It’s a great time for VR with capable headsets including the HTC Vive Pro 2 and HP Reverb G2 available to buy, and the hybrid Meta Quest 2 has many excited about the future of VR. Better yet, the price of VR headsets is dropping, making VR accessible to more people than ever before.
The flip side is that there are now more VR headsets on the market than ever before, making it hard to choose one to buy in 2022.
Don’t fret; we at Tech Advisor have used all of the popular VR headsets, and here’s where we tell you what to look out for when buying a headset, along with our recommendation of the best VR headsets on the market right now.
- Best VR headsets 2022
- VR headset buying advice
Best VR headsets 2022
1. Meta Quest 2 – Best overall
- Great standalone performance
- Well priced
- Can be used for PC VR
- Facebook account required
- No Bluetooth headphone support
Though the Oculus branding has been killed off in favour of Meta, the Quest 2 is still hands-down the best VR headset you can buy. Like the original, the Quest 2 boasts standalone functionality and inside-out tracking, albeit in a smaller form factor this time around.
The star of the show is the display; at nearly 2K per eye, the Quest 2 has one of the most detailed displays of any VR headset in our chart right now, bested only by the Vive Pro 2, which is incredible when you think about the entry-level price. There’s also Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Platform available, offering a serious improvement to performance that pushes the boundaries of the standalone apps and games available.
If that wasn’t enough, thanks to Oculus Link, you can hook up your Quest 2 to your PC and experience PC-exclusive VR titles like Half-Life: Alyx, and Air Link functionality allows you to do it cable-free if you’ve got good enough Wi-Fi. The hybrid functionality simply isn’t matched by any other VR headset available right now.
If you’re looking for a great all-round VR headset, the Meta Quest 2 is the one to go for.
Read our full
Meta Quest 2 review
2. HTC Vive Cosmos – Modular PC VR
- Modular design
- Accurate tracking
- Comfortable fit
- Requires a high-end gaming PC
- Not the highest resolution displays around
The Vive Cosmos isn’t the cheapest VR headset available to consumers. But, the modular nature makes the Cosmos range unique, which is why it costs a little more.
Rather than having to buy an entirely new headset when HTC reveals new tech, Cosmos owners can simply buy a new faceplate and attach it to their existing headset, offering huge savings down the line.
The Cosmos itself, with six-camera tracking, offers a decent VR experience for low- to mid-intensity VR games, but the camera tracking isn’t perfect and the loss of tracking in fast-paced VR titles can be frustrating at times.
But that’s where the Cosmos Elite comes in: for a little extra, you can grab a Cosmos with true 1:1 SteamVR tracking, but at the cost of long setup times and having to use the first-gen Vive wands.
Read our full
HTC Vive Cosmos review
3. HTC Vive Pro 2 – Most detailed VR display
- 5K display
- No screen-door effect
- SteamVR compatibility
- Weirdly shaped FOV
- Chunky, outdated controllers
- Very expensive
The HTC Vive Pro 2 might seem like the perfect VR headset on paper, boasting the highest resolution of any headset right now alongside an expansive 120-degree FOV and smooth 120Hz refresh rate, but the execution isn’t quite as impressive.
The pixel-packed display does a phenomenal job at breathing new life into much-loved VR games with added detail, and it all but eliminates screen-door effect too – seriously, it’s an impressive panel.
The issue is the oddly rectangular FOV, with the 120-degree FOV referring to the horizontal FOV only. It makes some VR experiences feel a little more claustrophobic when compared to the likes of the Valve Index.
The Vive Pro 2 hasn’t changed in terms of general design either, which means it’s just as heavy and uncomfortable to use over longer sessions as its predecessor, and it’s a similar story with the Vive Pro 2 wands, which remain practically the same as they were in 2016.
It’s also incredibly expensive compared to most headsets in our chart, meaning it’s only for the most dedicated VR fan that can overlook some of the older design choices employed by the Vive Pro 2.
