The best VR headsets provide a level of immersion in games and other experiences that you simply can’t get elsewhere. Virtual reality gaming has evolved a lot over the past few years, and you no longer have to be hardwired to a powerful PC rig to get an impressive experience. Headset prices have also dropped over the years, including recent price cuts to two of the best VR headsets. 2023 has already been an exciting year for the virtual reality space due to the launch of the PSVR 2, which is a big step forward for console-based VR. Still, a familiar name sits atop our list of the best VR headsets: the Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as Oculus Quest 2). For those looking to enter the VR space for the first time, the Quest 2 is by far the best option. However, it’s not the only good option, especially if you own a high-end gaming PC or a PS5. We’ve rounded up the best VR headsets in 2023.
Finding the best VR headset for you
The first thing that’s important to know before buying a VR headset is that some VR games are exclusive to specific headsets. Meta and both PlayStation headsets have their own storefronts that offer unique games, unavailable to HTC, Valve, and other companies’ headsets. Of course, you can still get an impressive experience with the Valve Index or HTC Vive line of headsets, especially considering the great library of VR games on Steam. Each VR headset has its advantages and unique qualities, such as high resolutions, AMOLED displays, and built-in speakers.
The Meta Quest 2 is a powerful mobile VR headset that gives you great experiences without connecting to a PC–no sensors required (though you can, if you so choose). The Valve Index requires you to connect to a PC and use sensors, but it also provides the most high-end VR experience available today. And of course, there’s the PSVR 2, which has the benefit of being compatible with Sony’s first-party lineup of VR games. Keep in mind the original PSVR has its own library of games separate from the PSVR 2. You cannot play original PSVR games on PSVR 2 unless the developer releases an upgraded version. Each headset has its unique features and benefits, so you’ll need to decide which one is the best for you, based on your price range.
Editor’s Note: Article updated on March 15, 2023
The best VR headsets in 2023
Meta Quest 2
The Meta Quest 2 is the perfect combination of price and performance. As a standalone headset with no requirement for additional hardware such as a PC or console, the Meta Quest 2 offers the easiest and most convenient way to start gaming in VR. It’s a nice step up from the original Quest (which was already great), and you no longer need a Facebook account to use the device. Best of all, for those looking for better performance, you can use Oculus Link to connect it to VR-capable PCs and play games like Half-Life: Alyx.
The Meta Quest 2 is equipped with a fast Qaulcom Snapdragon XR2 processor and 6GB of RAM. The fast-switch LCD displays may not be OLED, but they still look fantastic once you’ve adjusted the comfortable new backpack-like elastic strap and selected one of three inter-pupillary distance settings. Thanks to 1832 x 1920 pixel resolution for each lens, the picture is crisp and clear.
The Meta Quest 2 is an improvement on the original in almost every way, but if you’re upgrading from the original, you may not be as blown away by the newer VR machine. That speaks to the quality of the Quest 1 more than anything, as it’s still an excellent headset. That said, some games are only compatible with Quest 2, like the excellent Resident Evil 4 VR. For the most part, though, the Quest 2 is more of a smart iteration on the original.
Over the past couple of years, the Meta Quest 2’s library has expanded significantly. There’s a wide range of games across all major genres as well as a slew of apps for watching TV, movies, and other entertainment experiences.
The Meta Quest 2 comes in two storage capacities: 128GB and 256G. The 128GB model costs $400, while the 256GB model is $430. Considering the small jump in price, we’d recommend the 256GB. Both models come with Golf+ and Space Pirate Trainer DX. Though the Quest 2 is more comfortable than its predecessors, some users may still experience discomfort and neck strain. If that’s you, we’d recommend picking up a comfort strap that balances the weight.
Read our Meta Quest 2 review.
In terms of pure technical prowess, the Valve Index is the best gamer-oriented PC VR headset on the market. It doesn’t increase the resolution past 2880×1600 on its LCD display, but the Index nails VR where it’s most important: refresh rate and field of view. Boasting a max 144Hz refresh rate and a field of view of 130-degrees, it makes for the best, smoothest-feeling experience in virtual reality. With the higher field of view, you can see more of the game at any one time, as opposed to the relative tunnel vision found in other headsets. An Index and a good gaming PC will provide the optimal VR experience, assuming you’re okay with a few wires and spending big on a PC gaming rig and the tethered headset experience.
Another key aspect of the device is its unique motion controller, which features individual finger tracking and is a step up from something like the Oculus Touch. There aren’t a lot of applications for this yet, but finger-tracking is a great way to make your virtual reality experience more immersive–games like Boneworks use it well. And while it’s absolutely usable in seated or stationary settings, it excels most with room-scale VR. Thus, gamers without a lot of space may find it hard to push the Index to its full potential.
