Home > VR Headsets
Last Updated: February 1, 2023
VR has grown exponentially over the past few years and is these days a fully-functional force of nature with surreal AAA quality VR games like Half-Life: Alyx, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, Boneworks, Lone Echo 1 and 2, Star Wars: Squadrons, Skyrim VR, Blade and Sorcery, Asgard's Wrath, and more.
With no exaggeration, these VR games have literally been the type of mind-blowing immersive experiences that I would dream about as a kid growing up with the SNES, N64 and PS1. Back then, VR was a science fiction pipedream that was sometimes mentioned in the gaming magazines I used to read as something to look forward to in the future. Now, it's science fiction no more.
If immersion is something you value as a gamer, there is just no comparison to be made between VR and flatscreen gaming. Playing through Half Life Alyx last year was one of, if not the most surreal and memorable gaming experiences I've ever had. It solidified in my mind just how disruptive VR is going to be over coming years. Now as I write this in 2023, you could definitely make the argument that VR has finally become somewhat mainstream at long last, a big part of that thanks to the Oculus/Meta Quest 2 which has made VR much more accessible and affordable to the masses. But while the Quest 2 is what most people will think of when it comes to VR right now, and is definitely the best value VR headset for gaming, there are other options out there.
See Also: Build the Best PC for Gaming/VR
Besides, the Quest 2 is not technically a PC VR headset, but a mobile one. But it is capable of PC VR gaming if you buy an add-on cable (Oculus Link) or use special wireless software (Airlink or Virtual Desktop) that connects your PC to the headset, both of which tap into your PC's hardware to enable the headset to run PC VR games (which are much more demanding than mobile VR games that run solely off the Quest 2's limited built-in hardware). So, for the ultimate VR gaming experience on a high-end gaming desktop or laptop, you may want to look elsewhere than the Quest 2. Let's first go over the main specs of the top 3 best PC VR headsets on the market right now and compare them side by side, and then I'll share my thoughts on each.
Swipe to Scroll:
Top 3 Best PC VR Headsets in 2023
1440 x 1600 Per Eye
58 to 70mm
HP Reverb G2
2160 x 2160 Per Eye
|Best||Good||Best (& Lightest)||
60 - 68mm
Meta Quest 2
1832 x 1920 Per Eye
90Hz (certain games)
120Hz (" ")
|Average (Headphones Recommended)||Great||Good (But Great With Add-On Strap)||
58 to 68mm
- High quality built-in speakers (no need for separate headphones)
- Very accurate tracking (comes with 2 external base stations)
- Best controllers on the market, featuring individual finger tracking
- Very comfortable out of the box (no need for add-on unlike Quest 2)
- Wider FOV than Quest 2 and Reverb G2
- Most flexible mechanical adjustment for IPD (Inter Pupillary Distance)
- Comes with a Free Copy of Half Life: Alyx
- Much more expensive than Quest 2
- Glare issues can be annoying to some people in some games (but not Alyx)
- Longer setup than other headsets
- Needs more space than other headsets
- Over 2 years old now (and an Index successor a potential in near future)
Because the VR industry moves fast, you can definitely consider the Valve Index a little outdated considering its release date and also the fact it's been outdone by both the Quest 2 and Reverb G2 in terms of resolution and image sharpness/clarity. That said, the Index still remains a fantastic high-end PC VR headset worth considering, and arguably the best headset for PC VR overall when you take into account all the pros and cons of the top headsets out there.
It does depend on what's more important to you though, which I understand can be difficult (or impossible) to know if you're new to VR (so I'll do my best to explain as much as I can). The HP Reverb G2 does have higher resolution, but the Index has better controllers, more precise tracking for past-paced games, a wider field of view, and higher refresh rates for the smoothest gameplay (up to 144Hz). The Index vs G2 is a tough decision without a doubt, because while the higher resolution of the G2 does increase immersion, the higher refresh rates, better tracking, and wider FOV of the Index does so too. It comes down to which features are more important to you.
As for the Index vs Quest 2 debate, it's another difficult choice. The Quest 2 is much more affordable, and offers wireless PC VR and the ability to play mobile VR games (that you can't access on a PC VR headset like the Index). But the Index is still the objectively better PC VR experience overall, as the Quest 2 is not a native PC VR headset and so has downsides when used as a PC VR headset (latency and compression, but I'll get to that next). The Index also beats the Quest 2 in terms of stock comfort (Quest 2 comfort out the box ain't as good and requires an add-on strap for the best comfort), higher refresh rates, superior built-in audio, and individual finger tracking.
So despite its age, the Index remains a solid option for high-end PC VR if you have the budget for it. Just keep in mind there's a chance Valve announces a successor to the Index at some point in the near future, as some interesting Valve patents have been filed indicating an "Index 2" (or whatever it'll be called) may be on the horizon. That said, if there is a Valve Index 2, it may not release for a while yet, so the original Index may have some decent legs left (assuming an Index 2 is even coming, as it's still speculation). Just thought I'd give you a heads-up about that. Anyway, let's move onto the next best PC VR headset for gaming, though you could just as easily have it as the top spot (and have the Index as number 2).
