HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift: which virtual reality headset is best for you? This is the question on the mind of anyone who is about to jump in on the vive vs. oculus debate. Choosing a set of virtual reality goggles that agrees with you can greatly improve your experience, and on the other hand, choosing a VR headset whose features do not agree with you can cause a negative experience which may affect your overall outlook towards VR in general. The two most popular headsets are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive and we will compare and contrast them in this article.
Similarities between the Rift and Vive Virtual Reality Headset
These two popular headsets have a couple of features in common in terms of hardware, like:
1. When it comes to resolution, they both have 2160×1200 pixel OLED screens.
2. They both have a 90Hz refresh rate, that is, their screens can render images/frames 90 times per second. This is the perfect value for VR as anything less than this might cause motion sickness.
The hardware specifications of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets are as follows:
3.58 inches (447 ppi)
3.54 inches (456 ppi)
Resolution per eye
1,080 x 1,200
1,080 x 1,200
2,160 x 1,200
2,160 x 1,200
Field of view
100 degrees horizontal (+/-)
80 degrees horizontal (+/-)
2x Motion Controllers
2x Touch Controllers
Standard controller support
2x Constellation sensors
15 x 15 feet
Two sensors: 5 x 5 feet
1x HDMI 1.4
1x HDMI 1.3
Required link box
April 5, 2016
March 28, 2016
The HTC Vive kit contains a Link Box that stays in-between your PC and the Vive headset. This Link Box helps to transmit audio, video and USB-based input while also supplying power to the headset. The box connects to the headset using a 16-foot cable to allow for freedom of movement while using the VR headset, and connects to the PC using the HDMI and USB-A ports. The Vive kit also contains a pair of Lighthouses with infrared LEDs and laser, connected to the Link Box via Bluetooth, which help the entire system know where the headset and controllers are located physically and what direction they are facing.
On the other hand, the Oculus Rift relies on two “Constellation” sensors to determine the location and direction of the headset and controllers. One of the sensors typically serves to track the headset while the other serves to track the controllers. If you want a room-scale experience, you would need at least one more sensor.
Like the Vive Lighthouses, the Oculus Rift’s Constellation sensors also emit infrared light which is picked up by photosensors on the headset and controllers. However, unlike the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift does not have a Link Box, but instead the cables are connected directly to your PC.
Minimum System Requirements
The minimum system requirements needed to use these headsets are given below:
Intel Core i5-4590
Intel Core i3-6100
GeForce GTX 1060
GeForce GTX 1050Ti
1x USB-A 2.0
1x USB-A 3.1
Windows 7 SP1
The Play Area
One major issue faced when using VR goggles is that the user cannot see the real world. This can lead to hitting of obstacles or people, crashing against walls, and so on. Both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive provide mechanisms to help to prevent this from happening.
The Oculus Rift has a mechanism called Guardian. This system during setup is used to mark out a play area. You can create a 5×5 feet area if you are using two sensors and 8×8 if you are using three. This play area is then saved and used every time you use the headset. Whenever you use the Oculus Rift, if you go near the edge of the play area, you would see a blue-green grid telling you that you are close to a boundary.
The HTC Vive uses a mechanism called Chaperone which uses a similar setup process as the Oculus Rift. In this mechanism, you are allowed to have a 15×15 feet play area. The Chaperone also has a front-facing camera which you can use to view the real world when you are close to a boundary or an object. The Chaperone also shows a blue grid when the user gets close to the edge of the play area.
With both types of virtual reality headsets, you may have some trouble with wires when moving around the play area. However, the HTC Vive provides a wireless adapter for $300 which when mounted on above the headset’s top head strap allows the user to move around without having to worry about being wrapped up in wires. The only issue with this is that the adapter has a short battery life of about 2.5 hours after which it would require charging.
The motion controllers of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets are similar in function but different in appearance.
The HTC Vive ships with a pair of flashlight-shaped controllers with a single giant ring on the end, anchored to the hands using straps to keep them in place. Pads on the side and top of the controllers allow for natural squeezing motions, while triggers under your fingers can simulate guns triggers. The Vive controllers also have infrared sensing cavities for motion tracking by the Lighthouses.
On the other hand, the controllers for the Oculus Rift are designed like rings that fit smugly around the hands. They have an ergonomic design and are less bulky than the Vive controllers, although they are not as good at motion tracking as the Vive controllers.
The Software and Ecosystem
the software they ran. The HTC Vive supported Valve software’s Steam platform at launch in order to cater for PC gamers. Vive owners could also purchase software through HTC’s stand-alone Viveport platform, both of which are currently accessible from within the Vive headset.
Contrary to the above, the Oculus Rift launched with a closed-off exclusive marketplace called the Oculus Home Store. Users could also unofficially load Steam VR-based games on their Rift headsets by removing them and launching them on the Windows desktop. Later, in 2017, Oculus added support for Steam games within the Rift VR goggles.
After a while, HTC brought its Viveport VR Store to the Oculus Rift, giving Rift owners access to everything on HTC’s platform. Users of the Oculus Rift VR headset also now have access to the Viveport Subscription, which serves up 500 VR titles for a monthly fee. This subscription service includes Seeking Dawn, Fruit Ninja, Knockout League,Pixel Ripped 1989 and more.
Whether you choose to use the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, there are some drawbacks which you will encounter, such as:
1. The “screen-door” effect: The screen-door effect refers to the VR lenses magnifying the two screens to the point where you’ll see the hardware lines that separate each pixel, which then prevents the user from seeing high-resolution, crystal-clear experiences.
2. Point-and-click movement: Many games rely on a point and click form of motion as opposed to a smoother form of movement. This is done to reduce motion sickness which may be heightened as you would be standing. A point and click movement is essentially having to click a location in the virtual realm to move there automatically rather than moving there directly. In some games, controller motion may be supported, but to a large extent, most games support point and click motion.
In summary, there is no clear or distinct winner when comparing HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift VR headsets as each has its advantages and weaknesses.
Some of the areas where the Oculus Rift has the upper hand include:
- 1. Price: the Oculus Rift is cheaper than the HTC Vive headset
- 2. The Oculus Rift has access to more platforms – Oculus Home Store, Steam and Viveport, unlike the Vive which has access to just the latter two
Meanwhile, the HTC Vive wins when we consider:
- 1. The play area: the HTC Vive headset allows a play area of 15×15 feet
- 2. The HTC Vive provides a wireless adapter which allows for movement without having to worry about cables
As can be seen from the above, both types of virtual reality headsets have their strengths and weaknesses and when choosing a VR headset, it is best to go with the one whose features are more satisfying for your particular needs.