Best VR Headsets 2023 (Complete Guide)
As a VR developer, I’ve been fortunate enough to own every VR headset on the market. After trying each one, I have to say the best headset is…
…Up to personal preference.
Sorry for the disappointment.
Unfortunately, different people will have different opinions on what’s the best VR headset. However, the choice on which headset to get will become clear after you read the guide.
How to Choose a VR Headset
There are 5 factors you need to consider when buying a VR headset:
Things like resolution, FOV and refresh rate can impact resolution. Meanwhile the weight of the headset and how well it’s designed can impact comfort.
If you’re new to this and unsure what this all means, I highly recommend you read how to choose a VR headset where I go into more depth about each of these things.
Best Standalone VR Headsets
Most headsets require to be tethered to a computer, phone or console for use, but standalone VR headsets mean you can use them right out of the box without much set up.
These are great for those who don’t own a VR-Ready computer, or a Playstation 5.
1. Meta Quest 2
The Meta Quest 2 is by far the most popular choice and for very good reason.
I use this headset every day – for gaming, socializing, VR fitness and trying out all the weird experimental apps out there (like talking to an AI companion). It has nearly everything you want in a VR headset for a very affordable price.
Meta Quest 2 Specs:
The Quest 2’s resolution is 1832×1920. It has an adjustable refresh rate of 72-120 Hz which is default at 90 Hz. It’s capable of playing both standalone games and PC VR games (which require a powerful computer – see best computers for the Quest 2).
Using Tundra or Haritorax, you can even get full body tracking on this headset for games like VR Chat. Overall, the tracking for the Quest 2 is also one of the best out there.
Downsides of the Quest 2:
- Low FOV: The FOV of the Quest 2 is around 95 degrees. It’s definitely on the lower end of the spectrum – but unfortunately, the only headsets with high FOV cost over $1000+
- Uncomfortable: Using some custom Quest 2 comfort mods, you can actually turn this headset into the top 3 most comfortable headsets. However, this costs extra money, but I 100% recommend doing it if you’re planning on wearing it for hours.
- LCD screens: OLED screens provide more vibrant colors and deeper blacks, which can help with immersion.
I wish the headset had these things, but for a cheap headset, it can’t have everything. It’s still so good that it’s my go-to headset.
How much size do I need for the Quest 2? 128 GB or 256 GB?
128 GB. It’s enough to store as many games as you’d like. Exception: If you want to store a lot or movies or record lots of gameplay footage, then it’s better to go 256 GB. For more info, read my Quest 2 file size breakdown.
Best Deals for the Quest 2:
- Meta Black Friday Deal: $50 off Quest 2 + free copy of Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4
- Amazon Black Friday Deal: Same as above
2. Pico 4
The Pico 4 is an alternative to the Oculus Quest 2 that’s of similar price, but with higher resolution, better comfort and supports color passthrough mixed reality! This means you’ll be able to see your surroundings in full color, whilst the Quest 2 only supports black and white.
This allows for some cool mixed reality apps like being able to see your friend’s avatar in your room. At the moment, these “cool” apps don’t exist yet – but definitely expect them to come out in the future.
Pico 4 Specs:
The Pico 4 has a resolution of 2160 x 2160, which is one of the highest on the market. The FOV is around 105° and the refresh rate is 90 Hz. This is definitely an upgrade from the Quest 2, but there are a few major drawbacks:
Pico 4 Cons:
- The tracking sucks – I mean it’s okay for most games, but if you’re like me who wants to play Beat Saber at a high level, then the tracking is not good enough for it. For the casual gamer, you probably won’t notice much difference.
- Fewer games/apps – it can only play games from the Pico store which has much fewer apps than the Oculus Store.
- Playing PC VR games is quite buggy – it disconnects frequently and some games don’t recognize the controllers.
- It uses LCD panels, like the Quest 2, which means the colors will be less vibrant than OLED.
But overall, the comfort of the Pico 4 makes it a very attractive alternative to the Quest 2. Even with comfort mods, the Quest 2 is still less comfortable than the Pico 4 – this is the main reason to choose the Pico 4 over the Quest 2.
Note: Pico 4 only ships to Europe, Japan and Korea.
3. Oculus Quest 1
This headset is a bit outdated and not being sold anymore. It’s a strict downgrade from the Quest 2 in almost every way.
However, I’ll still mention it, because if you manage to find someone selling it on Facebook marketplace for a cheap price (like $100) – it could be a good entry into VR.
