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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Most affordable PC VR headset
Excellent first party support from Facebook
Most intuitive controllers and software on the market
Relatively low screen quality
Need to purchase an extra sensor for flawless controller tracking
May be too small for larger heads
The Oculus Rift and Touch controllers are a fantastic offering in the PC VR market, with spatial audio, six degrees of freedom, and an OLED display. Their low price makes them a steal for those with VR ready PC systems.
The Oculus Rift was one of the first complete VR solutions for consumers, but despite its age, it still stands out against newer competitors. The Rift features six degrees of freedom in its tracking and a solid games library through the Oculus Store and Steam VR. What the Rift has over its competition is a phenomenal software platform, controllers that seem to morph into your hands, and an irresistible price tag.
Oculus did an excellent job making the Rift light and comfortable. Weighing 1.04 pounds, the Rift headset has no problem staying right where you want it throughout a VR session. To wear the Rift, you adjust three velcro straps across your head according to your proportions. Unfortunately, if you have a larger head, you may find the Rift a little tight, but it should be comfortable for most people.
The cushioning face pad is soft foam that will accommodate glasses wearers. Additionally, the headset has manually adjustable interpupillary distance (IPD) between 58 and 72mm, meaning 90% of the population should be able to adjust the headset for their eyes.
For those consumers concerned with aesthetics, the outside of the headset is covered in a soft matte black fabric, has round curves, and a sleek design. The audio pads are foam, adjust vertically and rotate. The headset has a 13-foot long tether cable.
Oculus did an excellent job making the Rift light and comfortable.
Finally, we can talk about the Touch controllers. They each have a joystick, two lettered buttons (A, B, X, and Y), two triggers, and an Oculus button. It feels a bit like a split-up Xbox controller layout-wise, and it’s molded to work with many people’s natural hand grip.
After playing in VR for five minutes, you’ll forget you’re holding them. After playing VR for five hours, you’ll forget they weigh just over 4.8 ounces. Sadly, the shiny black button plate does pick up fingerprints.
The setup is super easy. You place the Constellation sensors around your play space and run the Oculus software and driver installer from the Rift’s official website. Follow the instructions and don’t worry if the tracking looks a little off during installation. Once you finish, you should have a fully functional Rift. You can also adjust the sensors and move them, since they update tracking in real time, with no recalibration required.
For those of you who want to escape the Rift’s Oculus app environment, it’s easy to get Steam VR and other platforms working. To install Steam VR, go to the Oculus App’s Settings, click on the General tab, and enable “Allow Unknown Sources.” Next, install Steam VR from Steam and launch Steam VR.
The Rift is super comfortable for hours-long play sessions. It does not slide down, nor does it ever feel heavy. The foam pads do a great job of preventing facial soreness, although the lens can fog for those with bigger noses. The fit is easy to adjust, with velcro straps to hold the headset together and an IPD adjusting slider that you push in and slide to adjust. The way the lenses are crafted make motion sickness less pronounced than with the Vive or Vive Pro (at least during our testing). Those who wear glasses can still wear their Rift, but the fit may be a little tight.
The Oculus Rift sports a 2160 x 1200 OLED display with a 110-degree field of view, similar to the HTC Vive. While the screen door effect is quite strong in both headsets, the Rift’s effect feels more like an older tube television effect, while the Vive feels like having a literal mesh screen is in front of you. Personally, we find the Rift’s screen door effect less obnoxious. The Rift only has a little bit of ghosting or light bleed, and the screen refreshes at 90Hz, so motion sickness is kept at bay.
An impressive feature is that you don’t need to recalibrate the Rift every time you need to move the Constellation sensors. Additionally, the Rift sets up play space boundaries automatically. It’s more cautious than the Vive’s and Vive Pro’s boundaries, so you’re less likely to smash your controllers into the wall. Once you add the third sensor to the setup, the Rift’s tracking is on par with the Vive’s. The tracking with two sensors does a fine job of detecting the promised six degrees of freedom, but the positioning gets a little glitchy when the sensors cannot see the controllers (typically when you try to turn around).
We still prefer the original Rift, thanks to its higher refresh rates and superior tracking, as well as its adjustable IPD.
That said, there were more occurrences of glitches or latency with the Rift than with the Vive or Vive Pro. To have the best experience, Oculus recommends using at least an Intel Core i5-4590 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU. We used an Intel Core i7-8700k and a GTX 1080, and encountered smooth gameplay.
