When you think of VR, your mind probably immediately jumps to popular games like Beat Saber or Half-Life: Alyx. But did you know that VR headsets can do so much more? From watching movies with friends to meeting new people in virtual social spaces, VR headsets can provide a wide variety of experiences. Which one delivers the best experience? It's the Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab) by a wide margin. It's an all-in-one wireless gaming headset that requires no smartphone, PC, or console to play, yet can be optionally used with a PC to deliver even grander VR experiences.
Best Overall: Oculus Quest 2
Oculus Quest 2
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
While every other major VR headset on the market requires a smartphone, PC, or console to power the experience, Oculus has built a headset that does everything you could ever want, all without needing to connect it to any external system. Using an Oculus Quest 2 is as easy as putting the headset on and immediately entering the world of VR. There's no fiddling with settings, no tangling around wires, and no worrying about incompatibilities with the latest games or apps. Just make sure it's charged and go.
The Oculus Quest 2 is a significant upgrade over the original Oculus Quest in almost every way. In our review we detail exactly why but, in a nutshell, the Quest 2 is not just significantly more powerful than its predecessor, but it features a 50% higher resolution screen, better speakers, faster Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and plenty of extras you might not even consider.
That new 50% higher resolution display utilizes a specialized fast-switching LCD panel built for VR, featuring an ultra-crisp RGB-stripe sub-pixel arrangement. It's also running at 90Hz, which makes the action 25% smoother than the original Quest and helps cut down on motion sickness. The speakers are in the same place as the original Quest but are louder and deliver higher-quality sound.
On top of this, the new cloth headstrap can be completely removed and changed out with different straps, like the Elite Strap with battery. This strap not only makes gaming on the Quest 2 more comfortable, but it also doubles the battery life to up to six hours in a single charge. Speaking of battery life, Oculus improved the Oculus Touch controllers this time around with better ergonomics, better button placement, a thumb rest, and battery life that's out of this world. Many people have reported still having full battery after a month of usage, which is unheard of on any console.
You can play the Oculus Quest 2 anywhere thanks to the Oculus Guardian system, which utilizes the four cameras on the headset to see and map the environment around you so you don't knock into anything. Because of the lack of wires, you'll find experiences on the Oculus Quest 2 that you can't get anywhere else, like the incredible Supernatural VR fitness program. However, if you have a gaming PC, you can hook the Quest up with a single USB Type-C cable, known as an Oculus Link cable (opens in new tab), turning it into a full-fledged Oculus Rift.
Facebook sells the Oculus Quest 2 with 64GB or 256GB of storage, and while this storage isn't expandable, you'll be able to house dozens of installed games. The Oculus Quest 2 has, thus far, been outselling even the original Oculus Quest, which is one of the most successful VR headsets in history. Wide-reaching developer support, an extensive community, and exclusive features like hand-tracking make this the very best VR headset you can buy.
Best for PlayStation: PlayStation VR Headset
PlayStation VR Headset
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Because this is the PlayStation VR, you should expect gaming to be at the forefront of the experience. Over the years, Sony has developed a pedigree for great exclusive VR games like Iron Man VR. PSVR has tons of exclusives, including big names like Blood & Truth, Resident Evil VII, and Astro Bot: Robo Rescue, to name a few.
The PSVR sports a crisp 1080p display that runs at an impressive 120hz, allowing you to play with some of the absolute smoothest visuals on the market. Like most console experiences, the PSVR is plug-and-play. The initial wiring might seem a bit complicated at first, but Sony has done a great job of labeling everything you'll need to plug-in.
What's more, the headset itself is adjustable and super comfortable, with padded eye sockets that even allow those who wear glasses to play for long periods. The OLED display delivers the vibrant, beautiful colors that you'd expect from your PS4 games, and the included earbuds are a great way to hear what's happening in 3D space.
The headset is wired, and while most games do a great job of keeping you from getting tangled up, it does present some limitations that totally wireless headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 don't have. Sony's controllers also don't have any joysticks or touchpads on them, which can limit movement in some games.