It’s not too much worse than the Quest 2 – it’s slightly less immersive as it has a much lower resolution, but the OLED displays make up for it. The Quest 1 colors are so much better than the Quest 2 that I really do miss it.
The tracking on the Quest 1 is also a little more accurate than the Quest 2.
The biggest drawback of the Quest 1 is that you can’t play certain games on it like Resident Evil 4 because the hardware doesn’t support it. Luckily there are only a handful of games like this, but expect the list to grow over time.
4. Pimax Crystal
The Pimax Crystal is the highest-end of all standalone headsets.
It boasts an incredible resolution of 5760 x 2880 and adjustable FOV of 120° or (140° FOV with lower pixel density for those who prefer FOV over resolution).
There’s color passthrough for mixed/augmented reality (imagine being able to see the rest of your house in VR, with characters overlayed on top of it).
However, as impressive as these specs are, the price for this headset will be $1900 USD.
5. Meta Quest Pro
Price: Very high | Resolution: High | FOV: Medium | Wireless? Yes
The Meta Quest Pro was designed for business and enterprise, but I had a chance to try out this headset for gaming – and man it’s hard to go back to a Quest 2 after trying this.
The Meta Quest Pro is super lightweight – by far the most comfortable headset on the market. It doesn’t even lean on your face like other headsets – it’s designed to sit on your forehead/top of your head which makes it much more comfortable. It’s also got the best tracking out of any standalone headset (the controllers have in-built cameras which track themselves).
Although the resolution is around the same as the Quest 2 (1920 x 1800), it’s designed so the pixels are more dense in the centre, whilst there are fewer pixels in your periphery, making the image noticably sharper than the Quest 2.
It also uses pancake lenses – which allows for a greater “sweet spot” – meaning you don’t have to keep adjusting your headset in order to get a clear image. It also has more vibrant colors – better than the LCD screens of the Quest 2, and gets pretty close to OLED screens.
Furthermore, the Quest Pro also supports color passthrough and mixed/augmented reality. If you like the idea of being able to see your house, overlayed with VR avatars/props – this headset is the best for that.
Overall, this headset is a lot more immersive than the Quest 2 – and a lot lighter. If you can afford it, I highly recommend it over the Quest 2 – it can do everything the Quest 2 can, but better.
Compared to the Pimax, it’s not as immersive, but it’s a good option for those who prefer the comfort and mixed reality capabilities.
Best VR Headsets for PC VR
If you’ve got a powerful computer that can handle PC VR games, then these headsets will be better suited for you.
They are pricier than the standalone headsets, but offer more immersion, less latency and better performance for PC games.
1. Pimax 8K
Price: Very high | Resolution: High | FOV: Very high | Wireless? No
Let’s start with the best of the best – the Pimax 8K X. Be warned this headset costs a pretty penny and won’t be affordable to most people.
However, those who can afford it will be amazed at how immersive it is.
The Pimax 8K X has a near human-vision FOV of 160° (horizontal) and a 3840 x 2160 resolution (per eye). Total resolution = 7680 x 2160
Words cannot describe how immersive this headset is.
With other headsets, it feels like you’re looking through a pair of binoculars:
The Pimax feels very close to real life vision!
However, there are several drawbacks to the Pimax headsets:
- Distortion: The center of your vision is clear, but the peripherals are blurry. This is due to the lenses and there’s no way to fix this. However, your brain learns to ignore the distortion quickly, and you only focus on the center of the screen most of the time.
- Price: The Pimax 8K X is extremely expensive. Not only do you need to buy the headset (HMD) but you also need to buy basestations and Valve Index controllers separately.
- The headset is also ‘experimental’ and you’ll need to tweak a lot of settings in order for it to work. Each game you play will require some settings tweaks.
- Not all games support the high FOV, so you might need to turn it down for those games.
- You need a very powerful computer to run it.
But overall, if you can afford it, this provides an absolutely insane experience that’ll blow your minds. If you get this headset, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also get a Quest 2 along with it for light-weight standalone games.
The Pimax 8K X is best for realistic flight simulators or racing simulators… Games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Elite Dangerous or iRacing look phenomenal on the Pimax!
Whenever I play these games I say “screw my Quest 2” and pull out my Pimax 8K X.
Note: You have to buy 2 controllers and 2-4 base stations as well. I recommended 3 base stations, but 4 provides a very slight boost to tracking.
