With each passing year, more manufacturers compete to release one of the best VR headsets. That competition has only increased in 2022 as the term metaverse has hit the mainstream and virtual reality headsets are seen as the necessary device to enter this strange online world.
The good news is that whether you play games on PC, console, or are looking for a device that needs neither, there are now VR headsets for you. Facebook's Oculus Quest 2 (renamed to the Meta Quest 2), is a strong contender, thanks to its affordable price tag and ease of use – it is the only wireless device that makes our list. And, with its main competitors aiming for the higher-spec market on PC, or lower-spec capabilities of consoles, it's likely to stay that way until the release of an Oculus Quest 2 Pro or Oculus Quest 3.
Of course, while the Oculus Quest 2 serves an audience looking for a device they can easily use away from a console or PC, that may well not suit your particular needs. The Valve Index may serve you much better if you're looking for a top-of-the-line VR headset – however, you may struggle to find one of the in-demand devices.
We will be updating our buyer's guide if any of the headsets from well-known brands, like Apple, shake up the virtual reality market.
Happily, with the main contenders in the VR space today each going after a particular style of user, your choice is a little simpler. You need to know what you will be using to run your VR headset and whether you need the device to be wireless. We've tested all the leading devices to provide you with precisely that information.
Best VR headsets of 2022
The Valve Index is an excellent VR headset that represents a next-gen system compared to its predecessors. We found it has a crisp display that runs well even with older GPUs, a wider field of view, a higher refresh rate, and Valve’s 'knuckle' controllers, which can track the movement of every finger.
It’s a significant upgrade to the HTC Vive, and runs much smoother than the Vive Pro, a powerful VR headset that really struggled to deliver on the promise of high-end, room-scale VR. However, it isn't without its snags. During our testing, we found setting it up can be tricky, updates can cause connection issues and there are often errors. You'll also need a space where you can be near a powerful desktop or laptop, because – this isn't a standalone headset like others in this list.
If you can look past those issues, this is a fantastic VR headset. Its higher-resolution screen and better refresh rate allowed us to use it for longer periods of time without discomfort, and the Index Controllers are a real step up from the ones that ship with the Vive.
Although we think this is the best VR headset for 2022 and our top pick for PC owners, it's worth mentioning the Valve Index can sometimes be hard to track down as manufacturing slowed down during the pandemic.
- Read the full Valve Index review
The Quest 2 will be one of the best VR headsets people for most people. It doesn't need to be wired to an expensive PC, offers movement and freedom, and it's easy to set-up and use.
It’s a significant improvement over the original Quest, and we found it was a more responsive experience thanks to improved RAM and chip specs, as well as a higher resolution display that’s 50% sharper than its predecessor.
Developers have the option to make their games run at 90Hz (important for increased comfort and realism while playing), and we found the headset itself is lighter than before, too. Hand tracking – which came to the original Quest via a firmware update, but is baked into the Quest 2 from the off – is also impressive.
We found there’s nothing quite like the thrill of wirefree VR. Games like Robo Recall and Beat Saber should still amaze, and turning YouTube VR or BigScreen VR into your own personal cinema screen is a welcome distraction from the madness of the outside world.
The original Oculus Quest is still a great choice if you're looking for an untethered VR headset. The Quest 2 might bring a significant upgrade, but the original still boasts an OLED display panel with 1440 x 1600 per eye resolution and is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor.
- Read the full Oculus Quest 2 review
It doesn't come cheaply, but if you're after the very best in PC VR visual fidelity, the HTC Vive Pro 2 should sit near the top of your list.
The latest evolution of the HTC Vive range, the Vive Pro 2 boasts a ridiculous '5K' resolution (2448x2448 pixels per eye) a 120-degree field of view and a 120Hz refresh rate. Provided you've got a powerful gaming PC to back it up, this is as clear and lifelike a display as you're able to find in the consumer VR space right now. After hours of testing we still found ourselves stunned by how good games looked in this device.
But the HTC Vive Pro 2 has its faults, too. We found during testing that the screen can get hot after prolonged use, the controllers haven't changed much since the very first Vive headset released, and the external tracking stations and tethered cabling can be a hassle to set up compared to free-roaming devices like the Oculus Quest 2.
