As a virtual reality developer, I’ve toyed with a wide array of the best VR headsets available now. To create truly immersive experiences and utilize each VR headset to its greatest capabilities, I’ve had to study and assess every one of them. And with the knowledge gained, this ultimate buyer’s guide for VR headset has come along. It contains every little bit of information you might need to know when purchasing a VR headset, down to the type of lenses they use, or the kind of environment they need to have a great experience. I’ve also added tables and charts to give you a visual summary of the different sections.
The world of virtual reality headsets can be divided into two classes; PC Powered VR Headsets and Mobile Driven VR Headsets. They differ majorly in cost and capabilities, with PC powered headsets being the greater of the two in both regards. Due to this classification, this guide will be divided into two depending on which tier of virtual reality you seek.
Best VR glasses for PC
When it comes to the best VR headsets for pc, there are two major players dominating the consumer space. The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. For the purpose of this guide, I shall include the Playstation VR which requires a PlayStation 4 as opposed to a VR-ready PC. The inclusion of Playstation VR is due to the fact that it renders similar facilities to the other PC powered VR headsets, hence comparing it to them would be ideal. These headsets would be compared using the following metrics; design, content, display, cost, controls, requirements and ease of use (UI) so that depending on what you prioritize in your VR headset, you’ll know the leader in that field.
Let us begin!
|VR Headset||Check Price||In-depth Review||RESOLUTION||FIELD OF VIEW||LENSES||REFRESH RATE|
|HTC VIVE||Latest Price||Read Review||2160 X 1200||> 110 DEGREES||FRESNEL LENS||90HZ|
|OCULUS RIFT||Latest Price||Read Review||2160 X 1200||110 DEGREES||HYBRID FRESNEL LENS||90HZ|
|PLAYSTATION VR||Latest Price||Read Review||1920 X 1080||110 DEGREES||CONVENTIONAL DOME LENS||90HZ,120HZ|
Virtual reality headsets reviews – The Displays
A major contributing factor to the immersiveness of a virtual reality experience is the display it’s being rendered on. This is not only subject to how clear and high resolution the screen is, but also depends on the field of view the display offers and the lenses used.
The resolution of the display is the number of pixels that are compacted on the screen. When it comes to resolution, both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift knock the Playstation VR out of the park with stunning 2160 x 1200 pixels (1080 x 1200 per eye, two screens combined) while the Playstation VR has a slightly disappointing 1920 x 1080 pixels (960 x 1080 per eye, single screen). This is evident in slightly less clear content on the Playstation VR as compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
FIELD OF VIEW:
How much of the screen can I see with my peripheral vision? That’s where the field of view comes in. This is measured in degrees and it represents the angle the screen is subtended by. In plain terms, it’s how wide the virtual screen is. In current day consumer-ready VR headsets, the maximum field of view offered is 110 degrees horizontal. This can definitely be improved upon has 110 degrees causes tunnel vision; which as the name implies, is the feeling of looking through a tunnel or through binoculars. Some special industry level VR headsets like the Star VR improves this to about 130 degrees. Currently, both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive have 110 degrees field of view though due to the particular lenses used by the HTC Vive, it is speculated to have a slightly higher field of view. This isn’t really noticeable except you’re searching for it. Again, the PlayStation VR falls behind with 100 degrees field of view.
In it’s barest form, a VR headset is basically a display and lenses. The lenses help bend light in a way that turns the 2D display into virtual reality. So yeah, they’re pretty important. In an attempt to make the lenses thinner and shave off some weight, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive use Fresnel lenses (The Oculus Rift lenses are a kind of hybrid Fresnel lenses). These Fresnel lenses are much thinner than the conventional dome-shaped lenses that the Playstation VR employs. While the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive save on size and weight, the conventional dome-shaped lenses used by the Playstation VR scatter less light from the display and produces a better, more cohesive image.
Conventional games go through averagely 45 frames a second. For high-end VR experiences, a refresh rate of 90Hz is recommended. This is done for multiple reasons, including avoidance of simulator sickness and reduction of eye strain. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have a refresh rate of 90Hz but the refresh rate of the PlayStation VR can even go up to 120Hz. This results in a more comforting and less strenuous experience for the eye.
Be it by the Vive Wands, Oculus Touch or Playstation Move, having hands in VR is very important. Luckily, each platform tackles this fairly decently; some better than others.
Oculus Touch Controllers in the middle, Vive Wands at the edge
Of the three controllers, the PlayStation Move has the lowest tracking accuracy due to the technology being the oldest. The PlayStation camera tracks the lights on the Move controller and though this works quite well in low light environments, problems arise when the environment is lit. Also, since the Playstation VR works with the PlayStation Camera, the user must always face the camera lest tracking gets shaky. The HTC Vive, on the other hand, gives the best tracking with its lighthouse tracking system. As long as you’re within the Chaperone boundaries, your hands will be with you always. The Oculus Touch controllers also have amazingly accurate tracking when facing the two sensors using Constellation tracking technique. This is very accurate as long as you’re facing the sensors but with the purchase of an additional sensor ($59 + extra USB 2.0 port), you gain full room-scale tracking.
When it comes to design, the Oculus Touch knocks the others out of the park. It’s small and sleek. It fits snuggly in your hands and wraps around your knuckles. The Vive controllers are the largest and heaviest of the bunch due mainly to the ring at the top that facilitates its lighthouse tracking. The PlayStation Move has no change in design since 2010 when it was launched for the PlayStation 3.
BUTTON CONTROL SCHEME:
Every controller needs the right set of buttons, triggers, and joysticks. With the PlayStation Move, you get the exact same buttons as the normal PlayStation controllers without the joysticks. Vive wands and Touch controllers have slightly more VR attuned button configurations. They both have buttons on the sides that can be pressed by simply squeezing the controllers. The Vive Wand has a clickable touchpad as opposed to joysticks while the Oculus Touch controllers have one joystick per controller. The Touch controllers go a step further to have sensors on each button. This gives it “hand presence”; the ability to detect what gesture the hand is currently in. This is an amazing feature as it allows you to do a couple of hand gestures within VR like pointing, clenching your fist, waving etc.
Mirror mirror on the wall; which is the fairest brick of them all? On purely aesthetic levels, personally, I believe the Oculus Rift looks the best. But then, the design is more than just looks. It entails the engineering, ergonomics, optical adjustments and cable management.
All three headsets are incredible pieces of engineering. The Vive looks like the most conventional of VR headsets being made with black plastic. It has recessed dots on the surface as sensors and straps at the back for a nice fit on the head. The Oculus Rift sports a somewhat sleeker structure, with fabric covering the headset and lens region. PlayStation VR, on the other hand, is another fine piece of engineering with elegant black and white plastic, and blue tracking LEDs at the front.
