New VR Headset Buying Guide for Beginners

New VR Headset Buying Guide for Beginners (Jan 2023)

The ultimate VR Headset Buying Guide for Beginners: Welcome to the Now, there are so many different VR headsets that you can imagine this could get overwhelming. The best VR buying guide will definitely help you to choose the right one.

So in this article, I’ll talk about the best VR headsets currently and the ones you should avoid because they’re either discontinued or have outdated specs. 

I’ll also talk about upcoming headsets in 2023, as that may impact your choice if you’re looking to upgrade or buy your first VR headset. 

Stick around until the end to hear what my personal favorite headset of the past year was. If you’re entirely new to VR, read the full article carefully. Seriously, it will help out in your VR journey.

1. HTC VIVE Headsets

HTC Vive Headsets ListReson To Avoid
Original HTC ViveDiscontinued
HTC Vive ProDiscontinued
HTC Vive Pro 2Recommended
HTC Vive CosmosOutdated
HTC Vive Cosmos EliteOutdated
HTC Vive Focus 3Most suited for enterprise
HTC Vive Flow
HTC Vive Headsets List

These are the VR headsets you can still buy in stores. You should avoid most of these as they’re discontinued and just old. 

Try not to buy the Original HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro VR headsets as you can see in the picture, they are discontinued from the VR company.

The Cosmos is HTC’s only inside-out tracking line, and the tracking was unfortunately suboptimal compared to other inside-out tracking headsets. 

So if you do want one, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is the better choice because it has a faceplate for SteamVR tracking. 

But my recommendation is to avoid it because they are also older headsets now, so their specs, especially the displays, are outdated. 

The VIVE Focus 3 is actually a great headset. It’s HTC’s best all-in-one headset. However, it is focused on enterprise, so there isn’t much standalone content to play, and it has a very high price of 1300 dollars. 

But you CAN use it as a PC VR headset too. With a USB cable, you can connect it to your PC for wired PC VR gaming, and there’s a wireless streaming solution. 

However, HTC’s streaming software isn’t as good as its competitors. So I don’t recommend buying the Focus 3 unless you’re a business owner, as there are PC VR headsets out there with better value for the price for consumers. 

The VIVE Flow is a lightweight, compact VR headset that you connect to a 5G Android smartphone. Doesn’t work with iPhones. 

The phone is then used as the controller and tracked with 3-degrees-of-freedom, which is quite limited movement. 

So this is not a headset for gamers but more for casual viewing content like TV shows and maybe meditation apps. I think you should avoid it for anything else.

So what’s left is the VIVE Pro 2, which you can consider if you don’t mind the price because the specs are impressive. 

It has a higher resolution than most headsets out there, has a nice-looking display, and uses SteamVR tracking, which is still the best tracking. 

HTC VIVE Pro 2 Specifications

  • Resolution: 4896 x 2448 total
  • Display LCD: 2x
  • Refresh Rate: 90Hz,120Hz
  • Lenses: Dual-element Fresnel
  • Field of view: 120° H max (I measured. 1151-1)
  • IPD Adjustments: Manual (57-72mm)
  • On-board cameras: 2x R GB (with passthrough)
  • Tracking: SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external base stations)
  • Input: Vive Wands 2x, rechargeable battery with cable
  • Audio: On-ear headphones, USB-C audio output
  • Microphone: Dual microphone
  • Cable Length: 5m (breakout box)
  • Price: $1400 full kit or $800 HMD only

The disadvantage with this external tracking setup is that it requires more time to set up, and it’s not easily portable. 

However, the biggest pro with HTC headsets that none of its competitors have is the excellent wireless solution for PC VR. 

Using this Vive Wireless Adapter, you can play PC VR games wirelessly with the best fidelity. More so than other streaming solutions like the one on Quest 2. 

But yeah, it brings you back another $350 on top of the already steep price of $1400 for the entire kit. Plus, the wireless adapter will not get you the full resolution that the headset with the cable can get. 

So I would only recommend this headset if you have a reasonable budget and if the highest fidelity wireless PC VR is a must-have for you. 

