Best VR Headsets for PC Gaming: Virtual reality lovers have extolled the wonders and benefits of virtual reality for years. Though VR technology has taken a long time to mature, VR started gaining huge attention towards the end of last year when Mark Zuckerberg announced ambitious plans to build the “metaverse”.
Everyone seems to be talking about the Metaverse these days, which implies that more people will be seeking a virtual reality headset to explore the promised immersive future.
Virtual reality has now become a popular gaming choice. While some smartphone-based platforms have become the most well-known, PC gamers also have a wide range of options.
You can easily get an immersive experience by using the best virtual reality headsets for PC gaming, which also allow you to fully enjoy the digital world you’re in. The virtual reality headset market is fast evolving, and it’s easy to become confused by all of the options.
This VR cheat sheet is designed to make selecting the best VR headset for PC games as simple as possible, providing you with the information you need to find the best PC VR headsets that meet your demands at an affordable price.
Early adopters had to accept low-resolution displays, poorly optimized optics, low frame rates, and often poor tracking accuracy when VR headsets first hit the market. After years of hard work headset manufacturing companies resolved most of the issues found with earlier VR devices.
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Best VR Gaming Headset for PC Buying Guide
Consider the following when looking for the best VR headset for gaming.
1. Need Expensive System
It’s true that PC-connected VR provides the best experience but you have to have a powerful system that is expensive. The best VR gaming is done with headsets that are connected to a computer.
When virtual reality headsets first became popular, you could buy a VR-ready gaming PC for under $1000, and you could even build one yourself for less than that. With the current condition of the graphics card industry, a machine with a powerful GPU may cost double that amount.
Consider standalone HMDs that are not connected to any system for more cost-effective VR. Just keep in mind that the amount of graphical detail won’t always be the same.
2. Powerful Enough PC for VR
Before ordering a VR headset that requires a computer, make sure that your computer fulfills the headset’s minimum requirements. Overshooting the minimum requirements by a significant amount, on the other hand, is a great idea.
You can never have too much GPU power for VR, as we’ve found from testing the most modern headsets. Even an RTX 2080 can limit your experience with a top-tier headset with the resolutions that modern HMDs offer.
If your PC doesn’t satisfy the headset’s specifications, you may wish to boost your budget or get a standalone HMD.
3. Bigger Specs Are Better
The higher the refresh rate, the field of view (FOV), total resolution, and pixel density of the headset, the sharper the game will play. Keep in mind that anything that increases the number of pixels your GPU must process per second will put extra pressure on your graphics card.
4. Mind Your Glasses
In VR, you can normally wear glasses, but some HMDs make this easier than others. Some headsets are too thin to fit larger glasses, while others include cut-outs in the foam cushions to create room.
Many headsets support glasses wearers by adjusting the depth of the lenses, either mechanically (as with the Valve Index) or with a glasses spacer (like with the Oculus Quest 2).
5. Enough Physical Space
Depending on the headset, you may require a lot of physical space in order to play comfortably. The Oculus Rift S, for example, requires a minimum of 3 by 3 feet of space, whereas the PSVR requires a minimum of 10 x 10 feet.
For standing-only VR, you’ll need at least enough open space to spread your arms to the side and rotate 360 degrees. You’ll need more than that if you want to move around.
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1. Oculus Quest 2/ Meta Quest 2 – Standalone VR Headset
For most people, the Meta Quest 2 (previously known as Oculus Quest 2) is the best VR headset for Pc gaming to buy. It provides the most flexibility and best value for the money possible. Meta Quest 2 is one of the cheapest vr headsets for PC gaming under $500.
The Oculus Quest 2 is made with the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 SoC processor and a graphics chip derived from Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone processors but specialized for VR and AR.
The Oculus Quest 2 is a standalone VR headset that offers a high-resolution VR experience and does not require the use of a computer. It also allows you to use a USB tether or a Wi-Fi connection to play PC VR content.
The headset has a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, which is higher than the tethered PC headsets Valve Index and HTC Vive Cosmos. Quest 2 also supports variable refresh rates, allowing developers to target 60hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz settings depending on the game’s performance requirements.
The Meta Quest 2 comes in two sizes: a 128GB basic model and a 256GB variant. The original 64GB model is no longer available for purchase. And don’t forget to buy extra VR power banks for the extended gaming session.
If you come across one on the shelf, we recommend avoiding it unless it’s a great offer. Some of the most recent Quest games would barely fit on the 64GB model. After August 2021, all headsets will contain an upgraded face cover for improved hygiene.
