Best VR headsets 2024: Explore the cosmos

Girl using one of the best VR headsets - GettyImages-1324380518
(Image credit: Getty)

Virtual reality is no longer science fiction, and the best VR headsets make what was previously a technological marvel much more accessible.

Whether you're looking to work or play in VR, there are so many options now that it can be tricky to pick just one. We've covered ways you can help decide further down the page, but whether you're looking for something to connect to your games console or PC or act as a standalone product, VR has never been better — or easier to get into.

With any of the headsets in this guide, you can move from exploring space to walking with dinosaurs to watching a movie on a screen that feels 100 feet wide. Add to that an increased productivity angle with headsets like the Meta Quest Pro and Apple Vision Pro, and there are more reasons than ever to consider virtual reality headsets.

One note on augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR) before we start —this list will focus primarily on VR headsets, aside from Apple's Vision Pro, which hits shelves soon. Still, AR and MR are exciting technologies that many of these headsets have dipped a toe into already, so if you're looking for something that can overlay digital items and user interface onto the real world, you may still find something here.

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Lloyd Coombes

I've been using VR for a few years now, including console, PC, and standalone options, and review VR games and experiences regularly as part of my day job. In this latest update, we've removed the tricky-to-find HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and HP Reverb G2, and replaced them with the Meta Quest Pro and Apple's upcoming Vision Pro respectively.

The Quick List

Below you'll find a swift run-through of our picks for the best VR headsets around in 2024, including a quick summary of why they're worth your time. You can find more on each by clicking 'read more below' or scrolling further.

The best VR headsets we recommend in 2024

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Best VR headset overall

The perfect balance of performance versus price. (Image credit: Future)
The best VR headset

Specifications

Platforms: Standalone and PC
Price: From $499 / £499
Resolution: 2064 x 2208 per eye
Field of view: 110 degrees
Refresh rate: 120 Hz
Controllers: Touch Plus controllers (included)

Reasons to buy

+
Much improved display
+
Wireless and portable
+
Competitively priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Accessories can be pricey
-
AR and MR not quite there
Buy it if

✅ You're looking for great value: $500 for a VR headset with AR capabilities and the included controllers is a great deal — with many bundles, including Asgard's Wrath 2 for free.

✅ You're upgrading the Quest 2: The Quest 3 is faster, sharper, and overall more capable than the Quest 2.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want AR and MR: There's now color pass-through here and improved AR and MR cameras, but it still feels a little like an afterthought.

The bottom line

🔎 Meta Quest 3: The Quest 3 isn't the most powerful headset out there, but it's the easiest to use, priced well, and is a major improvement on the Quest 2 in every way. ★★★★½ 

The Meta Quest 3 may have taken its time to launch (with a three-year gap after its predecessor) but it's more than a worthy successor — it's a huge leap beyond the Quest 2.

While much of it remains the same in theory (it's still a standalone headset, with access to the Meta storefront and experiences therein), it's more powerful, has more storage, and packs color passthrough now to help you see beyond the headset.

That comes in handy with AR experiences like shooting monsters that pop up from behind your couch, and while it's still very much a VR-first device, it's still a great option to have.

Add to that a free copy of one of the best VR games around in Asgard's Wrath 2 and you've got plenty of reasons to upgrade from the Quest 2.

If you want a full, in-depth look at this VR headset and see why we rate it so highly, you can check out our Meta Quest 3 review before purchasing.

Best premium VR headset

Valve Index VR headset

The controllers of the Valve Index VR set this apart from other models — they are some of the best. (Image credit: Valve)
Best powerhouse VR headset

Specifications

Platforms: Steam VR (PC)
Price: $999 / £919
Resolution: 1440 × 1600 per eye
Field of view: 130 degrees
Refresh rate: 144 Hz
Controllers: Valve Index Controllers, HTC Vive, and Vive Pro Controllers

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly immersive screens
+
The best VR controllers out there
+
Great over-ear speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
No wireless functionality
-
Cheaper alternatives available
-
A new iteration could be on the way
Buy it if

✅ You want room-scale VR: The Valve Index comes with tracking stations to be placed in your room to allow for more accurate tracking at all times.

✅ You want deep Steam Integration: Valve also brought us the Steam VR interface, so right out of the box, you can find a whole host of PCVR experiences.

✅ Audio is important: The speakers here are fantastic, whatever you're doing.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a wireless headset: You'll need to hook the Valve Index up with a cable, since there's no wireless option available.

The bottom line

🔎 Valve Index: Still arguably the peak of PC VR headsets despite being a few years old, the Valve Index is a great product — although we can't help but feel a new version must be coming soon. ★★★★★

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.

Best VR headset for consoles

You need a Playstation 5 to use the PlayStation VR 2 (PSVR2). (Image credit: Jordan Oloman)
A step forward for console VR, that sadly leaves the old games behind too.

Specifications

Platforms: PlayStation 5
Price: $549.99 / £529.99
Resolution: 2000x2040 per eye
Field of view: Up to 110 degrees
Refresh rate: 90Hz/120Hz
Controllers: Included controllers, PlayStation 5 DualSense

Reasons to buy

+
Immersive haptics
+
Best console VR available
+
Stress-free setup and comfy design

Reasons to avoid

-
You'll need a PS5
-
Limited library of games
-
Not backwards compatible
Buy it if

✅ You want the best console VR: With eye-tracking, button-activated passthrough, and a sharp 2000x2040 resolution per eye, PSVR 2 is way beyond its predecessor.

✅ You want to test out some fantastic haptics: The controllers included here are some of our favorites, and let you truly feel part of the action, moment-to-moment.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to play PSVR 1 games: If you've got a huge library of PSVR 1 titles, you won't be able to play them on Sony's latest system.

❌ You don't have a PS5: Put simply, it's a case of 'no PS5, no party' with PSVR 2 — the latest console is mandatory.

The bottom line

🔎 PlayStation VR 2: Sony's second attempt at console-based VR is a big step forward, although it doesn't carry forward your game library. ★★★★

Sony's first VR effort, the PSVR, has been a mainstay on this list for years thanks to its impressive catalog of games, several price drops, and the fact it put VR in the living room before anyone else for a lot of console owners.

It's still a little too early to say if the PSVR2 will have the same effect on a new generation, but the early signs are positive. The PlayStation VR 2 offers much better visual fidelity than its predecessor, and it's much easier to set up for an evening of VR, too.

It also offers much more advanced features, like eye-tracking and a button-activated passthrough that lets you see the room around you. The haptics are impressive, too, letting users feel what they're playing in an entirely new way.

Sadly, there are some drawbacks — the price alone isn’t a huge issue, but it soon adds up if you’re yet to buy a PlayStation 5 console. If you're coming from the first PSVR, none of your games will run on PSVR2 — a disappointing omission given the likes of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission that offers some of the most fun we've had in VR.