If so, I recommend getting the headset-only with other best VR controllers like the Index controllers as those work with the base stations too.

Check HTC VIVE VR Headsets Price on Amazon

2. Meta

META (Formerly Oculus) Headsets ListReson To Avoid
Oculus Rift CV1Discontinued
Oculus Go Discontinued
Oculus Rift SDiscontinued
OCULUS QuestDiscontinued
Oculus Quest 2 / Meta Quest 2Recommended
META Headsets List

Time for Meta, formerly known as Oculus. The VR headset subsidiary of Facebook. Just like HTC, they’ve brought out lots of headsets as well, but they’ve done heavy R&D and pivoted a lot over the years.

Oculus started with PC VR and is now entirely focused on standalone VR. So if you see the Oculus Rift CV1, the Go, Rift S, or the first Quest, then do not buy these headsets because they’re all discontinued, and you won’t get any support for them if you buy those now.

The only one is available in the Meta Quest 2. Here are the specs:

  • Resolution: 3664 x 1920 total
  • Display: Fast-Switch LCD 1x
  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz, 72Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz
  • Lenses: Single-element Fresnel
  • Field of view: 〜90° D (I measured: 97h)
  • IPD Adjustments: IPD (3 fixed settings: 58mm, 63mm, 68mm)
  • Processor: Snapdragon XR2
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128 GB / 256GB
  • On-board cameras: 4x IR (with possthrough)
  • Tracking: Inside-out (no external beacons)
  • Input: Ocuius Touch v3 (AA battery 1x), hand-tracking, voice
  • Audio: In-headstrap speakers, 3.5mm aux output
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Cables: USB-C for charging or PC VR
  • Battery Life: 2-3 hours
  • Price: $300 for 128GB, $400 for 256GB

This is an all-in-one VR headset that you don’t need to plug into anything. So no PC or cables are required; it’s completely wireless, making it very accessible – easy to pick up anytime and anywhere.

It’s also a hybrid headset, so not only standalone but can also be used as a PC VR headset if you have a gaming PC at least.

With the app: Oculus Link, you can connect the headset with a USB cable. With Air Link, you can stream PC VR games wirelessly.

It’s not as good as a dedicated PC VR headset, as you may experience latency or visual artifacts depending on your WiFI setup.

But it’s completely playable and actually my preferred way to play PC VR games now because it’s so easy to pick up.

Meta also spends a lot of money on content; some great titles are exclusive to the platform, like Resident Evil 4 VR.

Sadly, none of their competitors spend so much money on content and content is king. Aside from that, the Quest 2 has also gotten major software updates almost every month.

With the low overall cost of 300 dollars for the 128 GB version and $400 for the 256 GB version, the Meta Quest 2 is the best value for your money.

In my opinion, it is also the best VR headset for beginners. As it’s just easy to use and you can do the most with it, like exercise or even work.

It’s not the most comfortable headset, though, and doesn’t have a long battery life, so I do recommend getting a VR head strap with a battery pack, which adds to the price.

I also have to mention that the low price is only achievable because Meta is subsidizing it. Their business model is to collect data to sell relevant ads based on it.

Most of us don’t care, because honestly, we love VR too much to stop using it, but you should be aware of this. Ok, so they also have a new VR headset coming.

They announced they have Project Cambria coming. This is a high-end headset that offers a hybrid of augmented reality and virtual reality which makes it a mixed reality.

AR+VR=MR. It’s designed to have more advanced features than the Quest, like high-resolution color passthrough for AR, and it’ll include eye plus face tracking.

Check Meta/Oculus VR Headsets Price on Amazon

3. Valve Index

The Valve Index, made by the company behind Steam, has been my top favorite headset for a long long time, but since this year, interestingly, I haven’t been using it anymore because I think it falls behind on specs now. 

Not strange as it was released almost three years ago! New headsets just have better displays, so I don’t find I enjoy the Index’s fidelity as much anymore. 