2. Pimax 12K QLED
Price: Very High | Resolution: Extremely high | FOV: Very high | Wireless? Yes, at lower resolution
This headset is expected to be released 2023. It’s extremely pricey, but has some bogus specs. 6K resolution per eye, 240° reported diagonal FOV, wireless capabilities through WiGig streaming.
If you have the budget and can afford it, feel free to wait for this one.
Once again, Pimax headsets are best for simulators. This is the main target audience who would be interested in this headset.
3. Valve Index
Price: High | Resolution: Medium | FOV: Medium | Wireless? Add-on Coming Soon
If you’re buying a headset primarily for Steam games, and have the budget to afford it, the Valve Index is a solid choice.
The Valve Index is more immersive than the Quest 2 due to it’s higher FOV and superb audio quality. Although the resolution is lower, it’s hardly noticeable.
On top of being more immersive, the Valve Index also has superior tracking, with lower latency, allowing you to have an edge in competitive games like Pavlov VR and Beat Saber.
If you want to get into games like VRChat, it’s possible to get full body tracking with the Valve Index. You’ll need to buy 2-3 VIVE trackers for this (one for each leg, and optionally one to track your waist).
The downsides of a Valve Index is it’s a bit heavy and will get slightly uncomfortable over time. Still, the design is well-done, so the weight is distributed evenly around your head, so it’s not too uncomfortable.
The worst thing about the Valve Index is the controllers degrade very fast, especially if you swing it around very fast (in games like Beat Saber). It’s not uncommon for these controllers to break after 3-6 months of usage.
Despite all the disadvantages, I still love my Index. I mainly use it to play VRChat and games like Half-Life: Alyx.
The main reason to pick this headset is for the full-body tracking capabilities and it’s laser accurate light-house tracking for competitive games.
Best VR Headset Under $500
1. PSVR 2
Price: ~$500 | Requires a powerful PC? No (requires PS5) | Resolution: Very high | FOV: Medium | Wireless? No
If you’ve got the PS5, but not a powerful computer, this might be the best option for you.
Don’t bother with the PSVR 1 (which is getting outdated), just wait for the PSVR 2. It’s 10x better and worth the wait.
The PSVR 2 seems very promising and might even rival the Quest 2 (it won’t surpass it though due to being confined to console VR). The advantages of a PSVR 2 is that you get access to an exclusive collection of Playstation VR games.
The downside is, you won’t be able to play Quest exclusive games and PC VR titles. You also won’t be able to get custom songs for Beat Saber and VRChat likely won’t be available.
2. HP Reverb G2
Price: $499 (mid range) | Requires a powerful PC? Yes | Resolution: Very High | FOV: Low | Wireless? No
The Reverb G2 is a mid-range headset, cheaper than the high-end headsets like the Index and Pimax, but more expensive than the Quest 2.
Comfort and resolution are the two most important factors for watching movies on a headset, and this headset excels in both of them.
For gaming – the tracking is pretty accurate if you are a casual gamer. But for those who want to climb the leaderboards in Beat Saber or want to play in competitive shooters, the tracking can hold you back.
It’s possible to upgrade the tracking by using Lighthouse tracking, but that will add several hundred dollars to the cost.
Overall – I’d mainly recommend this headset for non-tryhard gamers and those who love watching movies, as it’s lightweight and offers one of the highest resolution of any headset.
3. Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 is still a good option for a VR headset under $500.
It’s more “well-rounded” than the HP Reverb G2, offering superior tracking, standalone capabilities and overall better for gaming.
Do note that most people who buy the Quest 2 will also be buying $50-100 worth of comfort mods so you’ll likely need to add that to price. Even with comfort mods, the headset is similar in comfort to the Reverb G2
With that said, I still recommend this headset over the Reverb G2, simply because it’s wireless/standalone. If you’re a person who loves high resolution and don’t care about wirelessness, than get the Reverb G2.
Best VR Headsets for Gaming
Are you looking to buy a headset to play a specific game like VRChat, Beat Saber, Digital Combat Simulator World (DCS World) and sim racing games?
Here I’ll outline the popular ones:
1. Best for DCS World: Pimax 8KX DMAS
Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (per eye) | FOV: 160° x 103°
If you’ve got a powerful gaming PC (minimum 2080 Ti graphics card), then get the Pimax 8KX DMAS. Combine this with a HOTAS and you’ll feel like a real battle pilot.
