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Best VR Headsets for 2022

best vr headset
A better reality awaits through the best VR headset. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

For years, enthusiasts have extolled the magic of virtual reality. Admittedly, VR technology has taken a long time to mature. However, towards the end of last year, VR finally started to gain mainstream attention. Everyone is suddenly talking about the Metaverse, which means that more and more people will soon be looking for a VR headset to help them experience the promised immersive future.

VR technology has evolved quite a bit in the last five years. So if you're one of the early adopters with a first-gen headset or someone who's abstained from VR altogether, now might be the time to take another look.

When VR headsets first hit the market, early adopters had to accept low-resolution displays, poorly optimized optics, low frame rates, and often poor tracking accuracy. Not to mention, headset manufacturers have struggled to make their devices comfortable for years. Thankfully, most of the earlier VR devices' problems have been solved with the most recent HMD designs.

The format of VR devices has evolved. We used to see VR headsets powered by smartphones, and while those still exist, they have largely been phased out of the market. The PlayStation VR remains the only console-based VR headset. However, the company is preparing a new version for release in 2022. Xbox head Phil Spencer recently reiterated that he has no current plans to bring VR to Xbox consoles.

The highest-end VR headsets offer incredible resolutions and advanced features like eye-tracking. However, they typically require a high-end gaming computer to maximize their superior pixel count, refresh rates, and feature sets.

The standalone HMD segment is benefiting from rapid innovation. Qualcomm's SnapDragon XR-2 SoC has proven to be a robust VR platform, with many companies choosing it to power their HMDs, including Meta (formerly Facebook/Oculus), Pico Interactive, and HTC Vive. Pimax is also planning to use Qualcomm's hardware in its next-generation VR headsets, which will launch late next year.

The VR headset market is evolving rapidly, and it's easy to get confused with all the choices. To help you skip all the confusion, we've prepared a bit of a cheat sheet that should save you some time. Below you will find our recommendations for the best VR headsets worth your money. You should also check out our Best Gaming Headsets page.

Quick Shopping Tips

When looking for the best VR headset for gaming, consider the following:

  • PC-connected VR has the best experience but requires an expensive system. The best VR gaming comes from headsets that you tether to a PC. When VR headsets first hit the market, you could find a VR-ready gaming PC for under $1000, and for a time, you could build one for even less than that. With the current state of the graphics card market, you could be looking at double that figure for a system with a powerful GPU. For more wallet-friendly VR, consider standalone HMDs that don't connect to any system. Just know you generally won't get the same level of graphical detail.
  • Is your PC powerful enough for VR? Before buying a VR headset that relies on a PC, you should ensure your computer at least meets the headset's minimum requirements. However, it's an excellent idea to overshoot the minimum requirements by a large margin. As we've learned from testing the most advanced headsets, you can never have too much GPU power for VR. With the resolutions that modern HMDs boast, even an RTX 2080 can inhibit your experience with a top-tier headset. If your PC doesn't meet the headset's requirements, you might want to increase your budget or buy a standalone HMD instead.
  • When it comes to specs, bigger is better. In general, the greater the headset's refresh rate, field of view (FOV), total resolution, and pixel density (measured in pixels per inch or PPI), the sharper games will look. Just remember anything that increases the number of pixels your GPU needs to process every second will demand more from your graphics card. 
  • Make sure your home has enough square footage. Depending on the headset, you may need a notable amount of physical space to game properly. For example, the Oculus Rift S recommends a 3 x 3-foot space minimum, and the PSVR suggests a 10 x 10-foot area. Generally, you need at least enough open space to stretch your arms to the side and rotate 360 degrees for standing-only VR. If you want to move around, you'll need more than that.
  • Mind your glasses. You can usually wear glasses in VR, but some HMDs make this more comfortable than others. Some headsets are too narrow to accommodate wider frame designs, while others have cut-outs in the foam cushions to make space. Many headsets also have accommodations for glasses by adjusting the depth of the lenses, either with a mechanical adjustment, like with the Valve Index or with a glasses spacer, like with the Oculus Quest 2. 

