Best VR Headsets in 2023
By Luna Thorton · Jun 24, 2022
4 Best VR Headsets in 2023
Meta Oculus Quest 2
Sony Playstation VR Headset
B&H Photo Video
HTC Vive Pro 2
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All the details for our Product picks4 of the Best VR Headsets in 2023
What is a VR Headset?
VR Headset uses
How much does a VR Headset cost?
Types of VR Headsets
LED, OLED, and LCD display
VR vs. AR and Mixed Reality
Other VR Headset features
What’s the best VR Headset for me?
The Oculus Quest 2 is compatible with Windows PC. Although it’s a standalone headset that allows you to play games using a Wi-Fi connection and the Oculus smartphone app, you can link it to a Windows PC using a 10-foot-long USB cable.
The Oculus Quest 2 allows you to play standalone as well as PC games. Quest, Quest 2, Link, and Rift are a few examples of open-world PC games. Half-Life: Alyx, Star Wars: Squadrons, Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, Superhot VR, Phantom: Covert Ops, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series, Eleven Table Tennis, Moss, and A Room VR: A Dark Matter are some examples of the best Oculus Quest 2 games.
The Oculus Quest 2 has an LCD display. The LCD display is a common modern technology that is energy-efficient, long-lasting, has no screen burn-in, and allows for small and low-profile sizes for devices.
Pros & Cons
- Comfortable and compatible with glasses and headphones
- Great performance and visuals
- Easy setup
- Not many PC games
The Sony PlayStation VR is compatible with the DualShock 4 wireless controller as well as the PlayStation Move motion controller. It is also compatible for use with a TV. However, it is not necessary to use the TV for solo gaming sessions.
The Sony PlayStation VR headset has several games ready to play right out of the box and a plug-and-play setup using the headset and separate PlayStation camera. Star Wars Battlefront, PlayStation VR Worlds, Golem, RIGS Mechanized Combat League, Harmonix Music VR, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood are some examples of the many games you can play with this headset.
The Sony PlayStation VR has an OLED display. OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode,” which contains a carbon film between the glass screen and the panel. While it uses the same technology as an LED display, it has better picture quality and higher color contrast.
Pros & Cons
- Wide game selection
- Easy Plug and Play setup
- Comfortable even for long play sessions
- Tracking for large spaces
- PlayStation camera required for setup sold separately
The HP Reverb is compatible with Windows Mixed Reality and Steam VR right out of the box. Windows Mixed Reality combines virtual reality and augmented reality for Windows 10, while Steam VR is an integrative dashboard and tracking system that includes the world’s biggest games from Steam.
With the HP Reverb, you can play any high-definition Windows PC game that has native VR support. The game must support 4K resolution. Minimum requirements for 60 frames per second are 64-bit OS and the recommended Windows 10 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. Windows 10 Pro for gaming should have a graphics card such as the GeForce GT 230/Radeon HD 4650 and a CPU with AMD Athlon 64 3200+ or Intel Pentium Dual Core E2180 2.0GHz processor. In other words, a PC that is no more than 13 years old.
The HP Reverb has an LCD display, which stands for liquid crystal display. It is more compact and is more energy-efficient than the traditional cathode ray tube (CRT), while also boasting better images and color depth.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent visuals and sound
- Easy setup
- Four cameras for better tracking
- Fuzzy or out-of-focus at side views
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is upgradable and backward compatible. It can be used with Vive Base Stations 1.0, SteamVR Base Stations 2.0, all Vive controllers, and all Valve index controllers.
With the HTC Vive Pro 2, you can play Steam games because it is cross-compatible. You can also play any high-resolution Windows PC games. To run it at full resolution, you need NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20 series (Turing), AMD Radeon 5000 (Navi) series or better, as well as support for Display Stream Compression (DSC).
The HTC Vive Pro 2 has a dual RGB low persistence LCD display. The minimum resolution for such a display is 1440 x 1600, which is considered sharp and pristine. For this headset, the resolution is 2448 × 2448 pixels per eye or 4896 x 2448 pixels combined, and it is subject to processing compatibility.
