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We are sure that the ultimate best VR headset for PC gaming is still not retailing. However, there are a handful of enthusiastic projects including notable names like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Lenovo Mirage Solo. Not only are these well-carved models that offer a worthy alternative to mainstream video gaming.
There are tons of different platforms among VR headsets now. And covering all of them in a single article would seem redundant. Therefore, we have tested and short-reviewed for you only those virtual reality devices that are made for the mainstream platforms i.e. PC including Steam by Valve.
Top Rated VR Headsets For PC Gaming
Although we are writing this article for the hordes of buyers looking for better advice, keep in mind that virtual reality is still a developing technology. Therefore, all VR headsets or related development kits you get your hands on have the imminent factor of being replaced in future developments. Naturally, this means that there will be dozens of new VR gaming focused releases in the future.
Many of the ones at Amazon now will run dry. These will get replaced by better versions much like any other new product category that doesn’t have established platforms yet. Don’t worry though, we have enough potential in the retail models that VR gaming can be considered. What we will do for now is suggest the best that the market has offered so far. And in doing so, we will try to also highlight the virtual reality headsets (and projects) that have proven to be more reliable. Or in other words, products that we expect will stick for a while.
Overall Best VR Headset
- Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
- Sensors: Sensors built into the headset
- Controllers: Oculus Touch
Virtual reality is shaping up to be the next step when it comes to the immersive entertainment experience. And now, more than ever, new VR tech and gadgets are being worked on and developed. There are quite a few VR headsets in the market that offer amazing features and functionality. These include VR headsets from Microsoft, HTC, Playstation, etc. However, the best one yet is the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.
The Oculus Quest 2 is a standalone all-in-one VR headset system. It improves upon the first Occulus Quest and is fulfills the role of the successor brilliantly. The headset is 10% lighter and comes in light grey, giving it a cool aesthetic. The two controllers are very intuitive and have an ergonomic design. The hands won’t tire out, nor will they feel out of place. The performance is faster than the previous Oculus Quest and the resolution is also improved with an added 50% more pixels.
What makes the Quest 2 stand out is the fact that it doesn’t need any console or PC to get it going. It’s a truly standalone VR system that you can operate on its own. It’s backward compatible with the first Oculus Quest so that you can play older titles as well as enjoy the newer titles.
It’s fully capable of giving a room-scale VR experience and you won’t have to worry about tripping over cables this time. It has a great gaming library that you can make use of on its own. It is, however, also compatible with the PC and works with titles that support VR. If games don’t interest you, the Oculus Quest 2 can be used for viewing live concerts, exclusive events, more. You can even share your VR experiences and hang out with friends.
The system itself is very easy to use and has seamless functionality. All you need is a Facebook account and a mobile for initial setup and you’re ready to dive into the VR world.
Premium VR Headset
HTC Vive Pro
We were not really through with the Oculus Rift v Vive debate and the latter released a Pro version last year. Upping the resolution game, and making things harder to get for the casual gamer, the HTC Vive Pro is the most notorious, most expensive and most critically acclaimed VR headset for PC.
- Connections: USB-C 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, Bluetooth
- Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, Lighthouse laser tracking system, dual front-facing cameras, support for Lighthouse 2.0
- Controllers: Vive motion controller, PC compatible game-pads
There are a number of things that are exactly the same in the Oculus Rift and the new HTC Vive iteration. For instance, both the head-mounted devices used two pieces of Samsung’s patented PenTile OLED displays. One for each eye. Similarly, they have the same diagonal field of view, measuring up to 110 degrees, although the horizontal FOV on the Rift VR is approximately 90 degrees only.
While Vive and Rift had the same display resolution per eye i.e. 1080 x 1200, giving you a combined resolution of 2160 x 1200 pixels, the HTC Vive Pro takes the lead by offering an impressive 2,880 x 1,660 combined resolution. This measures up to 615ppi (pixels per inch) which is considered quite a feat for the HMD. As a result, there is a clear improvement in shadows, color contrasts, and overall visual fidelity.
Not only that, but the image production is also sharper in comparison with the competition. This is all thanks to an increased DPI (78 percent higher than Vive). You will also note that the Vive Pro is able to stop your eye to probe into individual pixels when you are wearing the VR headset. And we say all this while maintaining that the overall best VR headset for PC gaming is still the original Vive as it offers an otherwise impressive experience for a much cheaper price tag.
