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10 Best VR Systems

HTC Vive VR
Best Choice

HTC Vive VR

4.9

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Oculus Rift
Premium Pick

Oculus Rift

4.7

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Samsung Gear VR
Best Value

Samsung Gear VR

4.5

View At Amazon

Escape reality with the best VR systems for 2020.  👓 🎮

Virtual Reality (VR) is interactive technology that allows us to transport into a universe outside of our own. How you may ask? Using just a headset and a motion tracker you can engage with a three-dimensional experience outside of your four walls.

Whether you want to unwind at the beach in Vacation Simulator or even play the role of a chef in VR The Diner Duo, premium VR gear has you covered. The issue is, with so many accessible virtual reality systems on the market, which headset is the best?


Best Virtual Reality Systems for Gaming

What was once only seen in sci-fi movies is becoming more real every single day as Virtual Reality systems become a mainstream form of immersive entertainment. Due to this, it can be difficult to choose the right headset, which is why we have created a list of the top 10 VR headsets for 2020. So, before you dive into another world, jump into our list to discover which system is best for an ultimate virtual experience.

Afterward, we recommend taking a look at the most popular VR games out there and picking a title for yourself and your new VR headset.

Best Choice: HTC Vive VR

Pros & Cons

  • Software partnership with Valve
  • Powered by Steam VR
  • 360-degree movement tracking
  • Requires a high-end GPU

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Resolution (per eye): 1400 x 1600
  • Hardware Platform: PC
  • Controls: HTC Vive motion controllers
  • Connections: USB 3.0 + DisplayPort

HTC Vive VR Review

Our best choice pick is HTC's Vive, a Virtual Reality headset created in collaboration with Valve (the creators of DOTA 2 and operators of Steam) to form Steam VR. This collaboration followed the release of the Oculus Rift back in 2016, one of the biggest Virtual Reality systems to date.

When both headsets came out, the HTC Vive was way ahead of the Rift thanks to its functionality. Since, Oculus improved their VR system to include motion controllers for a true to life experience. So how do they compare now?

In the HTC package, you receive the headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations that allow for 360-degree movement tracking. This out of the box, floor-to-ceiling tracking gives you the impression that you're really in the game you're playing for a life-like experience. Let's just hope you're not into Virtual Reality horror games as your screams will be very much real.

The headset itself features two 1400 x 1600 screens for high-quality VR image, a lower resolution than the HTC Vive Pro that increased the resolution to 2880 x 1600. Nevertheless, image quality is superb and you won’t be let down with our best quality VR system.

Alas, PC-tethered VR systems won't run on a bog-standard PC with a microprocessor. Instead, they require a lot of power, as suggested by the recommended minimum computer specs that consists of an Intel Core i5-4590 and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060.

Therefore if you don’t own or have access to a modern gaming PC, we suggest sticking with a mobile virtual reality system like the Samsung Gear.

 

Premium Pick: Oculus Rift

Pros & Cons

  • Touch controllers allow for lifelike controls
  • Compatible with hundreds of games
  • Comfortable design
  • Very expensive

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Resolution (per eye): 1080 x 1200
  • Hardware Platform: PC
  • Controls: Oculus Touch + Xbox One gamepad
  • Connections: USB 3.0

Oculus Rift Review

The first prototype of a virtual reality headset was created by Oculus back in 2010. Since then, VR has come a very long way from a 90-degree field of vision—never before seen on the market—to a full 360-degree view of the 3D world. For this reason, Oculus is a very common name among the VR community.

Though the Oculus Rift is technically very similar to the HTC Vive, the Rift stood out to us the most. Unlike HTC's Vive, you don't require an entire room to play games.

Best of all, it works with lower-tier graphics cards thanks to Asynchronous SpaceWarp which allows the Rift to run on lower spec hardware. So although it does cost a significant amount more than the Vive, you don’t have to fork out extra money for the latest computer hardware.

One of the things that stood out to us the most was the extensive number of Oculus Experiences. With over 600 games including Star Trek: Bridge Crew and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, you’ll never get bored of the Oculus Rift.

Using the included touch virtual reality system, you can take care of Skyrim quests and battle beasts in first-person, all while feeling snug inside the ergonomic headset.

Compared to the Oculus Rift, the new and improved Oculus Rift S features enhanced visuals, improved tracking, and a new halo headband for extra comfort. Regardless, the Oculus Rift still holds the crown for the best Virtual Reality system on the market.

