The 10 Best Virtual Reality Headsets to Buy in 2018

Experience a whole new world with these top headsets

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: HTC Vive

HTC Vive
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The HTC Vive is the cream of the crop when it comes to VR headsets. It features an OLED display with a 2160 x 1200 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It features precision tracking with 32 headset sensors and 360-degree motion tracking, so every subtle movement is picked up from the machine. Its stunning visual presents a 110-degree field of view, enough to cover even your peripheral vision.

The HTC Vive is unique in its own right due to its included two handheld controllers. Both of which each have 24 sensors for pinpointed accuracy and motion tracking. They also contain dual stage triggers and multi-function track pads with an HD haptic feedback that create a responsive and interactive virtual reality experience. These controllers, with their one-to-one tracking, ultimately mirror your hand movements.

Many Amazon users have stated the HTC Vive is bar none to every other existing virtual reality headset on the market. The included Steam Store software interface has more than 60 VR videogames on it (with more to come) that all function well with the included controllers. More critical reviewers mentioned the steep price, heavy 15-pound weight, and the need for compatible computer hardware with a mid-level graphics card.

Best New Release: Oculus Go

Facebook acquired Oculus back in 2014, and four years later they've released their first ground-up VR headset. It comes with a notable innovation: the new Oculus Go is entirely standalone, meaning it doesn’t require an expensive gaming laptop or console to operate. Just don the sleek, gray headset, adjust the straps and jump into an immersive VR experience on a premium-feeling device. With this headset, Oculus is ushering in a new era of VR for everyone, not just those on the vanguard of tech development. And while the VR hardware is not quite as powerful as the Oculus Rift, it does deliver a fairly high-end experience. The headset also comes with an Oculus Go controller, which is sort of like a point-and-click remote that, while not as immersive as the Oculus Touch, is intuitive and works for games or experiences like watching a concert. At launch, the Go is compatible with more than 1,000 apps, streaming services, games, and 360-degree experiences, a number that is guaranteed to grow as time goes on.

Best Value: Pansonite VR Headset

Many of the VR headsets out there are name-brand, with a name-brand price to match. But when you get right down to it, a VR headset really just needs to do well at holding your phone, blocking out your surroundings, and staying comfortable on your head. This Pansonite – an Amazon best-seller – does all of that for a really affordable price.

This is the latest version from the brand, and the research they’ve done and the lengths they’ve gone to are immense. First, the lenses: they’ve put together a remarkably clear resin composite material that ensures both a crystal clear image and has less potential for vertigo while using the headset. They’ve equipped the face cups with a soft, breathable faux-leather that lets you wear the headset for long periods without sacrificing comfort. They’ve taken that comfort to the straps as well, constructing them out of a soft, lightweight material that alleviates some pressure on the eye sockets without adding any undue weight onto your neck holding them up.

Finally, the adjustment mechanism that lets you optimize the distance from your eyes and the height aligning with your pupils is a simple, button-based function that makes it easy to optimize the experience while you’re wearing the headset for almost any application. It fits most standard Android devices, though be sure to check the list just to make sure your phone is compatible.

Best for Power: Oculus Rift + Touch

Oculus Rift
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The most powerful granddaddy of them all that reawakens the rise of VR is the Oculus Rift. Out of every headset on the list, this one is the most powerful to date in screen resolution and capability.

The Oculus Rift features an OLED display with a 2160 x 1200 screen resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The unit provides a 110-degree field of view, with a 5 x 11 feet tracking area. Inside the headset is an integrated audio system suitable for VR, giving users the experience of sound that provides both space and depth, ultimately fooling all the senses.

The headset comes with two Oculus Touch controllers that let you interact with the virtual world. Of course, the device does come with its own independent remote for navigation through menus and volume controls as well. The headset is said to be comfortable, and fully customizable so as to contort and adapt to the user’s head.

The most unattractive part is the price point and need for a compatible PC (you will need a Windows PC with a NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 graphics card and 8 GB+ RAM in order to use the system).

Best for Samsung Smartphones: Samsung Gear VR W/Controller

If you own a Samsung phone released in the past two years, the Samsung Gear is one of the best VR sets that you can buy. In fact, even if you own an incompatible phone, this accessory might inspire you to convert. 

Compared to other smartphone headsets, this might seem big, but its size is also an advantage. Inside, its optics can be adjusted using the top-mounted dial, giving you a more comfortable picture. And it’s pretty breathable considering you’re strapped in tightly. This updated Gear comes with a motion controller, which is a small remote that pairs easily with your smartphone and adds new levels of interactivity. It has a circular touchpad on the front and a single trigger on the back. The headset also has a USB-C port on the bottom for charging purposes. Perhaps most important for any VR system is its content library, and the Samsung Gear has solid but growing shelves, so you’ll never get bored of diving into new realities.