Best VR Headsets You Can Buy Today

Easy to use and well-priced, the Oculus Quest 2 is the best VR headset.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. Oculus Quest 2

Best VR Headset

Specifications

Connectivity: None required
Display: 1x Fast-switch LCD
Per-eye Resolution: 1832 x 1920
Refresh Rate: 90 or 120 Hz (experimental)
FOV: Not disclosed
Weight: 1.1 pounds (503g)

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing resolution
+
Much more powerful than original Quest

Reasons to avoid

-
White picks up dirt and grime
-
Poor controller ergonomics

The Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as Oculus Quest 2) is the best VR headset to buy for most people. It offers the most versatility and the best value in the most affordable package available.

As mentioned above, the Quest 2 is powered by a Qualcomm SnapDragon XR-2 SoC, a processor and graphics chip derived from the company's flagship smartphone processors but optimized for VR and AR capabilities. The Quest 2 is a self-contained device that doesn't need a computer. However, it also offers the ability to play PC VR content through a USB tether or a Wi-Fi connection, giving you the best of both worlds.

Quest 2 offers a high-resolution VR experience without the need for a computer. The headset provides 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, a higher resolution than the Valve Index and HTC Vive Cosmos tethered PC headsets. Quest 2 also offers variable refresh rates, with developers able to target 60hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz configurations depending on the performance demands of the games.

Meta Quest 2 is currently available in a 128GB entry model and a larger 256GB model. The original 64GB edition is no longer sold. If you find one on the shelf, we recommend leaving it unless it's an outstanding deal. Some of the newest Quest games barely fit on the smaller 64GB model. Headsets manufactured after August 2021 will also include an updated face cover (opens in new tab) for better hygiene. 

Read: Oculus Quest 2 review

For PC-powered VR, opt for the advanced Valve Index.  (Image credit: Valve)

2. Valve Index

Best VR Headset for PC

Specifications

Connectivity: PC
Display: 2x LCD, canted
Per-eye Resolution: 1440x1600
Refresh Rate: 80, 90, 120 or 144 Hz (experimental)
FOV: Up to 130 degrees
Weight: 1.78 pounds (807.4g)

Reasons to buy

+
RGB subpixel array eliminates screen-door effect
+
Wider FOV than comparable headsets
+
Excellent audio quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Very heavy
-
Less comfortable than the HTC Vive Pro
-
Cushions are glued on

The Valve Index is an old dog in this market, but Valve's first, and so far only, VR headset remains one of the best that money can buy today. Unfortunately, in terms of resolution, the Index is lagging behind the rest of the market. The headset boasts dual 1440 x 1600 LCD panels for crisp but not mind-blowing image clarity. The variable refresh rate settings allow you to dial in displays to match your PC's performance, which is an incredible help when you have a less-powerful graphics card in your system. The Index supports 80, 90, 120, and 144 Hz configurations.

The best part of the Index is the versatility of its tracking system. The Index headset uses the SteamVR tracking system, first introduced on the original HTC Vive and improved for the Vive Pro. The Lighthouse IR tracking system is still the most accurate tracking system for home-based VR systems, especially if you have a set of SteamVR 2.0 based stations. In addition, the SteamVR tracking system is compatible with many accessories, including the Valve Index controllers (colloquially known as Knuckles controllers), Vive Trackers, and the recently Kickstarter-funded Tundra Trackers.

Valve offers the Index as a solo HMD, which you can use to upgrade an existing SteamVR system, such as an old Vive system. You can also get the Valve Index controllers alone or bundle them with a headset. The best value for VR newcomers is the complete kit, including the headset, two controllers, two 2.0 base stations, and wall mounting hardware.

Read: Valve Index review

Pimax's Vision 8K X is an elite option for powerful GPUs.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Pimax Vision 8K X

Best VR Headset Splurge

Specifications

Connectivity: PC
Display: 2x customized low persistence liquid (CLPL)
Per-eye resolution: 3840 x 2160 (native), 2560 x 1440 (upscaled)
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz, 75 Hz (Native), 90 Hz (Native with RTX 3000 GPU) or 114 Hz (Upscaled)
FOV: ?
Weight: 2.2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent clarity at full resolution
+
Wide FOV

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor clarity at reduced resolutions
-
Requires RTX 3000 or better for 90 Hz

If money is no object and you're after the most immersive VR experience you can get, look no further than the Pimax 8K X. Sure, there are more expensive headsets on the market with arguably fancier features, but nothing compares to an ultrawide headset for the ultimate gaming experience.

