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10 best VR headsets

We’ve rounded up the best virtual reality headsets for games and exploring the metaverse.

VR headsets have slowly been integrating into the gaming world over the past few years. While initially there were few options, all of which were quite expensive, there are now plenty of choices.

Whether you’re looking to play VR games on a PC, console or on your phone, or a headset to enter the metaverse, these are the best VR headsets you can get right now.

The best VR headsets for gaming and metaverse

Metaverse VR headsets
There are multiple VR headsets, but the ones typically compatible with metaverse games that have VR support include:
  • Oculus Quest 2
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive Pro 2
  • HTC Vive Focus 3
  • HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
  • Valve Index

Best overall: Oculus Quest 2

The Oculus Quest 2 balances quality and ease of use as well as the price best when compared to competitor brands. And for metaverses with VR capabilities, the Oculus Quest 2 is almost always supported.

In addition to being a fantastic standalone VR headset, it also has big improvements on the original Oculus Quest. It has 1832×1920 pixels per eye (up from 1440×1600) and a 90Hz refresh rate (up from 72Hz).

It still isn’t as powerful as Oculus’s premium Rift S but that requires a beefy gaming PC to operate. However, the Quest 2 can be given a bit more grunt via the Quest Link function, which allows you to tether it to a PC, which then lets you play more graphically demanding games, making the experience more comparable with the Rift S.

For more information, check out our full review of the Oculus Quest 2.


Best Budget VR headset: VR Box 2.0

If you want to experience VR at a low cost, then using your smartphone as the CPU and screen is the way to go. With smartphone VR headsets, the heavy lifting is done by your phone and the apps installed. As such, there is no shortage of smartphone VR headset options to choose from that cost between $20 and $100 on Amazon and eBay. They all do a decent job, with review scores impacted simply because people expect a premium experience despite the price.

We’ve given the VR Box 2.0 the nod over the rest of the smartphone VR headsets for a couple of reasons. It’s on the cheaper end for starters at around $30. It’s got a head strap, so your arms don’t get tired since you don’t need to hold it to your face. It’s widely available. It can take phones 3.5 to 6.1 inches in size. There’s even an IPD dial (range 58mm to 72mm) and a healthy 95-degree field of view.

Perhaps more importantly, it comes with a Bluetooth controller and some well-thought-out design quirks. For example, a vent on the side allows you to access your headphone jack/lightning port. And a slide on the front can expose your camera for passthrough.

Smartphone VR does provide a surprisingly revealing and tantalizing approximation of the real deal. You can’t play the big-budget, high-profile VR games on it, but there are a number of interesting experiences available for free on the various app stores that give you a decent idea of what the more expensive headsets are capable of. Proper VR enthusiasts should steer clear, but the hesitant or curious have little to lose.

For metaverse games with mobile apps, such as Roblox (though not a blockchain game), VR Box 2.0 is a solid choice.


Best premium VR headset: HTC Vive Pro 2

If you want one of the best VR headsets and price is no object, the HTC Vive Pro 2 is where it’s at. It offers a best-in-class combination of resolution, field of view and refresh rate. The headset is well designed for comfort thanks to its padding, has easy-to-access dials and a balanced display. The onboard audio is adjustable and immersive.

Additionally, metaverses with VR capabilities typically support HTC products, including metaverse games such as Somnium Space.

With access to both VIVEPORT and SteamVR, you’ve got the best games and experiences to choose from. And the headset works with all the Vive ecosystem accessories, including the Wireless Adaptor and the Facial Tracker. Of course, you pay for all this — premium wouldn’t be premium if it wasn’t also expensive.

It’s not all it could be, however. It relies on the Base Stations and the old Wand controllers, which have low battery life. It’s also hampered by a complex set-up for room-scale VR. Plus, you’re better off using the Valve Index controllers instead of the Wands since they have finger tracking.

Read our full HTC Vive Pro 2 review


Best mid-tier PCVR headset: Vive Cosmos Elite

If you want a wireless full-room standing VR set-up and are willing to sacrifice the money and your living space, the Vive Cosmos Elite is the premium wireless high-end option available (though if you can manage to import a Valve Index headset from a reseller, consider doing that instead).

The Elite version of the Cosmos utilizes external trackers, combined with handheld “wands,” to capture your movements as you wander around a six-foot by five-foot play space, free to interact with your surroundings in whatever ways the software allows. It’s a different, more immersive way of experiencing VR than the seated options, but it requires a significant setup and a decent amount of space in your home.

Under the hood, it packs an impressive punch: the 2880×1700 overall resolution, 90Hz refresh rate and 110-degree field of view are top-of-class specs. The flip-up screen is both practical and helpful, allowing you to switch between virtual reality and actual reality.

There are more convenient, better value options available, but if you want to experience the VR effect in its most powerful and convincing form — standing, without a wire and powered by a high-end PC — this is a solid choice.

