Best VR headset in 2024

The best VR headsets can make you forget, even if just for a moment, you're wearing a big chunk of plastic and foam on your face. It will make you feel like you're a part of a game's world, if only until you walk into your sofa. We've tested dozens of models, from the most popular to the most obscure, and the best VR headset is the Meta Quest 3. It's not just that it's relatively affordable, it's one of few truly new-feeling VR headsets right now. It's older sibling, however, is the best budget VR headset, the Meta Quest 2.

If money is no object and you're just looking for the most high-end, best resolution VR headset out there, the Valve Index is the closest thing to having a holodeck in your office. While we'd love to see an upgraded model out of Valve, the Index still holds up really well. If you can get it at a good discount, even better.

Once you've secured one of the best VR headsets, the next step is figuring out what games are worth playing on it. Half-Life: Alyx shows what VR is capable of, but it'll push your PC to the limits. There are plenty of other sci-fi titles to enjoy that aren't as intense, such as No Man's Sky. I recommend checking out the best VR games on PC if you want to build out your library in anticipation.

Curated by
Jacob Ridley headshot on colour background
Curated by
Jacob Ridley

Jacob's been on a quest to find the perfect VR headset for an age, and despite both Meta and Valve releasing excellent goggles for PC gaming, there's still maybe some way to go before we find VR nirvana. But he's had his bonce strapped into as many headsets as anyone around and is best placed to explain the pros and cons of each set we're recommending here today.

The quick list

Recent updates

This page was updated on February 29, 2024 to make it even easier to find the right VR headset for your needs and budget.

The best VR headset

The best overall VR headset

Specifications

Display: LCD Pancake
Resolution (per-eye): 2064 x 2208
Refresh rate: Up to 120Hz
Field of view: 110 degrees
Controllers: Oculus Touch Plus
Connections: USB Type-C, 3.5mm, Wi-Fi 6E

Reasons to buy

+
Easy setup
+
Compact, comfy design
+
Great display
+
An actual affordable VR headset

Reasons to avoid

-
Unproven Mixed Reality content
-
Expensive accessories
-
Modest performance upgrades
Buy if...

✅ You just want to jump into great VR gaming: For sheer ease of access and all-round quality, there's nothing to touch the Quest 3 for the money.

Don't buy if...

❌ You don't have a Wi-Fi 6E router: If you want to enjoy VR gaming on your PC wirelessly, then your Wi-Fi needs to be top-notch. Otherwise, it will be a total lag fest.

The best overall VR headset is the Meta Quest 3, the follow-up to the hugely successful Quest 2. It has new lenses, a more compact design, higher resolution panels, and more processing power. 

Meta's latest headset uses slimmer pancake lenses, instead of the chunkier Fresnel ones, which help slim down the whole unit. It doesn't stick out from your face as much, so it's comfier to wear, though the included fabric strap is still poor and we recommend that you replace it for something better.

For tapping into your Steam library, you'll probably want to hook the Quest 3 up to your gaming PC via a high-quality USB Type-C cable but you can use it tether-free. That option works best over a good Wi-Fi connection, preferably Wi-Fi 6E or better, using Meta's Air Link. The built-in processor, Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2, is decent enough for many of the VR games in the headset's own store but it's nowhere near as good as a dedicated graphics card.

Each eye is treated to a 2064 x 2208 resolution LCD panel and along with the better passthrough cameras, virtual images and mixed reality are both clearer and higher quality than in the Quest 2. A double tap on the side of the headset quickly provides a detailed view of your surroundings.

The Quest 3 also comes with a set of improved Touch Plus controllers, which no longer have the prominent ring around the hand like the older Quest 2 ones did. Controller tracking is as good as you'd expect it to be, despite the simpler design.

One of the greatest strengths of Meta's VR headset is how simple it is to set up, as there's no need to fiddle with base stations, and it only takes a couple of steps on the headset and app to get it up and running. You won't be using it all day long, though, as the Quest 3 only runs for around two hours, in wireless gaming and streaming video content. It takes roughly the same amount of time to fully recharge, but you can use the headset while it's charging via a USB cable.

While we don't have much faith in Mark Zuckerberg's dream of the metaverse, we really like the Quest 3 for PC VR gaming. It is a lot more expensive than its predecessor (even the cheapest 128 GB version will set you back $500/£480/AU$700) but it's ultimately well worth the money.

Read our full Meta Quest 3 review.

The best budget VR headset

The best budget VR headset

Specifications

Display: LCD
Resolution (per-eye): 1832 x 1920
Refresh Rate: Up to 120Hz
Field of View: 100 degrees
Controllers: Oculus Touch
Connections: USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone

Reasons to buy

+
Oculus Link tethering
+
Improved graphics
+
Great price
+
Steady updates

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly strap
-
Technically now $100 more expensive
Buy if...

✅ This is your first step into the world of VR: As immersive as it is, VR gaming is a niche hobby so you may want to keep the cost down for your first taste. The Quest 2 is superb value for money.