It’s so immersive I was quaking in my boots when I first tried it.
This is the most expensive set up. You’ll be the most immersed if you can afford this. However, for those with a lower budget, I recommend getting a HP Reverb G2 instead. It’s still a very solid option.
Quest 2 is viable as well, but there’s extra latency and you might encounter disconnect bugs.
2. Best for VRChat: HTC Vive Pro
Price: High to Very High | Requires a powerful PC? Yes | Resolution: Average | FOV: Low | Wireless? Possible with the adapter
One of the original top VR headsets. It still has a special use today for it’s eye-tracking, finger-tracking and full-body tracking capabilities.
If you pair this headset with Valve Index controllers, you get finger tracking.
Combine with 3 VIVE trackers (the best trackers on the market) and you’ll have full body tracking.
Add a VIVE Pro Eye and you’ll have eye tracking.
Granted, all this is super expensive. The headset alone isn’t expensive, but the add-ons are.
Only do this if you’re really committed to a life in VRChat!
Note: If you buy this headset, you’ll need 2-4 base stations.
This is the cheapest setup you can do to get full body tracking in VRChat. A more expensive alternative would be the Valve Index or the Pimax headsets.
If you don’t care about full body tracking, then any headset is fine for VRChat (in this case – just get the Quest 2).
For a more in-depth guide, read my guide on choosing the best VR headset for VRChat.
3. Best for Beat Saber: Oculus Rift CV 1
Price: Cheap | Requires a powerful PC? Yes | Resolution: Low | FOV: Low | Wireless? No
If you want to become the best Beat Saber player, then the Oculus Rift (not Rift S) will allow you to be an ultra competitive Beat Saber player. It has one of the best tracking on the market and is very cheap. Most of the top leaderboard players use a Rift.
However, if you have the money, the Valve Index is also an option. It’s got even better tracking than the Rift S, but the controllers degrade fast when you swing very fast (you might have to replace them after a year). Also it’s much more expensive.
For those who just want “okay” tracking, the Quest 1/2 are viable options.
Read more about the best VR headsets for Beat Saber here.
4. Best for Sim Racing: HP Reverb G2
Looking for a headset to play VR sim racing games like iRacing and Asseto Corsa? You got great taste!
Normally I don’t recommend the HP Reverb G2 for gaming, due to it’s poor tracking, but with racing sims, you’ll be using a racing wheel or keyboard.
This makes the HP Reverb G2 perfect for this task: It’s got extremely high resolution, is light-weight and comfortable for long play sessions, and comes at an affordable price.
Cheaper headsets like the Quest 2 and Pico 4 are suitable for the task, but if you’re a competitive player, you might hate the extra latency for these headsets, as they weren’t designed for PCVR racing games.
There are also some older headsets that may fit some specific niche. Find out more below:
5. Best VR Headset for iPhone: Vive Flow
This one is designed for non-gamers who just want to use a VR headset with their phone.
These VR goggles are extremely lightweight and doesn’t feel like wearing a headset at all. It feels more like wearing glasses. And that’s the main selling point of the Vive Flow. You can wear these all day and watch movies on your phone.
These goggles are made for: travelling, meditation, watching Youtube videos or movies, and attending VR concerts.
The downsides of the HTC Vive Flow is that it drains your phone’s battery quite fast. Also it’s not designed for gaming.
The price can also be pretty hefty for something that doesn’t offer any gaming. Regardless this could be a one of the best VR headsets for meditation, as it’s ultra light-weight.
Where to buy the Vive Flow: HTC official site.
Headsets to Avoid
HTC Vive Pro 2
This headset has one of the best specs on the market with extremely high resolution and FOV, so it might seem like a the perfect choice. However, this proves you can’t just look at a headset’s specs. There are many compromises done to achieve these high specs.
First: The horizontal FOV is much larger than the vertical FOV, meaning it’ll feel like you’re looking at a screen through a letter box. For VR, this ruins immersion as normal human eyesight isn’t a letterbox widescreen.
Secondly: In order to achieve their “high” FOV, there is very little binocular overlap which is a huge issue that causes distortion and discomfort when looking at the images.
Thirdly, due to it’s powerful specs, the headset heats up like crazy and becomes unbearable after an hour of use. Also there are terrible “glares” (god rays) when looking at the screen. Overall, this headset is a thousand-dollar headset, but I wouldn’t even recommend it for half the price.
