Best VR Headsets (March 2017)

HTC Vive & Oculus Rift 373

VR as we know it has changed a lot over the last couple of years. Oculus, HTC, Sony, and Google arguably been some of the biggest forces in pushing forward VR in both the entry-level and high-end segments. But what are the best headsets out there? Good question.

If you’re a beginner, we recommend checking out Google Cardboard. But is it really worthy of a best list? Honestly, no, it’s a good starting point, but once you’ve experienced it, you’ll likely be craving something a bit more substantial. With that in mind, let’s first look at the best mobile VR headsets on the market, followed by the best high-end offerings.

Best Mobile VR headsets

Samsung Gear VR

Powered by the Gear S6 or S7 family, the Samsung Gear VR is one of the most long-established mobile VR platforms and has direct backing from Oculus itself. That means there are plenty of solid games and apps already out there. Even better, you can get the handset for as cheap as $50 and a compatible phone starts around $250.

Buy if:

  • You’re looking for a decent library of established VR games, apps, and experiences — though many of them are relatively shorter, snackable experiences.
  • You’re looking for a way more immersive than Google Cardboard, yet still highly portable.

Skip if:

  • You don’t have a Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, or S7 Edge — and you don’t want to invest in a new phone.
  • You are looking for something truly immersive with more realistic graphics and more longer form games and experiences.

Google Daydream View

A newcomer to the mobile VR game, Google Daydream is essentially the evolution of Google Cardboard, offering an experience similar though arguably slightly more advanced than the Gear VR. Though the current library is small, with Google’s backing we expect it to expand fast. Pricing is set at $49 with a growing number of supported phones, starting at $395.

Buy if:

  • You own a Pixel, Axon 7, or plan to buy a ‘high-end’ Android phone sometime this year from someone other than Samsung.
  • You’re looking for a way more immersive than Google Cardboard and arguably a step above the Gear VR (thanks to motion controllers), but still want something portable.

Skip if:

  • You have or plan to buy a lower or mid-range phone, or if you’d rather get a high-end Samsung device.
  • You are looking for something truly immersive with more realistic graphics and more longer form games and experiences.

Best high-end VR headsets

Sony Playstation VR

Powered by the Sony PS4, the Playstation VR is almost as advanced as the PC-based Rift or the Vive, but considerably cheaper. The headset will set you back around $499, with the PS4 starting at $270. The total cost for the headset is higher than the others, but the experience is much better. If you are already a gamer, this is no-brainer route to VR.

Buy if:

  • You are looking for a hassle-free high-end VR system that works without a high-end PC.
  • You want tons of mainstream games and experiences from AAA studios, as well as indie groups.

Skip if:

  • You don’t own a Playstation 4 or aren’t interested in investing in one. 
  • You want the most bleeding edge specs, graphics, and more advanced motion tracking capabilities. The PSVR is great here, but the Vive or Rift are a step above.

HTC Vive

There’s a lot to like about the HTC Vive, including a fast growing library of games, excellent out-of-the-box motion controllers, and so much more. On the downside, it is mostly an indie-games affair, with few highly hyped titles making it to the platform at this stage. Still, this is one of the most technically advanced headsets out there and certainly worthy of your consideration.

Buy if:

  • You want a high-end VR experience with room scale and high-end motion controllers out of the box.
  • You like the idea of a marketplace with tons of indie games and projects.

Skip if:

  • You’re more interested in a carefully curated library of higher caliber games, apps, and experiences.
  • You aren’t interested in investing the $600+ required for a high-end PC, in addition to the $799 cost of the headset.

Oculus Rift

Unlike the Vive, the Rift may not come with extras like motion sensing out of the box, but if you are willing to pay for the extras, you’ll find it stacks up to the Vive quite favorably. It’s also a bit cheaper, which is a big plus. The gaming library isn’t growing nearly as fast as HTC Vive’s, but on the other hand, that’s because Oculus has much tighter quality control processes — meaning more quality over quantity.

Buy if:

  • You want a high-end VR experience that has a base price lower than the similar performing HTC Vive.
  • You like the idea of a marketplace with a reasonably large library of games and apps, but less than the Vive thanks to a more carefully curated approval process. 

Skip if:

  • You don’t want to have to invest extra money for motion sensing and room scale, especially since not all of the Rift’s games will even support these add-ons. 
  • You aren’t interested in investing the $600+ required for a high-end PC, in addition to the $599 cost of the headset.


And that’s a wrap! Those are our favorite VR headsets on the market. Which is your favorite? Let us know down in the comments.

  1. I choose the Vive because in my reality I can get up, walk around and interact with things. So for me, Virtual Reality simply means being in a world where I can get up, walk around and interact with things virtually. Therefore, there is currently only one true VR device, the HTC Vive. The rest are 360 photo viewers or something else, but not actual VR. Pretty soon there will be more then just one real VR device, but until then, any comparison is like comparing an Apple to an Orange with each device being different as it is serving it’s purpose, be it cheap, portable, etc.. and thus often not in direct competition. For example, I got the HTC Vive, but I am still watching the mobile VR market mature as I plan to also buy a mobile VR solution soon.

  2. “Google’s Daydream is an exciting new platform that will b backed into
    every Android 7.0 Nougat phone that meets Daydream’s base requirements.
    In many ways, Daydream is like an evolved vision of Google Cardboard.
    Unlike its competition, isn’t just one VR headset, it’s a spec that
    Google is licensing out to its partners.”

    Please proof-read and improve the quality of this writing.

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