Best VR Headset Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best Virtual Reality Headsets on PCs, phones and consoles you can buy in 2018.
The best VR headset is out there. You just have to figure out which one is right for you.
Easier said than done, right? How do you chose? Do you go for performance or price? For something you can slot a smartphone into or need a powerful PC to run? These are just some of the questions that go into picking out the right device from all of the best VR headsets on the market.
On the flip side, more powerful VR headsets are coming to the fore as well. The HTC Vive Pro, which releases on April 5, is an pretty sizeable upgrade over the HTC Vive. It is also much more expensive at $799 / £799 (about AU$1,015).
- The best VR games to play on your headset
You can skip down below to see our choices and explanations in depth, but it's important to note that recent price cuts have brought the so-called traditional VR headsets more closely in line with one another.
We're still talking the difference of $100 or more, but the price gap between the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, for example, has gotten much smaller.
The three best on the market right now, the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, are unsurprisingly also the most expensive of all the mainstream VR headset offerings. These three offer unparalleled immersion through superior refresh rates, extremely high resolutions and both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift offer room-scale tracking and motion controllers for your hands right out of the box.
Each headset has its own distinctive strengths and weaknesses, and if you're not aware of these before you buy, it could be a very costly mistake to make. But that's exactly why we put this guide together.
When it originally released, the HTC Vive was streets ahead of its nearest competitor, the Oculus Rift. It supported room-scale tracking out of the box, and came with two motion controllers that allowed it to offer a much more immersive experience.
Now, however, the gap has narrowed. Nowadays the Oculus Rift matches much of the Vive's functionality and includes two motion controllers of its own.
But the Vive still has the edge over the Oculus because, for our money, the room-scale tracking is that much better. The feature allows you to walk around a space that's 4.5 x 4.5m big, adding another dimension to the feeling of presence that you experience while using it; you're not just pressing up on an analogue stick, you're using your legs to walk.
That's if you have enough space in your real room, of course.
The headset itself contains two 1080p screens which makes for a very crisp image. Unfortunately it's not quite high-resolution enough to prevent you from being able to discern individual pixels when you wear it, but this is still the highest resolution headset on the market right now alongside the Oculus Rift.
The Vive's downside, however, is its price. Despite its price cuts, it's still expensive, and not a purchase many people will make lightly. Plus, you still need to have a PC set-up to run the headset, adding to the cost.
The original HTC Vive itself could also soon face some serious competition from the HTC Vive Pro, due out on April 5. The new headset features built-in headphones and a resolution upgrade to 2880 x 1600. The HTC Vive Pro is, however, much more expensive than the regular Vive, coming in at $799 / £799 (about AU$1,015).
Read the full review: HTC Vive
There's no getting around the fact that in order to run either the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift you need a pretty substantial gaming PC, which is a hefty investment for most people.
Considering the huge difference in power between the PS4 and PC, the PlayStation VR is a surprisingly capable virtual reality headset. Its refresh rate is nice and responsive, and we've had no problems with the reliability of its head-tracking.
Thanks to Sony's backing, the selection 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 complaints with the PlayStation VR – that its accessories are sold separately – by launching a variety of packs and bundles with devices like the PlayStation Camera included. However, PlayStation Move controllers, while are included in some bundles, aren't in every one.
While you have to be wary of the additional charges involved, depending on what bundle you opt for, recent price cuts have made the PlayStation VR even more affordable. It may not be the top VR headset, but the PSVR is certainly making a strong case to users.
Read the full review: PlayStation VR
The current VR arms race is all thanks to one man: Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. As a teenager, Luckey collected VR tech and was fascinated with making his own headset in his garage. Numerous prototypes and a $2 billion Facebook buyout later, Oculus is still the biggest name in VR.
It's seen some decent upgrades over the years thanks to the inclusion of the Touch controllers (which we'd argue are slightly superior to the Vive's), and a couple of key price drops.
Yet, compared to the HTC Vive's room-scale technology, the Rift isn't quite as good. The reason is that while the Vive is designed to let you walk around in any direction, by default the Rift has you place its two sensors in front of you. This means that the tracking is more single-sided, and you can't let yourself get turned around, or else the sensors will lose track of you.
The experience is a bit different when you add a third sensor to the mix, but if you're comparing apples-to-apples, we still believe the Vive does room-scale a heck of a lot better.
That being said, by being cheaper than the Vive, the Oculus Rift offers a very compelling mid-range virtual reality option for those with less space to spare.
Read the full review: Oculus Rift