Pimax offers a variety of headsets, of which we've reviewed many. The Pimax 5K+ was the first Pimax headset that we formally reviewed, and it left a lot to be desired. By the time the Pimax 8K X landed in our lab, the company had addressed many of the software issues that we had in the beginning. In addition, it continues to improve the headset's performance with every subsequent firmware update.

The 8K X features dual 4K screens, one per eye. The default refresh rate on these displays is 75Hz, but you can push them to 90Hz if you have an RTX 3000-series GPU to drive the pixels. The most important feature of the Pimax headset is the 170-degree horizontal field of view, which is a good 30 to 40-degrees above the competition.

The ultrawide headset doesn't provide must benefit for games like Beat Saber. Still, if you're into things like racing, flight, and space simulations, the extra peripheral vision makes the experience much more realistic. 

More: Pimax Vision 8K X review 

The displays in the Varjo Aero are the best that we've ever seen in a VR device. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Varjo Aero

Best VR Headset Image Clarity

Specifications

Connectivity: PC
Display: 2x Mini LED LCD, professionally calibrated: Brightness 150 NIT, 99% sRGB, 95% DCI-P3
Per-eye resolution: 2880 x 2720
Pixels Per Degree: 35
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
FOV: Horizonal
Weight: 1.07 pounds HMD + 0.5 pounds Headband (487g HMD + 230g headband)

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-clear display
+
Adjustability
+
Automatic IPD
+
Standard USB-C cable

Reasons to avoid

-
Headphones, base stations & controllers not included
-
Expensive
-
A little heavy

If you're after the VR headset with the best visual experience possible, then you should look at the Varjo Aero. This headset is by far the most expensive HMD available in the consumer market, and that's for a good reason. Varjo is an enterprise headset maker that caters to the highest tier of the VR market. As a result, Varjo's products are typically only available for enterprise-level businesses. Still, it recently made its technology available to a broader audience, albeit one that can afford a $2,000 price tag for an HMD.

Varjo sets itself apart from the competition with professional-grade components. The individual displays in this headset are not only ludicrous 2880 x 2720 pixels, but they are the first VR LCDs to offer Mini LED backlighting for precise color accuracy. Varjo also calibrates the panels for 99% sRGB and 95% DCI-P3 color, and 150 NIT brightness.

The Varjo Aero also includes additional advanced features that help justify the incredible price, such as eye-tracking cameras that enable gaze interaction and foveated rendering. The headset also has a motorized IPD adjustment that works with the eye-tracker to ensure that the headset is always dialed in perfectly for your eye position.

If you're going to pick up an Aero, remember that it does not include everything you need to get it up and running. The Aero is a SteamVR headset that will require SteamVR base stations and a set of controllers, which you must acquire separately.

Read: Varjo Aero review 

This HMD takes standalone VR to the next level.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. HTC Vive Focus 3

Best Standalone VR Headset for Business

Specifications

Connectivity: 2x USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C peripheral ports, external USB-C port supporting USB OTG, Bluetooth 5.2, Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi 6
Display: 2x 2.88-inch (73.15-mm) LCD panels
Per-eye resolution: 2448 x 2448
Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
FOV: 120 degrees
Weight: 1.73 pounds (785g) with battery

Reasons to buy

+
Widest FOV in a standalone headset
+
Well-balanced weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Mediocre controller ergonomics

The Oculus Quest 2 is the best standalone VR headset that most people can buy, but it's not the best standalone VR headset that exists. Instead, that title belongs to the HTC Vive Focus 3, a business-oriented headset that ticks so many boxes that make up an incredible HMD that we had to mention it here.

