Are you looking for a virtual reality headset? Are you unsure which headset is best for you? We’ve explored how much VR headsets cost and which options are ideal for your budget in this guide.
Virtual Reality (VR) is gaining in popularity these days. Many individuals are starting to look into how much a VR headset costs as immersive experiences grow more robust and ubiquitous. While obtaining a head-mounted display (HMD) can still be costly, there are now more options than ever that match a variety of budgets.
Before we get into how much a VR headset costs, it’s important to understand some of the primary factors that influence their costs.
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What Factors Go Into the Price of a VR Headset?
The price of a VR headset is mostly determined by its technological specifications, controls, and HMD type. All of these variables influence the types of experiences they can enable as well as their visual fidelity.
The majority of virtual reality headsets come with a set of controllers that have a variety of functions. They’ll have motion tracking and rudimentary control schemes at the very least, with advanced features like finger tracking available on higher-end models.
2. Display Resolution & Refresh Rate
Virtual reality headsets have a difficult task ahead of them: they must provide you with a similar world impression to that which you have in real life. As a result, each eye’s display must be of high quality. Furthermore, the rate at which they refresh must be quick and fluid.
3. Base Stations
These are small boxes that allow your virtual reality headset to get a better sense of where you are in the virtual world you’re exploring. These are usually included with high-end tethered headsets and need precise positioning within the VR area.
4. VR Headset Type
The sort of VR headset you purchase has a significant impact on its pricing. To use the most expensive HMDs, you’ll need a VR-ready PC. Standalone headsets are aimed to a broader audience and, as a result, are far less expensive.
Overview of the Types of VR Headsets
Tethered VR headsets are HMDs that need to be connected to a computer. These are usually on the more expensive side of the range, with more powerful electronics, better motion tracking, and sharper displays.
The following applications are often recommended for tethered VR headsets:
- High-end immersive gaming
- Professional contexts (i.e., CAD)
- Art and design
Many of the most expensive HMDs are tethered, and using them necessitates the purchase of a high-end gaming PC. Because they require cords to connect to another device, your mobility options are limited unless you have a sophisticated cable management system with enough of dedicated space.
Standalone VR headsets allow you to enjoy VR without having to deal with any unsightly connections. These devices’ technology is pretty astounding, as they are capable of motion and head tracking without the use of any base stations.
The following applications are commonly recommended for standalone VR headsets:
- Casual gaming
- Consuming media
- Online socializing
- Work applications
VR headsets that are not tethered are less expensive than their tethered equivalents. As a result, devices are less powerful and deliver lower-quality experiences. On the plus side, you don’t need a strong computer to use them, and they’re completely wireless. Some even have the option of being tethered with the use of special cables and adapters.
At the moment, this category only has one headset, but it’s worth mentioning because of how widely available it is. The Playstation VR is a tethered head-mounted display that works with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 gaming systems. As a result, it’s only meant to be used with Sony devices, though there are ways to link it to a computer. Naturally, it’s designed mostly for gaming and movie viewing.
Top VR Headsets and Their Prices
1. Budget VR Headsets
The king of inexpensive VR, without a doubt, is Facebook’s standalone Oculus Quest 2. The Quest 2 is a technical marvel that is leading the road for immersive technology to become popular. It is a full VR solution for most needs. It’s a fantastic value at $299 for the 128 GB version and $399 for the 256 GB version, plus it’s compatible with a wide range of games. It comes with two controllers and may be turned into a tethered headset with the purchase of the Oculus Link cable, which is offered separately.
If you already own a PS4 or PS5, the PSVR should be your first port of call for exploring immersive technologies. It costs $299 when purchased with the PS Camera (which is required for motion tracking). To get the full experience, you’ll need two Move Controllers, but most games will function with your current DualShock 4 or DualSense.
2. Mid-Range VR Headsets
If you’ve exhausted your budget alternatives but aren’t quite ready to venture into the high-end market, the Vive Cosmos is a worthwhile upgrade. The step-up is hefty at $699, on top of being a tethered headset, but well worth it because the Cosmos will give superb motion tracking and positional detection.
3. High-End VR Headsets
In 2021, Valve’s VR entry has proven to be the one to beat, but it isn’t cheap. The Valve Index is a significant investment, costing upwards of $1,000 for the entire package. In exchange, you get some of the greatest motion tracking on the market, as well as excellent finger tracking on the controllers.
The Vive Cosmos, at $899, is a tiny step down in price from the Index, but it still offers powerful high-end VR. The Cosmos’ benefit is its high resolution and sharp displays, as well as its superb motion tracking. Although you won’t receive the Index’s fancy finger-tracking, the Cosmos Elite will match the Index’s performance.
As you can see, the price of a VR headset is mostly determined by your expectations.
People who are new to technology and merely want to get a feel for it should look to the budget, stand-alone sector, where costs are quite affordable.
The mid-range options are adequate, but if you want to step up your game, saving for the higher-end HMDs is well worth it.