Best Value: Samsung Gear VR

Pros & Cons

  • Wireless
  • Supports a range of Samsung phones
  • Powered by Oculus
  • Only compatible with Samsung phones

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: Depends on device
  • Resolution (per eye): Depends on device
  • Hardware Platform: Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus
  • Controls: Touchpad on headset + Handheld remote
  • Connections: USB 2.0 + USB 3.0

Samsung Gear VR Review

Our best value pick is the Samsung Gear VR, an accessible headset that proudly holds the title of best mobile VR system. This Samsung Virtual Reality headset, despite its price, is actually powered by Oculus who provide over 600 VR compatible games for you to play around with, making this a great value-for-money piece of kit.

One thing we haven't mentioned thus far is that VR systems aren't just for video games. In fact, you can do a whole bunch of things with a Virtual Reality headset, such as watch your favourite movie or Netflix series, without external distractions.

To keep things cheap, our chosen version doesn't come with a controller like the latest version of the Gear VR has. Instead, the 2016 version is completely wireless, allowing you to use voice command to launch applications, search for things, and re-centre your view.

If, however, you would like a controller for a better interactive experience, you can purchase a Samsung Gear VR controller for around $40.

The negatives come in when you find out that this VR system is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy smartphones, and while that may be obvious to some, others might be put off by this - especially if they don't already own a Samsung phone.

Albeit, Samsung is one of the most popular mobile phone brands to date, so for those out there with a Samsung phone, embrace the Gear VR.

Best for Consoles: PlayStation VR

Pros & Cons

  • Great range of games
  • Sleek design
  • Outstanding performance
  • Requires an additional PlayStation Camera

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
  • Resolution (per eye): 960 x 1080
  • Hardware Platform: PlayStation 4 + PlayStation 4 Pro
  • Controls: DualShock 4 + PlayStation Move
  • Connections: USB 2.0 + HDMI

PlayStation VR Review

You PlayStation lovers out there are going to love the PlayStation VR headset - a stylish system that hooks right up to the PS4, so you can enjoy awesome PSVR titles without the need for a sophisticated phone or gaming PC.

Despite the difference in power between a gaming PC and a PS4 console, PlayStation's Virtual Reality system offers high refresh rates of 120 Hz, reliable tracking, and ultra-low latency for ultimate performance.

The included Sony move controllers enable you to navigate your virtual reality, and if you don't feel like spending extra money on a bundle, a DualShock controller works just as well.

Both of these controllers are compatible with Sony's large VR games library that continues to expand, and with big titles like Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, you can take a virtual adventure through space and time. And, when you aren’t fighting clone Rick’s, you can sit front row at your favorite Netflix movie thanks to the Cinematic mode.

To use Sony PlayStation’s VR system you will require a PlayStation camera which is thankfully now thrown in with most bundle packages. The reason for this is that the camera is used to calibrate the headset for games, so without a PlayStation camera, PSVR is pretty much useless.

Best Standalone: Oculus Go

Pros & Cons

  • Built-in surround sound
  • Large library of games
  • Wireless design
  • Heavy headset

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz + 72 Hz
  • Resolution (per eye): 2560 x 1440
  • Hardware Platform: Oculus Go
  • Controls: Oculus Go Controller
  • Connections: None

Oculus Go Review

Contrasting the PC-tethered HTC Vive, the Oculus Go is a standalone VR system that doesn't require a PC or smartphone to work. Despite this, it's a powerful system that boasts a large library of apps, immersive audio, and a comfortable fit.

What's more, is that for just short of $200 you receive a responsive controller and built-in audio for superb surround sound. This spatial audio is what adds to the immersive experience - without it, you won't feel like you're truly in the game.

Going back to the previously mentioned game and movie library, there are tonnes of major media applications to download. From Hulu, HBO, Netflix, and of course, Facebook, the Oculus Go is a worth-your-money piece of gear.

You'll just have to limit your time watching Black Mirror as the battery life isn't the best, yet for the price, around 2 hours of streaming on full battery isn't really something to whine about.

Now although the Oculus Go isn't as superior as our top 3 best choice VR systems, not to mention that it sits quite heavy on the face, which isn't ideal for younger VR lovers. If you're after an accessible, budget-friendly virtual reality headset, the Oculus Go is a go-to option.

Best Google: Google Daydream View VR

Pros & Cons

  • Minimal design
  • Accurate controllers
  • Comfortable
  • Lacks integrated audio

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: Depends on device
  • Resolution (per eye): Depends on device
  • Hardware Platform: Android, Daydream ready
  • Controls: Daydream controller
  • Connections: Wireless

Google Daydream View VR Review

Available in several colors, old and new, Google's Daydream View is our runner up mobile VR system for 2020. If you prefer systems that don't rely on a mobile or PC to work, continue reading as we have another VR headset available with Daydream View.

Perfect for a cable-free virtual experience. If, however, you enjoy how convenient mobile headsets are, then stick around to learn more about what Google Daydream View has to offer.