The Rift also excels in intuitiveness and responsiveness. The Touch controllers are a marvel. It’s apparent how well-crafted they are in control-heavy games, like Skyrim VR or Elite: Dangerous. When using the Vive, every time the games wanted us to use the grip button on the wand controllers, it was a clumsy, immersion-breaking moment where we would have to slide our hands from the default position to the bottom of the base. By contrast, when using the Rift, the Touch controllers had all their buttons clumped close enough that we never had to change our grip to reach a specific button.
The Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones are good. Not great, but good. The audio does feel spatially rich, so you can tell where things are happening in virtual space. The pads are foam on-ear, so there is not much insulation from the outside world. The microphone on the Rift is sadly not impressive, with pretty muffled audio.
The Oculus Store is simple to use, with menu customization built into the Rift’s software. While the apps on the Oculus Store and Steam VR are mostly the same, there are some Oculus-exclusive apps, such as Dead and Buried or Oculus Medium.
There are also many Steam VR exclusives, but that isn’t a problem for Rift Owners, since Steam VR openly supports the Rift. Accessing just involves tweaking some settings in the Oculus App (see the Setup Process for more details). A third option is Viveport, a subscription-based service that lets you play five games monthly for about $10 and works with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
The Rift excels in intuitiveness and responsiveness.
Unfortunately, there is no single console selling game available for VR today, but there are a Myriad of wonderful experiences to play through. Our recommended games to get started are Beat Saber, Moss, Skyrim VR, Elite: Dangerous, Altspace, and VRChat. From Oculus Store exclusives, we recommend: Spheres, Dead and Buried, Oculus Medium, and Minecraft VR. Overall, you will not get bored with the Rift, and with Facebook putting a lot of money into the VR development community, it’s only a matter of time before PC VR gets its iconic, must-have game.
At $349 MSRP, the Oculus Rift is an excellent value. It includes a quality headset and phenomenal controllers that are at least as good (if not better) than the HTC Vive, which retails for $500. Unfortunately, if you want to grab an Oculus Rift, you may be out of luck: Oculus is pulling the Rift off the market and replacing it with the Rift S, so third-party sellers are already selling the Rift for than sale price.
HTC Vive: The HTC Vive and the Rift have the same screen resolution of 2160 x 1200p and refresh rate of 90Hz. They both weigh 16.6 ounces. While they have seemingly similar screens, the Rift’s screen door effect is less pronounced than the Vive’s. Additionally, the Rift’s controllers are much more comfortable than the Vive’s bulky wand controllers. Finally, the Rift retails for $350 while the Vive retails for $500. What the Vive does have over the Rift is better tracking with the included base stations—though the advantage disappears once you add the 3rd sensor to the Rift—and the headset seems to accommodate larger heads than the Rift does.
Oculus Rift S: The Oculus Rift S, priced at $399 MSRP will have no external sensors. This is seemingly an improvement over the Rift’s necessary Constellation sensors, but the implication of the Rift S’s internalized camera sensors is that occlusion issues will be amplified. Controller occlusion from turning away from the Constellation sensors is already an issue with the Rift, and tracking the controllers will get even trickier for the Rift S. The Rift S will be getting the Oculus Go’s display, a fast-switching LCD with a 2560 x 1440 resolution.
Oculus Go: We loved the Oculus Go’s display, but the Go and the Rift S share a major flaw—they do not have hardware-adjustable IPD mechanisms. The Rift S proposes to have a software solution instead, but this does not work as well to prevent eye strain for the Go as the Rift’s manual IPD adjustments. Additionally, the Rift S purportedly supports IPDs between 60 and 70mm, a reduction from the Rift’s 58 to 72mm range.
Another smaller, but still notable downgrade in the Rift S is the refresh rate. It is 80Hz, down from the Rift’s 90Hz refresh rate. Overall, we still prefer the original Rift, thanks to its higher refresh rates and superior tracking, as well as its adjustable IPD. You will prefer the Rift S if you prioritize resolution and minimizing necessary components.
Best value on the market.
The Oculus Rift is the best value PC VR headset on the market today thanks to its first-party support, the wealth of games, intuitive controllers, and low price. While it will be retired and replaced with the Rift S, it is still a superior headset and worth your consideration.