Vive Cosmos Elite is an HTC product, and is typically supported in metaverse games with VR capabilities.


Best standalone wireless VR headset: Oculus Quest 2

The Oculus Quest is easily one of the best standalone VR headsets out there. It sits at 4.8 stars from more than 5,000 Google reviews and has secured countless accolades from professional critics. The bad news: it’s officially discontinued. The good news: Oculus released the Quest 2 earlier this year.

Quest headsets are as close as VR gets to being convenient: no wires and clutter, no cameras to configure and no expensive PCs or consoles to maintain. This might seem like a trivial concern, but, speaking from a personal experience, the single biggest barrier to using VR regularly is the hassle of setting it up each night.


Best console VR headset: PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR takes this category practically by default on account of being the only dedicated console VR headset. Fortunately, for PlayStation 4 owners, it’s a fun, relatively affordable option for diving into VR. However, if you’re aiming to enter a decentralized metaverse, PSVR isn’t for you — it’s for console gamers.

PlayStation VR’s ace is that it’s significantly cheaper than PC VR or standalone VR (provided you already own a PS4). There’s also a good library of exclusive games not available on other platforms: Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Resident Evil VII, Dreams and Ace Combat 7 among many others are well worth your time.

Being cheaper, and now slightly older, there are a few downsides. Each eye has a resolution of 960×1080, which is lower than newer Oculus and Vive headsets, so you will notice the “screen door effect” more. It doesn’t ruin the illusion, but it doesn’t help it either.

Having heavy cords draped across the living room floor from the PlayStation isn’t exactly ideal, either. Still, on balance, PlayStation VR is a good cheaper option and the best value VR option for PS4 owners.


Best VR headset for business and enterprise: Vive Focus 3

HTC consistently delivers quality high-end VR headsets, and the Focus 3 is not only home to a comfortable design, but to top-of-the-line specs as well. Its dual 2.5K lenses and 120-degree field of view were as good as it got when it was released in June 2021. And while the 90Hz refresh rate isn’t stunning, it’s still solid.

The headset is completely wireless and therefore doesn’t require a high-end PC to run. The new controllers also have great battery life and excellent inside-out tracking. These aspects make it flexible for businesses that want to use VR on show floors, meetings or to train staff. It’s a cinch to set up and can be deconstructed easily for cleaning between users.

The main reason the HTC Vive Focus 3 gets our nod as the best business/enterprise VR headset is because of the backend support it offers companies. It comes with a 6-month subscription to the XR Suite on VIVEPORT, which has tons of business-orientated apps. For example, you can get Vive Sync for VR group teleconferencing.

You also get Android Enterprise MDM compatibility so your IT can manage multiple headsets as well as two years of Vive Enterprise Business Warranty and Service. And you can get onboard data encryption so sensitive information isn’t lost to the Net.

And again, HTC products are supported in multiple decentralized metaverses.

Read the full HTC Vive Focus 3 review


Best VR headset for kids: Nintendo Labo

To the surprise of many, in 2019, Nintendo got back into VR gaming. A surprise, at least, to those who remember the famously lame colossal turkey that was 1995’s Virtual Boy. Nintendo’s latest VR entry ties into its Nintendo Labo Toy-Con range. It borrows from the Google Cardboard concept but brings with it the kind of flair and sense of fun for which the Mushroom Kingdom has become so famous.

Before you can use your new VR headset, you need to build it. It’s extremely well designed and thought out, allowing you to fold, fix and fit together a cardboard shell that can hold a gasket and a Switch console. The latter becomes the screen in much the same way a phone does in set-ups like Samsung Gear VR.

You then hold the constructed headset up to your eyes to play solo or multiplayer games. The design is made so it’s easy to swap between friends, but that does mean holding the screen up for long periods, which can tire out your arms. However, there are a number of designs – like flapping birds, guns and elephants – that make it so much more than just a headset.

Best of all, you can get the starter kit for less than $100, and there’s been a steady release of expansions.

When it comes to metaverse exploring, the Nintendo Labo isn’t what you need.


Best VR controller experience: Valve Index

Despite the two-year gap between the Valve Index and the HTC Vive Pro 2, it’s a split hair between which is the better of the two premium headsets. We gave the nod to the Pro 2 in that category because it has the edge in specs, comfort and accessories, but the Valve Index most certainly holds its own. You can see the video below for a more comprehensive analysis.

When it comes to which one has the better controllers, it’s lay-down misère for the Valve Index. Unique to the VR headset space, the so-called knuckles controller has a strap that binds your hand to its grip. Buttons and a thumb touchpad are all easy to reach and use, too.

The winning feature, however, is finger tracking. Each individual finger is tracked, allowing you to interact with games in a whole new way. It adds up to a more immersive experience. For example, in music games, you can play individual notes. And in online shooters, you can flip the bird at an opponent.

