Enter the virtual world with the best VR headsets of 2023, from the Meta Quest 2 to the Valve Index.
Once the stuff of science fiction, VR is now a reality. It's as affordable and accessible as it’s ever been. Sure, your feet may be planted on the floor but virtual reality, games and experiences alike can transport you to another world. You can strap on a headset and, within moments, be taking down enemy starfighters or floating around in the International Space Station VR experience.
There’s certainly no shortage of quality VR apps for space fans, whether it’s sci-fi games or VR space experiences you crave; thanks to the ever-growing popularity of VR, you really are spoilt for choice.
But the same is true of the hardware market itself. There are a lot of headsets to choose from, from the super-portable HTC Vive Flow, the more powerful but still stand-alone Meta Quest 2, right through to the high-end PC-based Valve Index. It helps to have a budget in mind but, even within the same price band, features can vary. Our VR headset deals page can help you get more bang for your buck.
- What causes motion sickness in VR, and how can you avoid it?
- How to build a PC for VR
- How to set up your room for VR play
It’s important to consider what you want out of a VR headset; the Valve Index will give you spectacular graphics (provided you have a powerful enough PC), but the wireless Meta Quest 2 will let you roam free without a cable anchoring you to reality. The good news is that because most headsets support Steam VR, you’re not going to purchase a headset and find you’ve nothing to play on it.
So, to help you choose a headset that’s right for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best VR headsets currently on the market, including their specifications, pros and cons and more.
1. Meta Quest 2
Wirefree and self-contained, the Meta Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) is an excellent introduction to the delights of virtual reality. Relatively affordable, this wireless headset has everything you need to get into VR gaming right out of the box, without the need for a PC. It’s powerful enough to run some of the most enticing VR experiences without breaking the bank, and taps into Oculus’s impressive library of exclusive virtual reality titles, including the Quest 2 exclusive Resident Evil 4 VR.
Its screen isn’t the sharpest, but its wireless nature makes it one of the simplest to use and most comfortable to wear. And, for those really invested in the virtual reality scene, it will even work with titles originally designed exclusively for PC VR players. This is thanks to the Meta Quest 2’s flexible support for additional wired gameplay through a PC. An experimental feature, Air Link, adds wireless PC streaming connectivity, though results may vary between games.
The Meta Quest 2’s price has recently gone up by $100/£100 which makes it a little less competitive than it once was. But, right now, it’s still a great way to experience the joys of VR, wireless or otherwise.
- Read our full Meta Quest 2 review.
2. Valve Index
If you’re after the most luxurious of virtual reality experiences, you’re going to want to invest in a Valve Index headset. It’s one of the pricier devices on this list – not just because of its high specifications, which include a super-sharp screen and additional tracking stations that need to be dotted around the room, but also because there’s the expectation that you’ll be hooking this headset up to a relatively high-spec PC. There’s no wireless option with the Valve Index kit.
What you get instead is arguably the most immersive VR experience to date, thanks to the Valve Index’s wider field of view, high-resolution display, and ‘knuckle’ style controllers which allow you to use each of your fingers and thumbs individually in a VR environment. It’s the model for VR devices to come, and the perfect companion to the best VR experience yet – sci-fi horror adventure Half-Life: Alyx, which was made in conjunction with the Valve Index headset. It can be hard to come by, selling out regularly, and we’re expecting a refreshed model to turn up before long. But, if you can afford its price tag and accommodate its PC and room requirements, it’s the best VR experience money can currently buy.
- Read our full Valve Index review.
3. PlayStation VR
Considering the relatively low-powered PS4 console it’s tied to, the wired PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset still offers a damn good time for gamers. Leaning on its first party development studios and publishing pals, Sony amassed a great library of exclusive titles to play, including the delightful Astro Bot Rescue Mission, terrifying Resident Evil 7 (with PSVR-exclusive virtual reality mode), and James Bond-baiting Blood & Truth.
However, the PlayStation VR gear is now starting to look a little long in the tooth. Though regularly bundled with games well below RRP, its screen resolution is low, its controllers (based on an old PS3 motion controller design) are behind the pack, and its cable-laden breakout box is a faff to set up.