Read our full
HTC Vive Pro 2 review
4. HP Reverb G2 – High resolution at a good price
- 4K display
- Great sound
- Inside-out tracking
- Small visual sweet spot
- Issues with AMD PCs
- Performance bugs
Though it can’t quite match the 5K display of the HTC Vive Pro 2, the 4K display of the HP Reverb G2 will still be a huge jump forward for those still on first-gen VR headsets, offering improved textures, better visual clarity and a wider 114-degree FOV without the premium price of HTC’s option.
There’s also inside-out tracking, meaning there’s no need for external base stations like with SteamVR-powered options, although unlike options from Oculus, the Reverb G2 doesn’t perform that well in smaller spaces.
That problematic nature extends beyond tracking too; the Reverb G2 doesn’t play well with AMD-powered PCs, and the Windows Mixed Reality platform it uses is far from the quality offered by the likes of SteamVR and Oculus, with glitches and the occasional complete crash.
If you really want the high resolution then the Reverb G2 is still a great option, but we’d steer clear if you’ve got an AMD PC.
Read our full
HP Reverb G2 review
5. PlayStation VR – Best for PlayStation gamers
- PS4-powered VR
- Exclusive library of games
- Basic tracking
- Motion controllers are badly designed
- Low-res display
Interestingly, the PlayStation VR headset is the only VR headset for console gamers – Microsoft offers a way for gamers to play Xbox games through the Oculus Rift S, but it isn’t VR-enabled. Sony’s virtual reality offering features a 5.7in OLED display that’ll provide gamers with low persistence and, consequently, less motion blur when being used.
It also boasts ultra-low latency (18ms) and a 120Hz refresh rate, which is better than the Oculus Rift S and the HTC Vive’s 90Hz offering. It means that, theoretically, beautiful 120fps gameplay is possible, although we’re not sure the PS4 (or even the PS4 Pro) can handle that.
It seems that Sony had the same thought, and provides an additional box (smaller than the PS4) that handles the brunt of the graphics processing. It’ll track the position of your head, and can also be used with Sony’s (failed) Move controllers, giving the old controllers a new lease of life.
The tracking is basic though; it uses a PlayStation Camera, and the area that you can move around in is very small. It’s designed for sit-down VR experiences, and it does it well.
6. HTC Vive Flow – Best for lightweight VR
- Sunglasses-like form factor
- Lightweight, portable design
- Can view phone apps on a 100in display
- Needs an external battery source
- Only compatible with a small number of Android phones
- VR experiences are closer to first-gen VR headsets
With Meta successfully cornering the standalone VR headset market, HTC has turned its sights to the lightweight VR market with what it describes as its first pair of “immersive glasses”.
Let’s be honest, the Vive Flow look more like a pair of fashion-focused sunglasses than a VR headset, complete with relfective lenses and traditional arms. It’s a cool look, but it’d likely draw attention if you were to use them on public transport or long flights – which is exactly what HTC envisions.
Aside from basic VR experiences akin to those from Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR, the main draw of the Vive Flow is the ability to mirror your smartphone display. That allows you to run apps like Disney+ and Netflix, enjoying your digital content on a virtual 100in display.
But while the idea behind it is solid, the execution is flawed to say the least.
Aside from the fact that the system is only compatible with a small number of smartphones in the wider market (and no iPhone support at all), the decision to use Miracast instead of standard USB-C connectivity means there’s input lag. That means you can’t play your favourite games via the cloud on the headset, nor can you hook it up to a laptop for work purposes.
Throw in basic controller support via a connected smartphone, the fact it gets uncomfortable to wear after around 30 minutes of use and its relatively high price point for what’s on offer, and it’s not looking good for the Flow. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned that it requires an external battery source connected via USB-C as there’s no built-in battery. Yeah…
If you’re a very specific type of person that travels a lot and wants a better way to watch movies, the Flow is a solid option, but for everyone else, there are more capable options available at a cheaper price point.
