-C cable.
Sarah Too/CNET Good : Amazing futuristic controllers; high-quality headset; works with Five hardware. Valve's new headset might be the most interesting PC virtual reality experience this year, just for its fancy new controllers.
Not many apps make the most of them yet, but Valve's hardware is mix-and-match compatible with the HTC Five, which also is built on the Steam VR platform. The Index uses external “lighthouse” boxes, meaning you need to set those up in a room first.
Sarah Too/CNET Good: Plenty of games; lower price; works with many PS4 controllers like the DualShock and Move. Bad: Resolution isn't cutting-edge; Sony hasn't yet made great VR controllers that match the competition.
Sony's three-plus-year-old PSV headset is still the only head-mounted display for gaming consoles and its screen still offers a surprisingly immersive experience. The 2,160×2,160-per-eye resolution and 114-degree field of view are the best at this price range, and the lightweight, comfy headset also has fantastic drop-down speakers designed by Valve.
It's technically a Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headset that prefers to launch into Microsoft's native Windows 10 VR ecosystem, but it bridges with Steam VR and works with those games and apps, too. Angela Lang/CNET Good : Modular face plates for extra features; built-in tracking; flip-up visor, works with Steam VR.
The Cosmos has self-contained tracking like the Oculus Quest 2 and Reverb G2 and also has stoppable face plates that will add more cameras for mixed reality and external sensor tracking (for larger holodeck-type experiences). You can mix and match Five and Valve Index accessories with it, but we prefer the Reverb G2 and Valve Index over Cosmos right now. Get editors' top picks of the day's most interesting reviews, news stories and videos.
We've devised this list for those of you that are eager to jump into VR but might need a hand navigating the realms of reality when it comes to money, comfort and convenience. Don't worry, all recommendations are compatible with the biggest VR games out there, and we've taken into account the all-important FOR and resolution for the ultimate experience.
It's light, powerful, cheap, and can be hooked up to your gaming PC with a single USB Type-C cable for full tethered action. (Image credit: valve) The bestir headset for a premium experience on a gaming PC.
The Valve Index boasts some of the best visuals of any mainstream, commercially available HMD, with a display resolution equaling the Five Pro, Quest, and Odyssey+ but paired with a 120Hz refresh rate (up to 144Hz in a currently unsupported, experimental mode). It also boasts some impressive technology and handy convenience features, like per-finger tracking on the excellent Index controllers, USB pass-through for future accessories, and fantastic, crystal clear audio via the near-field speakers, which hover just off the ears.
With a new LCD at 1832 × 1920 per eye, the Quest 2 offers exceptional clarity for an entry-level headset, through which you can enjoy a slew of games either purpose built for the standalone headset, and thus rendered by the onboard Snapdragon XR2 chip, or beamed from your PC using Oculus Link and a compatible USB Type-C cable. There's only one hitch in the Oculus Quest 2's plan for virtual world domination: compulsory Facebook account login.
While the original may have a slight advantage in some categories mentioned above, the experience of wearing the Rift S is far superior, especially given that it fully supports inside-out tracking. That means you don't have to buy, wire-up, and find a place for external sensors in your play space.
If you've already invested in a mid-tier or higher gaming PC, want a powerful headset, but don't want to spend a massive amount of cash for the privilege, the Rift S is a clear winner. However, it's still an excellent piece of hardware and a fantastic way for PC owners to dive into virtual reality for the first time.
The Cosmos Elite comes bundled with Half-Life: Alex and 6-months of Viewport Infinity subscription, which at the very least means there are lots of things to try out with your new headset. The original launch price of the Cosmos Elite was prohibitively high at $899, and this is one of the reasons it didn't fare better in our review.
Still, if you're looking for a premium VR gaming experience, you're going to have to pay a chunk for it, whichever solution you go for. It's a substantial improvement and the best of the current crop of Windows Mixed Reality (WAR) offerings.
The Odyssey+ boasts an impressively high-res display for a WAR device, at 2880 × 1600, and also takes advantage of a proprietary anti-screen door feature Samsung deploys to reduce the fine-grain you see in the majority of MDS. As a result, the screen-door effect in the Odyssey+ is practically undetectable, and combined with the WAR standard of inside-out tracking, provides a remarkable level of immersion.
Broadly any wearable mounted on the head with graphical capabilities but often used to refer to VR headsets specifically. Low latency is vital to reducing nausea in VR, which is most intense when there's a delay or stuttering between moving or looking and the display reacting.
Higher resolution in VR is essential because the displays are so close to the user's eyes, which emphasizes jagged lines, pix elation, and the screen door effect. It offers a comprehensive all-in-one VR experience, whereby you don’t need to go around fiddling with smartphones or connecting a load of wires to a PC and setting up external sensors.
