VR headsets for gaming & movies in 2022

Publish Date : 2022-01-28 00:00:00

VR headsets for gaming & movies in 2022

In the battle of the best VR headsets, competition is fierce. For now, Facebook's wireless Oculus Quest 2 remains king thanks to its affordability and ease of use – and it looks to stay on top for a good while yet, especially if talk of an Oculus Quest 2 Pro or Oculus Quest 3 comes to pass.

But the full picture of the VR headset market today is more complicated than that, and you may find a competing model actually serves you better – such as the Valve Index, a capable and powerful VR headsets whose success has been choked by limited supply.

Anyone with a PlayStation console will want to check out the current PSVR headset, or wait until the next-gen PSVR 2 releases some time in 2022 (probably a better bet if you're using the latest PS5 console). Anyone who remembers when HTC was the market leader, too, may want to check out the wireless and more 'VR casual' HTC Vive Flow. 

Importantly, more companies are also making VR headsets, but often with wildly niche specifications. Other well-known brands, like Apple, are also working on VR headsets that could shake up the market in a big way.

For now, though, the question of the best VR headsets is relatively simple, with only a handful of great models each suiting different kinds of players and consumers. So if you want to know our top-rated picks, and why you'll want one, read on below. Don't forget to check out our guides to the best VR games, or specifically the best Oculus Quest 2 games, too.

1. Valve Index

The Valve Index is an excellent VR headset and represents a next-gen system compared to its predecessors. We found it has a crisp display that runs fairly 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 one of the best laptops – this isn't a standalone headset like others in this list.

If you can look past those issues, this is a really good 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 we think this is the best VR headset for 2022 and our top pick for PC owners, it's worth mentioning the Valve Index can sometimes be hard to track down as manufacturing slowed down during the pandemic.

2. Quest 2

The Quest 2 will be the best VR headset for most people. It doesn't need to be wired 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, with a more responsive experience thanks to improved RAM and chip specs, as well as 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 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. 

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of wirefree 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.

3. HTC Vive Pro 2

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.

But the HTC Vive Pro 2 has its faults, too. The screen can get hot after prolonged use, the controllers haven't changed much since the very first Vive headset released, and the external tracking stations and tethered cabling can be a hassle to set up compared to free-roaming 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.

4. PlayStation VR

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, this is by far the best VR headset for you.

Considering the sizeable difference in power between the PS4 and PC, the PlayStation VR is 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. 

5. Oculus Rift S

Virtual reality has come a long way since Oculus founder (and controversial VR poster boy) Palmer Luckey introduced the world to the Oculus Rift back in 2012. Now owned by Facebook, the Oculus Rift S should represent the next leap forward for the company’s high-end, PC-based virtual reality experiences. But, unfortunately, it's more of a baby-step.

Like the Oculus Rift, the Rift S works in tandem with a PC to deliver virtual reality experiences. It connects to your PC over a USB 3.0 port and a DisplayPort connection, and is tethered to the machine by a lengthy cable that’s more than enough to accommodate the ‘room-scale’ experiences that Rift S is capable of delivering. It’s more limited in terms of free movement than the superb wireless Oculus Quest, but the trade off here is that, by being powered by your PC, it’s capable of powering more detailed and dynamic experiences.

The good news for early adopters is that, to reduce frustration, Oculus has made the Rift S completely backwards compatible with the original Rift titles, and making the Rift forward compatible with the vast majority of games released for the Rift S and Oculus Quest with some minor exceptions.

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