Which virtual reality headset should I buy?

VR glasses test 2021: Virtual Reality for every platform

Immerse yourself in strange worlds

Thorsten Nowag

Virtual reality glasses are arriving in the mass market. The first recommendable wireless VR glasses, exciting and entertaining content such as Stormland or Half-Life: Alyx - and finally affordable prices, help. We put together all relevant VR systems including our impressions from the respective tests and an outlook for you. In the video you can see the test of the wireless Oculus Quest.

Virtual reality glasses: More than just a gamer's tool

Virtual reality and gaming go well together. VR-optimized games are the drivers of the new technology. With the PlayStation VR, Sony has already been able to prove that high numbers of items are possible in sales. With titles such as Farpoint and Resident Evil 7, Sony and its partners have also succeeded in bringing real VR hits on the market that go far beyond the title of "tech demo". But Sony now has strong competition with the Oculus Rift S and especially with the self-sufficient Oculus Quest. You don't need a console or a gaming computer for the Quest to immerse yourself in virtual reality. Simply put on the headset and there are plenty of good and exclusive gaming titles to choose from. In addition to the mobile Quest, the gaming giant Valve, known for its half-life games and the game platform Steam, is now also playing a leading role. The in-house VR glasses "Valve Index" not only impress with their excellent resolution and a large field of vision. VR gamers around the world are also impressed by the innovative index controllers.

On the PC, however, the possibilities for VR go far beyond gaming. In particular, edutainment such as realities.io or Google Earth VR promise entertainment and knowledge alike. Even the adult entertainment industry is taking advantage of VR. Serious providers such as Reality Lovers are tapping into a new target group with VR erotic videos and are also building a bridge to gaming. Parodies like "Aloy's Refuge", based on the PS4 hit Horizon Zero Dawn, are the first crossover attempts. It is also an open secret that the adult industry and the standards established there often have a decisive influence on the success of technologies.

CHIP has already tested almost all relevant consumer VR systems for you - in the following we present the most important key data and our assessment of whom which system is well suited.

The best VR glasses in the practical test (selection, as of April 2020)

Price-performance tipPC-VR for enthusiastsInexpensive PC VR glassesConvertible PC VR glassesSimple on a strong level

model

model

Oculus Quest

HTC Vive Pro

Oculus Rift S.

HTC Vive Cosmos series

PlayStation VR

Specialty

Specialty

Self-sufficient VR glasses

Very precise tracking

Inexpensive, convenient VR entry

With optional wireless module

Compatible with PS4 (Pro) only

Display

Display

OLED

OLED

LCD

LCD

OLED

resolution

resolution

2,880 x 1,600 pixels

2,880 x 1,600 pixels

2,560 x 1,440 pixels

2,880 x 1,700 pixels

1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Frame rate

Frame rate

72 Hz

90 Hz

80 Hz

90 Hz

120 Hz

Field of view (diagonal)

Field of view (diagonal)

100 degrees

110 degrees

100 degrees

110 degrees

100 degrees

Weight

Weight

571 grams

820 grams

600 grams

approx. 670 grams

610 grams

Price (approx.)

Price (approx.)

449 euros

1,200 euros

449 euros

799 euros

249 euros

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The best of both worlds: Oculus Quest

Price-performance tip: Oculus Quest

  • Oculus Quest

    With the Oculus Quest, Facebook brought its second, completely self-sufficient VR glasses onto the market. Powered by a smartphone processor, the Quest doesn't need any cables or a powerful gaming computer to still offer high-quality VR.

advantages
Wireless VR
Very good black levels
Very good inside-out tracking
Good resolution
Optional link cable for PC-VR
disadvantage
A little unbalanced
Only 72 Hz refresh rate
With the Oculus Quest, which appeared in mid-2019, Facebook brought its second, completely self-sufficient VR glasses onto the market. Powered by a Snapdragon 845 smartphone processor, the Quest doesn't need any cables or a powerful gaming computer to still offer high-quality VR. The apps and games optimized for the Oculus Quest are graphically rather simple, but can still look very appealing. Because a good VR illusion relies above all on a fluid recording of head and controller movements. The actual “inside-out” tracking, i.e. tracking without external sensors, is carried out by four black and white cameras.
The OLED panels offer very good black and thus also contrast values. The integrated sound is surprisingly good and does not completely isolate VR beginners from the rest of the environment. For adventure games, however, it is worthwhile to use the gaming headset, which can be easily connected via the jack port.
Before you start, the play area must first be determined - and Oculus has more than succeeded in doing that. The whole thing is called the “Guardian System”, which is used to set up a safe two-by-two-meter area in which nothing should be within striking range. But: the more space, the better. Otherwise you just don't have enough space to move around. To set up, you simply go through the area with the controller in hand and the software takes over the rest.
The Oculus Quest also offers two very cool features: On the one hand, the headset supports experimental hand tracking. Selected apps or games can be controlled without a controller. On the other hand, the headset can be connected to a gaming computer via a USB Type-C cable. High-end VR games can also be played on the Quest using the so-called Oculus Link - provided a powerful gaming computer is available.
The main disadvantage of the Quest is that it is not very comfortable to carry. Because all the technology has to be located in the front panel, the headset is quite top-heavy and presses uncomfortably on the face during longer VR sessions.
Who is the system aimed at?
Simply put on the VR headset and head to the Oasis - this is currently only possible with the Oculus Quest. The VR headset convinces as a very good overall package of intuitive operation, beginner-friendly equipment and a good price-performance ratio. In particular, the optional cable connection turns the Quest into VR glasses that combine the best of self-sufficient VR fun and wired high-end VR gaming à la Half-Life: Alyx.
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Premium for the PC: HTC Vive Pro