- Higher resolution than Quest 2 and Valve Index
- Best clarity makes it ideal for VR simulations (flight sims, racing, etc)
- Sharpest image in a consumer VR headset today
- High quality built-in audio (exact same speakers as Valve Index)
- Cheaper than Valve Index (and arguably better value)
- Very comfortable out of the box (and lighter than Index)
- Slightly wider FOV than Quest 2 (but less than Index)
- Not as precise tracking as other headsets (a non-issue for many, but may be noticeable in fast-paced or competitive games)
- Can't do 120Hz or 144Hz like the Index
- High resolution means slightly higher GPU requirements than Index
- Image sweet spot not as good as Quest 2
The HP Reverb G2 replaces the original Reverb G1 and has outdone it in every way, instantly placing itself among the best VR gaming headsets on the market. In fact, you could argue it is now the best PC VR headset to beat right now given its advantages over the Valve Index, and as mentioned I could just have easily placed it as my number one recommendation (so take the ordering of this article with a grain of salt; very difficult to rank VR headsets as it's all about personal preference).
Featuring an impressive high-resolution display with noticeably better clarity and sharpness than PC VR headsets before it, the Reverb G2 takes immersion to the next level and has taken the VR enthusiast crowd by storm to firmly entrench itself as the clear best PC VR headset for virtual reality simulation games like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars 2, iRacing, and DCS World. Also, while Star Wars Squadrons and Elite Dangerous are not technically sims, the G2 would also be the perfect headset for space flight games like these as well.
But the truth is, the G2 can also be a fantastic choice for any VR genre - if you can accept the downside of slightly less precise and reliable controller tracking when compared to the near flawless tracking of the Valve Index and Quest 2. The tracking issue is only a potential worry when playing competitive shooters like Contractors, Pavlov, Onward, Vail, or rhythm games like Beat Saber, or in situations where you have to grab things above or behind your head (such as grabbing items from your backpack or throwing grenades in Half Life Alyx).
If you do plenty of research on this issue as I have, you'll find that the G2's tracking issues really aren't that bad, and unless you do some strange moves in VR or are serious about competitive multiplayer shooters, it's unlikely to get in your way. See VR Flight Sim Guy's thoughts on Alyx with a G2 as an example of the G2 not being an issue for Alyx, but do your own research to find out if the G2 is right for you. Plus, HP released a new and improved V2 (Version 2) of the G2 headset which includes slightly better tracking.
HP Reverb G2 v1 vs v2 (Differences)
In late 2021, HP released a version 2 of the HP Reverb G2, which includes the following improvements over version 1:
So when buying a G2 just be aware that there are two versions and there's no reason not to get the most recent version 2 model.
All things considered the G2 is a beast, and cannot be ignored when on the hunt for the best PC VR headset. Especially if you love flight or racing sims. The unbeatable image quality and clarity is a huge plus that for many will outweigh the negatives, but if you absolutely want optimal tracking under all situations for fast-paced games then consider the Index or Quest 2 instead (the latter of which isn't far behind the G2 in terms of resolution and image sharpness). Let's move onto the third and final of the top 3 best VR headsets for gaming on the market today.
- Most affordable, value for money VR headset
- Most versatile VR headset (ability to play both mobile VR and PC VR games)
- Ability to play PC VR games wirelessly via software (AirLink/Virtual Desktop)
- Very good resolution (higher than Index, but lower than Reverb G2)
- Exclusive access to Oculus/Meta exclusive titles
- No need for a gaming PC if you only want to play Quest-native games
- Slight latency and image compression when playing PC VR games via your PC (see a variety of user opinions on this)
- Must have fairly good gaming GPU to avoid the compression souring image quality too much (mid-range GPUs may not cut it)
- Must also have good router and strong signal to play PC VR wirelessly without noticeable latency
- Not as comfortable out the box compared to other headsets (Elite Strap highly recommended)
- Average built-in audio (using your own headphones or earphones is recommended)
- Slightly lower FOV than Reverb G2 and Index
- 2 hour battery life when gaming wirelessly (but can buy extended battery pack to play longer)
- Quest 3 potentially being announced soon (and should release this year in 2023)
The Quest 2 has changed the VR landscape considerably since its release last year and has been a catalyst in bringing VR one step closer to mainstream adoption. It's not only the clear best value VR headset, but also the most versatile. Primarily marketed as a standalone, mobile VR headset (because it is), it can also function perfectly well as a PC VR headset if you have a decent gaming PC to hook it up to (which you can do so using either a cable or wirelessly, but I'll get to that).
If you're new to VR, there's basically two types of VR games/experiences. There's the mobile VR market, which are games and experiences of smaller scope and of lower graphical fidelity due to hardware limitations (as the game is running solely off the Quest 2's built-in hardware). These games (any game on the official Meta Quest store) run wirelessly on the Quest 2 without needing a PC at all, so you can be gaming at any place and any time without needing to be tethered to your PC with a cable.