Sadly, you can't buy a Vive Focus 3 unless you run a business, and even if you did buy one, there's not much you can do with it as a consumer. The headset doesn't have a formal storefront for game distribution, and HTC isn't making any attempt to bring the headset to the consumer market in North America.

Despite it not being readily available for consumers, the Focus 3 is the best standalone headset for many reasons. HTC packed the headset with a Qualcomm XR-3 but with an active cooling system so the company could push the silicon even further than Facebook did for the Quest 2. The Focus 3 has high-resolution displays and more memory than the Quest 2. It also offers expandable memory with a microSD slot and has a removable and replaceable battery.

HTC's Focus 3 is also one of the most comfortable HMDs that we've tested. The rear-mounted battery helps keep the device's weight well balanced, and the sturdy headband helps keep the device secure on your head. The Focus 3 even comes pre-equipped with removable, moisture-resistant cushions that are easy to wash.

Read: HTC Vive Focus 3 review 

MORE: The History Of Virtual Reality

MORE: Virtual Reality Basics 

MORE: All Virtual Reality Content

Discounts on the Best VR Headsets

If you're looking for a headset that's among our best VR headsets or one that didn't quite make the cut, you may find savings by checking out the latest Newegg promo codes, Amazon promo codes or Best Buy promo codes.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years. 

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3793668/virtual-reality-headsets.html
    Reply
  • sebastian.schnur
    Don't agree. Every serious review of the Vive Pro foiund it lacking and way too expensive (1'500 including all you need to play). The Odyssey+ (!) also has a better picture quality w/o screendoor effect. Only the inside out tracking is inferior to the Vive Pro, but that at a third of the price. The Rift also needs the base stations to use, so the price comparison is wrong.
    Odyssey should be both the Value Winner and the Overall Winner.
    Reply
  • awarmfuzzy
    Samsung Odyssey + Vivo Pro = Same Resolution and Panel but only $399.
    Reply
  • awarmfuzzy
    The upgraded Samsung Odyssey + has Been out since Oct 2018 ($399) and the reviewer is too inept to review the current model that has the same image sensor and resolution as the Vivo Pro but 1/3 the price.
    Reply
  • awarmfuzzy
    Who's the moron that wrote a Feb 2019 article and reviewed the OLD Samsung Odyssey when the NEW upgraded version has been out since Oct 2018 and is only $399. https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/hmd/windows-mixed-reality/hmd-odyssey-windows-mixed-reality-headset-xe800zba-hc1us/
    Reply
  • gasaraki
    Odyssey+ is now only $299 as of 3-4-2019. So $299 vs. $1,100 for a headset that's not as good but close enough. Odyssey+ is a steal.
    Reply
  • gasaraki
    awarmfuzzy said:
    Who's the moron that wrote a Feb 2019 article and reviewed the OLD Samsung Odyssey when the NEW upgraded version has been out since Oct 2018 and is only $399. https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/hmd/windows-mixed-reality/hmd-odyssey-windows-mixed-reality-headset-xe800zba-hc1us/

    Cause they didn't rewrite it. They just copy and paste from their old article.
    Reply
  • DotNetMaster777
    May be I can try Oculus Go because of the low price
    Reply
  • dx_houle
    DotNetMaster777 said:
    May be I can try Oculus Go because of the low price

    Just get a foam or carboard "VR holder" for your phone. It would be much cheaper and the same idea.
    Reply
  • dx_houle
    sebastian.schnur said:
    Don't agree. Every serious review of the Vive Pro foiund it lacking and way too expensive (1'500 including all you need to play). The Odyssey+ (!) also has a better picture quality w/o screendoor effect. Only the inside out tracking is inferior to the Vive Pro, but that at a third of the price. The Rift also needs the base stations to use, so the price comparison is wrong.
    Odyssey should be both the Value Winner and the Overall Winner.

    I agree that the Odyssey+ could be the best Value and Overall winner. I can't say for sure, because I haven't tried it. But the rest of your comment doesn't make any sense at all. The Vive Pro won best Splurge headset. Every single site says it is the best VR headset, when you don't consider the price, hence "Splurge". Then you talk about the Oculus Rift which is not even on the list...
    Reply