The Best Steam VR compatible Headsets
Which Headset to Buy?
I REALLY recommend getting the Oculus Quest 3 (now called Meta Quest 3) especially if you’re a beginner to VR.
Although not the cheapest, it’s affordable to most people and it’s constantly getting improved with each update (which happens faster than any other headset). The Quest 3 is also the most ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of features.
Don’t let the price fool you though – it’s even better than some of the thousand dollar headsets!
It depends on your budget
If you’re on an ultra tight budget: Try looking for a Quest 2 or HP Reverb G2 that’s on sale.
Over here in my country, you can find cheap Meta Quest 2’s going for around $150-200 USD on Facebook Marketplace.
My #1 recommendation: Oculus Quest 3. It’s compatible with SteamVR and you can play every Steam game on there, but you have to understand a few things:
Since the Quest 3 is a standalone headset (meaning you don’t need a PC to play it), in order to play Steam games, you’ll either need Air Link (which streams your desktop to your Quest and lets you play games wirelessly) OR you’ll need an Oculus Link cable which connects your headset into your PC – basically turning it into a PC VR headset like the other ones mentioned here.
Both options are really good, but with Air Link you’ll need a 5G router that’s within 10 meters of your play space (ideally 5m). For Oculus Link, you’ll need a cable that costs upwards from $20 up to $80.
Which version do I get? 128 GB or the 512 GB? In short:
Read more about game file sizes: 128 GB vs 512 GB Meta Quest 3: How Big are Games?
Best Budget Option: The Quest 2, 128 GB version is still a great headset that will blow your minds. The main downside is the processor isn’t as powerful as the Quest 3’s, however, it’s significantly cheaper. It’s like buying an iPhone 11 instead of the newest iPhone 15.
The most ‘bang for your buck’ headset along with the Quest 2, and my first recommendation for beginners new to VR.
Visuals: Simply the best I’ve ever seen. The pancake lenses make this clearer than any headset out there on the market.
It’s resolution is 2064 x 2208 per eye, and there is almost no screen-door-effect (meaning you can’t see the individual pixels, which the older headsets suffer from).
The default refresh rate is 90 Hz, but expect this to be unlocked to 120 Hz down the future. This allows for smoothness of motion and can help reduce motion sickness.
Comfort: Comfort is the second most important thing when it comes to choosing a VR headset.
You want the headset to be comfortable enough to where you can use the headset for at least an hour straight (some might want 3+ hours)
Unfortunately for a such a great headset, it has some horrible comfort issues.
It’s slightly more comfortable than the Quest 2, but I started to get pain and discomfort from wearing it for longer than 20 minutes. Luckily, with some comfort mods – by replacing the facial interface cushions, you can turn this into one of the most comfortable headsets. It’ll just cost a bit extra.
Tracking: The tracking is amazing! But don’t just take my word for it, the best Beat Saber player in the world even says it’s superior to the Quest 2.
Wireless: Unlike most other headsets, the Quest 3 is a standalone headset that doesn’t require connecting to a PC to play. HOWEVER, if you want to play SteamVR games, then you’ll still need a VR-capable PC, but it can still be played wirelessly.
Without a PC, you’ll only be able to play games on the Oculus Quest store. If a game is not listed there, it means you can’t play it without a PC.
As stated before:
In order to play Steam games on the Oculus Quest, you’ll either need Air Link (which lets you stream your PC to your Quest and play games wirelessly) OR you’ll need an Oculus Link cable which connects your headset into your PC and allows you to play PC VR games.
Both options are really good, but with Air Link you’ll need good internet speeds and a 5G router that’s within 5 meters of your play space.
Wireless is highly important for immersion and can prevent accidents involving wires. Imagine swinging around your arms (playing Beat Saber) whilst a cable is dangling from your headset. Easy to go wrong right? Not only that, but you’ll end up being cautious and it can ruin your immersion abit. That’s where the Quest 3 shines – even over the thousand dollar headsets. It has wireless and it’s one of the reasons why I still use this headset daily.
The battery life is a bit short, lasting 1.5-2 hours. You can increase the play time by playing with the charger plugged in, or using a power bank attached to the headset (as a mod).