- Brand: Oculus
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 3664 x 1920
- Refresh Rate: Up to 120 Hz
- Field of View: 100 degrees
- Controllers: Oculus Touch
- Connections: USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone
- Best standalone VR headset with great performance
- Amazing resolution
- Much more powerful than the original Quest
- The Oculus library contains a wide range of games.
- Ergonomic controls
- Better, faster processor
- White picks up dirt and grime
- Requires an additional Oculus Link cable
- Requires Facebook account
- Only 2-3 hours of battery life
2. Valve Index – Best VR Headset for PC Gaming
The Valve Index is Valve’s first virtual reality headset and an old dog that is still one of the most high-performance VR headsets for PC gaming available today. Unfortunately, the Index lags behind the rest of the market in terms of resolution.
The headset has twin 1440 x 1600 LCD panels that provide crisp but not stunning image clarity. When you have a less powerful graphics card in your system, the variable refresh rate options allow you to adjust the displays to match your PC’s capabilities, which is a huge benefit.
The Index is compatible with frequencies of 80, 90, 120, and 144 Hz. Two off-ear speakers are included within the headset to provide an immersive listening experience. Because the speakers don’t touch your ears, you may wear the headset for longer periods of time without your ears becoming too warm.
Antimicrobial fabrics are used in the headset to provide a more hygienic and fresh experience. The Index’s biggest feature is its tracking system’s versatility. The SteamVR tracking system is used in the Index headset, which was first launched on the original HTC Vive and upgraded for the Vive Pro.
Even if you have a set of SteamVR 2.0-base stations, the Lighthouse IR tracking system is still the most accurate tracking solution for home-based VR systems. The SteamVR tracking system is also compatible with a variety of VR accessories, including the Valve Index VR controllers (also known as Knuckles controllers), Vive Trackers, and the newly funded Tundra Trackers on Kickstarter.
The Index is available as a standalone HMD (Head-mounted displays) from Valve, which you may use to enhance an existing SteamVR system, such as an old Vive. The controllers feature 87 sensors that track hand and finger position as well as force detection.
The Valve Index controllers are also available alone or as a combo with a headset. The whole kit, which includes the headset, two controllers, two 2.0 base stations, and wall mounting hardware, is the best value for VR beginners. Best VR Headset for PC Gaming Under $2000.
- Brand: Valve
- Connectivity: PC
- Resolution (per eye): 1440×1600
- Display Type: LCD
- Refresh Rate: 80Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz
- FOV: Up to 130 degrees
- Connectivity: USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2
- Tracking Technology: SteamVR 2.0
- Weight: 1.78 pounds
- Wider FOV than comparable headsets
- Excellent audio quality
- Controllers are comfortable and natural to use
- Variable refresh rate: 144Hz, 120Hz, 90Hz, 80Hz
- The use of an RGB subpixel array eliminates the screen-door effect
- Requires Base Station for tracking
- Less comfortable than the HTC Vive Pro
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3. Pimax Vision 8K X
If money isn’t an issue and you want the most immersive VR experience possible, the Pimax 8K X is the way to go. Sure, there are more expensive headsets on the market with probably more advanced capabilities, but for the best gaming experience, nothing beats an ultrawide headset.
The 8K X has two 4K screens, one for each eye. The default refresh rate on these panels is 75Hz, but if you have an RTX 3000-series GPU to drive the pixels, you may increase it to 90Hz.
The Pimax headset’s most notable feature is its 170-degree horizontal field of view, which is 30 to 40 degrees wider than the competitors.
For VR games like Beat Saber, the ultrawide headset isn’t really useful. Even yet, if you’re like flying, space simulations, or racing, the increased peripheral vision adds realism to the experience.
It was a magnificent joy to play Half-Life: Alyx on the Vision 8K X, especially at native resolution and the 8K X brought the details to life. It’s one of the best VR headsets for PC gaming under $1300.
- Connectivity: PC
- Display: Customized low persistence liquid (CLPL)
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (native), 2560 x 1440 (upscaled) Per-eye.
- Refresh Rate: 114 Hz (Upscaled), 90 Hz (Native with RTX 3000 GPU), 75 Hz (Native), 60 Hz
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Well Balanced Considering the Weight
- Insane Visuals
- Comfortable Design
- Great Sounding Speakers
- Excellent Tracking With Valve Vr
- Excellent Clarity at Full Resolution
- Wide FOV
- High-end minimum spec requirements
- Big and heavy
- Poor clarity at reduced resolutions
- Poor clarity at reduced resolutions
- Requires RTX 3000 or higher for 90 Hz
4. HTC Vive Focus 3
The Oculus Quest 2 is the best standalone VR headset most people can afford, but it isn’t the best standalone VR headset available. Instead, that title belongs to the HTC Vive Focus 3. Read our HTC Vive Focus 3 review.
