The best VR headset in 2021

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The best VR headset

The best VR headset is an investment in pure escape and is more than your best route to Half-Life: Alyx. Although, admittedly, this stunning sequel to Half-Life is almost worth the price of admission on its own. But once you’ve roamed the streets of City 17 to combine to kill and dodge the headcrab zombies, you can sit back and watch a movie big on a virtual cinema screen, piloting an X-Wing in Star Wars: Squadrons. , or even paint a mural that folds physics into virtual space.

So, forget the naysayers, now is the perfect time to step into virtual reality.

We’ve designed this list for those of you who want to get started in VR but might need a helping hand navigating the realms of reality when it comes to money, comfort, and convenience. Don’t worry, all of the recommendations are compatible with the biggest VR games on the market and we’ve factored in the most important FOV and resolution for the ultimate experience.

If your extra dollar burns a hole in your pocket, the best VR gaming headset right now is the Valve Index. The release of Nvidia’s RTX 30 series and AMD’s Radeon 6000 series GPUs has made VR gaming a little (just a little) more affordable. Even so, if you’ve got a serious PC, it’s a serious VR solution to go with it.

Half-Life: Alyx

The clue is back in stock after the release of Half-Life: Alyx, although they may still be a bit scarce. In fact, many of these helmets are the case: stocks are limited and they all tend to sell out quickly whenever a great title comes out. At least in the case of the Valve Index, you might only have to wait a few weeks to receive one.

It might sound like gold dust, but the best VR experiences don’t have to mean new mortgage on your home or the sale of your kids. There are several cheaper VR headsets on the list for those on a budget.

The Oculus Quest 2 stands out as one of the best entry-level VR headsets available today. It’s lightweight, powerful, inexpensive, and can be connected to your gaming PC with a single USB Type-C cable for fully connected action. The only caveat is the forced login to Facebook, which may discourage some of your Luddits on social media.

Best VR headsets

The Oculus Quest 2 improves on both the original Quest’s specs and the cheaper book. With a new LCD display at 1832 x 1920 per eye, the Quest 2 offers exceptional clarity for an entry-level headset, through which you can enjoy a multitude of games specially designed for the standalone headset, and therefore rendered via the built-in Snapdragon XR2 chip, or streamed from your PC using Oculus Link and a compatible USB Type-C cable.

Thanks to Oculus Link, the Quest 2 becomes more than a standalone VR headset. It becomes an all-in-one VR Swiss Army Knife, capable of doing VR and moving games on SteamVR and Oculus Rift compatible titles. It’s now capable of a refresh rate of up to 90Hz, thanks to a recent update, which makes it a much smoother affair. There’s even talk on the air about a possible 120Hz update, but we’ll have to wait and see.

It’s also one of the fastest headsets to set up on this list. With built-in Inside-Out tracking and hand tracking, you can go from unboxing to commissioning in VR in just minutes.

Oculus Quest

There’s only one catch in the Oculus Quest 2’s plan for virtual world domination: the mandatory Facebook account login. The Oculus Quest 2 requires login to a Facebook account. The company says it’s to better serve you, the customer, with services and products, although for quite a while there the only noticeable “ benefit ” was to feed screenshots directly. Not great. If you’re not a fan of Facebook’s practices, you’d better scroll down the list below to find a VR headset worth investing in, starting with the superb …

Valve Index

The Valve Index has some of the best visuals of any commercially available consumer HMD, with display resolution equal to Vive Pro, Quest, and Odyssey +, but paired with a 120Hz refresh rate (up to 144 Hz in a currently unsupported experimental mode). The FOV, at 130 °, is also best in its class and there is virtually no screen door effect detectable inside the helmet.

It also has awesome technology and handy features like finger tracking on the excellent index controllers, USB relay for future accessories and fantastic, crystal-clear sound through the near field speakers, which float. right next to the ears. It’s also comfortable to wear, made from carefully selected high-quality materials and top-notch weight distribution.

But all of this comes at a price. As we said in our Valve Index review, this is the best VR headset out there … if you don’t consider the value proposition. There aren’t many solid use cases for finger tracking tech either, other than Half-Life: Alyx, which you get for free.

Oculus Rift

The Rift S is an exciting proposition, but in all fairness it’s a draw between Quest 2 and Valve Index for us. Still, in an effort to provide a much needed alternative, the Oculus Rift S does a good job of replacing its predecessor, the original Oculus Rift, entirely.