VR headsets have to be very comfortable and light if any sort of extended use is going to happen. When it comes to weight, the Oculus Rift is the smallest and lightest, weighing about 470g. Following closely at its back is the HTC Vive, which weighs about 555g and then Playstation VR being the heaviest at 610g. Although weight is an important factor, it isn’t the only thing that determines how comfortable the headset is or how heavy it feels on the head. How this weight is distributed is also important. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive put a fair about of pressure on your face and cheeks with straps that go behind your head. This can get quite uncomfortable if you squint your eyes or try to smile as the face has multiple muscles around that region. Sony solves this problem by employing a hanging style. This way all the pressure goes to your forehead, which has little to no muscles while the display hangs down to your eyes. Also, Sony solves all the straps and velcro the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive suffer by having a dial that you turn right to tighten the headset and turn left to loosen. Pretty nifty.
For the best VR experiences, there are three things that come to play regarding optical adjustments. Lens-to-eye distance, interpupillary distance (IPD) and focus. Both the Vive and the Rift give you the option of adjusting the IPD, the Rift with a slider at the bottom and the Vive with a dial on the side. This adjustment mainly helps reduce eye strain by allowing to choose the perfect distance for your eyes. Though PlayStation VR lacks the ability to change IPD, it gives the users the ability to change the lens-to-eye distance which is especially important for glasses wearers. With the push of a button, you can easily adjust the lens-to-eye distance on the PSVR. The Vive tackles this with two dials at the side and the ability to switch the foam covering to fit different facial structures. Unfortunately, the Rift doesn’t have such a features and this earns it the title of the least glasses friendly headset.
Neglecting the cost of a VR ready PC or PlayStation 4, below are the cost of each VR headset package and what you’ll get in the box.
HTC VIVE: $599: Check Latest Price
This comes with;
- Vive HMD (Head mounted display) with integrated mic
- Two tracking base stations and their mounting kits.
- Link box
- Stereo Headphones with 30cm cord
- Two wireless controllers (Vive Wand)
- And a lot of cables (HDMI cord, 3 USB cables, optional base sync cable)
It also comes with downloadable VR content; Tilt Brush, Zombie Training Simulator, Job Simulation and for people who purchase the bundle after October 2nd, Fallout 4 VR, which would originally cost $59.99.
OCULUS RIFT: $399: Check Latest Price
This comes with;
- Rift HMD with integrated mic
- Two sensors
- Two Touch controllers
On activation of your touch controllers, you gain access to 6 great VR experiences namely; Lucky’s Tale, Medium, Toybox, Quill, Dead and Buried and Robo Recall.
Best VR headset PS4
PLAYSTATION VR: $399: Check Latest Price
- PlayStation VR HMD
- Playstation camera
OR $449: Check Latest Price
- PlayStation VR HMD
- Playstation camera
- Two PlayStation Move controllers.
- And a copy of Playstation VR Worlds
Unfortunately, the cost of experiencing high-end virtual reality doesn’t just end at the cost of each package. To run both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, you’ll need some pretty powerful PCs. The PlayStation VR uses a PlayStation 4 as a substitute for this. And since these experiences are fully immersive and deliver 6 degrees of freedom, a designated play area is also required. Here’s a breakdown of the requirements of each VR headset.
HTC VIVE: Minimum specifications required include;
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
- RAM: 4GB
- Video output: One HDMI 1.4 or one DisplayPort 1,2
- OS: Windows 7
- USB: One USB 2.0
- Play area: 2m x 1.5m
To get the best performance from the Vive, a GPU equivalent to NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 is recommended. There’s no need for a designated play area if the experience is a seated or stationary experience.
OCULUS RIFT: The required specifications for the Oculus Rift are as follows;
- Processor: Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon Rx 480
- RAM: 8GB
- Video output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- USB: Two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0
- OS: Windows 7
- Play area: 1m x 1m
The Oculus Rift can be used with slightly lower specifications (Intel i3 and 4GB Ram) due to its Asynchronous timewarp and Asynchronous spacewarp but if run with a laptop with less than NVIDIA GTX 960m, results are terrible. Also, for certain experiences, a play area up to 2m x 1.5m is required.
PLAYSTATION VR: The Playstation VR evades all this stress by having the PlayStation 4 as a sole requirement. Playstation asks that you have a play area of 3m x 1.9m to truly enjoy its VR experiences.
Hardware without great software to run is as good as scrap metal. Even with all this fancy technology, if it lacks superb VR content, it’s all a waste. Fortunately, all three platforms have incredible VR experiences to display. And they each have their own way of accessing these experiences. Oculus Rift has Oculus Home, HTC Vive has SteamVR Home and Viveport but PSVR doesn’t have a dedicated space for accessing VR content. Both the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR have a lot of exclusive content but the HTC Vive is more free-for-all so you can access most Vive experiences on the Oculus Rift without much hassle. If you want to do the reverse though, a third party software called Revive can be used. This allows you to access Rift exclusive games on your HTC Vive and that’s pretty neat. PSVR is quite exclusive. There’s no real way to access PSVR exclusive VR experiences on either the Rift or the Vive.
Virtual Reality has come a long way since its inception. Though these high-end headsets aren’t considered cheap, the opportunities they present are endless. To be able to walk and interact intuitively with a virtual space is amazing and these three platforms bring you this feature. If you already own a PlayStation 4, the barrier to entry is considerably lower as you can just purchase the Playstation VR. If you’re all about great room-scale tracking, you can’t go wrong with the HTC Vive and if you’re looking for exclusive content and amazing hand interactions, the Oculus Rift is available just for you. There are also other high-end VR platforms like the Windows Mixed Reality platform where Windows partnered with 5 different hardware companies to build 5 different mixed reality headsets which also have 6 degrees of freedom and great displays. The differences in these headsets would be covered in another guide so for now, use the knowledge given to carefully pick out the VR headset that’s just right for you!
BEST MOBILE DRIVEN VR HEADSETS
Acceptable, PC powered VR packs a huge punch. But they aren’t portable, mobile or in any way cheap. This is where mobile-driven VR headsets come to play. With the power of your smartphone, you can also be transported to varying virtual worlds. All that is required is a VR smartphone holder, which can go for as cheap as $10. But among the mobile-driven VR headsets, there are kings, uncrowned princes, and soldiers. This guide aims at feeding you the necessary information to help you make educated choices when sifting through the multiple mobile-driven headsets. Since the display and processing power are dependent on the mobile phone used, these different headsets shall be compared to other metrics which include: cost, design, controls, requirements, and content.
There are a ton of smartphone holders, though most are nothing special. Rather than talking about each and every one, this guide will only tackle the ones making waves in different sectors and these are namely;
- Google Daydream View
- Samsung Gear VR
- Google Cardboard
- VR Shinecon
- Mattel ViewMaster
Each of these headsets has varied designs all centered around wrapping some material around a smartphone and a pair of lenses. These headset makers have found ways of doing this in many different ways, some clearly better than others and here’s a breakdown of each.