This is a business-oriented headset that checks so many of the boxes that make up a great HMD that we had to include it here. Unfortunately, unless you own a business, you won’t be able to get a Vive Focus 3, and even if you could, there’s not much you can do with it as a consumer.
HTC isn’t attempting to bring the headset to the consumer market in North America, and it doesn’t have an official storefront for game distribution. Despite the fact that it is not widely available, the Focus 3 is the best solo headset for a variety of reasons.
HTC equipped the headset with a Qualcomm XR-3 processor with an active cooling system. The Focus 3 features larger Memory and a higher-resolution display than the Quest 2.
It also includes a removable and replaceable battery and expandable memory via a microSD slot. The Focus 3 from HTC is also one of the most comfortable HMDs we’ve seen. The device’s weight is nicely balanced thanks to the rear-mounted battery, and the durable headband keeps it secure on your head.
The Focus 3 is even packed with easy-to-clean, detachable, moisture-resistant cushions. It is the best VR headset for PC under $1500.
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 2,448 x 2,448 per-eye
- Refresh Rate: 90Hz
- Lenses: Dual-element Fresnel
- FOV: 120°
- Processor: Snapdragon XR3
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB (expandable via MicroSD to 2TB)
- Connectors: USB-C (2x)
- Battery Life: 2 hours
- Controllers: Vive Focus 3 controllers
- Audio: In-head strap speakers, 3.5mm aux output
- Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C ports, external USB-C port, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6
- Premium-feeling hardware
- Excellent display resolution
- Well-balanced weight
- Moisture-proof materials
- Micro SD card slot
- Replaceable battery
- Doesn’t require social media engagement
- No consumer app store
- Controllers need to be improved
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5. Oculus Rift S
If you already have a gaming PC, the Oculus Rift S could be the perfect VR headset for you to try out virtual reality gaming. The headset features Oculus’ Halo headband for a snug fit, as well as positional audio integrated right into the headset for a surround-sound experience.
The headset sports a resolution of 2560×1440 per eye and, unlike previous Rift models, does not require extra cameras for tracking. Although this headset is reasonably priced, it was first released in early 2019. As a result, more updated features such as wireless tethering are unavailable to you.
Like Oculus’ other headgear, you’ll get access to the company’s game library, which includes a wide range of titles. The Oculus Rift S is ideal for beginner VR users because of its comprehensive package.
Note: It’s almost time to wish the Oculus Rift S goodbye. According to Facebook, which spoke with UploadVR, supplies of the Rift S will no longer be restocked, officially marking it as ‘end-of-life’.
Should you get one before it’s too late? The Rift S was once a good deal, but in all honesty, the Quest 2 has basically replaced it. It’s one of the best VR PC gaming headsets under $700.
The Rift S is still a tempting option if you’ve already invested in a mid-tier or higher gaming PC and want a powerful headset but don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. It’s still an impressive piece of gadget, and it’s a great way for PC owners to have their first flavor of virtual reality.
- Brand: Oculus
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 2560 x 1600
- Refresh Rate: 80 Hz
- Field of View: 110 degrees
- Controllers: Oculus Touch
- Connections: DisplayPort/Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0
- Tracking Technology: 6DOF
- Audio: Integrated, in-strap
- Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Excellent resolution and refresh rate
- A great, deep library of games
- Inside out tracking
- Has positional audio built-in
- Touch controllers are easy to use
- The Halo headband provides a relaxing experience.
- Lower fidelity image quality
- 80Hz is a little low
- Officially end of life
- No wireless connectivity
6. HTC VIVE Cosmos
The HTC Vive Cosmos is one of the most versatile virtual reality headsets available for PC. This headset boasts a refresh rate of 90Hz and a resolution of 1440×1700 per eye.
Steam and HTC’s VIVEPORT library are both supported by the Vive Cosmos. The headset includes on-ear VR headphones, and a front ventilated display enables for long gaming sessions without a sweaty face.
The Vive Cosmos has a unique function in that you can flip up the display unit at the front to exit VR without having to remove the headset. This feature is useful when you need to quickly communicate with someone or take a break without having to remove your headset.
This headset is on the heavy side, weighing in at 1.8 pounds, but its performance, comfort, and experience will not disappoint. The best VR headset for pc gaming under $800.