Interestingly, while the full Valve Index kit is the cheapest way to get and play with these controllers, the knuckles work with HTC Vive headsets, too. If you have the financial means, you can buy an HTC Vive Pro 2 and play it with the Valve Index controllers.

Valve Index is supported in a handful of metaverse games, including Somnium Space, but Oculus is more widely accepted.

Read our full Valve Index review.


eBay prices last updated on 29 June, 2022 at 03:52 am

Best 2022 VR headset: PSVR 2

The PSVR 2 is our choice for the most anticipated best VR headset for 2022. We’ve already seen the controllers, which not only deliver finger tracking but also haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. But the power of the PlayStation 5 promises to offer a high-end VR experience for consumers that don’t own a super high-end PC. Not to mention there will be a host of big-name Sony experiences exclusive to PSVR 2.

Overall, 2022 is set to be a huge year in VR as we’re on the cusp of big innovations that can take this tech forward. As we’ve already seen with the Varjo Aero, foveated rendering and eye tracking are bringing a new standard to what gamers can expect. Plus, OLED screens and finger tracking controllers are becoming the preferred choice. And, better inside-out tracking should allow us to do away with cumbersome base station set-ups.

We’re also hopeful that the proliferation of Wi-Fi 6E chips and improvements to display stream compression will see more functional wireless experiences on premium PCVR headsets. Cutting the cord would be oh so lovely.

Methodology

  • Our technology expert Chris Stead went hands-on and reviewed the majority of VR headsets on the market.
  • Our editorial team compared virtual reality headsets found at major retailers and online stores across the US.
  • We examined hundreds of customer reviews and ratings and cross-referenced our selections with expert reviews and our own testing.
  • The products on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not selected based on commercial relationships.

How to compare VR headsets

Consider the following factors when choosing a VR headset.

Room-scale VR vs. seated VR

With seated VR, you’re confined to a chair while wearing the headset. Your head movement is tracked and reproduced on-screen, but locomotion — i.e. the movement of your in-game character through the digital world — happens using a controller. Seated VR is typically cheaper.

With room-scale multiple cameras are set up around the play area. These track your body’s position, allowing you to walk, jump or even dance and have that motion reproduced in the game. It’s more expensive and can be impractical for a lot of homes because it requires a somewhat empty, dedicated room.

PC, console, mobile or standalone

Standalone VR has only recently hit the market, so most VR headsets need another device to power them. In the case of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you’ll need a powerful PC with a beefy graphics card.

PSVR runs on the PlayStation 4, while Google’s entry-level Cardboard headsets use your mobile phone. It’s worth factoring these devices into your cost equations if you need to pick up extra hardware.

Note that Sony announced that a PSVR 2 headset is in the works for the PlayStation 5, and it’s set to be backwards compatible with PSVR 1 games.

Resolution

The resolution of VR headsets, like televisions, is measured in pixels. Because the screen inside a VR headset is situated so close to your eyes, lower resolutions are particularly noticeable. You’ll see the gaps between pixels prominently, a visual phenomenon called the “screen door effect”. Higher resolutions are always better.

When comparing VR headsets, consider the relative pixel counts of devices. But be cautious: some manufacturers list the “per eye” resolution while others list the combined resolution. If one model seems like it’s double the resolution of another, it’s almost certainly using the combined measure.

Exclusive games

A lot of VR games are platform exclusives, meaning you’ll need to check carefully that the one you’re interested in actually works on your platform. As an example, Star Wars: Vader Immortal is only available on Oculus Rift, while Resident Evil VII can only be played in VR on PSVR.

Refresh rate

Refresh rate is measured in Hz and determines how many frames are displayed per second. Faster refresh rates create smoother motion without flickering between frames and can even help reduce VR sickness. It’s worth remembering that even though the VIVE Pro 2 and PSVR are capable of hitting 120Hzs, you’ll still need a PC capable of outputting at that frame rate.

FOV (Field of View)

Field of view defines how much of the world you’re exploring you can see in an instant. The bigger the better, as the more like real life the experience becomes, the more immersive it is. With the higher-end VR headsets, you will see FOVs coming in well over the 100-degree mark nowadays.

Comfort

Strapping a heavy block to your face isn’t the pinnacle of pleasantness. When it comes to VR comfort, the lighter the better. You’ll also want to pay attention to the materials used for padding. VR headsets become sweaty after prolonged use, so make sure it’s easy to clean and as breathable as possible.

VR headsets for the metaverse

When it comes to choosing a headset to dive into a decentralized metaverse, the top pick has got to be the Oculus Quest 2. Not only is it our Best Overall and Best Standalone pick, but it’s also supported on multiple metaverses with VR support. Metaverses that support Oculus include Somnium Space, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, Meta (Horizon Worlds), Horizon Venues, AltSpaceVR and many more.

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