It’s definitely an upgrade, too, but it sells for the same price as the original retailed. That said, it’s also a weird step back in some ways, with a slight decrease in refresh rate and the fact that it uses LCD lenses rather than OLEDs.

That said, the Rift S is easily the best mid-level wired headset you can buy for a PC. Not only does it have a vast library of games – a library that has matured a lot and expanded considerably since the launch of the original Rift – its higher resolution and more comfortable fit mean that the original Rift is now obsolete (unless, of course, that you can find one at a big discount).

While the original may have a slight edge in some of the categories mentioned above, the experience of wearing the Rift S is far superior, especially since it fully supports reverse tracking. This means that you don’t have to buy, wire, and find a place for external sensors in your play space.

If you’ve ever invested in a mid-tier or higher gaming PC, want a powerful headset, but don’t want to spend a ton of money on that privilege, the Rift S is a clear winner. It may be more of an iterative upgrade from the original than we initially hoped for. However, it’s still great hardware and a fantastic way for PC owners to get into VR for the first time.

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is designed to solve some of the original problems of the HTC Vive Cosmos while maintaining the basic specifications of this model. The dual 4.3-inch 1440 x 1700 displays running at 90Hz are definitely worth a look. The Cosmos Elite comes with Half-Life: Alyx and a 6-month Viveport Infinity subscription, which at the very least means there’s a lot to try with your new headset.

The Cosmos Elite is essentially the original Cosmos that came with the first generation base stations and controllers and a different faceplate. This means that you lose some of the immediacy of the original’s reverse tracking, but get improved accuracy for the problem. It’s a seemingly reasonable success in good games (Half-Life: Alyx, for example). However, you’ll need a decent spot to get started with headphones.

The Cosmos Elite’s original introductory price was prohibitive at $ 899, and that’s one of the reasons it wasn’t better in our review. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a premium VR gaming experience, you will need to pay for a portion of it regardless of which solution you choose.

Odyssey

The Odyssey + is Samsung’s refresh, you guessed it, the original Odyssey HMD. This is a substantial improvement and the best of the current crop of Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) offerings. Don’t be fooled by this category name; the Odyssey + is above all a dedicated VR headset – the “mixed” nomenclature comes mainly from Microsoft’s initial desire to group HoloLens into the same ecosystem as its VR initiative.

The Odyssey + has an impressive high-resolution display for a WMR device, at 2880 x 1600, and also takes advantage of an exclusive anti-screen door feature that Samsung is rolling out to reduce the fine grain you see in the image. majority of HMDs. As a result, the screen door effect in the Odyssey + is virtually undetectable and, combined with the WMR indoor-to-outdoor tracking standard, provides a remarkable level of immersion.

Jargon Buster – Shattered Virtual Reality

Field of view (FOV)

Field of view refers to the amount of environment visible to an observer; in VR, it is the extent of the gaming world that is visible on the screens. A wider field of vision in a helmet is an integral part of a feeling of immersion.

Head mounted display (HMD)

Basically any head-mounted portable joshdub device with graphics capabilities, but often used to refer specifically to VR headsets.

Indoor-outdoor monitoring

Systems used to track a user’s movements in VR that originate from the helmet, as opposed to outside-to-inside tracking, where external sensors are used to track movement. Tracking and the method used are crucial in activating three degrees of freedom (being able to look around you in any direction in VR) or six degrees of freedom (being able to look around and move your body in any direction. in VR).

Latency

Low latency is vital to reducing nausea in VR, which is more intense when there is a delay or stutter between moving or seeking and responding to the screen.

Resolution

Resolution is the horizontal and vertical measurement in pixels of an image or display. Higher resolution in VR is essential because the screens are so close to the user’s eyes, which emphasizes jagged lines, pixelation, and the screen door effect.

Refresh rate

The number of images a screen is capable of displaying per second, measured in hertz. High refresh rate is essential for VR in the same way as latency, as a low refresh rate can cause stuttering (or even the appearance of freezing), which can lead to nausea.

Screen Door Effect (SDE)

A fine mesh type effect of viewing an image rendered in pixels at a short distance, where the grid between the pixels is visible. Higher resolutions (or proprietary solutions like the one built into the Odyssey +) mitigate this effect.