The HTC Vive Cosmos is a less expensive alternative to the HTC Vive Pro 2. Unlike the Vive Pro 2, the HTC Vive Cosmos can track itself using onboard sensors, avoiding the need for additional trackers in your game space. If you want a strong PC-based VR gaming experience but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the HTC Vive Cosmos is a great option.
- Brand: HTC
- Compatibility: PC
- Resolution: 1440×1700 (per eye)
- Display Type: LCD; 90Hz
- Storage: 8GB
- Connectivity: USB-C 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2
- Tracking Technology: Six-camera tracking
- Audio: Stereo headphones
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
- The six-camera tracking system is excellent and covers a large area.
- Longer periods are more pleasant with a ventilated display.
- Without taking off the headgear, you can easily switch between VR and the real world thanks to the flip-up display.
- The headset is heavy
- You need a gaming PC
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7. HP Reverb G2
The HP Reverb G2 is the company’s second-generation Mixed Reality headset, and it comes with a slew of useful features for PC VR gaming.
In comparison to the previous Reverb G, the Reverb G2 has two 2160×2160 LCDs with a 90Hz refresh rate with better Valve optics.
The Reverb G2 also comes with a pair of Valve speakers that sit off the ear, allowing for more comfortable gaming for longer periods of time. The headset is compatible with both the SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality libraries, giving you access to a wide range of games.
The VR headgear uses the 6DoF (6 Degrees of Freedom) tracking architecture and contains a four-camera tracking system. Although the huge tracking rings may make the experience less comfortable, the controllers are suitable.
Overall, the HP Reverb G2 is a powerful headset that can provide an excellent VR experience to both novice and experienced gamers (or VR racing sim fans). It’s one of the virtual reality headsets for pc gaming under $700.
- Brand: HP
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 4320 x 2160
- Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
- Connections: DisplayPort 1.3, USB 3.0
- Tracking Technology: 6DoF
- Field of View: ~114 degrees
- Controller: Odyssey Controllers
- Audio: Valve speakers
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Easy setup and long cable
- Accessible physical IPD Toggle
- No screen door effect
- Awesome display
- Limited tracking volume
- Not the best controllers
- Takes time to set up
- Few user complaints get hot in use
8. Pimax Vision 5K Super
The Pimax Vision 5K Super is the company’s latest mid-tier VR headset for PC gaming. This headset has a 1440p per eye resolution and a 200-degree field of view.
Although the resolution is reduced, this headset offers nearly feature parity with the Vision 8K Plus. The 180Hz refresh rate on the Vision 5K Super is really exceptional.
If you want the most responsive screen on your VR headset, the Vision 5K Super is an excellent investment. And it’s one of the best VR gaming headsets under $800.
The Pimax 5K Super VR Headset supports huge games available on BOTH Steam and Oculus Home thanks to Pimax Compatibility Technology. The Pimax 5K Super is also compatible with other brands of Steam Controllers, as well as the SteamVR Lighthouse 1.0 and 2.0 tracking technologies.
Pimax Vision 5K Super VR Headset comes with a comfort kit (including a face cowling, nose guard, and soft face foam). In addition, you can enjoy a hassle-free VR experience and the best visual and audio quality with the integrated latest modular audio strap.
- Brand: Pimax
- Resolution (per eye): 2560×1440
- FOV: 200°
- Refresh Rate: 180 Hz
- Display Type: CLPL
- Connectivity: USB-C, DisplayPort, audio jack
- Tracking Technology: Eye tracking, hand tracking
- Audio: Modular speakers
- Weight: 1.02 pounds
- Lightweight headset
- Incredibly responsive 180Hz refresh rate
- Good image quality
- Mechanical head strap
- Buggy software
9. Varjo Aero VR Headset
If you’re looking for a VR headset with the best visual experience, the Varjo Aero is a good option. This is by far the most expensive HMD on the market, and it’s for good reason. Varjo is a company that makes enterprise headsets for the VR market’s top positions.
As a result, Varjo’s products are often only available to enterprises at the enterprise level. Nonetheless, it has lately made its technology available to a wider audience, though one that can afford a $2,000 HMD.
Varjo differentiates itself from the competition by using high-quality components. Not only are the individual panels in this headset ridiculously large at 2880 x 2720 pixels, but they’re also the first VR LCDs to include Mini LED backlighting for accurate color accuracy.
Varjo additionally calibrates the panels for the color accuracy of 99 % sRGB and 95 percent DCI-P3, as well as the brightness of 150 NIT. Additional advanced capabilities, including eye-tracking sensors that enable gaze interaction and foveated rendering, help explain the Varjo Aero’s incredible pricing.
