Are you in the market for a VR headset? Not sure what headset is right for you? In this guide, we’ve covered how much VR headsets cost and which options would work best for your budget.
Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming more and more popular these days. As immersive experiences become more robust and ubiquitous, many people are starting to look into how much it costs to get a VR headset. While getting your hands on a head-mounted display (HMD) can still be pricey, there are options out there now that fit more budgets than ever.
Before diving into how much is a VR headset, it’s essential to understand some of the key elements that factor into their prices.
I. What Factors Go Into the Price of a VR Headset?
The cost of a VR headset depends mainly on its technical specifications, controllers, and type of HMD. All of these factors play a role in the kinds of experiences they support and their visual fidelity.
The majority of VR headsets come bundled with a set of controllers with a variety of features. At the least, they’ll have motion tracking and basic control schemes, while the higher-end ones will have advanced features, such as finger tracking.
2. Display Resolution & Refresh Rate
VR headsets have a hefty task to fulfill: they need to give you a similar world perception as the one you experience in real life. As such, the display on each eye has to be of a high resolution. On top of that, the rate at which they refresh needs to be fast and smooth.
3. Base Stations
These are little boxes that enable your VR headset to have a better idea of your location within the virtual world you’re exploring. These typically come bundled with high-end tethered headsets and require calibrated placement within the space you use for VR.
4. VR Headset Type
The type of VR headset you buy dramatically affects its price. The most expensive HMDs tend to require a VR-ready PC to use them. Standalone headsets are marketed to more casual audiences and, as such, command far lower prices.
II. Overview of the Types of VR Headsets
There are a few different types of VR headsets. In the sections below, we highlight each type of headset and how they differ from the others.
HMDs that require a connection with a PC are known as tethered VR headsets. These typically occupy the higher end of the spectrum, boasting powerful hardware, superior motion tracking, and crisper displays.
Tethered VR headsets are typically recommended for the following uses:
- High-end immersive gaming
- Professional contexts (i.e., CAD)
- Art and design
A lot of the pricier HMDs are tethered and have the added cost of needing a high-end gaming PC to use them. Because they have to be connected to another device through cables, your options for moving around are also limited unless you have an advanced cable management system with a lot of dedicated space.
Standalone VR headsets allow you to get your VR on without any messy cables getting in the way. The technology behind these devices is quite impressive as they’re capable of motion and head tracking without any base stations.
Standalone VR headsets are typically recommended for the following uses:
- Casual gaming
- Consuming media
- Online socializing
- Work applications
VR headsets that fall in the standalone category are not as pricey as their tethered counterparts. Naturally, the result is less powerful devices that deliver lower-caliber experiences. The upside is that you don’t need a powerful PC to use them, and they’re fully wireless. Some even have the benefit of allowing you to make them tethered through special cables and adapters.
This category comprises a single headset at the moment, but it bears mentioning because of how accessible it is. The Playstation VR is a tethered HMD that works with the PS4 and PS5 gaming consoles. As such, it’s designed to be used exclusively with these Sony devices, though there are ways to connect it to a PC. Naturally, it’s mainly built for gaming and watching movies.
III.Top VR Headsets and Their Prices
Now that we’ve had a look at the factors that determine a VR headset’s price, let’s have a look at the best HMD’s for every budget.
1. Budget VR Headsets
No surprises here, the king of affordable VR is Facebook’s standalone Oculus Quest 2. A comprehensive VR solution for most needs, the Quest 2 is a technical marvel paving the way for immersive technologies to become mainstream. At $299 for the 128 GB version and $399 for the 256 GB, it’s an absolute steal that’s compatible with many games. It comes bundled with two controllers and can become a tethered headset by buying the Oculus Link cable, sold separately.
If you currently own a PS4 or PS5, then the PSVR should be your go-to vessel for entering the world of immersive technologies. These days, it comes bundled with the PS Camera (needed for motion tracking) at $299. You’ll need to buy two Move Controllers to get the full experience, but most games will work with your current DualShock 4 or DualSense.
2. Mid-Range VR Headsets
If you’ve already exceeded the limits of the budget options but aren’t quite ready to break out in the high-end market, then the Vive Cosmos is a worthy upgrade. At $699, on top of being a tethered headset, the step-up is significant but well-worth it as the Cosmos will deliver impressive motion tracking and positional detection.
3. High-End VR Headsets
Valve’s entry into VR has proven to be the one to beat in 2021, but it doesn’t come cheap. At ~$1,000+ for the complete kit and caboodle, the Valve Index is quite the investment. What you get in return, though, is some of the best motion tracking on the market and advanced finger tracking technology on the controllers.
With a slight step-down in price from the Index at $899, the Vive Cosmos offers equality as powerful high-end VR. The advantage of the Cosmos is its high resolution and crisp displays and its fantastic motion tracking. You won’t get the cool finger-tracking of the Index, but the Cosmos Elite will still go toe-to-toe in terms of performance.
As you can see, how much a VR headset costs mainly depends on what you want to get out of it.
People who are new to the tech who just want to get a taste for it should look to the budget, standalone market as the prices are highly accessible.
The mid-range offerings are fine, but saving for the higher-end HMDs is worth every penny if you want to up your game.