The Google cardboard is, as you may have guessed, made from cardboard. It is the cheapest and most widespread of VR headset due to this. It even comes with a DIY kit, where you get the cardboard cutout and lenses and you kinda couple it together. But for all its simplicity, it lacks in many ways. For starters, most don’t have a strap so it has to be held with one head for it to be used. This is quite uncomfortable. Its simple design also allows a lot of light to flood in, reducing immersion a lot. Also being cardboard, it isn’t very durable and doesn’t last long.
This is a fancier Google Cardboard made with plastic. It also has some modifications that render it significantly better than the Cardboard in terms of design. For starters, it has adjustable straps that hold it to the head hence users don’t have to hold it up with their hands. It also sports a cushion to deter the plastic from being uncomfortable on the face. The front of the headset has a detachable magnetic cover. This is present in case the experience being viewed makes uses of the phone’s camera. To slot on your phone, you just pull down the front and kind of wiggle your phone into the spring-loaded holder. From personal experience, this can get pretty annoying especially if your smartphone is on the large side. The Shinecon also has knobs that can be used to vary the interpupillary distance IPD and to aid image focusing. Due to its rigid design, it does not allow one to use glasses as they would have to be forced inside and this would almost definitely break them. All in all, it is step-up from the crude Google Cardboard.
This is another Google Cardboard upgrade with a few tricks. If you ever used the classic old View-Master that brought image joy to children all over, nostalgia alone might make you want this VR headset. It is modeled similar to the old View-masters and has a more secure latch that can be opened by the push of a button. Just like the old View-Masters, it doesn’t have a strap and has to be held to the eyes with your hands. This is similar to the Google Cardboard and gets uncomfortable during long periods of use. It has enough space for large phones but for smaller phones like the iPhone 5, it has an adapter that can be connected before the phone is slot in. It also has an adapter for audio on each side that allows you to connect your headphones to your phone without much hassle. With the Mattel View-Master, you can also adjust the lens distance and tweak the focus making it able to fit different eye types.
Samsung Gear VR:
The Samsung Gear VR is one of the kings of mobile-driven headsets. Oculus and Samsung partnered up to deliver something special. It has a clever plastic design with long adjustable straps to hold it firmly to your head. It weighs about 345g without the phone and comes in two different colors; blue-black and orchard grey. The lenses used to allow a 101 degrees field of view and it has a thick and supple padding that keeps it nice and soft on the face. Unlike the previous VR headsets mentioned, with the Samsung Gear VR headset, you actually connect your phone to the headset using USB-C or USB-B connectors and adjusting these to allow your phone to fit in is easy and seamless. It also features a dial at the top to adjust the IPD and the image focus allowing one to match it to their eye requirements.
Google Daydream View:
The Google Daydream is a soft and lightweight fabric VR headset that looks really classy. It is smaller and lighter than the Samsung Gear VR, weighing 220g without the phone and is undisputedly the most comfortable of mobile-driven VR headsets. It has a simple latch mechanism which when opened, gives room for the phone to be slot in. The latch also contains a neat housing for the Daydream Controller ensuring it’s never away from the headset except during play. It comes in three different colors; slate, snow, and crimson. It also doesn’t require you to plug in your phone but does the connection using NFC making it very seamless and easy to use. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t have any adjustments for IPD and it offers a 100-degree field of view.
Most smartphone VR headsets don’t have special control schemes. They rely on gaze input, which is the process of selecting things by staring at them long enough. This is alright for simple experiences like watching 360 videos and others, but for more immersive and interesting experiences, something extra might be needed. Asides from a clicker, which some Google Cardboards come with (this simulates touching the phone screen once), only the Gear VR and Daydream View come with their own controllers. Others use external controllers. In regards to the Gear VR, the headset itself has a couple of buttons which include a trackpad, home button, and back button. It also has volume control. The Daydream View headset has no buttons at all and relies completely on the Daydream controller. Both the Gear VR controller and Daydream controller give 3 degrees of freedom. Meaning you can rotate it, point at objects etc but it doesn’t track moving it forward or backward. This is much like the headsets themselves. They are also about the same size through the Gear VR controller is slightly bigger. They also have almost the same buttons on them with the exception of the Gear VR controller having a trigger while the Daydream controller doesn’t. Another difference is how they are powered. The Daydream controller has a USB-C port for charging it’s battery while the Gear VR uses normal AA batteries. This way, the Gear VR batteries last longer but they can’t be charged. Basically, there isn’t much difference between these two controllers and they both have great rotational tracking.
Most mobile VR headsets ask for the same thing. A VR ready smartphone. For a smartphone to be VR ready, it simply has to have a gyroscope and an accelerometer as these sensors are used to track head motion. There are many apps one can download to check if their smartphones are VR ready. Also, a list of VR compatible smartphones can be found here. But for the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View, the story is a bit different. Samsung being Samsung only allows the use of high-level Samsung phones with its Gear VR. These include; Galaxy Note8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge. For the Daydream View, the required phones are a bit less limited and they include; Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Asus ZenFone AR, LG V30, Samsung Galaxy Note8, Motorola Moto Z 2 Force, Google Pixel, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Moto Z, Motorola Moto Z Force, Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Huawei Porsche Design MAte 9.
Neglecting the cost of the smartphone as they vary immensely, here’s how much each mobile-driven VR headset cost.
Google Daydream View: $99: Check Latest Price
This comes with;
- Daydream View Headset
- Daydream Controller
Samsung Gear VR: $129: Check Latest Price
This comes with;
- Samsung Gear VR Headset
- Gear VR Controller
VR Shinecon: Check Latest Price
Mattel View-Master Deluxe: Check Latest Price
Google Cardboard: Check Latest Price
When it comes to content, cardboard apps reign supreme in terms of quantity. There are just so many of them out there and frankly, they are easy to make. In terms of quality though, we look to Oculus Apps and Daydream Apps. While the Google Daydream can run normal cardboard apps, the Gear VR is restricted to just apps available on the Oculus Store. There’s a workaround that allows you to use cardboard apps on your Gear VR but this entails downloading a third party package disabler and disabling your Gear VR Services, which is quite a tedious process. But even though they lack direct access to cardboard apps, the Oculus Store isn’t lacking in content. It has over 800 apps and counting. And these are all easily accessible in your Oculus Home which runs immediately you plug your device into the headset. You have access to amazing experiences like Dead and Buried, Term1nal, Paint VR and many more. The Daydream View also has access to a great many incredible Daydream experiences but these are not as many as the Oculus experiences except you add Cardboard apps. Some of these Daydream exclusive experiences include Bait!, Eclipse: Edge of Light, The Guardian VR and many more. The list of experience available for the Gear VR and Daydream View can be found here and here respectively.