Pros & Cons
- Stunning graphics
- Fits a wide range of people
- Upgradable and backwards compatible
- Needs more bass for sound quality
Best VR headset of 2023: HTC Vive Pro 2
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is currently the best VR headset available for those who are serious about investing in the latest technology. Its 5k resolution and image texture, color contrast, and seamless visuals are unrivaled. Precise tracking and an adjustable headset make it easy to create large multi-user spaces and move from seated to standing positions. Additionally, the headset is compatible with both Vive and SteamVR Base Stations, all Vive and Valve index controllers, and is cross-compatible with Steam games and high-resolution Windows PC games. Users report stunning graphics, a comfortable fit for a wide range of people, and upgradability and backward compatibility. The only disadvantage mentioned is that it needs more bass for sound quality. Overall, the HTC Vive Pro 2 is the ultimate VR headset for those looking for top-of-the-line technology and immersive experiences.
How do VR headsets work?
Virtual reality is digital content experienced by a user in a fully immersive 3D space. It used to be limited as a subject to only science-fiction movies and books until the first VR headset, the Sensorama, was invented in 1957. A VR headset is a head-mounted device with rounded edges featuring very large goggles. They are used for virtual reality gaming and applications in which the user has a first-person point-of-view and immersive experience combined with body-sensitive movement. Although it is commonly used for video games, it can also be used for many other purposes.
All VR headsets feature a stereoscopic head-mounted display to provide separate images for each eye. They also include stereo sound and head-motion tracking sensors. The tracking sensors may include gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, eye-tracking sensors, or structured light systems to provide greater tracking accuracy. Some also come with controllers; PC VR headsets are controlled by a computer keyboard and mouse, while video-game system VR headsets work with the video game system controller and camera. Within the headset is head-tracking technology for the lenses, which allows a change in vision as the user turns their head, although excessively fast movement may cause latency.
The main consumer uses of VR headsets have been for video game systems and PC gaming. Sony, Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, and Valve are popular examples. However, there are also VR headsets for smartphones. They allow smartphones to be inserted into them while the lenses act as a stereoscope in the place of internal displays. Google, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and Tencent are examples of companies that have created smartphone VR headsets.
VR headsets can function as standalone devices or in combination with a PC, TV, or smartphone depending on the individual device. Some are primarily standalone devices but can also be used with other devices. Their usage with other devices permits features that cannot operate as standalone devices. The main types of VR headsets are PC (tethered), standalone, or smartphone (mobile). Standalone devices are typically wireless, while others need to be connected to a computer or game console.
VR headsets use LCD, LED, or OLED displays. The screen size ranges from about 3 inches to over 5 inches. Each has a specific resolution per eye, a refresh rate, and a field of vision that provides the image quality, continuous graphics, and a range of sight for the user. They have lenses, a head strap, a face mask or face cushioning, internal cameras, tracking sensors, a power cord, and a charging cable. There is a wide range of prices as well as differences in performance, how they are controlled, and the features they have.
Today, advancements in VR headsets have allowed for technology such as augmented reality, which is combined with virtual reality in some headsets. Augmented reality is a real-world experience in which objects are augmented or enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. It may or may not affect multiple sensory modalities. Open-source virtual reality is another modern development. It is a software project that allows all games developed by Razer and Sensics to be used with the headsets and game controllers from all vendors.
VR headsets uses
Other than gaming, some applications for usage of VR headsets include:
- Design: Architects use VR to create virtual models from their designs, while game developers alike use VR headsets to test their games. Even coding in VR is possible with a high-resolution headset. VR can also be used for art.
- Marketing visualization: VR can be used by marketing professionals to show companies digital experiences in place of physical ones, such as products and services. It can be used for both existing products and services as well as those that are in development. It also provides unique experiences for customers.
- Precision training: VR is used in fields that require a high degree of precision, such as surgery. PrecisionOS is an example of a VR platform used for medical-grade VR education that is both scalable and cost-effective.
- Simulators: VR is used for the simulation of real-world experiences including surgery and flying. One form, called immersive virtual reality simulation, is hands-on and allows for realistic action and team collaboration. It is especially used with augmented reality.
- Training programs: VR allows for better and faster training of employees. The immersive training environment creates engagement, which is crucial for successful training outcomes. Plus, workers with difficult jobs can sharpen their skills by practicing as much as they want to without worrying about real-world consequences.