  • Resolution: 2880 x 1600 total
  • Display: LCD 2x
  • Refresh Rate: 80Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz
  • Lenses: Double-element Fresnel
  • Field of view: 〜130° diagonal max (I measured 〜109H)
  • IPD Adjustments: Manual (58-70mm)
  • On-board cameras: 2x RGB (with passthrough)
  • Tracking: SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external base stations)
  • Input: Valve Index controllers (rechargeable. battery)
  • Audio: Off-ear speakers, 3.5mm aux output
  • Microphone: Dual microphone
  • Cables: USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power
  • Cable Length: 5m + 1m breakaway
  • Price: $999 full kit or $499 HMD only

However, it is still the best overall headset. I think it’s the only one with an excellent balance of comfort, quality, and performance. 

It’s still one of the few with the highest refresh rate at 144hz, which stays beautiful. It also has the best audio solution and microphone. And the best controllers. 

Even though people seem to break the fast, I’ve heard so many reports on this that I wanted to mention it, but they never broke on me, and if I’m correct, people can replace them for free. 

The Valve Index is not perfect tho. Just like HTC’s headsets, the setup isn’t as easy as it uses SteamVR tracking. 

It has glaring issues that could bother some more than others, and it isn’t a cheap headset at $999 for the full kit. 

Still, I think you can consider it for the more hardcore gamers and those who want to dive into various genres. However, if the visual quality is the most important to you, then there are better options now. 

The valve may be working on a new headset too, but take this with a large pinch of salt, because these are not confirmed and are just huge rumors.

Check Valve Index VR Headset Price on Amazon

4. HP VR Headset

HP VR Headsets ListReson To Avoid
HP Reverb G1Outdated
HP Reverb G2 v1
HP Reverb G2 v2Recommended
HP Reverb G2 OmniceptEnterprise
HP VR Headsets List

So HP has really stepped up their game with their recently released headsets. This is what they’ve brought out so far: If you ever see the G1, avoid it. It’s outdated now.

The Reverb G2 Headset is HP’s newest VR for beginners and professionals. The G2 has inside-out tracking, meaning it’s easier to set up and pickup because you don’t need any external sensors, like most other PC VR headsets. 

HP Reverb G2 Specifications

  • Resolution: 4320 x 2160 total
  • Display: LCD 2x
  • Refresh Rate: 90Hz
  • Lenses: Single-element Fresnel
  • Field of view: 114°D (I measured: 99H, 90V)
  • IPD Adjustments: Manual (60-68mrn)
  • On-board cameras: 4x IR
  • Tracking: Inside-out
  • Input: Reverb G2 Controllers (AA battery 2x), voice
  • Audio: Off-ear headphones
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Cables: USB-C, DisplayPort, Power
  • Cable Length: 6m
  • Price: G2 $600 – Omnicept $1249

The compromise here is that the tracking is less accurate. You also still need a gaming PC, and with that resolution, you need a pretty powerful PC. 

One of the biggest pros is that the G2 has an excellent audio, better than most because it uses the same off-ear audio speakers as the Valve Index. 

Now, here’s the confusing part. The G2 has three versions. There’s the G2 Omnicept edition, the most expensive of the three at $1249 because it’s focused on the enterprise. 

It has a couple more sensors that allow eye, face, and heart rate tracking. This is mainly for businesses looking to take advantage of the extra data the headset can collect. 

If you’re a consumer, I would avoid it even if you had the money because there won’t be enough content for you to check out these extra features. 

Then the ‘normal G2’, let’s call it G2 v1. I thought it was a solid headset except for a few compromises. 

Field-of-view wasn’t as wide as others, and the controller tracking coverage wasn’t optimal, especially compared to its competitors. 

Since I’ve tried it, HP released a second version with tweaks to improve on this. Let’s call that one version 2. The v2 has a new face pad that includes a spacer that you can remove. 

If you remove it, your face will be closer to the display, giving you a wider FOV. HP also made adjustments to the cameras to improve tracking coverage. 

I haven’t tried version 2 myself, but a friend of the channel at RoadtoVR has tried it, and he said these tweaks make a solid headset even better, and I trust what he says. 