Don't buy if...

❌ You don't want a bulky headset: The Quest 2's lenses make the headset quite large and the standard strap does a poor job of distributing that mass over your head.

If you're after the best budget VR headset, then look no further than the Meta Quest 2. While it has been surpassed by the newer Quest 3 in terms of comfort and quality of life, you really can't beat this for the money. Not only is it a great way to try out VR for the first time, the Quest 2 offers a super virtual reality experience full stop.

Part of this is down to the 1832 x 1920 resolution LCD panels, which are exceptionally good for a budget headset, though you do need to spend time adjusting the Quest 2 so that your eyes line up with the dead center of the Fresnel lenses. These are a little on the chunky side, so the headset isn't as svelte as the Quest 3.

You can either play games purpose-built for the standalone headset, rendered by the onboard Snapdragon XR2 chip, or beamed from your PC using the official Oculus Link, a compatible USB Type-C cable, or a good Wi-Fi connection. The Oculus Link cable is very expensive but at least you know you'll get the best performance in your VR games.

There are two storage options to choose from, 128GB and 256GB, with the former priced at $250/£250/AU$440. The 256GB model is $50/£50/AU$60 more but if you're just using the headset to play games from your Steam library, then there's no need for the additional storage.

Just as with the Quest 3, the Meta Quest 2 is very quick to get up and running. All of the tracking is built-in and preconfigured, so it only takes a few steps and a couple of minutes to set it all up. That said, it is a little fiddly having to take the headset on and off, while you're using the app for the first time. Once done though, the Quest 2 is good for roughly two hours of gaming before its battery runs out, though you can still use it while it charges via a USB cable.

The standalone experience is somewhat hampered by the low-power silicon but there's nothing you can do about that, other than spend double the amount of money to get the Quest 3. But as an all-round, budget VR headset, the Quest 2 is simply unparalleled for the price.

Read our full Meta Quest 2 review.

The most immersive VR headset

The most immersive VR headset

Specifications

Display: RGB LCDs
Resolution (per-eye): 1440 x 1600
Refresh Rate: 120Hz, experimental 144Hz mode
Field of View: ~130 degrees
Controllers: Index Controllers
Connections: DisplayPort, USB 3.0, USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+
Best in class hardware
+
Comfortable to wear
+
Virtually no SDE

Reasons to avoid

-
Setup is awkward
Buy if...

✅ You want the best VR experience: Valve's Index system is peerless when it comes to visual and audio quality, and the finger tracking is superb.

Don't buy if...

❌ You don't have room for the base stations: The Index isn't wireless and uses fixed stations for tracking, which makes it a real hassle if you need to move your VR gaming set up into a different room.

The Valve Index is the granddaddy of virtual reality PC gaming and is still the most immersive VR headset. It boasts some of the best visuals of any mainstream system and its unparalleled comfort, audio, and controllers all combine to make the Index stand out in the market.

A lot of this is down to the RGB LCD screens Valve is using. The subpixel layout makes for a stunningly crisp picture, and while it's gradually being pushed down the ladder for resolution by newer headsets, it's deceivingly better in use than it looks on paper. Then there's the Index's 130° field of view, which is not only the best-in-class, but it also has almost no screen door effect inside the headset.

Those panels can run up to 144 Hz in an experimental mode, but you will need a seriously powerful gaming PC to use it in the latest games. Most users will be more than happy with the standard 120 Hz, though.

Although it's a little on the heavy side, the Valve Index feels great to wear, thanks to the head strap distributing that weight around your head. It's built from high-quality materials and feels very comfortable, even during extended play sessions. 

A hallmark feature of the Index is its controllers, which double as both typical motion controllers and hand/finger trackers. The Index controllers strap to your hands—meaning you can release your grip entirely without worrying about dropping them. Proper finger tracking is one of the distinguishing features and where previous touch controllers could only articulate grip, the Index controllers let you give a thumbs-up, point with finger guns, or even offer a Vulcan salute.

But perhaps most importantly, it's the audio that stands out. Built-in near-field speakers hover just next to your ears, powered by speaker drivers instead of the ones usually found in headphones. What this means is the Index offers outstanding three-dimensional surround sound, along with a level of aural isolation that doesn't completely shut you off from external noises. 

The Valve Index is a room-scale VR experience, which means it requires two base station sensors positioned around your play area. If you've already grown accustomed to the streamlined experience offered by the likes of the Quest 2, setting up sensors for the Index is a little frustrating, though it does deliver a more responsive experience.

All those premium features come at a price, though. At nearly a thousand dollars for the complete Index package, it costs as much as three Quest 2s. But if you want the best visual, aural, and haptic experience, for the ultimate level of immersion, then Valve's VR headset is second to none

Read our full Valve Index review.

Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming chairs | Best mechanical keyboard| Best wireless gaming mouse | Best wireless gaming keyboard 

The best alternate VR headset

The best alternate VR headset

Specifications

Display: LCD Pancake
Resolution (per-eye): 2160 x 2160
Refresh Rate: Up to 90Hz
Field of View: 105 degrees
Controllers: 2x controllers included
Connections: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi 6

Reasons to buy

+
Crisp visuals
+
Aces price to performance
+
Accurate tracking
+
Easy IPD and headset adjustment
+
Great colour passthrough

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to buy in the US
-
A little front weighted
-
Struggles a bit streaming wirelessly
Buy if...

✅ You want great features without the high price: The Quest 2 might be cheaper but this headset is better all round, and it costs less than the Quest 3.

Don't buy if...

❌ You live in the US: It's not a question of don't buy it but rather if you can buy it, as you'll struggle to find the Pico 4 at any main US retailer.

If the Meta Quest 2 is too basic and the Quest 3 and Valve Index are too expensive, then the best alternate VR headset is the ByteDance Pico 4.

Like the Quest 3, it uses pancake lenses, which means it has a small form factor, for greater comfort. Coupled with the 2160 x 2160 LCD panels, you get high-fidelity images, though the field of view and refresh rate aren't quite as good as Meta's latest headset.

The Pico 4 comes with a full-colour passthrough, offers plenty of adjustability, and it's pretty comfy for users who wear glasses. Although it doesn't use base stations, it offers smooth tracking, especially for the controllers, and the overall setup process is very straightforward.

This all matters because, if you're lucky, you can find the Pico 4 going for less than the Quest 3, and in those instances where Meta's latest is just a little bit too expensive for your budget, the Pico 4 makes for a great stand-in. The Quest 2 still has it beat on price most of the time, however, though it's not quite as impressive as the Pico in terms of hardware.

Its biggest drawback is availability in the US. It's more widely sold elsewhere around the world and ByteDance, owners of TikTok, doesn't have much interest in pursuing the US market like it has elsewhere. There's no sign that this is going to change any time soon, either. 

Read our full Pico 4 review.

Also tested

VR headset Q&A

What are VR lighthouses?

To keep track of your movements, your VR headset needs to use some method of sensing both the headset itself as well as the controllers in your hands. The first VR headsets used base stations that are known as lighthouses, individually placed sensors, or positional trackers, which are plugged into your PC.

This is the most accurate method of tracking but is cumbersome, and unless they're permanently installed in a room, you'll need to set them up each time you want to play, and that includes calibrating them anew every time.

What is inside-out tracking in VR?

Inside-out tracking means you don't need external sensors as the headset can keep track of both itself and the controllers around it. Originally this method wasn't as effective, wasn't quite as responsive, and broke immersion in-game.

But with the best VR headset, the Meta Quest 3, the tech is almost on par with the lighthouse in terms of responsiveness now. And is certainly far more convenient.

Are there wireless PC VR headsets?

Yes! Meta's Quest 2 and 3 are wireless headsets. Previously, you had to plug it into your gaming PC via a USB Type-C cable to enjoy the best VR headset experience with your rig.

But there are now easily accessible ways to do that wirelessly. However, you do need to have a Wi-Fi 6E router to deliver the level of throughput you require to not spend the entire time vomiting your guts up due to incessant lag.

The old HTC Vive did have a wireless module you could add to the system, which was almost effective. However, in our experience, the connection dropouts were not something we would put up with in the long term.

Valve's Index system could be due to get its own wireless module as some patents have emerged, indicating a wireless head strap has at least been considered for the company's stellar goggles.

Jargon buster

Field of view (FOV)

The field of view refers to the amount of an environment that's visible to an observer; in VR, it's the extent of the game world that's visible in the displays. A broader FOV in a headset is integral to a feeling of immersion. 

Head-mounted display (HMD)

Broadly any wearable mounted on the head with graphical capabilities but often used to refer to VR headsets specifically.

Inside-out tracking

Systems used to track a user's movements in VR that originate in the headset, as opposed to outside-in tracking, where external sensors are used to track movement. Tracking, and the method used, is crucial to enable either three degrees of freedom (being able to look around in any direction in VR) or six degrees of freedom (being able to look around and move your body in any direction in VR). 

Latency

The delay between an input and a response, in VR, the delay between user input through a controller, moving your head, or other methods, and the response on the headset displays. Low latency is vital to reducing nausea in VR, which is most intense when there's a delay or stuttering between moving or looking and the display reacting.

Resolution

Resolution is the measurement in pixels, horizontal and vertical, of an image or display. Higher resolution in VR is essential because the displays are so close to the user's eyes, which emphasizes jagged lines, pixelation, and the screen door effect. 

Refresh rate

The number of images a display is capable of displaying per second, measured in hertz. The high refresh rate is essential for VR similarly to latency, as a low refresh rate can cause stuttering (or even the appearance of freezing), which can cause nausea.

Screen door effect (SDE)

The fine mesh-like effect of viewing an image rendered in pixels at close range, where the grid between pixels is visible. Higher resolutions (or proprietary solutions like that built into the Odyssey+) mitigate this effect. 

Jacob Ridley