The best VR headsets are well worth considering if you're looking to try out a wholly different flavor of gaming experiences. Across PC and console, we’ve compiled a list of the top picks in VR gaming for any first-time buyer covering a broad span of budgets and preferences.
The landscape of the best VR headsets has a new challenger this year, too, with Sony's console-based PSVR 2 launching very soon. However, with the PSVR 2 being a exclusive to PS5, PC-only players will be keen to get to grips with their own VR experience, and we’ve tailored our list to all setups.
The best VR headsets will help you fully immerse yourself in the best VR games currently on offer, and should you have a particular headset in mind, we have rounded up all the best PSVR games and best Oculus Quest 2 games as well.
Best VR headsets in 2023
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The Valve Index is our top pick for the best VR headset because it 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 PC or gaming 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 the Valve Index was difficult to track down throughout most of 2022, we've seen that availability has greatly increased towards the end of the year, much like with some of the company's other hardware, such as the Steam Deck. Priced at $999 / £919 / AU$1,425, there's no getting around the fact that it's an expensive option, but for everything offered, we also consider it the best available, too.
- Read more: Valve Index review
The Meta Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) will be the ideal VR headset for most people. It doesn't need wiring 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, which is a more responsive experience thanks to improved RAM and chip specs, plus 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 wire-free 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 Meta 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 more: Meta 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 on 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, and the controllers haven't changed much since the very first Vive headset released. Furthermore, the external tracking stations and tethered cabling can be a hassle to set up compared to standalone 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 more: 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 launches in early 2023 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. You can take a look at our list for the best PSVR games if you're keen to jump in now and need some recommendations. Otherwise, you may want to consider waiting a few months.
- Read more: PlayStation VR review
The HP Reverb G2 is an excellent headset for anyone looking for something slightly cheaper than the Valve Index or HTC Vive Pro and something easy to set up. Although it’s not as accurate as the somewhat pricier options, it’s a fantastic alternative that still maintains the visual enchantment of VR gaming. If anything, the HP Reverb G2 exceeds visual expectations and presents an entirely new experience without breaking the bank too much.
Additionally, since it’s compatible with Steam VR, the game library offers a huge range of games to explore and immerse yourself in, which is only encouraged by the high-resolution 2160 x 2160 resolution per eye lens. This high-quality resolution completely depletes the Screen Door effect from other VR headsets, making the gaps between pixels visible and shattering the illusion, damaging immersion and the entire experience. The HP Reverb G2 is one of the best in terms of visuals and price.
But that’s not to say that this headset doesn’t have its flaws, and the main issue resides in the precision of its motion tracking. In tense, high-strung, and time-dependent VR gaming situations, the accuracy of motion tracking can be integral to an experience. This is where slightly more expensive models like the Valve Index excel, but the HP Reverb G2 lacks and lets it down slightly.
To run the high-quality gaming experience expected of the HP Reverb G2, you also need a high-quality PC to support it. Unfortunately, this also means that you’ll face a lot of wires which can hinder the immersive nature of the machine, especially since there’s no wireless option. While its performance and setup are reflected in the slightly cheaper price tag, it’s something to consider before buying.
- Read more: HP Reverb G2 review
Which are the best VR headsets for mobile?
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 best VR headset right now?
The best VR headset will depend on your usage. If you're a PC gamer with a decent rig then the Valve Index ticks all the right boxes and more for the platform. Want a more premium feel? Then the HTC Vive Pro 2 is up to the challenge. If you're a console gamer first and foremost then the PSVR remains a solid option even at the end of 2022, at least until the sequel comes out next year.
What is the best VR headset for beginners?
If you're thinking of getting into VR but don't want to spend obscene amounts of money then the Meta Quest 2 offers what we think to be the best value for money. This option is wireless and doesn't require an expensive gaming PC or games console to enjoy. You aren't going to get the same cutting edge graphics, but things will still look and feel great.
Is it worth getting a VR headset?
A VR headset is absolutely worth it to experience all new kinds of games and software that are not possible through traditional controller means. It's a more immersive type of gaming which puts you right in the driver's seat. There are many triple A titles worth going through alongside indie games which make great use of the added capabilities of the platform, too.
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.