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The year 2019 saw a lot of improvements and added features to virtual reality hardware. There are now several companies with wireless VR headsets, which can function without needing to connect to a PC. Improvements have also been made in several other areas like eye tracking, hand tracking, inside-out tracking and so on. 

Depending on what you want, you might have to prioritize certain features over the other. Some headsets lack certain features but have others. So, if you prefer mobility over experience, or you want a gaming headset, there is a headset for you. In this article, you would see the top ten virtual reality headset to buy in 2020.

PC Based VR Headsets

Valve Index

best vr headset for pc
$1600 on Amazon
vr headset
The Valve Index was announced in April 2019 and finally released in June about two months later. If you are considering purchasing a VR headset with the best experience and you have a flexible budget, the Valve Index is currently the best VR headset you can get in terms of performance and experience. The Valve Index is one of the best VR headset for PC, which means it needs to be connected to a PC (a powerful one by the way). The Index is built on Steam VR making it compatible with HTC’s Vive headsets.  Each Valve Index headset has an LCD screen per eye with a combined resolution of 2880 x 1600. The screen has an average refresh rate of 120 Hz and has been known to reach 144 Hz. This high refresh rate enables a smoother experience and reduces the chances of one having motion sickness. The headsets also allow you to adjust eye relief and interpupillary distance(IPD) making it comfortable for as many people as possible.  To use the Valve Index, you need a PC with at least a dual-core processor with hyper-threading, 8 GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD RX 480. Unlike other headsets that now sport inside-out tracking sensors, the Valve makes use of base stations like the ones used in some Vive headsets to track the position of its user.  Another cool accessory that comes with the Valve Index are its controllers, commonly referred to as “Knuckles.” Just like with Oculus’s Touch controllers, Knuckles can be used to interact with VR experiences. Unlike the Touch, Knuckles has a strap that allows the controller to be attached to your hands, leaving your fingers free to move. Knuckles can also track your fingers’ movements and relay them into your VR experience. You can buy the Valve Index with all its accessories on Amazon for $1600. If you’re buying just the headsets, the price is significantly reduced at $900.

Oculus Rift S

best vr headset for pc
$399 on Amazon
vr headset
The Rift S is Oculus’s second VR headset, and its most advanced PC-based VR headset yet. The Rift S comes after the Rift which made use of external sensors for tracking its users. Thankfully, the Rift S makes use of Oculus Insight, Oculus’s inside-out tracking sensor system to achieve this.  The Rift S has a single LCD screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 with a frame rate capped at 80 Hz, lower than the Valve Index’s. But the experience is still good. If you have a larger IPD, you might not enjoy the Rift S though as it doesn’t have a dial for adjusting IPD. Instead, it takes care of this with software. The Rift S also comes with Oculus’ second-generation Touch controllers capable of translating the motion of the index and thumb fingers into VR experience. To use the Rift S, you need a PC with at least a 6th Gen Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti or AMD RX 470. You can buy the Rift S on Amazon for $400.

HTC Vive Pro

virtual reality headset
$1,120 on Amazon
vr headset
The HTC Vive Pro is one of HTC’s many VR headsets. It’s a significant upgrade to the HTC Vive and resolves a lot of its issues. The Vive Pro comes with about 78% more pixels than the Vive at 2880 x 1600 pixels. Unlike any of the HMD’s here, the Vive Pro makes use of an AMOLED screen and has a refresh rate of 90 Hz, plenty enough for a smooth visual. The Vive Pro HMD comes with an adjustable IPD making it comfortable for a lot more people. The Vive Pro makes use of Steam VR Base Stations to track its users’ movement just like with the Valve Index. It has an optional wireless adapter that can be attached to its HMD improving the mobility of its users. This feature sets it aside from other PC-based VR headset. The Vive Pro also has controllers, not unlike that of the Touch or Knuckles that you can use to interface with your VR experiences.  To make use of the Vive Pro, you need a PC with at least an Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon  R9 290, and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase theVive Pro for $1,120 on Amazon

HP Reverb

best vr headset
$640 on Amazon
vr headset
The Reverb is HP’s first VR head-mounted display(HMD). Unlike most of its counterparts, the Reverb is powered by Windows Mixed Reality (WMR). The Reverb has a comfortable HMD with earphones that provide spatial audio to its users. One of the great things about the headset is its display. The Reverb comes with an impressive resolution of 2160 x 2160 per eye. That’s almost double the Valve Index’s resolution! It has a lower refresh rate at 90 Hz though. Like the Rift S above, the Reverb doesn’t come with an adjustable dial for IPD. Instead, it makes use of software to make this adjustment to a considerable degree. The Reverb makes use of inside-out tracking to track its users, and the WMR controllers used with it. While the WMR controllers work well enough, they aren’t as good as some of their counterparts like Oculus’s Touch and Valve’s Knuckles. The Reverb is more suited for business applications. Although it has 6 degrees of freedom like so many other HMDs, the tracking is sometimes spotty and some games don’t play well on it. To use the Reverb, HP recommends that you connect to a PC with at least an Intel Core i7 or Xeon E3-1240 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GTX 1080 or AMD Pro WX 8200 GPU. You can purchase the Reverb on Amazon for $640

Standalone Headsets

Oculus Quest

best vr headset
$499 on Amazon
vr headset
This is the second Oculus HMD to appear in this article, and it is certainly not the last. Oculus is known in the VR industry for making quality headsets, and the Quest is no different. The Quest is the second standalone VR headset made by Oculus after the Oculus Go. The Quest was designed to be a VR gaming headset and comes with a lot of content for you to enjoy.  Since the Quest is a standalone headset, it comes along with its own processing power, a Snapdragon 835 CPU. It also has a built-in battery that lasts about two-and-a-half hours on a full charge, and internal storage of 64 GB or 128 GB. The Quest’s HMD has an OLED screen with a combined resolution of 2880 x 1600 just like the Index and the Rift S above. It does have a lower refresh rate than both of them at 72 Hz.  Unlike the Rift S, the Quest comes with a dial to adjust IPD making it comfortable for a wider range of people. Optionally, you can connect the Quest to a PC making use of a feature called Oculus Link. This gives its users access to all the VR content available to the Rift and the Rift S. The Quest makes use of inside-out just like the Rift S and comes with second-generation Touch controllers. You can purchase the 64 GB variant for $400 and the 128 GB variant for $500 on Amazon.