As if you were daydreaming, Google's Daydream View transports you into a virtual world controlled by you. The 360-degree panoramic view assists in the life-like feel of a 3-dimensional world, while the lightweight, breathable fabric allows for ultimate comfort.

When the View first came out, it was powered by the latest and greatest Android phones, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Google has since expanded the catalog of compatible phones, allowing a larger range of users to play around with Daydream View VR.

Therefore if the Samsung Gear VR isn’t your cup of tea, you'll be glad to know that alongside Huawei, ZTA, LG, Motorola, and Asus phones, the View supports Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, S9, and S9+.

While the View VR headsets lack of integrated audio isn’t necessarily a problem, except without it, your gaming experience with Google’s Daydream View won’t be as immersive as some other systems on our list.

Best Standalone Google: Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream

Pros & Cons

  • No smartphone, PC, or console required
  • Comfortable design
  • WorldSense by Google
  • Pricey

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: 75 Hz
  • Resolution (per eye): 1280 x 1440
  • Hardware Platform: Android
  • Controls: Daydream Controller
  • Connections: None

Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream Review

The next Google virtual headset on our list is the world's first standalone virtual reality system to feature WorldSense body tracking. This tracking system lets the user move around in the 3D world using the built-in, front-facing cameras on the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset.

Sadly, there are strict boundaries that you can't walk out of. If you attempt to move outside of the limited one square meter space, your game will pause until you move or reorient the headset.

Despite this, the Mirage Solo with Daydream features 6-degrees of free movement with natural lean, duck, and dodge movements for realistic virtual space interaction. Plus, if your room is small, there’s nothing to stop you from sticking within the square meter space - making this a great VR system for college students in a dorm.

Unfortunately, standalone systems are known to be less powerful than their PC counterparts. Having said that, they don't rely on expensive hardware to work, reducing the overall cost of a VR setup. On its own, the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream is a pricey headset, yet it boasts worth-your-money features for a comfortable, high-quality VR gaming experience.

Pansonite VR Headset

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable price
  • Built-in headset
  • Ergonomic design
  • Limited number of games

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: Depends on device
  • Resolution (per eye): Depends on device
  • Hardware Platform: Android, iPhone + Windows Phone
  • Controls: VR Shinecon remote + Buttons on headset
  • Connections: Wireless (Bluetooth)

Pansonite VR Headset Review

By now you’re probably tired of seeing VR systems for over $150, so from here until the end of our list we promise to only show you systems under the $60 mark. Falling just short $60, the Pansonite, not to be easily mistaken with Panasonic, is an affordable virtual system.

Like Google's Daydream View, this Pansonite VR is compatible with a large number of devices ranging from 4.7 to 6 inches wide (screen size). Therefore, Google Pixel 2 XL users will be delighted to know that their phone will only just fits into this headset!

Those who own a different Android phone, or even an iPhone or Windows smartphone, will also benefit from a 3D cinema, VR games, and an overall enjoyable immersive experience.

The limited number of games is definitely off-putting, yet you can’t expect the massive games library that Oculus has to offer for under $60. Nonetheless, the Pansonite VR Headset is a great VR system that comes with an easy to use a controller. It’s even suitable for those who wear glasses, so you don’t have to go into a virtual world blind.

Osloon 3D VR Glasses

Pros & Cons

  • Compatible with a number of mobiles
  • Simple lens adjustment
  • Built-in headphones
  • Lacks a controller

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: Depends on device
  • Resolution (per eye): 720 x 1080
  • Hardware Platform: Android + iPhone
  • Controls: Headset buttons
  • Connections: Wireless

Osloon 3D VR Glasses Review

If you’re an iPhone XR user who’s frustrated at the fact that the Pansonite VR headset only supports phone screens up to 6 inches, you’ll be relieved to know that this Osloon 3D VR system supports screens up to 6.2 inches. Not only that, but this headset supports ios and Android mobiles, meaning that most people can enjoy the fun of a virtual world.

Surprisingly, unlike the Pansonite, the Osloon VR boasts built-in, adjustable headphones for ultimate immersion. What helps you feel comfortable while inside the virtual world is the leather cushioning at the back of the headset made to supports your head, as well as the headphone pads that cushion your ears like an egg in a nest.

The lack of a controller didn’t bother us too much as, like most cheaper VR systems, some features must be sacrificed to keep costs low. Hence, the under $30 price tag on the Osloon 3D VR glasses.

