Virtual reality is becoming the thing that we cannot escape. Commercial for VR products are all over television. Billboards for VR headsets and accessories line the roads. And VR is even permeating a wide range of industries, from gaming to real estate and more. But which VR headset is best?

It’s always tough to keep up with new developments and innovations. Often, manufacturers are still working out the kinks when new technologies hit the market.

But here’s some good news: Virtual reality has been around just long enough that manufacturers have now worked out many of those kinks. You can make a purchase and have full confidence that you’re getting a high-quality product that will let you explore this new experience.

To help you find the perfect product to get started, here are a few options for anyone wondering which VR headset is best.

Product Platform Check Price
HTC Vive (Best Overall!) Windows PC Check Price
Oculus Rift (Best Value!) Windows PC Check Price
PlayStation VR (Best for Gaming!) PS4 Check Price
Samsung Gear VR (Best for Beginners!) Samsung Smartphone Check Price

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The world of technology is ever-changing. What’s new and best one day is old and inferior the next. I’ll update this post as often as possible to reflect the latest and greatest developments in virtual reality — just to make sure that what you’re reading here doesn’t become dated and irrelevant as you decide which VR headset is best for you.

 

HTC Vive — Best Overall!

When you’re wondering which VR headset is best, the answer to your question really depends on what you want to do with virtual reality. The HTC Vive is a headset that offers strong overall performance and a high degree of compatibility. That is, you can use it with a lot of different devices.

The HTC Vive also creates one of the most realistic experiences when compared to the competition. It uses two motion controllers, which allows you to physically move around a room of about 15 feet by 15 feet. Not all VR headsets off this room-scale feature.

Is the HTC Vive right for you?

Buy the HTC Vive if …

… you want one of the most powerful, most immersive virtual reality experiences available to consumers.

Pass on the HTV Vive if …

… you’re new to VR and just looking to test it out before making a significant investment.

Oculus Rift — Best Value!

The Oculus Rift is a little more powerful than the HTC Vive. It offers 2160 x 1200 resolution, and it’s refresh rate is superior to that of the Vive’s — though it falls just short of the refresh rate you get with the PlayStation VR.

The refresh rate is superior to that of the HTC Vive, but you do not get the room-scale feature that the Vive includes. Everything is give-and-take, of course. The Rift is available at a lower price than the Vive, so it makes a perfect fit for users more interested in refresh rates and resolution than room-scale features.

It should also be noted: Oculus is the original VR company. The experience of using the Oculus Rift is one that emerges from the company’s deep knowledge and experience in this space. Using the Rift isn’t quite as immersive as using the Vive, solely because of the lack of a room-scale feature. But the Rift does offer a deeply satisfying experience that is perfectly aligned with the price.

To get the most out of your investment in an Oculus Rift headset, use it in tandem with Oculus Touch controllers.

Is the Oculus Rift right for you?

Buy the Oculus Rift if …

… you want high resolution and good value for your investment in a VR headset.

Pass on the Oculus Rift if …

… one of your priorities is a room-scale experience.

PlayStation VR — Best for Gaming!

If you own a PS4, you’re going to want a PlayStation VR headset. The refresh rate is strong, and you won’t have any issues with this model’s head-tracking function — which can be a problem with some VR headsets.

Perhaps the best aspect of the PlayStation VR is that Sony has already issued dozens of games that are compatible with it. Remember back when HD television first hit the market? It was cool to have an HD TV, but there were hardly any HD channels to watch. The same issue emerges with some VR headsets. It’s cool to have one, but there aren’t many apps and games to use or play. That issue goes away entirely with the PlayStation VR headset, because the games are here and ready to go.

One drawback to the PlayStation VR headset: You’re going to need to invest in some accessories. It won’t work without a PS4 camera, and you’ll really need two PlayStation Move controllers to get the most out of it. You’ll see that the PlayStation VR headset’s price tag appears a tick lower than some of your other options — but you have to take into account the cost of the additional equipment, too.

Is PlayStation VR right for you?

Buy PlayStation VR if …

… you want to immediately explore VR gaming opportunities.

Pass on PlayStation VR if …

… you don’t have a PS4 and have no interest in spending money on a headset plus other accessories.

Samsung Gear VR — Best for Beginners!

If you’re just getting started with VR, the Samsung Gear VR headset may be your best bet. It is affordable, and it is also compatible with most smartphones. Samsung smartphones, that is. Sorry, iPhone users. Samsung is pushing this headset hard on the masses, and you’ve most likely seen it advertised. Check out the 2016 Christmas commercial below.

How do you use the Samsung Gear VR headset? That’s pretty simple, too. Just download apps or games using the Oculus store, and then connect your headset to your phone — and you’re off to the races.

You’ll get a little bit of a different experience depending on the type of phone you’re using. For example, the Note 4 gets fewer pixels than the Galaxy S7, which naturally impacts the experience. No matter the type of phone you have, though, the Samsung Gear VR makes virtual reality imminently accessible without breaking the bank. It’s the perfect option for anyone who’s just getting started.

The experience is different depending on the type of phone you have. For example, the Galaxy S7 gets more pixels than the Note 4. When you’re looking to get started with virtual reality but don’t want to make a huge investment, the Samsung Gear VR is the obvious choice.

Is the Samsung Gear VR right for you?

Buy Samsung Gear VR if …

… you want the most affordable VR experience available to consumers.

Pass on Samsung Gear VR if …

… you own anything other than a Samsung smartphone.

Again: Which VR Headset is Best?

As mentioned, your best VR headset is going to be the one that fits your unique needs. I have a PlayStation VR headset, because I already had a PS4. I use an iPhone, but I probably would have started with the Samsung Gear VR if I’d been a Samsung phone owner.

That may not help you much. So here’s a breakdown of which VR headset is best for different user profiles:

  • HTC Vive: Best overall. Get the HTC Vive if you know you love virtual reality and want the best of the best.
  • Samsung Gear: Best for beginners. If you’re just dipping your toe into the VR waters, go for the Samsung Gear.
  • PlayStation VR: Best for gamers. If you want to immediately jump into gaming with virtual reality, there’s no better option than PlayStation VR. Just make sure you get the right accessories.
  • Oculus Rift: Best value. For what you get, the Oculus Rift offers the best price. This is also the company that started it all, which means something to many buyers.

Which VR headset is best for you? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can reach out to us directly using our contact page.