How much does a VR headset cost?
The cost of a VR headset depends on its quality and features. Typically, standalone VR headsets are the most affordable because they have no hidden costs, and the only drawback is battery life. Likewise, smartphone (mobile) VR headsets have no hidden costs, and their main drawbacks are battery drainage and a limited VR experience. Tethered (PC) VR headsets cost the most, especially those with high device compatibility, but they offer the most features.
Which brands do not require a PC?
Currently, the Meta Oculus Quest 2 does not require users to have a PC to enjoy VR. Wireless VR allows for far more freedom when gaming, and we expect other brands to catch on to this trend in the near future.
Which brands work with a PS5?
If you have a PS5 and are looking for a VR headset that is compatible with it, the PlayStation VR or the PSVR 2 is right for you. The PS5 does not have a plug for other tethered VR sets, so you will not be able to use them.
Which brands work with an Xbox?
At this time, there is no VR headset made specifically for Xbox. The company has reported that VR is not its main priority at this time.
Which brands work with Steam VR?
You can play your favorite games all in one place on Steam VR. It is compatible with Vive, Valve Index, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, and other PC VR headsets.
Do VR headsets come with games?
Yes, depending on which brand you buy, your VR headset will come with a variety of games. These games are typically free-to-play or early-access games from the brand your VR headset is from.
Best VR games
While there is a wide range of games available on VR headsets, and your favorite will depend on personal preference, here are some of the top user-reported games:
- Star Wars Squadron
- L.A. Noire Case Files
- Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
- Beat Saber
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Best VR games without controller
There are plenty of VR games that you can play without a controller. Without controllers, you have more freedom of movement and you don’t need to learn to use specific buttons to play your game, allowing for a more immersive experience. Users report that the following games as the best for wireless playing:
- End Space VR
- Deep Space Battle
- Trooper 2
- Snow Strike
- VR Roller Coaster
- Smash Hit
Types of VR headsets
There are different types of VR headsets to choose from. Depending on your intentions of how to use your headset, you may choose a different type of VR headset. Here are the three most common types that you will come across.
Second to PC (tethered) VR headsets, standalone headsets are all-in-one head-mounted devices (HMDs) that don’t need anything from the user except for battery charging and possibly creating an account. Because they have built-in processors, batteries, sensors, displays, and storage memory, they are wireless which allows users the freedom of using them in different spaces. On the other hand, they are less powerful than PC (tethered) headsets because of their lower refresh rates and lower-quality graphics. However, advancements in VR focus on standalone headsets because they’re more dynamic and affordable. They are good for casual gaming, social VR, and watching movies.
PCVR or tethered VR headsets have the most high-end features. The connection by USB or HDMI allows for a better immersive experience with higher-quality graphics, better tracking accuracy, and access to high-quality VR content, such as PC VR games. Drawbacks include requirements of a certain amount of setup space on your computer, a constant connection to a powerful gaming PC, limited freedom of movement with room space, and hidden costs of accessories such as controllers and cameras. PC VR headsets are used for gaming, art, tourism, education, and professionals. Today, there is a lot of focus on creating wireless PC VR headsets.
Smartphone or mobile VR headsets only require the user to slide their smartphones into them. The most powerful smartphones for the VR experience are recently released ones, while the resolution and the type of screen vary depending on the individual smartphone. Some are handheld, which means they are made of low-cost materials, with Google Cardboard being one example. Handheld smartphone VR headsets require users to hold them up to their faces and so provide limited experiences because there’s no head strap. They are good for basic VR experiences with casual gaming, social VR, and watching movies. While affordable, they quickly drain smartphone batteries.
LED, OLED, and LCD display
As you shop through different VR headsets, you will find an important aspect of the product is the type of display it uses. Here is a rundown of the three main types of displays you will come across:
- LCD: LCD stands for liquid crystal display. The liquid crystals rotate polarized light to illuminate all pixels at the same time. It is a common modern technology that is energy-efficient, long-lasting, has no screen burn-in, and allows for small and low-profile sizes for devices. On the other hand, the uniform brightness has low contrast and is not energy efficient.