The headset also includes a motorized IPD adjustment that works in conjunction with the eye-tracker to ensure that the headset is always correctly adjusted for your eye position. If you decide to buy an Aero, keep in mind that it will not come with everything you’ll need to get it up and running.
The Aero is a SteamVR headset that requires SteamVR base stations and controllers, both of which must be purchased separately. Best PC-connected Premium VR headset under $2000.
- Connectivity: PC
- Per-eye resolution: 2880 x 2720
- Pixels Per Degree: 35
- Refresh Rate: 90Hz
- FOV: Horizontal
- Weight: 1.07 pounds
- Ultra-clear display
- Automatic IPD
- Standard USB-C cable
- Headphones, base stations & controllers not included
- A little heavy
10. HTC Vive Pro 2
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is the most recent high-end PC VR headset to enter the market, and it comes with a lot of display improvements that make it one of the most attractive mainstream alternatives available.
The original resolution of 2,448 x 2,448 pixels per eye is outstanding, and when combined with the 120Hz refresh rate and 120-degree field of view, it creates one of the most immersive viewing experiences available.
To ensure accurate controller tracking, HTC has stuck with the satellite configuration for the Vive Pro 2, which means you’ll need a lot of power sockets to get everything up and running. The headset, two first-generation controllers, and two Base Station 2.0 satellites are all included in the whole starter kit.
The headset can also be purchased separately if you’re upgrading from a first-generation setup. The whole package costs around $1,399 (£1,299), while the headset alone costs almost $799 (£719). Not exactly budget-friendly.
It’s an expensive upgrade over the Valve Index, and it doesn’t accomplish anything to justify the cost beyond the enhanced display.
The HTC Vive Pro 2 and HTC Vive Cosmos, like the Oculus Quest 2, work with SteamVR and have their own VR software store called Viveport. Viveport offers the Viveport Infinity membership, which enables infinite access to VR via a subscription service.
When compared to free-roaming devices like the Oculus Quest 2, the screen can get heated after prolonged usage, the controllers haven’t evolved much since the first Vive headset was released, and the external tracking stations and tethered cabling can be a pain to set up.
Still, there’s a case to be made for the Vive Pro 2 if you’re seeking the greatest display available, especially as an upgrade. It’s one of the best PC VR headsets with controllers under $1400.
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 4896 x 2448
- Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
- Field of View: 120 degrees
- Controllers: HTC Vive
- Connections: DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0
- The best resolution for VR gaming
- Awesome display
- Precise tracking
- Mature tracking
- Smooth motion tracking
- Works with Valve Index controllers
- Wide field of view
- Access to great games
- Takes time to set up
- Gets hot in use
- Lots of cables
FAQ of the Best PC VR Gaming Headsets
What Is the Difference Between Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality (VR and MR)?
Virtual reality, or VR, is the use of a headset to completely immerse one in a virtual world. You’re engaging with totally digital objects in this case. Mixed reality, or MR, inserts digital elements into the real world, allowing users to interact with them in physical surroundings.
Is a High Refresh Rate Important for VR Headsets?
Yes, higher refresh rate displays on VR headsets improve immersion in games and content. The headset feels more responsive and fluid since the screens refresh themselves more regularly. Headsets with a high refresh rate make games feel more realistic and dynamic.
Do I Need to Buy a High-End Pc to Use My Headset?
To play games smoothly, your PC will need a moderately powerful graphical performance, depending on the headset.
On their product pages, the manufacturer usually includes the minimal requirements for running the VR headset as well as the recommended requirements.
However, the higher the headset’s resolution or refresh rate, the more powerful your PC must be to allow the headset to run at maximum resolution.
What are VR lighthouses?
Valve developed Lighthouse, a laser-based inside-out positional tracking technology for SteamVR and HTC Vive. It tracks the user’s head-mounted Display and controllers’ location and orientation in real-time.
What Is Inside-out Tracking in VR?
Inside-out tracking avoids the need for external sensors because the headset can track both itself and the controllers in its near area. Originally, this strategy was less successful, less responsive, and disturbed in-game immersion.
However, with the best VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, the technology is now almost as responsive as the lighthouse. And it’s obviously more convenient.
Are There Any Wireless VR Headsets for PCs Available?
Although the Quest 2 is a wireless headset, it is required to connect it to your gaming PC via a USB Type-C cable in order to get the most out of it.
However, there are now several options for doing so wirelessly. To get the bandwidth you need, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router. Otherwise, you’ll spend the entire time vomiting your guts up due to constant lag.