That’s why I would avoid v1. Unfortunately, it’s tough knowing which version you’re buying. The biggest difference is the removable spacer, which you can’t really check when you buy one. 

So I would recommend contacting the shop you buy from to ask them about this first. The HP Reverb G2 v2 is a solid headset and great value at 600 dollars.

It’s good enough for most game genres if you don’t mind the occasional tracking loss. It’s probably best suited if you don’t play too competitively as it may stand in the way of getting the best score. For most people, I think it suffices and the price is really not bad.

Check HP VR Headsets Price on Amazon

5. Varjo Aero

Now one of the biggest surprises to me in the past year was the Varjo Aero. Varjo used only to make headsets for the enterprise market, and they were costly. 

But now, they have the Aero: This new high-fidelity headset is released in 2021, and everyone can buy it. At least those who have expendable money. 

But hey, at least you don’t have to own a business too. It is the most expensive out of the bunch on this list at 1990 dollars. Thus, Varjo smartly aims this headset at the prosumer. 

Varjo Aero Specifications

  • Resolution: 5760 x 2720 total
  • Display: mini-LED LCD 2x
  • Refresh Rate: 90Hz
  • Lenses: Aspheric
  • Field of view: 134° diagonal max (I measured: 102.5H)
  • IPD Adjustments: Automatic (57-73mm)
  • On-board cameras: 2x eye-tracking
  • Tracking: SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external base stations)
  • Input: None included (supports SteamVR controllers)
  • Audio: 3.5mm aux port
  • Microphone: None (supports external mic through aux port)
  • Cables: USB-C, breakout box (USB-A 3.0 DisplayPort 1.4)
  • Cable Length: 5m
  • Price: $1990 HMD only

The ones who NEED the visual quality. These are people who play VR games more seriously, like sim racers or flight sim enthusiasts. 

I also think this headset has some features that can justify its high price. I mean, the displays are the best I’ve seen so far. It’s just gorgeous. 

And one of the best features none of the competition has is that the Aero includes eye tracking, allowing for automatic IPD adjustment and foveated rendering (in some games). 

The headset has a very high resolution, too, one of the highest in the market right now. Many PCs would struggle playing VR games with a resolution like this.

However, because of Varjo software tweaks, and especially if the game supports foveated rendering, then the performance is fantastic. 

This isn’t always the case with very high-resolution headsets. I think this is the best headset out of the list in visual quality. 

But 2000 dollars is for the headset only, which doesn’t even include controllers or the REQUIRED SteamVR base stations, so it’s even more expensive than that, and you also need a pc and that is just a lot to swallow.

Check Varjo Aero VR Headsets Price

6. Sony PlayStation VR

Time for Sony PlayStation VR. The PSVR was released in 2016, that’s five years ago, so it’s obvious, the specs are outdated by now. 

Sony PlayStation VR Specifications

  • Resolution: 1920xRGBx1080 total
  • Display: OLED
  • Refresh Rate: 90Hz, 120Hz
  • Lenses: Dual-element Fresnel
  • Field of view: 100° max
  • IPD Adjustments: Via software (48-78mm)
  • Platform: PS4, PS5
  • Tracking: 6DoF but only front-facing using PS camera
  • Input: DS4 controller, PS Aim, PS Move
  • Audio: 3D audio through the headphone jack
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Cables: HDMI, USB, AC adapter, power, processor unit
  • Cable Length: 〜4.5m
  • Price: $399 (introductory price)

The only reason you might want one is if you own a PlayStation and you want to play PlayStation content. The platform has one of the best VR games exclusive to the platform. 

We don’t know much yet, except it will have new controllers with haptic feedback just like the new PS5 DualSense controllers, which would be totally awesome. 

The rest is still unclear, although the rumors are pretty cool. I won’t mention them now as it’s not confirmed yet. 

So if you’re looking for a console headset, I recommend waiting a few months; we don’t know when exactly, but we might hear something very soon. 

If you really want to play VR now, it’s probably best to get a different headset right now, like maybe the Quest 2. 

