Virtual reality headsets aren’t particularly stylish, as donning any of these models makes you look like you’ve been kicked through the discount aisle of PC World, but the best VR headsets can provide a sort of magical gaming experience that’s almost indescribable.
Here we’ve picked out the Top recommended VR headsets for PC on the market right now, including models from Oculus, HTC, and PlayStation. Just be ready to apologize for the strange “ooooh” and “ahh” noises you’ll make while drooling at the gorgeous worlds inside.
What VR Is the Best?
Modern VR headsets now fit under one of three categories: Mobile, tethered, or standalone. Mobile headsets are shells with lenses into which you place your smartphone. The lenses separate the screen into two images for your eyes, turning your smartphone into a VR device. Mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream View are relatively inexpensive at around $100, and because all of the processing is done on your phone, you don’t need to connect any wires to the headset.
While they can offer a taste of VR, mobile headsets don’t provide the full experience. They tend to offer three-degrees-of-freedom (3DOF) motion tracking, following your direction but not your position. They also only come with one motion controller, which is also 3DOF-only. You don’t get the same immersiveness you do with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) motion tracking and dual motion controllers, which might be why Google and Samsung have been largely quiet lately about their mobile headsets. The Nintendo Labo VR Kit is its own unique case, but it’s more of a novelty for Switch owners.
The Oculus Go was a solid first step towards proper wireless VR, but it was more a proof of concept than anything. Now, the much more substantially specced Oculus Quest has arrived, at the same $399 price point as its wired counterpart, the Rift S, and standalone VR finally has a proper champion.
The freedom of untethered VR is genuinely powerful—even after becoming more than slightly jaded by spending tens of hours in Oculus’ other headset offerings, the Quest was able to wow me with its power and portability. While it’s not quite at the same performance peak as the Rift S, in practical terms you’re unlikely to ever notice, and the magic of being able to look through the passthrough cameras like your own eyes and walk around your house is fully unique.
Going on a trip? Toss the Quest in your bag and go. At 571g it’s still pretty lightweight, especially since it doesn’t require sensors or cables or any other constrictive accessories (other than the excellent, refined Touch Controllers), and it doesn’t need to be connected to a massive, powerful gaming PC to function. It’s currently the headset that delivers most convincingly on the magical promise of virtual reality, to the point that $399 seems like a bargain.
Vive Pro or the Oculus Rift you need a pretty high-end gaming PC, which is not an insignificant investment for most people. That’s not the case with Sony’s PlayStation VR, which requires little more than a PS4 console to run. Considering the sizable difference in power between the PS4 and PC, the PlayStation VR is a surprisingly competent VR headset. Its refresh rate is responsive, and we’ve had no issues with the reliability of its head-tracking.
Thanks to Sony’s backing, the collection of PlayStation VR games is also impressive. There were dozens available at launch, and many more have followed over its first year on sale. Sony has addressed one of our biggest objections with the PlayStation VR – that its accessories are sold separately – by offering a variety of packs and bundles with devices like the PlayStation Camera included. However, PlayStation Move controllers, while included in some bundles, aren’t in everyone.
While you have to be aware of the additional cost involved, depending on what bundle you opt for, recent price cuts have made the PlayStation VR even more affordable. It may not be the best VR headset, but the PSVR is certainly making a strong case for users.