No particular VR headset reigns completely supreme over the others. They each have their pros and cons, as is always the case among top competitors. But depending on the features you value the most, with this guide, you should have gained the necessary knowledge required to make your informed purchase. If a really cheap headset is needed just for quick VR experiences, the Google Cardboard is the way to go. If something more durable and adjustable is required, you could purchase the Shinecon or View-Master. And for top mobile-driven VR experiences, the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream has you covered depending on the smartphone you’re using. There are a couple of other smartphone specific headsets that didn’t make this guide for multiple reasons like the HTC Link which is only sold in Japan and links with the U11 smartphone and the LG 360 VR which can only be used with the LG G5 phone. But all in all, mobile-driven VR has come quite a way and now you can make calculated decisions when choosing how you’re going to hop on the bandwagon!
Read our Oculus Go Review
OLD ARTICLE, DONT NEED TO READ BELOW THIS LINE————————————————–
This Virtual Reality Guide updates frequently, so be aware of some changes and value differences, since information concerning Virtual Reality is constantly evolving.
We are at the very beginning of a VR revolution. Virtual Reality is not simply a new technology, bringing more opportunities when using our PCs, but will revolutionise the very way we interact with them. Whether you’re crazy about it or not, everyone should know the most important facts about VR. You can also check out our guide on the Best chairs for Gaming .
Virtual Reality Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Guide
The image below shows how simple it is to access Virtual Reality through a PC. In the following section, we will go through compatibilities.
The official system requirements of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have been announced and are very high. These are the minimum system requirements for your PC and are still very demanding, so for the full experience, you will need more, and for gaming – even more!
The official minimum system requirements:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater.
Intel Core i5 4590 equivalent or higher.
2x USB 3.0 port.
HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture.
Windows 7 OS or greater.
However, the trouble with VR and the system requirements lies in keeping up-to-date with what is necessary. In time, most PCs will meet the minimum system requirements, which will remain at current levels for a few months or maybe a year. When it comes to games, a problem arises – enjoying VR games demands progressively stronger hardware. You will need a PC that can easily and constantly display 2160 x 1200 resolution and 90 FPS. At the moment, even the fastest GPUs can barely handle that. GPUs that are coming out this or the next year will probably meet the specifications, and certainly those produced in 3 or 4 years’ time. Of course, new games will then be released which will require an even more powerful PC. Here are the minimum specs for the VR version of Elite: Dangerous:
NVIDIA GTX 980 or greater
Intel i7-3770or greater
Pay attention – this is the minimum! To start this game on minimum system requirements, you will need a GPU costing around 600 EUR, 16 GB RAM, etc. These are the maximum system requirements imaginable. You should now understand why manufacturers of PC components are hoping that VR will boost the PC industry! Enthusiasts around the world will finally have new reasons for investing in PCs, without a doubt.
PC Builds for VR-Ready
We’ve tested a collection of PC builds to verify the specific VR-ready calibration. Below you’ll see a comprehensive list of the PC makes we used to understand the relationship between the components and fidelity. A higher fidelity results in a better VR-ready experience. In this case, fidelity is just another word for ‘devotion’, essentially telling us how much of the PC’s potential is devoted to the VR-ready experience. Note: all of these tests were performed using SteamVR’s performance test.
|A||SkyTech Archangel Gaming Computer||GTX 750Ti 2GB||AMD 3.5 GHz FX-6300 Six-Core||8GB DDR3|
|B||CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme GXi760||GTX 950 2GB||Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5 GHz||8GB DDR4|
|C||CybertronPC Borg-Q||GT610 1GB||AMD 3.8 GHz FX-4130 Quad Core||8GB DDR3|
|D||CybertronPC Palladium 970Z||GTX 970 4GB||Intel Core i7-6700 Quad-Core||16GB DDR4|
|E||CybertronPC SOKOM-I Green Gaming||GTX 960 2GB||AMD FX-6300 3.50GHz Hexa-Core||16GB DDR3|
|F||CybertronPC Flux X99 X5||GTX 980 Ti 6GB||Intel i7-5820K||16GB DDR4|
|G||CybertronPC Titanium X99||GTX Titan X 12GB||Intel i7-5820K 3.50GHz 6-Core||16GB DDR4|
|H||CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool SLC8000||AMD R9 390 8GB||intel Core i7-6700K 4.0 GHz||16GB DDR4|
|I||iBuyPower AM-FX07||AMD R9 380 4GB||AMD FX-6300 6-core 3.5GHz||8GB DDR3|
|J||iBuyPower AM-FX07||AMD R9 360 2GB||AMD FX-770K 3.5 GHz||8GB DDR3|
Here are the different results showing the subjects sorted from A-H.
|Subject||VR-Ready Scale||Fidelity||FPS under 90 (In percentage)|
|A||Not Ready||0.7 (Low)||92%|
|C||Not Ready||0.1 (Low)||96%|
|F||VR-Ready||11 (Very High)||0%|
|G||VR-Ready||10.8 (Very High)||0%|
|J||Not Ready||0.2 (Low)||97%|
Virtual Reality Graphic Card Fidelity Guide
In this section, we will cover a quick graphics card guide for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift compatibility.
All the graphics cards are tested on a PC with Windows 7 SP 1 and Intel(R) Core i5-4690K CPU @3.5Ghz (4cores).
- We start with the ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6GB (Strix). Assuming that we use the 4690K CPU as mentioned above, the VR-ready scale reaches a level of ‘Ready.’ This means that this graphics card is recommended for VR. The average fidelity is at 11 (Very high), which means that the power of the graphics card can be fully devoted to the VR experience.
- The MSI Geforce GTX 970 Gaming 4G is one of the officially recommended cards for the HTC Vive. With this card, the VR-ready scale again reaches an accomplished ‘Ready’ position, with an average fidelity of 6.9 (High).
- Trying it with an MSI GTX 960 Gaming 4G gave us different results. The VR scale reached ‘Capable’ with a medium-to-low fidelity rating: 2.9. Fortunately for GTX 960 users, the frame rate never dropped below 90 FPS. In conclusion, the card offers a pleasant VR-ready experience. Surprisingly, almost the same results were achieved when testing with a GTX 950, although the fidelity was lower.
- An older GPU, the ASUS GTX 660 Ti, performed differently. It scored a fidelity score of 0.3% (Low) and is not capable of being VR-ready, since the rate of dropping under 90 FPS was way too high, at 47.2%. Amazingly, overclocking the ASUS GTX 660 Ti bumped up the fidelity to 0.8% (Low) with a passable 27.3% rate of FPS below 90.