Clearly selling at a premium price, the HTC Vive Pro will not be in everyone’s range. But this is exactly the same price at which the preceding HTC Vive was launched and later the prices were slashed. Moreover, you will need to purchase the accessories separately. The base stations, controllers and sensors all need to be bought additionally, apart from the $799 VR headset.
The VR has a good 90 Hz refresh rate, which is quite fast but also the high-end standard of the market. Just the PlayStation VR has a higher refresh rate, clocking in at 120 Hz; but the PSVR is a console exclusive HMD so we won’t go into much depth about it. The PSVR has also been lauded for its comfort but it has nothing on the HTC Vive Pro. The latter is the most comfortable head-mounted VR device thanks to extra padding and the roundel around the head.
It will make you spend even more, but the Vive has wall-mounted sensors that perform so much better than the front facing handheld sensors of the Oculus. Their limit is that you cannot turn all the way around as the sensors have to maintain contact with the rig. Talking of, if you are getting the entire setup, it will include two motion controllers too alongside the two aforementioned base stations.
Keep in mind you will need a strong gaming PC in order to fully enjoy the ever-increasing library of Steam VR games. What HTC recommends is Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and GeForce GTX 970 at least. If that leaves you with some spare cash, get the Vive Pro Eye for eye-tracking as well as the Vive Tracker for 3D object tracking.
Best Budget Standalone VR Headset
They were the first to launch VR HMDs, and they also led the pack in terms of standalone VR headsets. But that is the just a brush off in comparison to what actually makes Oculus Go such a great choice. For starters, it has one of the largest library of games and apps at your disposal, and it doesn’t even ask for a lot in return!
- Connections: N/A
- Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope
- Controllers: Oculus Go Controller
While Oculus Quest is a true 6DoF HMD that will build on the foundations of Oculus Go, Quest is still not out. And it is also going to cost the same as the Oculus Rift when it releases, but we are talking about an easy way into the world of virtual reality games. Unless you are going for the strap on boxes they call mobile VR headsets, you aren’t likely to find anything below $200 to reckon with.
The developers have stuffed the head mounted device with as much juice as they could. And as a result, they have been able to give us the same 110-degree field of view as well as similar head-tracking technology. You also get to use the simplistic Oculus Go controllers to navigate through the interface and play games.
It is slightly slower when comparing the display refresh rates: 60-72 Hz as compared to the 90 Hz average. But for the naked human eye, anything over 60 Hz is totally fine. Moving on, we preferred the display’s aspect ratio more than most of the other VR headsets. Because instead of their 9:5 aspect ratio the Oculus Go sticks with the more frequented 16:9.
Even the resolution per eye is a good 1280 x 1440 pixels, allowing you a more crisp picture with lesser visibility for individual pixels that can potentially disturb how the screen looks like inside the VR. As we all know, HTC Vive, Vive Pro and Rift all favor 6DOF (six degrees of freedom), but the Oculus Go isn’t. So basically, your ducking and dodging tactics won’t work here.
This is a clear limitation which can affect how well you can play certain VR games. However, with the help of the Oculus Touch controllers both the headsets have been given a new life. Talking of games, the gigantic library of games and apps at your disposal inside the Oculus Go is literally unparalleled at the moment. We know that HTC with Steam is building their response too and that Steam VR games library isn’t anything you can ignore. But so far Oculus leads in terms of available content.
You will not like the quality of display if you drop down to the Go right after your eyes get used to the HTC Vive Pro. But there is a fair reason for that. The HTC Vive Pro is one of the most expensive mainstream retail HMDs and supports an AMOLED display. In order to keep things budget friendly a number of things were compromised in the Oculus Go. Dropping down to an LCD panel type is one of those things.
But we should also remember that the price point of Oculus Go cannot be equitably compared with the previous two product reviews. Because it’s an entry-level standalone VR headset and the latter are two high-end tethered HMDs for PC. Other than that, the Go also has its own speakers and microphone built right into the HMD, further adding to the value for money. We cannot think of a better introductory level choice if true virtual reality games pique your interest.
There is a large number of PC based and standalone VR headsets in 2021. But one good long look tells you that the key products are actually divided among different platforms. For instance, there is just one console based VR headset, the hot looking PlayStation VR.
Among PC based models, it is the same two names we have been hearing since years that are still on top. And even when you look at standalone HMDs, it is the Oculus Go that or the upcoming Oculus Quest that gets the limelight. It will be a while before a more widespread list of choices goes on sale.