Want to get into VR but not sure which headset is right for you? Here’s our guide for the best VR headset, breaking down the pros and cons of Meta Quest 2, HP Reverb G2, PlayStation VR and the Valve Index.
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Oculus Quest 2 from Meta — Best VR Headset Overall & Best for Newcomers
The Quest 2 is the most versatile VR headset available on the market and the overall best virtual reality headset to buy in 2022, both overall and specifically for newcomers.
For $299, you get a full standalone headset that requires no other equipment, with a selection of some of the best experiences and games on any platform.
However, the big trade-off for the Quest 2 is that you need to log in to a Facebook account to use the headset — for now, at least.
The headset was introduced in 2020 with a mandatory Facebook login policy. For existing Oculus users, merging your Oculus and Facebook accounts together is the only option. On a Quest 2, all your content, and your access to the headset, will be dependent on your Facebook account. If you want to get rid of your account for reasons outside of VR, all of your content will go with it.
However, that’s about to change. At Connect 2021, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced changes to the mandatory Facebook requirement — from sometime in 2022, Meta will make a “broader shift” so that you will be able to login to your Quest headset with an account other than your personal Facebook account. Users will even be able to unlink their Facebook account from their headset and keep all their purchases.
For now though, any Quest 2 headset still requires connection and login via Facebook — while Meta says they are still working on the login changes, there’s still no set date for their arrival.
If you’re okay with Facebook login for now, then the Quest 2 has some huge benefits. You can take it anywhere, use it anywhere and let anyone else try the headset in a matter of seconds. The Quest 2 provides the least friction of any headset available at the moment.
Most experiences on Quest 2 use the two Touch controllers, pictured below, which come included. However, you also have the option to use controller-free hand tracking, which uses the Quest’s cameras to track the position of your hands and display them in VR, allowing you to interact with VR content with your own two hands. Recent updates have significantly improved the technology as well. If you’re interested, check out this list of our favorite hand tracking experiences available on Quest.
All Quest 2 base models, available for $299, now come with 128GB of storage as of mid-2021 — an upgrade over the original Quest 2 base model which shipped for the same price with just 64GB of storage. This is a pretty significant upgrade, considering that big Quest games like Medal of Honor and Resident Evil 4 VR take up around 40GB and 12GB, respectively.
But that’s not all – if you do have a VR-ready PC, the Quest 2 can be connected as a PC VR headset too, allowing you to enjoy PC VR content streamed from your computer to the headset. This can be done through Oculus Link, which uses a USB C cord that connects your PC to your Quest, or through Air Link, a wireless solution that streams the content from your VR-ready PC to your Quest over your local network, provided your router can handle it. The Quest offers the best of both worlds. Read more about how to play PC VR content using Link and Air Link on Quest 2 here.
Because Quest 2 is a standalone headset, all of the components are in the headset itself. This makes the headset front-heavy and not super ideal for long play sessions. That being said, we’ve found that the optional Elite Strap offers the best and most comfortable experience over the standard strap included. If you have the money to shell out for the strap, we highly recommend it.
Providing you’re okay with signing into Facebook until sometime later this year, the Quest 2 is our choice for the overall best VR headset for most consumers, especially those who are just dipping their toes into VR. It’s the cheapest option that offers a premier standalone experience, with the option to branch out into PC VR content as well.
Valve Index — Best PC VR Headset, Most Immersive Headset
While the Index is our pick for best PC VR headset, there are some big disclaimers that you should be aware of before buying.
The Valve Index is Valve’s first VR headset (the original HTC Vive was a collaboration between Valve and HTC) and offers what many consider to be a premier PC VR experience for a very high price – $1,000 for the full kit plus the PC to run it.
The Index offers a series of fine adjustments to the HMD’s optics that allows it to maximize its field of view as well as a new type of controller that straps to the hand and allows full release, plus an impressively loud and comfortable audio experience. The field of view and the refresh rate on the Index beat out all other headsets on this list, however, in 2022 the screen resolution falls behind the Quest 2 and the Reverb G2. It uses lighthouse sensors for outside-in tracking and all-around offers one of the best VR headset experiences – if you can afford it.
The full Valve Index kit, including the headset, the two controllers and the two lighthouse sensors, costs $1,000. That’s a gigantic increase over other options. The lighthouse tracking system also needs to be set up in one spot and kept there, which limits portability. PC VR headsets that use inside out tracking are only limited by the requirement to be connected to a PC. With the Index, you’re also limited to one play area, as the tracking system requires a relatively large amount of effort to take down and set up again.