If you're planning on picking up a PS5 (or already have), know that PSVR works perfectly well with it, although you'll need to request a free adapter from Sony. The PS5 will further enhance PSVR visuals from what's presented even on the PS4 Pro, including rendering in a higher resolution and at a higher frame rate, as well as enhanced textures and model detail in certain games. That means no matter if you own an original PS4, a PS4 Pro, or a PS5, the PSVR is the best way to play VR games on the PlayStation platform.
Best VR Headset for PC Gaming: Valve Index
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
When nothing but the absolute best will do, you get a Valve Index. When Valve announced the Index, it blew the minds of VR enthusiasts everywhere. From its incredibly comfortable design to the super-high refresh rate display, the finger-tracking controllers, and even the unparalleled built-in speakers, the Valve Index is just about everything a PC gamer could want in a VR headset.
Part and parcel to the Valve Index experience are the controllers, which are unmatched in terms of precision and realism in the virtual world. Valve's controllers don't just offer a wide range of buttons and movement inputs, but they also can precisely track your fingers and the movements of your hands. You can even let go of the controllers completely and they won't go anywhere thanks to an ingenious handstrap design.
With this design in tow, the Valve Index can provide gamers with unparalleled immersion as they pick up crowbars in games like Boneworks, or explore the deeply interactive world of Half-Life: Alyx. Being able to actually feel like you're grabbing or picking up things in the virtual world helps deliver an experience you simply won't find anywhere else. Valve utilizes the SteamVR tracking system, which is the most precise tracking system on the market and features compatibility with dozens of accessories. It still requires external sensors to be installed in the room, however. You'll also still be plugged into a PC (preferably a powerful one to take full advantage of the Index's specs).
The Valve Index headset is among the single-most comfortable pieces of hardware on the market, with intelligently-designed headstraps that help balance weight and alleviate the strain that other headstrap designs can leave. It's even got the industry's best built-in headphones which, interestingly enough, hover just over your ears and provide an impressive range of sound and volume.
Like the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest 2, the Valve index features a fast-switching LCD panel with a tight pixel structure that helps eliminate that nasty "screen-door effect" that previous-generation VR headsets had, and delivers one of the crispest, sharpest images in the industry. On top of that, the ultra-high refresh rate display ensures VR motion sickness is a thing of the past, and the ultra-wide-angle lenses reveal more of the virtual world than you'll get on any other headset.
Best for Nintendo Gaming: Nintendo Labo VR Headset Kit
Nintendo Labo VR Headset Kit
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Nintendo Labo VR Kit is an interesting addition to the rapidly-growing number of VR headsets out there and supports popular Nintendo Switch games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey. With this kit, you'll be able to experience these games once again in a different way entirely, adding a new level of replayability to these games. However, considering that the Nintendo Switch VR headset is splitting the Switch's 1280x720 display into two screens, don't expect the best graphics when playing on this kit.
Nevertheless, like most things Labo, you can create different pieces to add to the VR kit, such as a blaster, camera, and more — all to make playing your gamers that much more immersive. Unfortunately, you'll have to hold your VR kit up to your face since there's no strap to hold it to your head. That can be very annoying, especially when your arms get tired but you want to play some more.
But what really makes the Nintendo Labo VR headset stand out is how its pass-and-play multiplayer allows everyone, such as family and friends, to get in on the fun. With the added creative components, the Nintendo Labo VR kit is extraordinary for both children and adults. It's an extremely unique and fun concept that only Nintendo could pull off. Just keep in mind that support appears to be limited to only a few games, and Nintendo hasn't announced any new VR games in quite some time.
Ultimately, the Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab) is the best VR headset you can buy, regardless if you own a PC or a console. That's because the Oculus Quest 2 doesn't need any PC, console, or even a smartphone to run the experience. All of it is built-in, and the experience is even better than other headsets because of this fact.
The Oculus Quest 2 is great for gaming and social activities, and you can even bring it to your friends' and families' houses since there are no cords and barely any setup involved in the process. What's more, you can even connect the Oculus Quest 2 to your gaming PC to unlock the full power of PC-powered VR.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicholas Sutrich has been professionally writing about tech since 2011 and has run through the gamut of tech and gaming. If he's not slicing blocks in Beat Saber he's probably tinkering with some smart home gadget or going on a hike in the mountains of Western North Carolina.