Lenovo Mirage Solo

best vr headset
$319 on Amazon
vr headset
The Lenovo Mirage Solo is a standalone headset built on Google’s VR platform Daydream. The Mirage Solo is one of the first standalone headsets to be produced eliminating the need to be powered by a mobile device or a PC. The Mirage Solo has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 at a 75 Hz refresh rate and comes with earbuds you can plug into the headset for audio. You can use your earphones as well. The Mirage Solo is the only Daydream headset that offers 6 degrees of freedom currently. It makes use of Google’s WorldSense tracking system to track its users’ movements. Like the Quest above, the Mirage Solo comes with a Snapdragon 835 CPU, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It also has a 4000 mAh battery that can last as long as six hours. You can buy the Mirage Solo on Amazon for $320.

Oculus Go

$199 on Amazon
vr headset
The Oculus Go is another Oculus VR headset that delivers untethered VR experiences to its users. The Go was designed to be used for watching TV, streaming movies and some light gaming, so it lacks some of the features its successor, the Quest has. The Go only allows 3 degrees of freedoms, and hence, doesn’t provide a fully immersive experience. Go’s HMD comes with an LCD screen with a combined resolution of 2560 x 1440 with a maximum refresh rate of 72 Hz, slightly lower than the Mirage Solo’s. Just like with the Rift S, the Go doesn’t provide a way to adjust the IPD of the HMD.  Oculus Go comes with a single controller for interacting with VR experiences. Although it isn’t as advanced as the first or second-generation Touch controllers, it can function well enough. Like the Quest, the Go has everything it needs built-in. It has an in-built battery that lasts up to four hours on a full charge (two and a half if you’re gaming). It comes with a Snapdragon 821 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a 32 GB or 64 GB storage. You can purchase the 32 GB variant for $150 and the 64 GB variant for $200 on Amazon.

Mobile VR Headsets

Google Daydream View

$47 on Amazon
vr headset
The Google Daydream View is Google’s second VR headset after the Cardboard. Unlike the virtual reality headsets above,  the Daydream View is powered by mobile devices. Compatible Android devices can be slot into a pouch at the front of the headset. The Daydream View is used with an Android app called Daydream that contains a good number of VR content.  The Daydream also comes with a controller you can use to interact with your VR experiences. The controller is quite limited though and can only be used for aiming, selecting and clicking. Depending on the game you are playing, it can be adapted for other things such as shooting a gun or casting a spell for example. It doesn’t translate the user’s finger movements like the Touch or Knuckle does though.  The Daydream View is quite old and was first released in 2016 and then updated in 2017. Although Google has stopped the production of the headset, you can still purchase it for as low as $50 on Amazon.

Samsung Gear VR

$130 on Amazon
vr headset
The Samsung Gear VR is a VR headset made by Samsung for Samsung phones alone. It is a mobile-powered VR headset that Samsung users can use to enjoy VR experiences without the need to purchase expensive hardware. The Gear VR is powered by Oculus software and has access to thousands of apps on the Oculus store. The Gear VR is only available to the following Samsung phones; Galaxy Note 9*, S9, S9+, Note8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, A8 Star, A8, A8+.  Gear VR comes with controllers that you can use to navigate your virtual reality experience or play games. It supports only 3 degrees of freedom though, hence you can only move your head while playing the games. You can buy it for about $130 on the Amazon store *Galaxy Note9 is compatible with Gear VR model number SM-R325NZVC*** only.

Console VR

Sony PlayStation VR

$296 on Amazon
vr headset
The PlayStation VR or PSVR for short is a console powered VR headset designed to be used with the PS4 gaming console. Although the PSVR was released in 2016 (and re-released in 2017), the headset is still relevant and capable. The PSVR comes with an OLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. While this may sound low, each pixel has three sub-pixels, giving a much clearer image than you would expect. The display has a refresh rate of either 90 Hz or 120 Hz. Like a lot of the HMD’s above, you can’t adjust the IPD on the PSVR. The PSVR comes with controllers that you can use to interact with your VR experiences. This interaction is limited though as the controller lacks certain features that you would normally find in controllers like the Knuckle or the Touch. The PSVR also allows you to connect the headset to a TV so that others can see what you’re seeing. You can purchase the PSVR for $300 on Amazon.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the top 10 VR headset you can buy in 2020. As you can see, there is an option for everyone who wants to experience virtual reality. Whether you want a PC based virtual reality experience (Rift S, Index), or a standalone one (Quest, Mirage Solo), or you have a PS4 gaming console you want to take advantage of (PSVR), there is a headset for you to use. 

 

There are also mobile-powered VR headsets (Gear VR, Daydream View) that allow you to experience virtual reality without breaking your bank. And if money isn’t a problem for you and you want the best gaming VR headset money can buy, there is a headset for you as well (Valve Index).

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