We performed the same tests with a different processor, the Intel(R) Core i7-875K.
|Graphic Card||Scale||Fidelity||Frames below 90 (In percentage)|
|ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6GB (Strix)||Ready||10.8 (Very High)||0%|
|MSI Geforce GTX 970 Gaming 4G||Ready||6.5 (High)||0%|
|MSI GTX 960 Gaming 4G||Capable||2.6 (Low)||3%|
|MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G||Capable||2.2 (Low)||8%|
|ASUS GTX 660 Ti||Not Ready||0.2 (Low)||48.2%|
The similarities show us that the processor doesn’t have a significant influence on the VR experience. We recommend upgrading your graphic card from a GTX 950/960 to at least a GTX 970, for a better VR experience. You might be tempted to ask about the 600/700-series, but unfortunately, Nvidia keeps the drivers of the 900-series optimized for VR, while only minor changes have been done for the 600/700-series.
Long-Term Problems in Gaming Performance
Gaming is one of the most important categories that will influence VR’s use and application, though there are certainly a lot more uses that might not be immediately apparent. VR devices work using high resolutions, and the next step after 2160 x 1200 resolution for Oculus Rift is mastering 4K technology; the same applies to rival HTC’s Vive.
The problem is that you need to have an above-average PC, which can achieve a constant, stable frame rate. To display VR in Oculus Rift, you will need a 1980 x 1200 resolution, combined with a 90 FPS frame rate. Acquiring a PC which can achieve the required resolution and stable frame rate does not come quickly or cheaply.
This issue cost by the fact that technology doesn’t stop advancing. In a few years, PCs will easily achieve the resolutions and frame rates detailed above. For gamers, this will be a serious challenge as the technology continues to advance, and it seems likely that VR will use gaming for self-promotion before quietly turning to other applications.
We are pretty sure that you will have heard a lot about VR, considering what a hot topic it is, and with good reason. Some think that the “big glasses” are forever going to change the way we interact with our PCs. Others only want them for fun. There are the trendsetters and those who hope that VR could provide a boost to PC sales. From all perspectives, it is clear that expectations are high.
This guide will provide you with the most relevant information you need; we aim to cover both the positive and negative aspects of this new technology. Virtual Reality devices are coming to market now, and the range of these devices will be great. A large number of devices will be available, among which are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and Gear VR for Samsung mobiles, as well as a variety of others that are launching imminently. There are differences between them all, but these are not the main focus of this guide; we are looking more closely at performance. What are the important facts about the upcoming VR mania? What will be great and what should be avoided? Below we will cover these topics in a series of sections that will teach you everything you need to know.
Need for games optimization, controls imperfections
The final part that needs to be taken into consideration and refers to gaming, and is connected with the previously mentioned one, is set of things that can, but do not necessarily affect it. However, will that step out or not, nobody can know now. Virtual reality is suitable for all kinds of games that have “cockpit”, for example driving simulations and space flying. Whatever comes next must be improved, adapted, and perfected. There are going to be a lot of “walking simulations”, as they are called today, adapted for VR. We can even expect a boom of adventures through which persons with VR helmet will be created easily, solving problems. “Experience games” have great potential in the VR. A walk through an island full of dinosaurs, horror in a cursed castle, visiting countryside – thing is becoming more sophisticated as we move towards classic First person shooters because there is a lot of head driving which might cause dizziness. The dizziness leads to discussions if only the moving (or the gaming, too) will be more efficient than the classic mouse + keyboard combo at the moment, where 180 degrees rotations are easily made. Apart from this, in third person games, and even in the games from a bird’s perspective, VR is just unsuitable.
Besides this, lots of VR solutions come with personal control models and ways of moving, which sounds great in theory, but is doubtful that in praxis will rightly be supported by the games. Also, lots of developers limit their games today on 30 or 60 fps, or use physics for frames in a second, which will make those games just unplayable combined with Oculus and divide the players’ community leading to discussions if there are quality developers who will develop software for VR environment. We highly doubt that you will play CounterStrike with VR helmet. Probably you will try it so to realize that you are much weaker without the standard controls, and after that, you won’t play it. “Slower” games for one player might be a top solution!
VR is going to have a high price – great, in fact, especially if we count the “hidden costs”. One of the biggest disappointments lately is the announcement that the Oculus Rift VR system price will be 600 USD. On the European market, it will be even higher. However, it was not an obstacle for a good sale, having in mind that copies are already reserved – above all expectations.
Back to the whole VR story – as you already figured out, enjoying VR requires a thousand dollar/euro worth PC and constant investment in the strongest hardware will be necessary if you do have the ambition to use the VR in gaming. Here comes the trick with “hidden costs”. The gaming minimum is 650 euro GPU, 2 of this in a multi-GPU regime are much better, but not the best solution, and the hardware the will “fully” work does not exist at the moment considering that is needed for more demanding, newer games. The same goes for the other systems too, not just for Oculus. To use VR for Gear, you will need to have Samsung mobile whose price is almost 1000 euro. The price for HTC Vive is even higher, but having in mind that it will have implemented technology – it is unrealistic to expect anything cheaper.
The biggest price problem for the product itself is that it comes out because of the false expectations. The Oculus founder promised that the price should vary between 300 to 350 USD, and those changed, as well as the promises that the company would sell itself, that resulted in the hands of Facebook. However, Facebook buying Oculus gave hope to many that the giant will be interested in making the mass technology available, and also decrease the price. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. According to the company’s sources, Oculus Rift will be sold at a high price. Not only has the price rise, but it also decreases privacy since Facebook will gather information about your usage and use it for its own advantages.
Virtual Reality Headset is not for long rides
The thing that many forget and are ready to turn a blind eye is the new experience as to how useful and enjoyable the experience is. We have good and bad news. The manufacturers, referring here to Oculus and HTC, worked a lot to reduce the helmet weight, so that the ergonomics and the user won’t cause any problems. The new iterations are dramatically improved and have been tested for one year so that no problems should appear.
So why do we say that VR is not enjoyable? The entrance in the virtualized world that we will move through is in a way that our brain hasn’t adapted to yet and unavoidably causes “connection failure”, which may lead to sickness. This specifically refers to long gaming sessions, and there are cases when the hardware is not so reliable to deliver adequate performances and lacks fps’s. The effect will be an analog to the feeling of uncomfortable playing with little fps, which will be exponentially expressed because you are there – in that world. All in all, this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Incredible potential in every sense
Games in the VR context are being discussed a lot lately because of the most obvious way of entertaining software that can be used for popularizing technology. Is VR focusing only on games? Not at all! The potential is scary, even unlimited. As we mentioned in the introduction, VR is a new way of interacting with PC. That does not mean that is strictly applicable for a particular usage.
Games are not the only ones that will bring unavoidable push the VR through. If they are going to stay as the most dominant and mass area on which VR exists seems to be another question.
