Oculus Rift Vs. HTC Vive Vs. PlayStation VR

System Requirements, Availability And Conclusion

System Requirements Compared

All three headsets we are comparing aren’t called high-end for nothing. As the pinnacle of consumer VR they also need close to the pinnacle of computing power to run them. Well, at least the PC-based ones do. The system requirements for PlayStation VR are almost comical in their simplicity: “PlayStation 4” (of course, there’s a little more to it than that).

Loading...

Looking at the table above, the PC requirements for both the Vive and Rift are fairly similar. Both need high-end GPUs and good CPUs, with the biggest difference between them being the RAM requirements and USB ports needed. Although these high requirements equate to high costs to upgrade your PC if you don’t meet the specs needed, or are planning on buying or building a new PC, keep in mind that both the GTX 970 and R9 290 are two and three-years-old respectively, and are more affordable than ever, especially with even newer GPU platforms upon us. Last, at least on the Vive/Steam VR front, Valve has been actively pursuing new rendering techniques and optimizations (that Alex Vlachos outlined at GDC this year) to lower the system requirements of high-end VR, so you don’t need to own a top of the range video card.

If upgrading your PC or building a new one isn’t your cup of tea the other option is to buy (at a higher cost than building your own, of course) a pre-built system. Both HTC and Oculus have VR-certified options from different OEMs advertised on their sites. Oculus promotes Alienware, Asus, Dell, and Falcon Northwest and HTC links to VR-ready desktop hardware from Alienware and HP, and notebooks from MSI. Some of these VR-ready PCs are also available from select retailers in bundles with the Rift. Tom's Hardware's community has also recommended a couple of VR-ready builds, one at the low end ($750) and one at the high end ($2500) in our Best PC Builds.

On the surface then, the system requirements for the PlayStation VR blow the other two systems away. All you need is a $350 console, and you’re off to the races. It isn’t that simple though, because the PlayStation 4 has a significant performance deficit when compared to even the Vive and Rift’s minimum requirements, and, no, as we said before its Processing Unit doesn’t add any horsepower to the PS4.

So, in addition to the specs of the HMD themselves having to be lower (display resolution mainly), with Sony’s insistence of a 60 fps level of performance, there are going to have to be some significant compromises. The graphical fidelity of the PlayStation VR’s games we’ve tried is lower when compared to those of the Vive and Rift. No, graphics aren’t everything, and we’re sure that despite any visual shortcomings, PSVR’s games will be just as fun as the Vive and Rift’s. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and a cheaper headset combined with a less powerful system powering it is going to equal an experience that’s going to be a step-down. Perhaps that’s why Sony is working on the rumored, upgraded, more powerful PlayStation 4 Neo, to level the VR playing field a bit.

In our full review of the HTC Vive, you can see our full benchmark results from testing a wide selection of video card with the Vive, but the above is shows the results from one of the most demanding Vive games currently available. As you can see the minimum FPS of all the GPUs tested drops below the 90 fps needed for a good VR experience, but from our experience playing the game on the minimum specifications or above were perfectly fine with no hint of framerate issues.

That’s because the tool we used to record the framerate, FRAPS, gathers data from the rendering pipeline before it’s hit the headset where SteamVR’s Interleaved Reprojection can smooth things out. However, as we mentioned earlier, this method of reprojection isn’t as good as what the Rift uses and can lead to brief periods where the frame does drop below an acceptable level before it kicks in. With the graph above showing that there can be some big slowdowns in graphically demanding VR games like The Gallery (or Elite Dangerous), there is a chance there could be a tiny amount of perceptible judder.

Again, our Oculus Rift review has a full suite of benchmark results, with the results above being from the most demanding Rift title we tested. Again, our data was generated by FRAPS from before anything hits the headset, so isn’t a true reflection of the in HMD performance, which, like the Vive was, was very smooth with no perceptible slowdowns thanks to Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW). What we need to do is to continue to refine our testing progress so we can measure the in-headset performance and truly compare the different platforms.

Pricing And Availability

The table below covers the global pricing and availability of all three headsets, and even though we’ve been focused on talking about the PlayStation VR Bundle in this article, at this time it’s a North American exclusive – in other regions you have to but the PSVR and its required accessories separately.