Check Sony PlayStation VR Headsets Price on Amazon

7. Pico VR

Pico VR Headsets ListReson To Avoid
Pico G2 4KOutdated
Pico G2 4KNot available in the West (Only in China)
Pico Neo 3 ProEnterprise only
Pico Neo 3 Pro EyeEnterprise only

Time for Pico. Such a cute name. Pico has the Neo line that are headsets very similar in looks and specs to the Quest.

However, these are NOT consumer headsets in the west. They’re only available to the enterprise. So I would avoid all Pico headsets if you’re a consumer in the west. 

Only in China, do they sell the Pico Neo 3 to consumers. If you’re from China or you are a developer, they are a solid best alternative to Quest 2 in China.

Pico Neo 3 VR Specifications

  • Resolution: 3664 x1920 total , 773 PPI
  • Display: Low-persistence curved display
  • Refresh Rate: 90Hz
  • Field of view: 95° max
  • IPD Adjustments: 3 Fixed
  • Processor: Qualcomm XR2 chipset
  • RAM: 6GB RAM (2133 Mhz)
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GBOn-board cameras 4x 400×400 res at 120Hz
  • Tracking: Inside-out
  • Input: Pico Controllers
  • Audio: Integrated audio, 3.5mm jack
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Cables: USB-C 3.0 connector with OTG
  • Battery Life: 2.5 – 3h
  • Price: $699

It uses the same system-on-a-chip, the Qualcomm XR2, so it’s very similar to the Quest 2. In my testing, the Neo 3 performed well and looked great too. 

There’s an advantage for a developer; you get a lot more freedom to develop on the Pico platform as it’s more open than on Quest. 

For consumers in Asia, the biggest disadvantage is that there isn’t much content to play. However, in China, where Meta isn’t even allowed, the Pico Neo 3 could be the best viable standalone option.

Check Pico VR Headsets Price on Amazon

8. Pimax VR Headset

Lastly, let’s talk about Pimax VR headsets. This is the headset for the enthusiast that wants the widest field of view. 

However, the company doesn’t have a good track record of giving support, and they weren’t able to deliver their Pimax headsets on time during their Kickstarter. 

For the past years, they HAVE proven themselves by the enormous R&D they’ve been doing. They released so many different headsets with tweaks and upgrades, which can get very confusing. 

To make it easy for you, you can ignore most of these headsets, I would just look at these: The Pinax 5K Plus, 8K Plus, 5K Super, and 8KX. 

Pimax VR Headsets Specifications

SpecPimax 5K SuperPimax 8KXPimax 8K Plus
Resolution5120 x 1440 total7680 x 2160 total7680 x 2160 total
DisplayCustomized low persistence liquid (CLPL)Customized low persistence liquid (CLPL)CLPL (Dual), LCD, RGB Stripe
Refresh Rate90, 120, 180Hz7511z native/ 90Hz upscale110, 90Hz
LensesFresnel 2xFresnel 2xFresnel 2x
Field of view〜200D max (I measured: 103V, couldn’t get H)〜200D max (I measured 159H, 103V)〜200 max
IPD AdjustmentsManual (55-75mm)Manual (55-75mm)Manual
TrackingSteam VR Tracking (External base stations)Steam VR Tracking (External base stations)Steam VR Tracking (External base stations)
InputNone included (supports SteamVR controllers)None included (supports SteamVR controllers)None included (supports SteamVR controllers)
AudioMicrophone & Modular Audio Head StrapMicrophone & Modular Audio Head StrapOnly audio jack, integrated microphone
CablesUSB x1, Audio Jack (3.5mm), DisplayPort, USB Type-C x2USB x1, Audio Jack (3.5mm), DisplayPort, USB Type-C x2Display Port, USB 3.0, Power Cable
Price$1178 full kit, $679 HMD only$1125 headset only with KDMAS, $1620 full kit$1305 for full kit, $806 headset only
Pimax Headsets Price & Specifications

See that FOV? Don’t fall for their marketed FOV, though; the horizontal FOV is actually lower. Still, overall, these headsets have a wider FOV than their competition. 