Therefore, what factors will be crucial for rapid VR implementation? Don’t doubt it, pornography will be very high on that list, if not at the top. Human needs are endless in adopting any way to experience what they want. There are already sites that offer VR variety of pornography, but we won’t go into details. Marketing? Absolutely! Business? Of course! It is free to say that VR will lead to an evolution of new workplaces, as a means of doing work. The engineer will at any moment be able to see what his employee sees. Also, the training will be held at a distance and completely virtual, without expensive material and the example with the truck driver with the regular distant controller we already mentioned.
Imagine how great the potential is in the marketing or education area? Would you like to try a hotel where you plan to stay? Yes, the top hotels will make that available to you through their VR apps. In that way you will be able to walk through the rooms and halls, the restaurant and other areas, to “try” the beach near the hotel. Of course, without smell and touch, those types of sensitivities will remain for the actual reality. Virtual sports? Virtual concerts? – Absolutely yes.
One thing is certain everything based on specific experiences might benefit from VR. The experience is the keyword. How about walking on the moon? Maybe in a virtual Zen garden, or using the same therapeutic app, meditating, spending time in some different surrounding, in a house that is not yours? Would you like to stroll through Rome? If somebody would make an app for that – why not! Would you like to combine the experiences, let’s say watching a movie on an open cinema on Mars? Why not! Or wearing boots of some Soviet soldier during Stalingrad’s defense, seeing and experiencing destructions reproduced by VR application? Being a Roman soldier, or Roman slave? Of course, all that will be possible – limitless.
Open hands VR solution in Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift will most easily integrate with the concept of PC usage. It is enough only to connect the device to the Video output and 2 USB 3.0 ports and nothing else because it does not make for combining with individual controllers. The limit that enables Oculus Rift to adapt to the today’s PC usage is well kept, with the difference that will provide new possibilities and horizons. The second reason is when we look at it more widely. Oculus is the periphery of the PC. PC is the freest, most opened platform than anything else that VR was planned for now, and at the same time most advanced in the development and implementation. Here lies the significance of the PC platform and VR combination. The other devices are set for working on closed platforms, on functions on fixed platforms, or it is maybe about inferior equipment. For example, Playstation VR is only set for PlayStation consoles where the games are dominant, but the current consoles do not have enough power for VR in the standard games so that ecosystem will be divided, and it is up to discussion if there is going to be something else. Samsung Gear VR has the similar story because it can only work on Samsungs mobiles. There is no point in discussing the solutions like Microsoft Hololens or Google Cardboard VR. The first one is not even virtual reality – is augmented. The second one is only a piece of technology that can be used for VR but practically is a piece of cardboard.
With everything stated above, HTC Vive can only compete with Oculus Rift, but it is uncertain will it, despite the enormous progress in the past few months, be able to stand up. Some parts there are more advanced than in Oculus, but we think that Oculus is for the mass population, for the chair experience, while HTC Vive is a mobile experience, with all the sensors and cameras and external controllers that make an unforgettable experience. However, this might be very expensive and a smaller number of clientele will be affected. Here comes another, the important reason that suggests that Oculus will dominate, and that is having the Facebook behind it. Facebook yet did not guarantee anything and considering that having its back might comes as bothering factor.
No matter what you might think of VR, the fact is that is a unique experience, incomparable to anything. It also provides you with a bunch of new options and ways of interaction, opening a new level of imagination and creativity when it comes to the programmers, designers, 3D models. Besides this; we have already mentioned a lot in the previous pages. You should also know that VR won’t replace anything. VR is here to bring something new and different, to “export” the user on the beach, in the hotel, in a different city or in another historical time. We had the opportunity to try the newest VR solutions, and that is an unforgettable feeling. Everyone will feel the same when you put the helmet for the first time and start any VR app.
Best Graphics Card For Virtual Reality?
We will in this article discuss the best graphics cards for virtual reality. All the tests and data discovered are dependent on the SteamVR Performance Test. Therefore, we recommend you to look at our Virtual Reality Guide first since we expect you to have a little understanding of fidelity. Roughly speaking the term fidelity in a general sense means how much of the system’s potential devotes itself to the VR performance. Our guide already provides information about graphics cards that are just capable of VR, we will, therefore, surpass cards like GTX 950/960/970 or lower.
Choosing a graphics card for Virtual Reality is a puzzle. Virtual Reality gaming requires at least a GTX 970, but most upcoming games will probably need a GTX 980 for optimal performance. The dilemma gets rather problematic since these are not cheap cards. If you want to play casual and not graphics demanding games, then delightfully stick with the GTX 970. On the other hand, games keep developing and companies creating Virtual Reality games focus mainly on graphical progress since Virtual Reality is mainly focusing on the vision of our eyes. If this prognosis is right, then sooner or later the GTX 970 will be less popular, and people tend to focus on the more expensive cards. In this article, we are mainly focusing on high-end graphics cards for Virtual Reality.
Obviously, the high-end external graphics card achieved a very high fidelity rating. Surprisingly the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury X turned out differently, with lower fidelity rating at a 9.6. When comparing FPS on different games the Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti goes almost even depending on the game, however, GTX 980 Ti is slightly more powerful. When comparing fidelity rating, the GTX 980 scores 1.4 points more than the Radeon R9 Fury X. Does this mean that the AMD cards are less likely to devote its potential to the full VR experience? The answer is a bit of both. The scores are realistic, but it’s told that the application Steam VR Performance Test runs better on Nvidia cards while having minor issues with the AMD cards. Another factor that could influence the score is the driver updates. Nvidia has stated that they focus on driver updates that increase their adaptability into the VR devices. Unfortunately, these updates are only available for the newest generation cards, specifically the 900-series cards. AMD might as well develop updates that incorporate higher fidelity for the VR tests, but in its current state, the Nvidia leads the VR industry.
The Titan X and GTX 980 Ti both scored 11 in the test. Does this mean they go equally? The Titan X comes in 12GB VRAM having a tremendous asset at 4k and higher resolutions. Both may have 0% under 90 FPS, but if we were testing how many frames got over 200, then the Titan X would win anytime. The real dilemma is whether the Titan X can stand against TWO GTx 980 Tis.
As said before the Titan X’s massive amount of VRAM makes it capable of running high fps on higher resolutions and 4k, where you can draw deep on the extra space for large textures. When comparing the processing power, the Titan X, and 980 Ti goes equally.
The Oculus Rift drives in 2 x 1080×1200 or a total resolution of 2160×1200 or 2.6M pixels. Which in reality is slightly smaller than the mid-range 1440P resolution and yet still much smaller than 4K where the Titan X performs excellently due to the VRAM. The Oculus Rift renders every frame twice, and with the given low resolution per eye, what we need for higher performance isn’t more VRAM. Our commitment lies in the processing power, which we’d get from the second GTX 980 Ti. Basically, Titan X and a GTX 980 Ti goes almost equal in processing power, a second one would benefit more compared to a Titan X.