Instead, you can simply set up the Oculus Quest 2 and then get cracking with VR without worrying about tripping over cables or running out of smartphone battery life. Furthermore, if you do want a cabled experience then you can connect the Quest 2 to a PC and enjoy playing Oculus-supported games that way.
In that case, the Oculus Rift S, HTC Five, and Valve Index are your best bets. Do bear in mind you’ll need a good bit of free space to get the most out of these headsets, especially if you plan on doing room-scale VR.
Its simple setup means you’ll be playing games like Batman: Arkham VR and Star Trek: Bridge Crew in no time. With a slicker, more intuitive design, faster performance and better resolution, the Oculus Quest 2 delivers the bestir experience you can have without needing a powerful PC or loads of cables.
It ditches the plain black of its predecessor and is 10% lighter, and the Quest 2’s light gray design is highlighted by a black face strap and a quartet of camera sensors make it look simple, fun and inviting all at once. But if you’ve yet to dive into VR or want to finally go untethered, the Oculus Quest 2’s price, game library and overall ease of use make it the best entry point into virtual reality yet.
The original Oculus Rift was one of the bestir headsets around for connecting to a PC and enjoying immersive gaming. The headset itself is a lot sleeker than before, and it now has a 1280 × 1440 resolution display with a fast 80Hz refresh rate.
It also has a rather neat feature in the form of speakers that are integrated in the headband, avoids the need to use the original Rift’s onboard headphones;the audio results are fairly impressive. And it comes with the impressive Touch Controllers that nearly track movements and help make VR feel a lot more kinetic and immersive.
Overall, the Oculus Rift S is the bestir headset for folks looking for a PC-based system that plays a huge library of great games for a decent price. It combines a neat headset that looks semi-futuristic and is surprisingly comfortable, with a superb range of games that’s been slowly expanding.
The controls are a high-point too, at the time offering a more revolutionary feeling of being able to literally reach out and grab something, albeit by pulling a trigger than gripping with your hands. The virtual experience is still pretty awe-inspiring, despite other VR headset catching up with the HTC Five.
The only thing to bear in mind here is that it requires external tracking sensors, a powerful PC to run, and a good degree of set up and space. Now the Valve Index represents the culmination of the game company's efforts to make a VR headset by itself.
The downside of this quality is that the headset can be rather heavy to wear for an extended period of time. There’s a lot to like about the Index, as it comes with an LCD panel that offers variable refresh rates to suit the power of your PC.
It features a cloth design in front, similar to Google's Daydream, along with an adjustable plastic headband that's reminiscent of the PlayStation VR. In front, the headset features a small flap for holding your phone in place, leaving the camera uncovered for any AR-based mobile apps.
Despite all that open space, the Masonite manages to block out almost all external light for a pretty immersive experience. Playing Roller Coaster VR on this headset was exhilarating, and a 360-degree shark experience was a blast.
It has a minimal design with neat touches like foam padding to protect your face, yet avoids making your head too hot if you wear it for an extended amount of time. A removable outer cover opens things up for some augmented reality action facilitated through your phone’s camera.
On the downside, there's no way to adjust the focus, but thankfully, the visual quality was actually pretty good during testing with Roller Coaster VR and a few 360-degree YouTube videos. The head strap in the back also needs to be manually attached, but thanks to a Velcro design, that takes only a few seconds to do.
Overall, this is a capable little VR headset at a shockingly low price, though it's missing a few frills we saw in other models, like built-in headphones and adjustable focus. The Humid Virtual Reality 3D Wireless Headset is another very chap way to get started with VR.
It's another smartphone-powered headset and provides an easy way to access VR experiences and games. From user reviews, it's a build quality isn't fantastic, and it doesn't provide a sublime VR experience.
If you have less space, then you can still enjoy VR at a smaller scale or even accept that you’ll be sitting down when you use it; for flight simulators, this can be ideal. Next up, you’ll need to consider the specs of the desktop or laptop you plan to use your VR headset with.
The best experiences require a powerful gaming PC so that VR environments are rendered realistically and run smoothly to prevent you from getting to motion sick. But if you’re investing in a high-end headset like the Valve Index, then you’ll want a powerful PC backing it up.
A major part of initial testing involves evaluating how much space is needed to set up one of our picks for the bestir headsets to get the most out of them. We also weigh the headsets, because even the lightest gadget can feel heavy after long periods of use.
Whether it's a traditional game pad or something more elaborate, like the Rift's Touch Controllers, we're checking to see if the input devices are ergonomically designed; after all, no one wants hand cramps. We not only examine the size of a device's library but also scour the listings and test out some higher-end apps and titles.