The Valve Index also needs to be powered by a PC with a wired connection. At the moment, there is no option for wireless use, as the Vive Wireless Adapter–made for HTC’s Vive headsets–is incompatible. However, the Valve Index is compatible with the HTC Vive’s controllers and base stations, so Valve offers the Index headset on its own and in a kit. Additionally, the Valve Index’s controllers and base stations are compatible with HTC’s Vive headsets. A wireless adapter is in the works for the Valve Index, too.
The Valve Index VR kit comes with the headset, controllers, a powerful pair of built-in speakers that make it easy to enter the virtual world without totally disconnecting from the real one, and base stations. Alternatively, you can purchase a bundle with the headset and controllers or the headset by itself. Every purchase of the Valve Index comes with a complimentary copy of Half-Life: Alyx on Steam, letting you continue the story of that character right away.
Meta Quest Pro
Originally retailing for $1,500, the Meta Quest Pro is now available for $1,000. That makes it a bit more realistic for shoppers with a cushy budget, and it’s worth every cent if you’re going to be using it regularly and don’t have a gaming PC. Along with a sleek, ergonomic design, you’re also getting tons of luxurious features that simply can’t be found on other standalone VR headsets.
Whatever you’re using the Meta Quest Pro for, it’ll look great on its LCD panels, which offer 1800×1920 pixels for each eye and a 106-degree field of view. They also support local dimming, allowing deep contrast for a vivid viewing experience. Its controllers are just as advanced, with three camera sensors per controller, ten hours of battery life, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processors running the show.
The list of impressive features goes on and on–built-in speakers and microphone, support for 3.5mm audio inputs, backward compatibility with the Quest 2 library, 12GB RAM, 10 VR/MR sensors, and multiple face tracking sensors allow the Quest Pro to achieve things you won’t find anywhere else (without a PC). It’s not cheap, but it offers one of the best VR experiences money can buy.
HTC Vive Pro 2
It might not be receiving the fanfare of the Valve Index, Quest Pro, or PSVR 2, but the Vive Pro 2 has quietly made a name for itself among VR enthusiasts. Much of that is due to its premium display, which offers a 2448 x2448 resolution per eye–putting it ahead of most others in its class.
Not only does it pack in thousands of pixels, but it doubles down with both a 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rate. Combined with its 120-degree field of view, the Vive Pro 2 makes it easy to get immersed in your favorite games. It’s not a standalone device (and you’ll need a PC with at least a GTX 1060), but that’s a small price to pay for just a good-looking device.
Plenty of other high-end features are loaded into the Vive Pro 2 (such as integrated dual microphones and ergonomic controllers), which makes its hefty price tag a bit easier to stomach. So if you don’t mind venturing off the beaten path, consider giving this headset a closer look.
There’s not much to dislike about PSVR 2. Of course, it does require a PS5 (which means you’ll be dropping over $1,000 to use the headset), but aside from that quirk, Sony’s latest venture into VR can hang with the best.
PSVR 2 is a massive leap forward from the original PSVR headset, with 4K HDR visuals, a 110-degree field of view, and Sense technology offering headset feedback, eye tracking, and 3D audio support. You’ll even be treated to radically redesigned controllers, which were built with long play sessions in mind and are equipped with adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, and finger touch detection.
Sony launched PSVR 2 with an impressive library of games, and it’ll only grow more impressive over the next few months. And while you won’t be able to play many of the hit VR games that are available on PC and Quest headsets, you have access to Gran Turismo 7, Horizon: Call of the Mountain, Moss 2, and No Man’s Sky. So if you happen to have a PS5, PSVR 2 might be the best way for you to join the VR community.
Read our PlayStation VR 2 review.
The PlayStation VR headset is compatible with the PS4 as well as backward-compatible PS4 games on PS5, though PS5 owners should instead opt for the PSVR 2.
PlayStation VR offers a 1920×1080 combined resolution, 90-120Hz refresh rate, and a 100-degree field of view. The low resolution and pixel density cause a significant screen-door effect–you see the black space between each pixel. It makes it look like you’re viewing the game through a screen door. This can be frustrating for experienced VR users, but with no other VR headset on the PS4, it’s an issue you just have to deal with. But where PSVR falls short in its specs, it makes up for in its exclusive games. These titles feature some of the best experiences in VR and are well worth playing if you own it. The PlayStation Move controllers are required for some games–like Farpoint and Concrete Genie–but there are plenty of great titles that use the DualShock 4, including Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
The PSVR requires the PlayStation Camera for tracking, but thankfully it’s included with the headset in most bundles. And if you already own a PlayStation Camera for the PS4, then you’re ready to go no matter which version of it you have. The tracking isn’t up to par with PC VR options, especially when turning away from the camera, though it does work fine for most gaming. Thankfully, wearing the headset is extremely comfortable, which makes longer sessions much more manageable.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
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