- LED: LED stands for light-emitting diode and it uses the same display technology as LCD. It is a flat panel display where the LEDs act as pixels. Because the LEDs are bright, this type of screen can be used outside and have visibility in the sun. Compared to LCD, it has a broader color selection, more energy efficiency, and a longer lifespan.
- OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. It contains a carbon film between the glass screen and the panel. While it uses the same technology as an LED display, it has better picture quality and higher color contrast with smooth, fluid images that allow for pixel-by-pixel lighting. It’s also flatter, being almost as flat as wallpaper. Using less power to be brighter makes seeing total black possible, which allows for realistic visions such as a starry night.
VR vs. AR and Mixed Reality
Virtual reality is completely virtual and VR users are controlled by the system. Augmented reality, on the other hand, functions in a real-world setting, and users control their presence in the real world. While VR enhances only virtual reality, AR enhances both the virtual and real world. VR always requires a headset device. AR can also use smartphones and tablets with smart glasses, such as Google Glass. Microsoft HoloLens is an AR headset that blends real-world and virtual environments. While both VR and AR can be used for training and the training for either is expensive, VR is better for complex content and soft skills. Mixed Reality is a term used to refer to headsets that can handle both VR and AR.
Other VR headset features
There are several VR headset features to consider:
- Resolution: 4K and 5K are the best, most modern resolution types that exist.
- Display size and weight: Users prefer larger displays for a wider, better view, but they also want a lightweight headset for easier movement. VR resolutions include 960 x 1080 and 1280 x 1440, while Mixed Reality (MR) resolution is 1440 x 1400.
- Field of view (FOV): The larger the field of view, the better, but what limits it is the lenses, not your pupils. You can either move closer to the lenses or make the lenses bigger to get a better FOV. The current FOV for VR and MR headsets ranges from 90 to 200, while 220 degrees is the limit of human vision.
- Degrees of freedom (DOF): There are either 3 degrees of freedom or 6 degrees of freedom. Three DOF has the user turn around and choose where to look in the VR world, while 6 DOF lets the user move their position in the VR world. As you can see, 6 DOF is more immersive. VR headsets with 6 DOF use front cameras and internal sensors rather than external sensors.
- Interpupillary distance adjustment (IDA): IDA represents the distance between the center of your pupils. The ability of a VR headset to set it correctly makes for a great VR experience and avoids blurry and out-of-focus images.
- Refresh rate: The higher the refresh rate, the more seamless visuals and tracking you’ll experience. You’ll also be able to move faster and won’t have to wait for latency because it is more fluid, less choppy, and has less lag. The refresh rate for VR and MR headsets ranges from 60Hz to 144Hz.
- Cameras: More internal cameras mean better tracking. VR headsets that connect to the PC or game console also use an external camera.
- Comfort and adjustability: A wider range of people can enjoy a VR headset if it is comfortable and can adjust to many head sizes. Many users also prefer the headset to be able to fit over headphones and/or glasses.
- Processing compatibility (for PC): A tethered VR headset requires a PC with certain minimum requirements to be able to enjoy its features properly.
- Base stations and lighthouse boxes: Tethered (PC) VR headsets have an external device that lets the headset track your movements in the room and needs their own installment in the upper corners of the room you’ll be playing in, typically using a tall tripod, high shelf, or a wall-mounting method.
- Upgradable and backward compatible: Many VR headsets are upgradeable. For example, users can purchase headphones to upgrade the sound of their headsets. Many also want their headset to be backward compatible with previous VR game titles.
What’s the best VR headset for me?
Here are some questions to ask yourself before settling on a VR headset to buy:
- Tethered or wireless?
- If tethered: What are the minimum PC requirements? Does it have base stations or lighthouse boxes?
- What is the field of view?
- What is the resolution?
- How much does it weigh?
- What is the display type and size?
- How many degrees of freedom does it have?
- Is the headset comfortable? Can it accommodate glasses and/or headphones?
- Is the headset adjustable? How adjustable is it?
- If wireless: How much is the battery life?
- Do you want mixed reality or augmented reality rather than just VR?
- How does the audio work? What is the sound quality like?
- Is it just the headset or a complete system? Does it have its own hand controllers?
- Is it upgradeable and backward-compatible?
- How much does it cost?
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Last updated on Jun 24, 2022