For more info, see this video:
If your first experience with VR is console VR, you’ll be missing out a lot. Just take my word on this and get a PCVR headset or a standalone headset like the Quest 2 which is also capable of PC VR. Also, the PSVR 2 is coming out later this year with much more promising specs so you’ll be better waiting for that.
Upcoming VR Headsets 2023
There are headsets coming out in 2023 that you should keep an eye on:
- PSVR 2
- Pimax 12K QLED
- Quest 3 (potentially being announced in October 2023 at Meta Connect, but could also be in 2024).
- Apple AR/VR headset
“Should I wait for the PSVR2/Project Cambria/Quest 3?”
PSVR2 = yes, it seems much better than the PSVR.
Project Cambria = probably not. It’s a different headset that serves a different purpose. If you’re planning on getting a high end headset like the Valve Index, then it’s possible to wait. But if you’re planning on getting a Quest 2 – do note that Cambria will be much more expensive and possibly PC VR only, meaning you need a powerful PC to run it.
Quest 3 = nope. Who knows when it’ll be released. Oculus said it won’t be released for a while and at best it’ll be announced during October 2023 and shipped by Novemeber.
Pimax 12K QLED = Yes if you can afford the price which “starts” at $2400.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much space do I need for VR?
Most games can be played in a 2.5 x 2.5 m enclosure.
Some games are called ‘stationary’ experiences and can be played by standing or sitting on one spot. If you live in a small space, the best VR headsets allow you to play stationary games within a stationary boundary. The Quest 2 is best for this.
Roomscale games require at least 4 x 4m, but not many games are roomscale.
Is it worth buying an Oculus Quest 2 in 2022/2023?
In my opinion, everyone should own a VR headset. It’s basically free fitness, great for your health (both physical and mental), and provides mind-blowing entertainment. The Quest 2 is the best headset to get in 2022/2023, so everyone should own one.
However, there are also 2 major competitors to the Quest 2:
- Pico 4 – get this if you prefer extra comfort over tracking
- Quest Pro – get this if you prefer extra extra comfort, mixed reality and better visuals at a much higher cost.
Is the Oculus Quest 2 the Best VR Headset?
For 95% of people, yes. Here’s why the Oculus Quest 2 is the best headset:
- Durability: The Quest 2 is a TANK. The Nokia of VR headsets.
- Comfort: The most comfortable with comfort mods.
- Resolution: Nearly the best out there.
- Wireless: No annoying wires. No computer needed to run it.
- Tracking: Top notch tracking.
- Cost: The most affordable headset.
It’s debatable that this headset is even better than the Valve Index or Pimax 8K X. For me – I find they fulfil different use cases and I like to have them both.
I love the high FOV of the Pimax. But I also love the wireless/standalone nature of the Quest 2 and the convenience of using it without having to tweak settings for each game to run smoothly.
Is it worth getting Oculus Quest 2 256GB?
It’s not a terrible choice, but I would recommend the 128 GB Quest 2 for most people. You can store dozens of games at once with just 128 GB. Here’s a breakdown of game file sizes.
Can I use VR with Glasses?
Yes you can although it’s more uncomfortable with glasses and you run the risk of scratching your lenses. I recommended buying a VR prescription lens if you wear glasses.
Can you watch netflix on Oculus Quest?
Yes, there’s a Netflix app.
Is Oculus Quest 2 better than rift S?
Yes, there’s no reason to get an Oculus Rift S over the Quest 2 nowadays.
Does Oculus Quest 2 come with games?
Not unless you bought it during some special sale.
Does Oculus Quest 2 have free games?
Yes, there are many free games and demos to try. Here’s a list of 50+ free VR games (some require PCVR).
Is Oculus Quest 3 coming out?
Not anytime soon. The Quest 3 is expected to be announced during Meta’s Connect event which will happen sometime around October 2023. Of course, this could be delayed as well.
Oculus Quest 2 vs. Meta Quest 2?
They’re the same headset, just had a name change when Facebook rebranded into Meta.
Does VR Make You Sick/Dizzy?
It depends on the game: Games like Thrill of the Fight and Beat Saber are beginner friendly and cause no motion sickness. You can play these for hours and not get sick.
Games that require you to press the thumbstick to move around can cause motion sickness to some people. About 60% of people experience VR motion sickness in these types of games. 70% of them get used to it over time and never experience anymore sickness.
If you get sick easily in VR, you can stick to games like Thrill of the Fight and Beat Saber until you grow more resistant to it.