You can read our full Index review for more information, however, keep in mind that a lot has changed since that review, and more options, such as the Quest 2 above and the Reverb G2 below, did not exist at the time of writing. Valve Index may no longer have all the top of the line specifications, but it’s still worth your consideration.
HP Reverb G2 — Best Visuals, Best For Simulators
Like the Index, the Reverb G2 is a tethered PC VR headset that finds itself in a tricky situation. At $600, it’s more expensive than a $300 Quest 2 (which can work as a PC VR option) and less expensive than the $1000 Index. While it has some serious benefits over both of those headsets, it also shipped with some big drawbacks.
At launch, the G2 that released in 2020 was a great headset with subpar controllers (and controller tracking). However, the recently-updated model, featuring both hardware and software changes, should have improved some of these problems.
The headset has the best screen on the market right now, with higher resolutions than both the Quest 2 and the Index. In terms of visuals, it’s best in class. It also has great off-ear speakers (the same ones found in the Index, as the G2 is a collaboration between HP and Valve).
However, the controllers and their somewhat unreliable tracking really lets the headset down. The G2 sports redesigned WMR controllers, but they’re not quite as reliable or consistent as what you’ll get with other systems. At launch, we found the controllers and associated tracking let the rest of the headset down. Using an inside out tracking system with four cameras, the 2020 G2 model would struggle when the controllers were in a position that was slightly out of view, such as by your waist or close to the headset. Maintaining consistent controller tracking was a problem in these situations.
To address these tracking woes, HP announced Reverb G2 had been refreshed with an updated model. The new 2021 G2 model, which supersedes the now-discontinued original G2 from 2020, includes hardware changes to the tracking cameras. HP claims this increases tracking volume by 30% by “resolving blind spots above and below the waist” compared to the original model.
We haven’t had a chance to test the updated model ourselves yet, so we can’t speak from experience as to how good the changes really are. However, there are still situations where we would recommend the headset anyway — given the high visual fidelity of the screen, it’s perfect for simulators, especially ones that use external peripherals instead of VR controllers.
If you want a best-in-class display for simulators, which might also let you ditch the WMR controllers in favor of external accessories, then the G2 is a great option.
However, if you’re looking for a full VR experience to play the best PC VR games for the first time, then you might be more worried about controller inconsistencies and whether the updated model has fully resolved them.
For half the price, the Quest 2 can connect to a VR-ready PC (as well as play standalone content) and has some of, if not the, best and most consistent inside-out tracking available today.
PlayStation VR — Best Games Library
When it comes to a library of VR games, PlayStation VR is the clear winner, even if the device itself is far from the best VR headset. It has a bunch of fantastic exclusives on the system, such as Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Wipeout Omega Collection, Iron Man VR, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Firewall: Zero Hour, Dreams, Blood & Truth and many more.
PSVR is a tethered headset, but instead of a PC it connects to your PS4 or PS5. However, even with the best library of exclusive games, the hardware is now very dated.
Compared to every other headset on this list, PSVR is the oldest and the furthest behind in terms of technology. While you’re buying into a fantastic games ecosystem, you’ll be playing those games on a headset that has a much older screen with a much lower resolution than other options, plus an outdated and clunky tracking system.
The tracking system uses a PlayStation camera sitting below or above your TV, and is simply not up to par with other more modern tracking systems. It still works, but really shows its age in 2022. The headset has a screen that feels woefully subpar these days — PSVR can’t offer the same visual experience compared to more modern VR systems. This is true even when playing on PS5, which does provide some visual enhancements for select games.
The bottom line is that PSVR is at the end of its life cycle. It was originally released for PS4, and is still compatible with PS5 through backwards compatibility, but Sony has confirmed that a next-generation VR headset for PS5 is on the way. It’s not a matter of if, but when. UploadVR even exclusively revealed the specs of the new headset in May, confirming an increase in resolution, inside-out tracking and much more.
While we don’t have a release date for Sony’s next headset, it is on the way. Plus, it’s increasingly difficult to find available bundles of the original PSVR hardware for sale. If you don’t already own a PS4 or PS5 (or even if you do), another headset might be a better option right now if you want to future-proof your VR experience.
PlayStastion VR headsets and bundles (often including headset, camera, camera adapter for PS5, but not the PlayStation console itself) are sometimes available on Amazon — stock and pricing varies, as the device is at the end of its life cycle. At the time of writing, the Iron Man PSVR bundle (which also includes Iron Man VR) is available for $349.
Which headset are you interested in? What do you think is the best VR headset? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to follow us on YouTube for all the latest coverage.
Looking for more guides like this one? Check out the New to VR? section of our site.
This article was originally published in November 2020, updated in January 2021, October 2021, November 2021 and May 2022.