Read our full
HTC Vive Flow review
It’s worth noting that there’s also the
high-end Valve Index to choose from, but as we’re yet to use it in person, we can’t recommend it in our chart. We’ve also removed the original
Oculus Quest as it was discontinued around the release of the updated Oculus Quest 2.
VR headset buying advice
So, what kind of things should you consider if you’re on the market for a VR headset?
Mobile, PC or standalone?
The biggest factor to consider when on the market for a VR headset is how you’re planning on powering it. There are three types of VR headset on the market at the moment; smartphone-powered, PC-powered or standalone, with the latter being a relatively new option for prospective VR users.
Mobile VR headsets are shaped like a VR headset, but they require a smartphone for the display, internals, tracking and everything else needed to provide a mobile VR experience. This is generally thought of as a beginner’s VR headset; it gives you access to a budget range of experiences, 360-degree videos and basic games, but doesn’t provide much in the way of actual interaction with virtual environments.
The next step up is standalone VR. These are, as the name suggests, standalone VR headsets that don’t require a smartphone or PC for use. They started off a little basic, but the likes of the Oculus Quest 2 are on a par with PC-powered headsets, and it can also be used as a PC VR headset.
PC-powered VR headsets are generally the most capable on the market, providing high-end games and VR experiences with incredibly accurate location-based tracking and advanced controllers for full immersion. The catch? The headsets are usually the most expensive available and require a powerful PC to be able to power the experiences.
Though it may not sound like it, controllers are a very important area when it comes to picking a VR headset. That’s because the controllers vary depending on the system, with some offering true 1:1 positional tracking while others don’t. Controllers are your gateway into the virtual world, allowing you to reach out and interact with the environment, so you want them to be as accurate and comfortable as possible.
Generally speaking, the high-end VR headsets like the Vive Cosmos Elite offer great controllers with true 1:1 positional tracking, while inside-out tracking like that offered from the Rift S, Quest 2 and standard HP Reverb G2 is a little more unreliable. PlayStation’s VR headset offers basic positional tracking, but it’s not quite as accurate as Oculus’ and HTC’s options.
Speaking of controller tracking, tracking, in general, is another important area to consider in the world of virtual reality. Mobile VR headsets only offer 3DoF, compared to 6DoF on offer by more premium headsets. 3DoF means that you’ll be able to stand in place, look around, up and down, but any movement forwards, backwards, up or down won’t be tracked.
6DoF, on the other hand, has the ability to track your location within the physical space. This really improves immersion as, with the Rift S, Quest 2 and Vive Cosmos, you’re able to physically walk around virtual worlds, bend down and retrieve items from the floor.
Resolution, refresh rate and FOV
It’s a good idea to check out the resolution and refresh rate of any VR headset before buying, as both are integral to a decent VR experience. The resolution is fairly self-explanatory: the higher the resolution, the better quality the images produced by the display will be. It’ll mean crisper edges and easy-to-read text, and a generally more premium VR experience.
But, the resolution doesn’t matter if the refresh rate is terrible. There were a lot of tests undertaken in the early days of VR to work out the ideal refresh rate to combat motion sickness experienced by early VR users. The general consensus is that 90Hz is the minimum requirement for fast-paced VR, although you can get away with 70Hz if the app or game isn’t particularly intense.
Anything lower than 60Hz, though, and you’ll start to notice motion sickness when using VR as the display takes a little too long to refresh when you move, causing lag. Thankfully, most mainstream VR headsets offer at least 90Hz, so you shouldn’t have to worry, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking at non-branded VR headsets.
Lastly, field of view – or FOV as its commonly referred to – essentially gives you an idea of how immersive the VR headset is. Generally speaking, you should aim for a VR headset that provides a FOV of between 100- and 120-degrees, which seems to be the market cap (for the moment anyway!). For reference, human eyes have a FOV of around 220 degrees.