Mixed Reality: Ever wanted to see the world outside the headset in color? Although the color passthrough isn’t perfect, you can play mixed reality/augmented reality games on here with no problems. It’s one of the best headsets for that at least until Apple Reality comes out (a $3500 headset). Imagine seeing virtual animals – cats, dogs inside your house, or your friend’s avatar. Pretty cool right? That’s what the Quest 3 is capable of.
Overall impression: The graphics are so beautiful, and the clarity is amazing. It’s mindblowing. It’s immersive. You can’t go wrong with the Quest 3. The only downside is the comfort, which can be fixed with comfort mods.
A bit outdated, but still an amazing headset. Like I said before, it’s like buying an older iPhone model – it’ll have a weaker processor and less clarity, but it’ll still blow your mind.
Comparison: Quest 2 vs. Quest 3
Visuals: Visuals are one of the most important things when it comes to VR, as it impacts your immersion more than other senses.
In terms of visual fidelity, the Quest 2 is one of the best headsets on the market.
It’s resolution is 3664 x 1920 (1832×1920 per eye) and there is almost no screen-door-effect (meaning you can’t see the individual pixels, which the older headsets suffer from).
The default refresh rate is 90 Hz and can go up to 120 Hz, like the Quest 3.
The only downside to the Quest 2 is the field of view which is at 90 degrees (diagonally). This is where the thousand dollar headsets shine over the Quest 2 – they usually have much larger field of view (or FOV) with the Valve Index at 130° diagonally and the HTC Vive Pro even bigger at 120° horizontally.
Field of view can have a great impact on your immersion levels, but is it worth the extra cost? That’s up to you to decide. Me personally – I still use the Quest 2 on a daily basis, so for such a cheap price, it’s what I recommend at a starting point for beginners.
For me, I couldn’t use the headset for more than 15 minutes without taking it off. It was that uncomfortable. HOWEVER:
You can turn the Quest 2 into the most comfortable headset on the market if you decide to get 2 comfort mods. It’ll cost an extra $30-70, but I highly recommend two comfort mods if you’re going to get the Quest 2: The Elite Strap combined with the VRCover replacement facial interface. For $30-$70, it can make your VR experience so much better.
I went from being able to wear the headset for 15 minutes to wearing it the whole day. The difference is night and day.
Tracking: How accurately a headset tracks your hand movements is crucial to a VR headset. Luckily today, all the headsets on this list can track your hand movements down to the millimetre. So you don’t have to worry about things going wrong.
The headset itself has 4 cameras installed on it – these pick up infrared lights which are emitted from your controller to see where they are. This type of tracking is called inside-out tracking and doesn’t require you to install any sensors on your walls. You just put on the headset and play!
There’s nothing else to say about the tracking other than it works just as intended and you won’t have any issues! If you care about the absolute most accurate tracking down to the millimetre, then Lighthouse tracking is a bit more accurate (Valve Index, HTC Vive Pro and Pimax headsets use this). However, this requires sensors to be set up on your wall and is extra effort + cost.
The battery life for the headset is about 2 hours, which can be increased with a battery pack. You can also charge the headset whilst playing, or if you’re plugging it into your computer to play Steam games, you won’t run out of battery life.
Controller battery life is insanely long – they last for months (compared to the old Quest which lasts for a week).
Overall Impression: I love the Oculus Quest 2 and used it on a daily basis until the Quest 3 came out. It’s incredible that such a cheap headset can be nearly on par with the thousand dollar headsets AND be standalone/wireless.
Best High End Option: Pimax 8K X
You wanna talk about a headset with crazy specs? This is it.
It’s mostly for the hardcore VR enthusiasts, but I know there are people out there who can’t settle for anything but the best. Well here you go – this is the best headset money can buy and will immerse you like no other.
Visuals: 7680×2160 resolution (basically two 4K displays) and 200 degree FOV. This is basically the same field of view as the human vision!
Although the resolution seems extremely high, it feels on par with the other high-end thousand dollar headsets, because the pixels need to be more spread apart to have a wider field of view, but that’s still really good!
The field of view is insane and I can’t express how much more immersive it is.
After trying the Pimax 8K X, it’s very hard to go back to any other headset, because it feels like you’re looking into a small box with the smaller FOV.
The default refresh rate is 75 Hz, but can go up to 90 Hz. There’s also an option to go up to 114 Hz if you lower the resolution which can be useful in games like Beat Saber where resolution isn’t important but refresh rate is.