Google Cardboard

Pros & Cons

  • Simple design
  • Affordable VR option
  • Easy to use
  • Hardware limitations

Specifications:

  • Refresh Rate: Depends on device
  • Resolution (per eye): Depends on device
  • Hardware Platform: Cardboard app
  • Controls: Phone buttons
  • Connections: None

Google Cardboard Review

Most people can’t afford a top of the range VR system that relies on a high-end, modern gaming PC. For this reason, the next VR system on our list is the Google Cardboard, an affordable virtual reality option that suits everyone's budget. The Google Cardboard is a do-it-yourself VR headset, much like Nintendo Labo VR.

Now, we at Game Gavel use the term “headset” very lightly, as you could probably make this thing using an empty cereal box. Nevertheless, it works. It doesn't rely on a gaming PC, rather it uses your existing smartphone to display games and movies. Like the Pansonite, the screen size is limited to 6-inches, so for you big screen lovers out there, we apologize.

Although the price is extremely affordable, the range of Google Cardboard applications is brilliant. With Netflix VR, YouTube VR, and a whole bunch of VR games within the Google Play Store, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.


VR Systems: Buying Guide

Design and Comfort

If you’re immersed in a 3D world for a long time, you’ll want to feel comfortable during the entire experience. For this reason, you should aim for a headset that gently caresses your head with its padded straps and comfortable headphone cups.

Controllers

Many VR systems on our list support motion controllers which allow the user to “touch” and “grab” objects for life-like gaming. Although VR games do work without controllers, much like our basic VR option, the Google Cardboard. If you don't have a controller at all, we recommend getting ready for your VR experience by looking at some of the best gaming controllers on the market.

HTC VR Contorller

It’s best to opt for a VR package that includes controllers for realistic gameplay.

Standalone, Mobile, or PC?

We included standalone, mobile, and PC Virtual Reality headsets to our list, but which is best?

While PC VR systems offer a superior experience, mobile headsets are widely available and typically less expensive. On the other hand, standalone headsets don’t require mobile or PC to deliver a VR experience.

Interface

Virtual reality systems place the user inside an experience, contrasting traditional user interfaces like phone and computer screens. Once the headset goes on, players are immersed and are able to interact with a 3D world, cutting off the real space around them.

amd vr

Some people may not be used to two screens in front of their face, so ensure you feel relaxed using whatever VR headset you choose.


VR Systems for Gaming: Frequently Asked Questions

How does VR work?

Virtual Reality systems work by placing two screens (one for each eye) in front of your eyes, cutting off any interaction with the real world.

Is VR bad for eyes?

VR headsets are essentially two screens directly in front of your eyes, so it’s clear why people may be concerned as to whether or not they are bad for your eyes. If you're afraid of the side-effects when gaming on PC or console you can always get a decent pair of gaming glasses. However, when it comes to VR, that is not possible.

Oculus Rift VR

There's currently no long-term evidence to suggest that virtual reality headsets do any harm to our eyes, though like any screen, time spent immersed in another universe should be limited.

Will VR get cheaper?

It is known that as technology advances, systems tend to increase in price. These days, a VR headset will set you back around $400, and as most systems depend on a high-end PC with the latest hardware, costs can add up fast. Another thing that will put a dent your wallet is the cost of software and games to even utilize the headset.

samsung gear vr

Thankfully, as VR systems improve, their predecessors tend to go down in price after a while.

What is the difference between VR and AR?

Virtual reality replaces your field of vision by placing screens in front of your eyes for an immersive experience. On the contrary, augmented reality adds a digital element to a live view, such as how Pokémon Go allows you to catch Pokémon as if they are right there in front of your eyes.

What is XR?

Extended reality is the umbrella term for all environments created for humans and machines to interact, such as AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality). Each of these systems combines real and virtual worlds.


Conclusion

Whatever headset you choose from our list, ensure that you feel comfortable wearing it, that it's compatible with your phone or PC, and that you just have fun with the latest and greatest technology. On the other hand, you might be more interested in enjoying the best PSVR games out there and following the way of the console instead of PC.

As virtual reality becomes a mainstream form of entertainment, the competition only gets bigger. For 2020 we expect to see higher resolution systems that support 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling tracking, without limitations. We also expect to see a whole host of new VR compatible games such as the highly anticipated The Elder Scrolls: Blades VR.


Sources:

  1. How to Have a Safe and Healthy VR Experience, VRespawn
  2. Joe Bardi, What is Virtual Reality, Marxent

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Courtenay Smith
Written by Courtenay Smith

Courtenay’s love for gaming started when she was handed a Game Boy SP as a child. From there her youthful gaming memories consist of hitting some Donkey Kong bongos and cruising around Vice City listening to 'Take Me to the Clouds Above' at an unsuitable age. Since, she has gained a love for both PC and console games, sometimes even jumping on mobile. Don’t judge! When she’s not writing for the site she enjoys travelling, film, and diving down the rabbit hole that is YouTube.

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