CountryVive PriceRift Price PlayStation VR BundlePlayStation VR
U.S.$799.00 (sales tax not included)$599.00 (sales tax not included)$499.00 (sales tax not included)$399.00 (sales tax not included)
AustraliaUSD $899.00AU $649.00N/AAU $550
CanadaCDN $1,149.00 (sales tax not included)CDN $849.00 (sales tax not included)$699.00 (sales tax not included)$549.00 (sales tax not included)
ChinaRMB ¥6,888.00 (¥1,500.00 order deposit)N/AN/AN/A
TaiwanNT $28,288
($6,000 order deposit)
USD $649.00N/ATBA
JapanUSD $979.00¥83,800.00N/A¥44,980.00
United Kingdom£689.00£499.00N/A£349.00
New ZealandUSD $949.00NZ $699.00N/ANZ $629.00
Austria
Belgium
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
€899.00€699.00N/A€399.00
Czech Republic€899.00N/AN/A€399.00
Availability4 – 6 weeks from order dateEarliest order shipment August 2016October 2016October 2016
Retail/E-tail AvailabilityAmazon, Best Buy, Microsoft StoreTBA Summer 2016All major electronics retailersAll major electronics retailers

All three headsets are available across North America, Europe and in key (affluent) markets in Asia-Pacific. Because the Vive gives you the most out of the box, it costs the most, especially when compared to the PlayStation VR bundle that also includes motion controls. Even though the Rift occupies the middle ground, keep in mind to bring it to feature and functionality parity with HTC’s headset, you’ll need to buy the Touch controllers too. Though we have no idea how much they’ll cost, we’re sure that when you factor them into the equation, the Rift is likely to end up costing the same as the Vive.

As of when this article was written both HTC and Oculus have been experiencing some delays getting headsets to customers, with those who want a Rift having it the worst – there’s a 3-month wait from today. If you want a Vive, the wait is going to be a lot less, but at this time, it’s still going to take around four to six weeks for one to ship to you. With PlayStation VR not coming out until October it’s pointless trying to speculate how its launch will go, and if there will be any delays, but with Sony’s having many more years of experience manufacturing and selling consumer hardware, we’re sure the wait to get a PSVR once it launches won’t be as long. Still, PSVR won’t be growing on trees, so there is likely to be some initial supply and demand issues with it too.

Conclusion

We’ve had a lot to say about the three headsets, and we know it’s a lot to take in.

The Vive has a lot going for it, and it's certainly the most complete package of all the VR headsets. You get the most stuff in the box, and there is nothing else you need to buy for the full-range of VR experiences, from seated to large room-scale games. Its optics and visuals are excellent, it has the widest field of view, the best tracking system and includes a pair of tracked motion controllers. It’s also the most adjustable headset for those who wear glasses, and the Steam store and SteamVR software has the most functionality and provides the best UX. The only disappointment is that if you are comparing its design side-by-side with the Rift and PlayStation VR it clearly isn’t the winner. Although it is comfortable to wear, even for extended periods, its ergonomics can’t compare with those of the other two headsets.

If this comparison were about the headset alone, the Rift would be the clear winner here. Oculus has clearly put a lot effort into designing the most comfortable HMD it can, and combining it with class-leading optics and display technology, excellent built-in audio and perfect tracking. When you are wearing the Rift, and it is properly adjusted, it almost feels like it isn’t there. Unfortunately, Oculus decided to launch this amazing headset with the worst (for VR) method of control, an Xbox One gamepad, and when it comes to the quality of the VR experiences you can have on the Rift, they simply aren’t as impactful as those on the Vive.

The Rift’s software and UX also leave a lot to be desired. Yes, the setup process is excellent and very easy to follow, even for the most inexperienced user, but the Oculus Home store and in-headset UI is half-baked and demonstrates Oculus’ inexperience in software. However, unlike hardware that can’t be fixed without redesigning or replacing something, software can be patched, and you can, of course, also use the Rift with Steam VR too. The Rift does have a wild card, though. That’s its upcoming Touch controllers, which could be a game changer. They look to be excellent, perhaps better than the Vive’s controllers, and if priced right, and combined with a release of some compelling room-scale VR experiences, the Rift could be elevated to be the best overall VR package.

Because we haven’t been able to spend nearly as much time with PlayStation VR, there is quite a bit still that we don’t know about it, mostly on the software side of things. However, with the years of experience with its PlayStation consoles, we do expect the UX and UI of PSVR to be excellent and comparable, possibly better than SteamVR. It is also the most comfortable of all three headsets, even compared to the Rift because it’s ergonomic design is very different. Its weight is better distributed on your head, and its display box doesn’t press into your face.

It also has excellent optics and display technology that partially make up for the gap in its raw specifications, and if you buy the Bundle, it comes with tracked controllers out of the box. Despite all that good, though, there’s no denying that as the cheapest headset (that is going to be powered by a system packing low-end CPU and GPU technology from three years ago) that the overall fidelity of its VR experiences isn’t going to be as good as that of the Vive. Is that as important? Perhaps not to everyone, and we’re sure that PSVR will offer some compelling, innovative and immersive VR experiences.

MORE: The History of Virtual Reality
MORE: The HTC Vive VR Launch Titles
MORE:
AMD Liquid VR Explained
MORE:
Nvidia GameWorks VR Explained
MORE: The Past, Present, And Future Of VR And AR: The Pioneers Speak
MORE:
The Key To Virtual Reality Immersion Is The Audio

Alex Davies is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware, covering Smartphones and Tablets. Follow him on Twitter.

Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

This thread is closed for comments
23 comments
    Your comment
  • nitrium
    Apparently the PSVR has already been hacked to work on PCs (and Sony is considering official PC support after launch) - I wonder if it might be the best headset to get IF you have a PC, given that from this article at least the number one issue with PSVR is the PS4 it's being attached to.
  • problematiq
    I feel the PSVR got a bit over hyped in this article, in all fairness though it's not released yet so not a lot to go on. As an owner of the HTC Vive I can say "Yes your face will get warm/sweaty if you are in a warm room". I keep a fan blowing tword the center of the room to fix that problem, plus it makes me feel like I'm feeling the wind in VR. o.o All in all was the best purchase I've made in sometime. My wife who does not really like to play games enjoys it A LOT. It is also just a really hard experience to describe other than "Awesome". I don't know how I would feel without the full room scale and motion controllers, I think it would feel novel like playing games in 3D, sure it's cool but not practical and after a while your glasses sit there gathering dust. The ability to reach over and more or less grab and object, play around with it and even toss it, I'm just not sure how I could take off the HMD and put on the Rift and have an experience as good as that of the Vive. All of the HMD's are heading twords the same goal in the end though and it's evident.
  • Jeff Fx
    >and they don't have low refresh rate displays

    I think you wrote "low" when you meant "high."
  • Zapin
    So comparing one currently non-existant HMD to two others (one of which is still an incomplete experience) that run on a totally separate platform? Makes sense to me.
  • picture_perfect
    Wait for Polaris / Pascal cards later this month which will be 2X faster in VR apps. Well that is the Nvidia claim. Other VR specifics mentioned like (ray trace audio, specialized projection ect.). These are the first "VR cards".
  • Sven Viking
    The C:-drive-only issue was fixed a while ago, by the way, though (for now at least) you still need to choose one drive and stick to it rather than being able to split games between drives.

    For international pricing, don't forget to take high shipping costs and (for Vive to AU/NZ at least) customs fees into account.
  • problematiq
    17265 said:
    Wait for Polaris / Pascal cards later this month which will be 2X faster in VR apps. Well that is the Nvidia claim. Other VR specifics mentioned like (ray trace audio, specialized projection ect.). These are the first "VR cards".


    I run a 980 TI with the Vive and my load barely see's 30% I'm not sure what you are gaining for waiting on a "VR Card"
  • Deric_
    How can PSVR do roomscale with only a single camera?
    Your controllers will get occluded everytime your body is between them and the camera.
    If you have to face a single direction to play, then it is not room scale.
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    Apparently the PSVR has already been hacked to work on PCs (and Sony is considering official PC support after launch) - I wonder if it might be the best headset to get IF you have a PC, given that from this article at least the number one issue with PSVR is the PS4 it's being attached to.


    A PC-compatible PSVR would only be the best VR headset from a price perspective. Yes, having a PC power it would improve the fidelity of the in-game graphics, but despite being the most ergonomic, it's still a step below both the Rift and Vive technically. Well, Rift + Touch, because as the moment the lack of tracked controllers handicaps the Rift.
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    >and they don't have low refresh rate displays I think you wrote "low" when you meant "high."


    Fixed, thanks!
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    So comparing one currently non-existant HMD to two others (one of which is still an incomplete experience) that run on a totally separate platform? Makes sense to me.


    If you read the content of the article, you will see that I address this numerous times and only compare what is currently known about all three headsets, based the Rift and Vive we own and our usage of PlayStation VR at various press events. For example, in the software section, we don't talk about PSVR as much because there are still a lot of unknowns.
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    The C:-drive-only issue was fixed a while ago, by the way, though (for now at least) you still need to choose one drive and stick to it rather than being able to split games between drives. For international pricing, don't forget to take high shipping costs and (for Vive to AU/NZ at least) customs fees into account.


    Unfortunately, with the time it took to write and edit such a detailed article, there were some facts that are now out of date, such as the Oculus installation drive issue, and it's good to know that it has been fixed. That still doesn't change the fact that Oculus Home is still significantly behind SteamVR's UX, and Valve keeps adding new features almost every week.

    As for shipping and customs information for international pricing, that would have simply been too much info to include in that table.
  • DotNetMaster777
    price/quality comparison ???
  • alex davies
    Quote:
    How can PSVR do roomscale with only a single camera? Your controllers will get occluded everytime your body is between them and the camera. If you have to face a single direction to play, then it is not room scale.