Basically, Oculus Rift depends on processing power. Titan X and a GTX 980 Ti runs almost equal in processing power. A second GTX 980 Ti would benefit more compared to one single Titan X. The major benefit of buying a Titan X lies within the memory, and VR gaming wouldn’t use all that memory.
List of Virtual Reality Headset coming out in 2018
Here is a list of the most popular VR systems that are coming out this year. You will find a difference in the prices, and some models are not officially announced yet but are worth mentioning.
The Oculus Rift is probably the most awaited devices of them all. It was first launched as a kick starter project and was later bought by Facebook, Oculus Rift becomes one of the most expected VR devices.
The system is composed of the headset with integrated sensors, a display for both eyes separately and headphones. There is also a camera for detecting movement and it might come with Xbox One controller. You will need a PC with higher specifications as the Oculus Rift can run, and this is above the price which is currently $599.
What are you going to get is a complete VR system that, according to the tests, will enable you with incredible VR experiences. The pre-orders can be made no earlier than April, but the demand is high, and probably the shipment won’t be until July. Oculus Rift will be number one in its category.
HTC Vive Headset
HTC Vive is also a complete set of VR experience that is meant to be connected to a powerful PC. Roll up to see which computer builds can run the HTC Vive.
There is a difference between the HTC Vive and other VR systems because it enables freedom from room to room. Other systems support the movement, but HTC Vive has specific lasers that detect your location and moving in the physical space, incorporated in virtual space. This is the advantage of the other systems. A disadvantage is that you will need a spacious gaming space for usage.
The headset consists of sensors displaying visuals to both of the eyes and requires headphones also, at the moment. There are also Vive hand controllers, and the location is detected in the 3D space with varieties of controls. A lot of different environments are introduced in the HTC Vive, starting from climbing Everest to marinating robots. Partnered with Steam owner Valve, just for the development, HTC will become competitive on the market as soon as it launches.
Pre-ordering is active now, and the headset shipping will start on 5 April. The prices are £689 in the UK and $799 in the US.
PlayStation VR Headset
The former Project Morpheus was named as PlayStation VR, driven by PlayStation 4 and not by PC. It does not have a complete VR system and is only an additional part of the PS4 console which means that it will be cheaper than the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. It is scheduled to come out in October 2016.
The headset will cost £349 ($399) which is must cheaper then the prices of the rivals, which also adds to lowering the costs if you have in mind that the console is not so expensive as the required gaming PCs.
There is no difference in the VR technology. When it comes to the movement, it detects the head movement with the PlayStation camera combined with Ps controller, displaying and exporting the picture from the TV to your face. This addition of the PS4 will be an easy VR solution for lots of gamers.
Later this year lots of contents will be launched along with some trailers. Gamers will be happy with the Golem and Ace Combat 7. Drive Club was tested on PlayStation VR, and the results were excellent. Gran Turismo Sport responded affirmatively about their support also.
Lost of boundaries will be removed because this is an addition to the platform. There is more for the upcoming years. The gaming experience will never be the same with PlayStation VR.
The rival to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that uses Windows 10 architecture is the Sulon Q headset, which was presented during GDC 2016 in San Francisco. It does not require a powerful PC and is “tether-free.” The processing power is incorporated into the devices with AMD technologies suitable for games and applications, wireless and without connecting to any box.
You will find the lens on the headset for using the augmented reality apps, something like Microsoft HoloLens about which we will talk later. The computer graphics are transferred to the real world objects. Instead of headphones, gaming earbuds are providing unique 3d sound and integrated microphone.
The launch is scheduled to be this spring, and there are no prices yet.
Samsung Gear VR
Developed side by side with Oculus, Samsung was one of the first and earliest brands that turned to VR with its Gear VR headset. It was designed to support a smartphone, and it does need to be connected to a PC or a console.
Different models of Samsung smartphones were supported by different versions of the Gear VR. At first, some lenses split the devices between the eyes of the user but Samsung’s new device gives you high-resolution display.
Samsung Gear VR was used in car showrooms and with wider possibilities than those from the Oculus, it is the best solution for those using a Samsung handset.
LG 360 VR
LG 360VR headset is a device that you must connect to LG G5 with USB Type-C cable to make it useable. It is different than the other devices because of the untypical pair of glasses needed for the VR experience. The biggest difference and advantage is that you don’t need to keep it close to your face, unlike Cardboard. It consists on two 1.8-inches inside displays, a separate one for each eye, with a resolution of 960 x 720 pixels that results in 639ppi. The shows are put behind the lenses and you can focus with each one separately, adjusting the width is also available and you will get a stereoscopic vision.
The navigation is controlled by an OK and BACK button. The motion sensors allow movement all around, as well as the sensor situated between your eyes, only when the headset is worn.
The 3.5mm headphone socket is incorporated in the 360VR headset for best audio. If it isn’t used, the sounds will come out from the smartphone.
It is also scheduled to be announced in April, and there is no info on the price yet.
Google Cardboard was introduced in 2014 with a cardboard folding container where you were supposed to place your smartphone. It was two-folded: the cost was very low, sometimes even free, and it was universal as it was compatible with lots of smartphone models. Everything that fitted in the front stayed secure.
It was a huge success, and people were sampling the VR content (it could have been from anywhere – Google….) without further investment in the system. It was reported that 5 million Cardboard viewer were shipped. There were lots of different apps on the device and it was stated that it was set for further development and investment in the future. The name refers to the Cardboard viewer and the VR platform from Google, too.
Cardboard does not have a head strap, and it needs to be held near the face – that is why it is an ad hoc VR viewer. Lots of different apps are available; you can watch the 360 view environment on Google Street View and also, 360 content on YouTube.
For beginners, this is the best VR solution.
Microsoft Hololens (Not VR)
It was a big surprise when Microsoft became part of the virtual reality. It presented the Microsoft HoloLens headset, working with a new technology – the Windows Holographic – that puts 3D images around us. Realistically, this is more like augmented reality but it is in the same space as the other systems. Microsoft’s goal is to enter the augmented reality in the world. The users of HoloLens will be able to see this through the holographic images transferred on the objects (projection will appear from a laser and into the eyes). This headset runs on built-in Windows 10.
Digital images are presented in the real-world view, which can connect and interact with other objects around you. It is able to recognize movement; the voice has a 120-degree field of vision.
It is a now in the Development Edition and it will be suitable for the future, not for the present.
Oculus Store, new place for selling software and applications
According to the sources from Oculus, the hardware will be practically sold at a price that will only cover the costs. How will then they make a profit? The answer is Oculus Store. Imagine an enormous digital store, like Stream, where thousands and thousands of different apps will be sold. You will find there not only games but interactive tutorials, travel apps, therapeutic apps, hotels listings…. Possibilities are full.