Still, if you want your VR gaming sessions looking their absolute best, and have the cash to afford the headset and accompanying high-end PC, this is an enthusiast's dream.
- Read the full HTC Vive Pro 2 review
Unlike many VR headsets that need a PC to work, Sony's PlayStation VR requires a PS4 or PS5 console. That means if you already have one, and not a powerful gaming PC, this may be the best VR headset for you. It's found a natural home in our living room.
Considering the sizeable difference in power between the PS4 and PC, we found the PlayStation VR to be a surprisingly competent VR headset. Its refresh rate is responsive, and we've had no issues with the reliability of its head-tracking. The collection of PlayStation VR games is also impressive.
Sony has addressed one of our biggest objections with the PlayStation VR – that its accessories are sold separately – by offering a variety of packs and PlayStation VR bundles with devices like the PlayStation Camera included. However, PlayStation Move controllers, while included in some bundles, aren't in every one. So while you have to be aware of the additional cost involved, depending on what bundle you opt for, recent price cuts have made the PlayStation VR even more affordable.
The PSVR 2 model will emerge sometime in 2022 according to Sony, though it will not support the PS4, which means the original headset is still the best VR headset until then if you don't own a PS5. Otherwise, you may consider waiting a few months.
- Read the full PlayStation VR review
Virtual reality has come a long way since Oculus founder (and controversial VR poster boy) Palmer Luckey introduced the world to the Oculus Rift back in 2012. Now owned by Facebook, the Oculus Rift S should represent the next leap forward for the company’s high-end, PC-based virtual reality experiences. But, unfortunately, it's more of a baby-step.
Like the Oculus Rift, the Rift S works in tandem with a PC to deliver virtual reality experiences. It connects to your PC over a USB 3.0 port and a DisplayPort connection, and is tethered to the machine by a lengthy cable that’s more than enough to accommodate the ‘room-scale’ experiences that Rift S is capable of delivering. It’s more limiting in terms of free movement than the superb wireless Oculus Quest, but the trade-off here is that, by being powered by your PC, it’s capable of delivering more detailed and dynamic experiences. We should add, though, that you can now plug an Oculus Quest 2 into your PC with a USB-C cable and get the same result, which is what we do.
The good news for early adopters is that, to reduce frustration, Oculus has made the Rift S completely backwards compatible with the original Rift titles, and made the Rift forward compatible with the vast majority of games released for the Rift S and Oculus Quest with some minor exceptions.
In July 2021 Oculus announced that the Oculus Rift S is now no longer available to buy. At the time of writing, you can still get stock at some retailers that haven't sold out already but it's officially not being sold anymore after it was discontinued earlier in the year.
- Read the full Oculus Rift S review
Other VR headsets to consider
There aren’t lots of different VR headset brands to choose from – at least not right now – like there is if you needed a new smartphone or pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Instead, there are a few core brands with immersive reality teams, hardware know-how and software smarts to create truly wonderful virtual reality experiences. That means, if you’re not choosing one of the VR headsets above, it makes sense to look at previous headsets launched by the best VR brands instead.
You won’t necessarily still find all of these headsets to buy on the company website. But many are still available to buy new via tech retailers or second-hand, via sites like Ebay.
The successor to the Oculus Quest, the Oculus Quest 2, is one of our best VR headsets of 2022. But that doesn’t mean the Oculus Quest isn’t still a viable VR option if you want to try a standalone headset that offers a truly mobile experience.
What’s more, the Oculus Quest 2 might be the superior headset, but upgrades between the first and second model weren’t as significant as you might expect. With the Quest you still get an all-in-one VR system that works straight out of the box and offers six-degrees of freedom and a huge selection of apps and games.
Upon release, the Oculus Rift felt like a game-changer. One of the first VR headsets to prove that VR could be a highly immersive and enjoyable experience – one that even people with the right PC set-up could experience at home.
That’s changed now the original Oculus Rift is nearly five years old and has since been surpassed by the Oculus Rift S. Although the Rift S is already following in the original Rift's footsteps after being discontinued.