Then you have the PC VR market, which is basically any VR game on Steam, and any game on the Oculus Rift exclusive store (like the great Lone Echo and Lone Echo 2). This is where you have the biggest and best VR games with the most impressive visuals, including titles like Half Life Alyx, Blade and Sorcery, Saints and Sinners chapters 1 and 2 (available in Quest version too), Red Matter 1 and 2 (also has Quest versions), Asgard's Wrath, Skyrim VR, No Man's Sky, Boneworks, Bonelab, Elite Dangerous, Fallout 4 VR, Star Wars: Squadrons, Hubris, all the VR racing and flight sims out there, and much more.
So, with "true" PC VR headsets like the Valve Index and HP Reverb G2, you can only play PC VR games (but not any mobile games). With the Quest 2, you have access to both - mobile and PC VR games. Definitely another advantage of the Quest 2, and over time we're sure to be treated to better and better mobile VR games that utilize the limited on-board hardware better.
That said, the objectively best, most immersive VR games with the best graphics are PC VR titles (and will remain so for the foreseeable future). To play PC VR with the Quest 2, effectively turning it into a PC VR headset, there are two ways. Both require a good gaming PC, and the better your specs the less noticeable the latency and image compression will be.
A: Tethered PC VR
Using the Oculus Link cable allows you to turn the Quest 2 from its primary design as a mobile VR headset into a PC VR headset. But be aware it's not like having a direct DisplayPort cable connected to your PC. Instead, it's a USB cable, and the data from your PC has to be compressed, which can lead to latency (slowness) and slightly lower visual quality resulting in a less crisp image than using a true PC VR headset (this can be mitigated with a high-end GPU though).
How noticeable the latency and image compression is will differ from system to system and person to person. If you do your research you'll see some people say they can't notice the difference (between Oculus Link and a "true" tethered PC VR headset), but it's usually those with really good PCs. With a mid-range GPU, the compression can be quite noticeable when comparing the experience directly to a true PC VR headset.
B: Wireless PC VR
As for running PC VR content wirelessly on the Quest 2 - using the official Oculus Airlink app or the third-party and very popular Virtual Desktop for Quest app - you need a strong PC to minimize latency and image compression, but you also need a good gaming router and a strong wireless signal where you'll be using the headset. You also want to avoid clogging the router with tons of devices while playing.
But with the right setup, wireless PC VR with the Quest 2 can have an unnoticeable amount of latency and compression, and in that case it's a fantastic experience as you get to play the best AAA VR games without wires. Check out Beardo Benjo's good tutorial to check it out in action. Also see VR Oasis's comparison of Airlink vs Virtual Desktop.
Overall, all things considered, if you're new to VR it's hard to ignore the Quest 2 for its value - it's the best VR headset for gaming if you're looking to stretch your money as far as possible.
The ability to play PC VR wirelessly is a big plus, and if you don't have a strong wireless signal to be able to do that smoothly, plugging the Quest 2 into a good gaming PC via the Oculus Link cable allows you to play all those great SteamVR games with minimal latency and compression to the point where it's unnoticeable to many. Yeah, you need a strong PC to minimize latency and compression, but you need a strong PC for the G2 and Index anyway, so that's not a downside to the Quest 2 and just a requirement for PC VR in general.
Plus, with a Quest 2 you get to play the many good mobile VR games out there, as well as Meta/Oculus exclusive titles. Mobile VR games aren't as good as PC VR games due to the huge technical limitations of what you can run on a mobile chipset, but there's still plenty of good experiences. All that said, the Index is the technically better option for VR enthusiasts who don't care for wireless and just want the absolute best PC VR experience, and the Reverb G2 is hard to ignore for VR sims with its unbeatable resolution and clarity (but still works just fine for any genre if you're okay with the potential for occasional tracking issue in the heat of the moment).
The Index and G2 are native PC VR headsets that'll give you the full PC VR experience without the latency and compression of the Quest 2, but whether either of these is worth spending the extra money on compared to the Quest 2 is a subjective call and how much you care for wired vs wireless VR. Whatever you decide, it's hard to go wrong with a Quest 2, a HP Reverb G2, or a Valve Index. If you're new to VR I'm sure you'll be blown away with any, and if you're here pondering an upgrade from a previous-gen headset like the Rift S, original Rift, HTC Vive, or Quest 1, you'll also surely be satisfied with either of these 3 great headsets.
Last but not least, keep in mind this year Meta will be releasing their new Quest 3 headset, and Sony is launching their PSVR2. There's no telling yet how good these headsets will be, and whether they're worth waiting for or not. But if you're not in a hurry to get into VR, it may be worth waiting to see how these new models pan out. Anyway, that wraps my thoughts on the current VR headset market, specifically for those wanting the best PC VR experience (and not just mobile VR). Hope the article helped a little and I'll see you in VR, friend.
See Also: Build the Best PC for Half Life Alyx
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Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing about tech, which also helps fund development of the game.
My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site extra helpful and wish to support the work I do here, sharing an article with a friend helps a lot and is much appreciated. - Julz