The concept is exquisite, and profit will come out from developing VR apps for the mass population, no matter the way the users will use their VR. Why are we so focused on Oculus, when there are other systems too? Don’t worry, the concept will be similar. Sony apps will sell their PlayStation VR through PSN, more specifically individual sections in their online store. The same can be expected with the other VR systems. One is for sure – the creators of the initial hardware made sure to think of any concurrency that might occur on device selling by the initial price and focusing on the software.
We hope that with this guide we cleared some fundamental dilemmas and practical implementations, and helped you understand what your expectations should be regarding the VR solutions. You should remember that it is a new way of PC interaction that is not here to replace anything or to ditch the other ways of communication. It is here as an addition to them, as well as to bring a new level of experiences.
We are not trying to say here that everyone should rush and buy VR devices. There is no need for that, nor is it objectively necessary. Not everyone has the PC’s for that, and VR devices are very expensive. The whole process might last few years. We hope it won’t be too long, but VR does not run sprint – tough marathon. Be patient and convince yourselves. Gradually you will see the benefits of this concept yourself, and it is expected that the technology will become more available. Enthusiasts will buy these devices, try them and comment on them, and probably sooner or later a large number of users will join the VR world.
At the same time, we can’t but notice that the ideal fundament that enables true experience for this type is the desktop PC! That seemly forgotten, despised and rejected nontrendy concept has enough performances and strength to make VR viable in any aspect of its usage – on it makes sense when we talk about usability because we will not wear the helmet when you can watch it on a more compact mobile or laptop. It is reasonable to expect that this demonstration of PC capabilities will take a turn in the PC industry. It is more than needed as we expect that the demand for hardware, as well as for the software, will give new chances and opportunities for jumps in hardware strength and creativity solutions that the developers can offer.
Best VR Headset – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
The launch of both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive has marked the real beginning of the VR era. The question now is: which one is better? Which one is worth spending the money: the Rift, with its lower price of $599, stylish design and lots of games; or the more expensive Vive, priced at $799 but including room-tracking technology with controllers and a camera?
With all the reviews for Oculus rift and HTC Vive in mind, here are the pros and cons for each headset.
Fashion is hardly a top priority in VR headset design, as is clearly apparent in both of these devices. However, if you’re looking to choose the most fashionable, the Rift is the obvious choice. Its design is minimalist, with soft lines and curves. The HTC Vive’s design is more sci-fi oriented, but all of its photosensors mark it firmly as a prototype, not a market-ready device. Finally, the Rift comes equipped with built-in headphones with a clear aesthetic appeal, while the HTC Vive’s headphones are not integrated into the headset. The built-in headphones make Oculus Rift the winner in this category.
Headsets and Other Accessories
The Vive package will include a headset and a pair of controllers, plus two base stations providing 360-degree tracking through the use of infrared lasers. The Oculus kit comes with a headset, sensor, remote, cables and an Xbox One controller. Oculus currently lacks its previously-announced wireless controllers, which might launch later this year. The winner here is Vive – it provides everything you need in its package, without additional costs.
The specs for both headsets are similar, with 2160×1200 OLED displays, HDMI and both 2.0 and 3.0 ports. The biggest difference is in the sensors and the tracking areas. The Rift benefits from an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and 360-degree positional tracking, but the Vive features a camera and a laser sensor. Vive’s camera and sensor detect your furniture and allow you to walk around your room freely, so Vive leads in this category.
The PC requirements for both headsets are similar, too. For each, you will need a powerful desktop PC, but with differences in the RAM and ports required. For Vive, you will need 4GB of RAM with HDMI 1.4 or Display Port 1.2, and a USB 2.0 port. For Rift, you will need 8GB of RAM or even more, HDMI 1.3, plus 3 USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port. Again Vive is the most privileged because of its lower RAM requirements.
There are different motion tracking methods for the two headsets. Vive has its “Lighthouse” base station, using laser sensors placed on the Vive and on the controllers. To work correctly, both stations must be positioned on the wall, or on furniture such as bookshelves. The drawback is that there has to be sufficient space, as well as enough electrical outlets (at least seven).
Oculus has the “Constellation” for its motion tracking, which uses a sensor connected to the PC through USB, making it more comfortable for using VR in a seated position.
Both headsets come with beneficial features and drawbacks. If you have enough space in your room then we’d recommend you go with the Vive; however, if your space is restricted then stick with the Oculus, due to the cable connections.
Both VR headsets are set to incorporate smartphone support, connected through Bluetooth. Vive will be able to synchronize with a phone. So that any calls and messages that come through can be answered without removing the headset. Oculus does not have a comparable feature, which makes the Vive the winner on this front.
The launch of the headsets is followed inevitably by a variety of games. For Rift, the standout titles are Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. The Vive headset will come with games for a limited time: Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption, as well as 3D art program Tilt Brush. Games will be available for both Vive and Rift headsets from the Steam store, and the Rift will have more than 100 games later this year such as Minecraft, Rock Band and Edge of Nowhere.
When it comes to games, Oculus Rift dominates, thanks to the sheer variety available, which has been made possible by their earlier announcement. Oculus Rift was announced way before HTC Vive, which means companies have been developing games specifically for the Rift. However, this can change during 2016 since more games are expected to be delivered for the HTC Vive.
Price and costs
The difference in the price is obvious: Oculus Rift costs $599 while HTC Vive costs $799. Although Oculus is cheaper, howeever Vive comes with three free games to redress the balance. As mentioned above, the Touch controllers for Oculus are still unreleased, which will add to the price in future. Vive is, therefore, the top choice for experiencing VR while moving.
From everything above, it is clear that HTC Vive is currently the best Virtual Reality headset. It is undeniably more expensive, but it includes the pair of hand controllers as well as three free games. You can move around indefinitely if you have a sufficient amount of space; a feature which brings an entirely unique experience into the gaming industry. We can finally feel for real as if we’re inside a game and grab things with our hands. There may only be a few Virtual Reality games at present, but companies are already starting to develop more and more for it.
HTC Vive also allows you to sync with your smartphone and answer calls with the headset on. This is fantastically convenient during a game; with a simple press of a button you are able to pick up or hang up your phone. The Oculus doesn’t provide this, which is obviously inconvenient when the phone starts ringing. Getting around this could cause a lot of cable trouble.
On the other hand, Oculus Rift is a bit cheaper, with better design and – most importantly – more games, giving it a huge advantage. It has Facebook support behind it, which means it will almost certainly have a few surprises to show off in the future. Unfortunately, many will see Facebook integration as a negative point. Due to their collaboration, privacy levels on Oculus Rift are likely to be unacceptable to some users, as it will allow Facebook to sell information they extract from you to advertisers. In short, they will always know what you are using your Oculus Rift for.
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