However, these headsets suffer from distortions on the far edges of the headset, but I have to say they have improved that in their latest headsets. It’s not gone entirely, but it’s not uncomfortable anymore. 

The most significant difference between these Pimax headsets is the resolution and refresh rate capabilities. 

Out of the three, I actually prefer 5K Super because of the higher refresh rates. In my testing, I found it the overall best performer. The software has greatly improved as well.

It’s easier to adjust settings to match your PC specs as you need a pretty monster PC to get the best specs. So I actually think Pimax headsets are becoming pretty solid. 

Still, you will need to spend a lot of time on the setup to get it right, so you have to be a bit tech-savvy for these headsets. 

But, one important note is that Pimax also announced a new headset line coming called the Pimax Reality 12K QLED, and it has some really ambitious specs, like a 12K QLED display. 

It’s also standalone and has 6K per eye. But it will also be very expensive at $2399. Pimax is currently offering a trade-in; if you buy one of the presently available headsets, you get a deduction of the total purchase price if you decide to buy the upcoming headset. 

Given their track record, I would be cautious about this. Especially since if you have to wait this long, it may be that by then, we’ll have other options already.

Check Pimax VR Headsets Price on Amazon

MORE Upcoming VR Headsets 2023

In a bit, I’ll talk about my favorite ones, like what my go-to VR headset is. Before we dive into that, here are a couple of headsets that are confirmed to becoming as well. 

Knowing this, it may impact your decision to buy a new headset, so I wanted to mention them. 

I already mentioned Meta’s Cambria, Sony’s PSVR2, and Pimax’s upcoming in their own sections in this video, so not repeating myself. 

Here are three other upcoming headsets: First, we have a new contender in town. The Lynx R1 is an affordable mixed reality headset that offers very cool specs and possibly, experiences you won’t see anywhere else. 

The best thing about the company is that they want to make their platform as open as possible, not like Sony or Meta. 

Second, There’s another company we haven’t seen before releasing a new headset. The ARPARA 5K, will have a PC VR and standalone version. 

On paper, the specs are very interesting. They are coming with a SteamVR tracking face cover, which could make a big difference.

Last but not least, there are rumors that Apple is releasing a VR headset. But, these rumors have been going around for years, so take it with a grain of salt. 

Although knowing Apple, it’ll probably not be affordable at all, in any case, I’m excited for a big company like Apple to come into the space. 

Final Verdict of VR Headset Buying Guide for Beginners

So it may not come as a surprise but the headset I go to the most is the Quest 2. It’s just that I don’t mind compromising in visual quality for ease of use and it is just the only headset with the most things to do as it also has the biggest user base. 

If you do want the best display quality and money is not a problem, I would say the best headset for that is the Varjo Aero. If I had the money for that one, that would totally be my main weapon of choice for PC VR. 

Then, my best value choice for PC VR used to be the Valve Index and I still think it’s a really good headset for the VR enthusiast, but I do think the resolution is a bit outdated now. 

So I’m actually putting the HP Reverb G2 v2 on this spot because of its lower price and has pretty balanced specs too. 

What is your go-to headset, which one would you buy, or are you buying? Let me know in the comments below, I’m super curious.

Source & Author Credit goes to my favorite YouTubers Cas and Chary VR


What is PC VR?

PC VR has the highest quality visuals and the most ambitious VR games, such as Asgard’s Wrath and Half-Life: Alyx.

This does indicate that you’ll need a fairly powerful gaming PC to connect your headset into. As a result, the cost will rise.

What is Standalone VR?

A standalone VR headset is an all-in-one headset. It includes all of the necessary hardware, such as a processor and RAM, to run content without the use of a PC.

What is Field of View (FOV)?

The field of view (FOV) of a VR headset refers to how much you can see with your eyes. Lower FOV usually gives you a ski-goggles look due to the black edges around the screens.

The human field is somewhere around 210°×150°, which a VR headset has yet to achieve.

What is HMD?

Head Mounted Display (VR Headset)