Although since the launch of the original Oculus Rift there have been a number of competing virtual reality headsets launched, including headsets by Oculus itself, like the Oculus Rift S or standalone Quest and Quest 2, the original Oculus Rift is still a very capable VR headset for gaming, and now it’s no longer officially available from Oculus, you can find some tempting deals.
First launched in 2016, the HTC Vive was one of the earliest premium VR headsets available to consumers. And, for a long time afterwards, it was the king of consumer VR tech.
Fast-forward to 2022 and a lot has changed. Now, there are multiple VR headset options you could buy right now. Since the launch of this original HTC Vive, HTC has also launched a number of new VR headsets, including the HTC Vive Cosmos and HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, as well as the Vive Pro 2 listed above in our top picks.
But that doesn’t mean to say that the original HTC Vive isn’t still a solid option for starting your VR journey – it’s just worth considering it’s a good few years older than some of the newer models entering the market.
Which are the best mobile VR headsets?
Mobile VR is a term used to describe a VR experience powered by your phone. Generally speaking, you get an app on your phone, which shows you VR content and then you put your phone inside a mobile VR headset.
For many people, this is a quick, easy and very cheap way to try VR and can be a great first step in exploring what’s possible. If you’re not ready to commit to one of the best VR headsets – or not sure you’re even that interested in VR – consider mobile VR like the Samsung Gear VR or go really lo-fi with the Google Cardboard.
However, given the fact these VR experiences are powered by your phone rather than a fantastic piece of high-end hardware means they can’t compare to the experience you’d get with any of the best VR headsets above. That means if you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to try VR, they’re a solid option. But don’t let the simple experience and – sometimes – grainy pictures put you off VR for good.
Which are the best augmented reality headsets?
Right now, there are a number of augmented reality headsets on the market. But very few are aimed at regular consumers.
Many of the best augmented reality headsets, like the Microsoft Hololens 2, are available to buy but the focus seems to be more on augmented reality for an enterprise or business setting, like the Microsoft HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition, which is an untethered mixed reality device designed and tested for use in regulated industrial environments and the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2.
But we predict this will change soon and you'll be able to get one of the best augmented reality headsets for casual use in your home – just like the best VR headsets in our list above.
One reason we're so sure about the future of augmented reality headsets is that major tech brands are currently pumping a lot of time, energy and resources into new AR offerings. Take Apple as an example, it's no secret Apple is working on an augmented reality and virtual reality product - referred to at the moment as Apple Glass and Apple VR.
Best VR headset FAQ
What is the number one VR headset?
This depends on your priorities. If you want ultimate freedom and hassle-free VR, a wireless headset will suit you the best, the Oculus Quest 2 is currently the best option.
However, wired headsets do offer the very best graphics and refresh rates, so if it's top performance you're after, they'd be number one for you – if you have the PC to power them and the budget to afford them, of course.
It's also worth considering the games you want to play. Some VR games are only available on certain PC-powered devices. Having said that, VR software libraries do have plenty of overlap across devices and some wire-free headsets can optionally be linked up to a PC over a cable to expand the titles they have access to.
How to pick the best VR headset for you
Choosing the best VR headset for you will mostly depend on the price, the platform, and your preferences. For example, there aren't any headsets for console gamers besides PlayStation VR and, if you need a standalone headset, you're basically stuck with the Oculus Quest or Quest 2 – but that's not a bad thing.
At the moment, the four best VR headset ranges on the market – the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Quest 2 and PlayStation VR – are unsurprisingly the most expensive of all the mainstream VR headset offerings.
Although it's worth noting it might not always be that way. The Oculus Quest 2 saw a downward trend on its price compared to its predecessor, suggesting that as the scale of the VR audience ramps up, the price of the hardware will slowly come down, too.
Each of the best VR headsets has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and if you're not aware of these before you buy, it could be a very costly mistake to make. But that's exactly why we put this guide together.
How we test VR headsets
Every VR headset that we include in our Best VR Headsets buying guide has been reviewed in the environment and on a machine that meets the recommended specifications of the manufacturer.
Each device is tested extensively across a range of software available in the headsets' associated store. Many of our reviewers have experience using different ranges of virtual reality hardware, enabling them to make informed comparisons between products.
No device in our buying list above has been included without first being tested and reviewed.
- The best VR games to play on your VR headset