    I mention that in the article: "For PSVR room-scale VR, the single point of tracking along with the single tracking camera means there is likely to be some occlusion." Because the HMD can be tracked 360° room-scale is still possible, but, yes, the experience will not be optimal as on the Vive.
  • darth_adversor
    Amazing that some people can afford a 980ti and HTC Vive, but can't spell "toward."
  • Brandon_29
    Quote:
    Amazing that some people can afford a 980ti and HTC Vive, but can't spell "toward."


    It is amazing that retards still bother to spell-check comments. Also, it is quite obvious that this was a typo and not a spelling mistake. Maybe if you put your efforts towards something useful you could afford a nice setup as well.

    Now to play with you a bit. Proper English for your response would be.

    "
    It is amazing that some people can afford to buy a 980ti and a HTC Vive, but cannot spell "toward".
    "

    You made several mistakes in your own sentence so who are you to judge?
  • darth_adversor
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Amazing that some people can afford a 980ti and HTC Vive, but can't spell "toward."
    It is amazing that retards still bother to spell-check comments. Also, it is quite obvious that this was a typo and not a spelling mistake. Maybe if you put your efforts towards something useful you could afford a nice setup as well. Now to play with you a bit. Proper English for your response would be. " It is amazing that some people can afford to buy a 980ti and a HTC Vive, but cannot spell "toward". " You made several mistakes in your own sentence so who are you to judge?


    It would be "an HTC Vive," not "a HTC Vive."

    My "setup" is VR-ready, thank you very much. I'm merely waiting for prices to drop before I jump in.
  • ravnoscc
    Excellent comparison with the information you had available. As each of these platform VR experiences matures I hope we'll see a revisit of this article?
  • Badelhas
    This was a GREAT GREAT article, Congrats to the editor!

    One question though: any indication about availability in other countries, like Portugal?

    Cheers
  • Peter_136
    Thank you for this *excellent* article! Very even-handed and fair, highlighting the pros and cons of each headset. Having tried in-store demos of both currently-available units, I can vouch for the differences in ergonomics and interactivity. The Rift looks and feels better, but it cannot be understated how much room-scale tracking and motion controls add to the overall experience.

    I just cancelled my shipping-in-June Rift pre-order due to the uncertainty currently surrounding Touch, but once that's resolved I fully intend to pick up either a CV1 or a Vive.
  • Blas
    Here's a Spain store's page for the PlayStation's HMD:

    http://www.pccomponentes.com/sony_playstation_vr_gafas_realidad_virtual.html?from=UpSell&vt_campaign=1001668&vt_content=10002040

    Priced at €400, available as from October the 21st 2016. Of course price may change until then, but it's an indication...
  • Dean_23
  • problematiq
    1927107 said:
    Great article. By far PSVR is the best compromise, in fact it's what will save high-end VR. The Oculus at 700€ (as to be shipped) was a disappointment, although it's the lightest and lest tethered and has built-in spatial headset, as a low FOV but most importantly almost no content. The Vive at 900€, was a mess, it has the room-tracking, chaperone and controller but the set-up (11 fucking cables with a gigantic box), the lousy Steam software you have to update, install, and run, and the inexactitude of tracking is annoying. Then there's lots of shit content, and few worthy room-scale experience. More importanly, they both require a very recent and expensive PC, which means you have to use Wincrap and all it's mess and problems (15 millions user base according to Nvidia), and you tied to you desktop environnement. PSVR on the other is 500€, as the best design and confort (because of the quick remove slide), is multiplayer and social, has spatial audio, and seem to have the best experiences available for it. But most importantly it's cheap and available on a cheap but optimised and straight-forward system (50 millions user base by release).


    I feel as though your comment is based without use of any VR headset.
    the Vive's 11 cables you have to plug in really equate to making sure you have power to your two base stations and that your HMD is plugged in. you have a cable running to it but it is a siamese cable it really feels like just a single cable. Your comment read's like the PSVR doesn't have any cables, It does.
    With Nvidia's release of the pascal series, and soon AMD's release of the 400 series, you will be able to buy a VR ready box for around 500$ (using a 1070 most likely will start you out at 600$) so around the same price as a PS 4 VR ready bundle (500$) Thats without the HMD of course.
    As far as cost for the HMD's PSVR is a lot cheaper.. in more than one way. You get what you pay for with the HMD's I've tried both Oculus and Vive.
    If you already have a PS4 thats great..but a whole lot of people already have a PC. to meet the requirements add a 200-300$ GPU upgrade (if you dont already have one)
    Content.. there is no PSVR content so I'm not sure what your are going on about. also with the use of Steam you have quite a lot to pick from and I suspect by the end of the year it will further explode.
    Windows.. ok you have a full OS with the ability to do whatever you wish. don't like windows? use Linux.
    ALL SOFTWARE REQUIRES UPDATES! your PS4 requires updates too AGAIN not sure what you are even referring to.
    Desktop environment, Both Oculus and Vive have a custom environment with which you launch games from.. while wearing the VR HMD, much like your console for PS4.