Best Budget: AOGUERBE VR Glasses

If you’re looking to get as close as you can to a high-end VR headset without the price tag, AOGUERBE’s VR glasses are the answer. Immersing the wearer with IMAX-like 120-degree views, the glasses are compatible with nearly all smartphones that have screen sizes from four to six inches (both Android and iOS). To set up the headset, insert your device into the adjustable clamp and close the outer cover. Once on your head, its ergonomic head straps can be adjusted for maximum comfort. There’s even room on both sides of the headset for corded earphones or a charging cable.

For people who regularly wear glasses, AOGUERBE has you covered as well. Adjustable pupil distance ensures additional comfort, and there are ways to adjust the focal distance as the lenses can shift forward and backward inside the headset. An anti-blue-light coating also helps to protect the wearer from eye fatigue. The combination of these protective features is rarely found on VR glasses this inexpensive. That you get all of this and the ability to watch 3D video is a budget combination that’s hard to pass up. 

Best for Eyes & Comfort: PlayStation VR

Now that VR has become such a ubiquitous thing — something that seemed ultra futuristic not even 5 years ago — we’ve seen a barrage of headsets coming to the market. While most of them contain some padding and foam for comfort on the face and around the eyes, it’s somewhat surprising how many of them are still heavy, clunky blocks you strap to your face with just one horizontal support strap. For our money, the PlayStation VR is one of the few physical designs that attempts to mitigate that with a bigger, more substantial strap that balances at an angle on your head. This takes some of the pressure off your forehead, theoretically allowing you to use it for longer.

The PlayStation VR's 5.7-inch OLED display sports 1080p resolution and a super-fast 120 fps refresh rate, which isn’t that much of a surprise considering it was designed by a leading gaming manufacturer. Roll that in with an impressive 3D audio system and this is one immersive unit. One thing to keep in mind is that this does require a PS4 for operation, as opposed to just strapping your smartphone in like the cheaper VR headsets, but with the gameplay quality, you’ll be glad you invested in the system. The PS4’s camera receiver will read the LEDs around the headset and the wireless controller to track your movement in the room. PlayStation also regularly releases VR-first games for you to make the most out of the unit. It’s expensive, but if gaming is your thing, it just might be worth it.

Best for Durability & Controller Input: Samsung HMD Odyssey

If you’re looking for the quality of a Samsung headset unit with the flexibility of Windows Mixed Reality, then this is a good bet for you. First, the construction is really substantial, albeit just a bit on the heavy side, weighing about 1.5 pounds. In regards to the controller compatibility, as long as your peripheral supports Microsoft’s Mixed Reality protocol, you’re good to go. But this package comes with two separate Samsung wireless controllers which are effective and full-featured in their own right. Another added bonus here is the built-in set of AKG headphones which provide effective and immersive 3D sound. It’s something you see a lot in VR headsets because immersion is the name of the game, but we haven’t actually seen too many VR headsets with a top audio brand like AKG on-board. Finally, there’s an integrated microphone array built right in that attempts to eliminate outside noise, which is particularly useful when trying to give clear voice commands. All in all, this is a durable unit with good connectivity options, and it comes in at a reasonable refurb price to boot. 

Best from Google: Google Daydream View

Google - Daydream View
Courtesy of BestBuy.com

The google Daydream View is no joke when it comes to phone-ready VR options in terms of build quality and features. The device is designed for almost every current flagship Android phone, but you’ll get the best use out of it if you’re already a Pixel user, which is why we’ve designated it for Google fans on this list. First, let’s talk design – it’s constructed out of soft, mesh-like, breathable fabric to give your head and face proper ventilation during use, and you can buy it in three different colors (charcoal, fog or coral). They’ve designed the head straps to fit comfortable and securely over eyeglasses and you can even remove the top strap for a more customized fit configuration. The accompanying remote can even slide safely into a loop on the back of one of the straps – a simple and elegant solution to constantly losing the remote in the couch cushions.

In terms of functionality, it does not disappoint. Sure it immerses the user in an experience that’s optimized via Google software on Android phones, but there’s an amazing feature that lets you stream what you're seeing on to an app-enabled TV, so you can take other people on the same journey you’re embarking on.

The headset is supported by the full suite of VR-ready options on the Play Store, and Google touts that this unlocks hundreds of thousands of immersive videos.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Noon Pro Virtual Reality Headset

Noon - Pro Virtual Reality Headset - Black
Courtesy of Best Buy

The new Noon Pro Virtual Reality headset is only available at Best Buy. All you need is this headset and your smartphone to jump into the immersive world of VR. Built-in, stereo-quality headphones enhance the realism of the experience, and the remote feature lets you access your own video library, social media or video by streaming from your personal computer or smartphone without even having to take off the headset. You can connect up to three devices on the same home network. The NOON VR headset uses head tracking-based controls, so you don't have to worry about a separate controller; simply tap the cover to pull up the menu screen, then use your eyes to make selections. Thanks to the handy universal device tray, any smartphone with a screen size between 4.7 and 5.7 inches is supported. At just 8.8 ounces, the ergonomically designed headset fits comfortably without feeling heavy even with extended use. Anti-blue light lenses reduce eyestrain, and the focus dial produces sharp image quality for even those who need corrective lenses between -6.2 and +4 diopter, so many people won’t need glasses or contacts to use the headset.