As VR technology evolves year after year, it is becoming increasingly user friendly and provides a better experience for the customer, with more convenient pricing. We have reviewed and selected the best VR headset for you to buy in 2020 – both for business and personal entertainment. However, the best VR headset option is not going to be the same for everyone.
The top three systems available right now are Mobile, Tethered and Standalone (standalone does not require hardware). Mobile headsets are inexpensive and wireless and require only a smartphone, placed inside the headset, to operate. Tethered headsets are physically connected to hardware like a PC or console, and are the best on the market in terms of graphics and functionality. Standalone headsets were introduced recently and let you enjoy high-quality VR without purchasing expensive hardware and do not require to be connected to a PC or console.
Few Tips to consider before buying a VR headset:
Check that your PC/smartphone meets the requirements.
PC connected VR headsets are better than smartphone or standalone headsets and are the best on the market but you will need to spend an additional 1000$+ for a new PC if your PC doesn’t support the minimum specifications. If your PC or smartphone doesn’t meet the headset’s requirements you can consider purchasing a standalone headset as an alternative, in order to save on cost. Before making a purchase you can always do a free Steam test that will determine whether your PC is VR-ready in advance – Click here.
VR needs space.
In order to safely operate your headset, you will require enough physical space (depending on your HMD – head-mounted display), with a minimum of 1 square meter of free space.
Know your VR glossary.
FOV (field of view) – denotes the how far ahead is visible to the user when they are wearing the headset.
MTP (motion to photon) – the amount of time necessary to process head movements in the VR World
IPD (interpapillary distance)* – necessary in order to regulate the distance between the lenses
*You can usually wear glasses in VR, but some HMDs make this more comfortable than others. Check the headset’s IPD which may be adjustable or purchase a headset that has enough room for glasses.
Top 5 VR devices in 2020
1. Oculus Quest
Best overall and best standalone VR headset
Pros of Oculus Quest:
- Reasonable price
- Easy to configure and to use
- Wireless experience
- No need for a computer
- Great design
- Optional wired connection for gaming PC VR
Cons of Oculus Quest:
- VR graphics quality is worse than with tethered headsets
- Smartphone required for setup
- Oculus Store content only
- Slight light leakage
- Battery lasts 2-3 hours
Oculus Quest is the best headset for those who don’t have the equipment to run tethered headsets and don’t want to be bound by cables. Oculus Quest is easy to set up and doesn’t require the set up of sensors and configuration with a PC – just with a smartphone, after which all that must be done is to put on the headset and start your experience. There is also a number of additional features that are currently in the process of development like Oculus Link which allows you to connect your Oculus Quest to your PC with a cable, and with this feature you can access more demanding applications like SteamVR and other features.
Oculus Quest is also more powerful than the original Oculus Rift with a 1440×1600 display per eye. It has four cameras-trackers on the front of the headset for inside out tracking.
2. Valve Index
Best quality tethered VR headset
Pros of Valve Index:
- Great controllers
- RGB subpixel array eliminates screen-door effect
- Wider FOV than Oculus and HTC
- Excellent audio quality
- Soft cushion
Cons of Valve Index:
- Very heavy headset (807 g)
- Requires expensive GPU
- Cushions are glued on
Valve Index is one of the top VR devices for the time being and the default VR headset to go forward with. It also comes with soft and high-quality cushions and a replaceable facial interface creating a more comfortable experience for the end user.
The most fascinating part about Valve Index is its controllers. Unlike other VR controllers you are not required to hold the controllers as you can simply strap them to your hand and they can be adjusted to 4 different positions – also facilitating open hand movements. The best part of them is that the Index controllers have pressure sensors that detect how hard you squeeze the handles and reflect this information in the application or game. The Valve Index also uses Lighthouse base tracking stations (the same that are used by Vive).
3. Oculus Rift S
Best budget tethered VR headset
Pros of Oculus Rift S:
- Easy to setup
- No sensors, inside out tracking system
- Space for glasses
- Convenient price
Cons of Oculus Rift S:
- No manual IPD adjust
- Not wireless
- Non-Removable Cushions
Oculus Rift S is one of the latest Oculus products and a great improvement since the original Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift S has inside-out tracking systems instead of sensors and doesn’t need additional sensor configuration anymore. It is also more comfortable to wear, has a better resolution and is easier to set up. However, it does not have headphones and instead sports a built-in audio solution.
The unique feature of Oculus Rift S is also the new design of the headset which stands out from other Oculus devices.
4. HTC Vive Cosmos
Pros of HTC Vive Cosmos:
- Great displays and quality
Cons of HTC Vive Cosmos:
- Limited support
- Poor controller ergonomics
After a few years, HTC finally created a new headset – HTC Vive Cosmos. In many ways, HTC Vive is better than HTC’s previous headsets, and rightfully is one of the top HMD on the market. It has a great display, up to date speakers and an inside out tracking system with 5 cameras so sensors are not necessary anymore which prevents the additional hassle of configuration.
It also has a number of distinctive features like modular capability which means that the front plate of the headset can be removed and replaced with various mods. It also has the option to flip the HMD up easily in order to see the real world without removing the whole headset. In addition to a well-balanced halo-style head strap and replaceable cushions, it makes for a great but expensive VR device.
5. HP Reverb
Pros of HP Reverb:
- Superior visual clarity
- Easy to set up
Cons of HP Reverb:
- Poor controller ergonomics
- Limited FOV
- No IPD adjust
Last but not least is the HP Reverb that is the best Windows Mixed Reality headset on the market. It has a much better display resolution than all of the other headsets mentioned and is easy to set up. However, the HP Reverb has poor controller ergonomics by Windows Mixed Reality and also poor controllers tracking.
The HP Reverb is using Windows MR which has a limited library in comparison to other headsets and is also pricey, but it is the best option for high-quality visuals.
VR Headsets specifications
|Oculus Quest||Valve Index||Oculus Rift S||HP Reverb||HTC Vive Cosmos|
|Display||2x OLED||2x LCD, canted||LCD panel||2x 2.89-inch LCD||LCD panel|
|2.5K (2880×1600)||2.5K (2880×1600)||2560×1440||4320 x 2160||2880 x 1700|
|Refresh rate (hz)||72||120||80||90||90|
|FOV (field of view) degrees||100||130||115||115||110|
|IPD (inter pupillary distance)||Manual adjust||Manual adjust||Software adjust||Not available||Manual adjust|
|Price||400 $ (64gb) 500 $ (128gb)||1,000$||400$||649$||700$|