The one downside to the visuals is – whilst the centre of the image is really clear, the image is distorted on the peripherals. Human vision is like that too, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. I’d rather have a distorted scene than black bars on the sides… but it is something to note if you’re considering this headset.
Comfort: This is one of the biggest and heaviest headsets out there – so you’d expect it to be uncomfortable, but it’s actually not! The weight is distributed very evenly by the strap and the facial interface foam feels very good on your face. Overall, I’d say the comfort is much much better than the Quest 2 without comfort mods, but slightly worse with the mods. I can still wear this for hours with no problem.
My only qualm with this headset is the size of the headset is so big – that I sometimes hit my controllers on it, but it’s not hard to get used to.
Tracking: This headset uses Steam Lighthouse tracking which is the absolute best on the market. Keep in mind, you’ll have to buy the base station and controllers separately and the base stations are needed to be set up on your walls.
Wires: This headset has no wireless option and requires more cables than other headsets: It needs 2 USB ports and 1 display port on your computer. So keep that in mind.
Also consider getting a pulley cable management system for this headset.
Overall impression: It’s costly, but this is the most immersive headset on the market and it’s hard to go back to other headsets after using this. The only reason why I use my Quest 2 daily is because it has wireless, but whenever I want the most immersive experience possible (like playing Half-Life: Alyx), I immediately switch to this headset.
Mid-Range Option for Sim Enthusiasts: HP Reverb G2
Visuals: Boasting a resolution of 4320 x 2160 pixels (2160 x 2160 per eye), this headset offers one of the sharpest images in the industry, effectively eradicating the screen-door effect (the grid-like pattern visible when individual pixels become discernible, a prevalent issue in older VR models).
The G2 offers a refresh rate of 90 Hz, not the highest on the market but more than adequate for an immersive and comfortable VR experience, significantly reducing the likelihood of motion sickness.
However, where the Reverb G2 slightly falters is in its field of view, providing 114 degrees, which is expansive but still falls short of what headsets like the Valve Index offer at 130°.
Comfort: The HP Reverb G2 scores fairly high on comfort. With its well-balanced weight distribution and plush cushioning, the headset offers one of the most comfortable fits right out of the box.
The G2’s comfort is such that I’ve managed extended VR sessions with little to no discomfort, making it a standout option for those intending to spend considerable time in virtual worlds.
Tracking: The tracking is passable, but it’s certainly the worst out of all the options mentioned. This won’t matter if you’re playing sim games though.
Wired: Here’s where the Reverb G2 diverges from headsets like the Quest series — it’s not standalone and requires a wired connection to a sufficiently powerful PC to function. This tethered setup means that all your movements are restricted by the cable, which can affect immersion and freedom of movement.
The tethered experience, while a bit limiting, guarantees a lag-free, ultra-high-resolution visual experience that’s often necessary for detailed simulations.
This wired requirement isn’t for everyone, and certainly, those seeking the freedom of wireless play may find it a bit confining. However, for simulation enthusiasts who prioritize visual fidelity and detail, the trade-off can be well worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about other headsets?
Most headsets are outdated. You might’ve read a guide that recommended the Oculus Rift S for instance – that guide was probably written 3-4 years ago. A bunch of new headsets have come out since then, and are much better.
What about the Valve Index?
The Valve Index was the best headset for it’s time, but other headsets have come out that are overall better. Still, the Valve Index has the highest refresh rate (144 Hz) and has the best audio/mic quality out of all the headsets, but I don’t think that alone is worth it over the Pimax.
What computer do I need to run VR?
Each VR headset is different and will require different specs. You can also lower the refresh rate on some headsets to accommodate for some PCs. Check out our guide to building a computer for VR to learn about the specs needed to run VR.
Is it worth spending the extra money on the High End Headsets as opposed to the Quest 2?
It depends. You’re essentially paying extra for:
- Better comfort
- Better immersion due to better audio, higher FOV and refresh rate
- Slightly better tracking (for competitive multiplayer games)
- Cooler controllers
- But lack of wireless
So you decide if that’s worth paying the extra cost for.
How big of a difference does Field of View (FOV) make?
A lot. A higher field of view gives better immersion. The 30° field of view difference between the Valve Index and the Quest is very significant, but is by no means a deal breaker.
For most people, the best headset for playing Steam VR games is the Oculus Quest 2. If you want the absolute best money can buy, it’s the Pimax 8K X.