And while its hardware and software are compatible with the new PS5 console, a PSVR 2 has already been confirmed to be in the works at Sony HQ. If you’ve not already bought into the idea of VR on your PlayStation, it may be worth holding out for the sequel at this point, which promises much-improved controller ergonomics and far more detailed displays. There’s no release date for it yet, but we’re expecting to find out more later this year.
- Read our full PlayStation VR review.
4. HTC Vive Pro 2
If you’re after sheer fidelity from your PC VR gaming experiences, you’ll struggle to find a better headset than the HTC Vive Pro 2. With a stonking 5K resolution, it’s about as sharp as VR headsets get before entering truly niche enthusiast territory. With a fast refresh rate and wide field of view, you’ll really be able to see every detail from your time in VR, to the point where you begin to approach photo-real quality in some high-end apps.
Alas, clarity like this comes at a high price, and we’re not just talking the expense of the HTC Vive Pro 2 kit itself. To be able to power this headset at any sort of stable framerate, you’re going to need a very high-specification PC and graphics card, which may make the whole endeavor prohibitively expensive.
And, considering the future-gazing spec sheet of the actual display technology in here, other elements of the package feel a little bit dated. A tethered unit, HTC hasn’t updated its wireless control sticks in a long time, and the power-socket-hungry base stations which track your movement (though accurate) can be frustrating to set up. That screen can run hot too – unsurprising, given the power needed to run it. It’s an incredibly premium experience from a visual perspective, but be aware of its limitations elsewhere.
- Read our full HTC Vive Pro 2 review (opens in new tab)
5. HTC Cosmos Elite
A bit older than the HTC Vive Pro 2, think of the HTC Cosmos Elite as its cheaper, less flashy sibling.
Though it doesn’t have the showstopping specs of the newer Vive Pro 2 model, it still has a lot going for it. Its base stations track movement well, its field of view is relatively wide, and its library of games (through both the Steam VR marketplace and HTC VIVEPORT subscription service) is deep and entertaining.
However, the failings of the Vive Pro 2 are apparent here also – it’s the same unwieldy controllers, and you’re still going to need to find places to pop its motion-tracking base stations around a room, too. All things considered, it’s still a solid VR choice though, especially if its advancing age means you can pick it up at a bargain price.
6. HP Reverb G2
The HP Reverb G2 occupies an unusual place on this list. On the one hand, its high-resolution screens make it strong competition for the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro 2, but then its lowly refresh rate means it can’t match the natural-feeling smoothness of the Index.
Then there’s its price – at $549 / £530.80, it’s in the same ballpark of affordability as the Oculus Quest 2 and PSVR. But it doesn’t come with controllers in the box, and its wired nature means you’re still going to need a rather powerful (read: expensive) PC to pair it with. And yet, it has a physical IPD slider (letting its lenses more accurately match the distance between your pupils), whereas the Oculus Quest 2 does not.
Throw some tracking issues into the mix, and a relatively tight field of view, and the whole package doesn’t quite come together. If you really must have a high-resolution display in your PC VR headset, and don’t want to totally break the bank, it’s a good option. With that said, there are more complete and satisfying set ups elsewhere on this list.
7. HTC Vive Flow
The HTC Vive Flow may look like something a supervillain would wear, but these clever VR glasses make virtual reality much more lightweight.
Marketed as an on-the-go wellness aid, this stylish headset is aimed at those who want to embrace mindfulness or otherwise find their peace, whether through meditating, walking through nature or embracing the Flow’s more abstract experiences.
The Flow resembles mirrored ski-goggles and, due to its small size, should easily slip into a bag or big pocket. Games are supported, though since it’s less powerful than the Meta Quest 2, don’t expect great gaming performance (or a huge library of games). You can also use the Flow as a virtual cinema of sorts, so you can watch Netflix on a huge virtual screen no matter where you are.
However, there’s no built-in battery; it requires powering via a power-bank, USB charger or phone. And while it doesn’t require a PC, you do need a compatible Android smartphone (opens in new tab) (which is also your controller). You can read our HTC Vive Flow hands-on preview for our full impressions.
- Buy the HTC Vive Flow direct from the HTC website (opens in new tab).