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The best VR headset

Both offer their own strengths.

Both the Vive and Rift are now essentially complete, with the Rift's Touch controllers available for purchase separately and as a bundle. They definitely add a dimension to the VR experience but that kind of interactivity has been available on the Vive since its unveiling. The Vive still sells for $800, while the Rift now sells for $499 with included Touch controllers—you can remove the Touch controllers from the bundle after adding the bundle to your cart if you don't want them. 

Previously, the Rift by itself was already $600 and the Touch controllers another $200. You still need to shell out another $60 though, if you want more accurate back-side tracking. As a matter of fact, you can now get the Rift bundle for $399 during Oculus's summer sale. This makes the Rift our VR headset of choice, as it offers essentially everything that the Vive was great for, but now with a much more attractive price.

One area where the Rift still falls behind the Vive is room-scale support. it's possible if you add more sensors, but the Rift sensors don't have nearly the room size support as the emitters on the Vive. If you're buying a Rift bundle today, you'll have to also add in a 3rd sensor for better behind-the-back tracking.

The real issue with VR however is content—and we haven't seen major breakthroughs yet this year. There's still a major hole in content that desperately needs to be filled by big publishers. Because of this, we still can't outright recommend either headset at this time. For those who are interested in the cutting edge or just wanting to the novel experience without having to wait, our pick would still be the Vive, although the Rift is now a much better solution than it use to be.

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The most complete VR package available to order right now

  • The best 3D space tracking
  • Can walk around in a room
  • Comes with two controllers
  • Most expensive option
  • Comfort and weight could use some improvement
  • Takes up space

The HTC Vive VR headset is the most complete package for experiencing VR that you can buy today. Although being the most expensive option, HTC's full kit for $800 gives you everything you need to control and move around in real (and virtual) space.

We've used both units extensively and the majority of people on staff feel that the Vive's room-scale capabilities really make it shine. The ability to walk around adds tremendous depth to the feeling of being immersed in a virtual world with the caveat being that you're constantly paranoid of tripping over the wires, which is a distraction, and one that really keeps the Vive from reaching its full potential.

HTC recently showed off a new headset mechanism that's vastly more comfortable than what's available on either headset, and makes wearing the Vive feel more like wearing the PSVR from Sony. That is to say, much more comfortable.

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The most refined experience

  • Most comfortable VR headset
  • Touch controllers now come bundled
  • Comes with remote and Xbox One gamepad
  • Room-scale not as developed as Vive

We can pretty much thank Oculus for making VR a reality. With Facebook snapping up the startup for a cool $2 billion, Oculus has a huge war chest for pushing VR forward. They're investing in game development and research to help the present and future of VR thrive. The Rift headset is the most polished VR headset on the market today, and really demonstrates how far along we've come in bringing VR to the mainstream, but we're not quite there yet, and neither is Oculus.

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Price made all the difference

Right now there are two major players for VR headsets for the PC. No one else has demonstrated products that are consumer ready other than HTC and Oculus. There's Sony with its PSVR headset, but that isn't for the PC (at least until modders get their hands on it).

HTC Vive

While both headsets previously head close positions in our hearts, Oculus made all the difference by bundling its headset with the Touch controllers and dropping the price significantly. This was the deciding factor in choosing the Rift as our new preferred headset.

Facebook is also definitely pushing more content for the Rift. There still aren't many compelling games available for either platform but with Facebook's massive war chest funding development of VR titles, the Rift gives us more confidence. We also expect that eventually, nearly all VR games will be made to work on both. If you're concerned about content, the safe bet is to spend your money on regular ol' PC games for the next few months and watch for more development on the content side.

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