PC VR for enthusiasts: HTC Vive Pro

  • HTC Vive Pro

    In contrast to the Oculus Quest, the Vive Pro relies on the very precise SteamVR Lighthouse Tracking - which works using external base stations and laser positioning.

advantages
Very precise SteamVR tracking
Good black levels
Clear image
Total comfort
With the Vive Pro, HTC was able to maintain its position at the forefront of high-end VR headsets for a long time. In contrast to the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S, the Vive Pro relies on the very precise SteamVR lighthouse tracking, which works using external base stations and laser positioning. The Vive controllers that are still used here seem rather unwieldy in the first few minutes of the game - especially in direct comparison with the controllers of the Oculus glasses or the very ergonomic and innovative index controllers. They still convince with a very precise feel thanks to SteamVR tracking.
The Vive Pro is a headset for VR enthusiasts who are ready to invest hundreds or even thousands of euros in PC and VR hardware. The reward for this is a still unique VR experience, which also depends on cables that interfere with immersion. Vive also offers a separately available wireless adapter, but this repeatedly caused problems with individual hardware configurations in our tests.
Who is the system aimed at?
If you want to use the Vive Pro sensibly, you should have enough space for it, as the approach with the set-up tracking units requires a relatively large amount of space. In addition, the most powerful PC possible should be available. HTC will no longer offer the Vive Pro in the future. However, it will still be sold while stocks last - and could fall significantly in price due to the recently launched Vive Cosmos series.

Strong exclusive titles: Oculus Rift S

Inexpensive PC VR glasses: Oculus Rift S

  • Oculus Rift S.

    The Oculus Rift S appeared at the same time as its self-sufficient sister Quest. In terms of price, the Quest is based on a pure PC-VR experience.

advantages
Lots of good, exclusive VR games
Good inside-out tracking
Fair price
Comfort
disadvantage
Fixed interpupillary distance
No adjustment of the lens distance possible
Bad black levels
The Oculus Rift S appeared at the same time as its self-sufficient sister Quest in mid-May 2019 and can be understood as an upgrade of the Oculus Rift, which was released in 2016. In terms of price, it is based on the Quest, but is designed for a pure PC VR experience. At 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, the resolution is below the in-house Quest and well below the competition such as the Vive Pro, Vive Cosmos or Valve Index. Oculus also uses an LC display for the Rift S, which disappoints us with a somewhat poor black value in some applications. The refresh rate is 80 Hz - a little more than the Quest, but still well below the value of the VR glasses from Sony and Valve.
The inside-out tracking takes place with five integrated cameras (with the Quest there are only four) and is very precise. It only cuts out if we hold the controller clearly out of the cameras' field of view. But that only happens very rarely and only with very hectic and brisk VR rhythm games such as BeatSaber.
As with the Quest, the sound of the Rift S comes from the integrated headphones and the sound is okay. For story-heavy adventure games and fuller sound, we recommend using a gaming headset with a jack connector or good headphones.
A big plus point is the extensive collection of high-quality exclusive productions from the Oculus store. Of course, all Steam VR games can also be played with the Rift S. However, thanks to the Oculus Link, this is now also possible with the Oculus Quest that was already presented.

Who is the system aimed at?
Basically, the target group of the HTC Vive Pro, the Valve Index and the Oculus Rift S is not that different. The Rift S are classic VR glasses that are intended for use with a powerful gaming computer. With its very fair price, however, it is aimed at VR beginners who accept small shortcomings in terms of resolution and frame rate, but do not have to endure an elaborate setup.
Shop recommendation for Oculus Rift S Virtual Reality Headset