Which VR headset is the best? Which one should you buy? To make your decision easier, here is an in-depth comparison of the most popular VR headsets: Project Morpheus, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
First of all, make sure to scroll through the following specification table which will be discussed. But be aware of the fact that all the mentioned specifications may be changed in the final consumer versions of the VR headsets and that some, as the weight for instance, are unknown yet. The latter makes it impossible to discuss certain relevant factors like ergonomics and stability at this point.
|Oculus Rift||HTC Vive||Project Morpheus|
|Display resolution||1080x1200 per eye||1080x1200 per eye||960x1080 per eye|
|Refresh rate||90 Hz||90 Hz||120 Hz|
|Field of view||>110°||>110°||100°|
|Positional tracking||6DOF||6DOF over 15ft by 15ft (4.5m by 4.5m)||6DOF|
|Controller||Xbox One controller/Oculus Touch||two SteamVR controllers, one for each hand||Playstation Move/DualShock 4|
|Audio||interchangeable headphones built in||additional headphones required||additional headphones required|
|Requires a||High-End PC||High-End PC||PlayStation 4|
Round 1: the display
The display may be the most important part of a VR headset, since it determines how real the virtual reality looks. Project Morpheus offers 960×1080 pixels per eye, while its competitors show off with 1080×1200 pixels. Thus they are able to provide a higher field of view. However, Project Morpheus is able to run 120 frames per second, whereas both other VR headsets have a refresh rate of 90Hz/90fps. Nevertheless it is questionable if developers manage to get 120fps out of the PS4, like we mentioned in our Project Morpheus preview.
Round 2: head and position tracking
Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus are able to track your head in six dimensions: limited movement (forward/backward, up/down, left/right) and rotation of the three axes pitch, yaw and roll. While this is better than you might know from smartphone based VR headsets like Google Cardboard, they still cannot track your body position over a larger area. But HTC Vive can: by using more than 70 sensors, including laser position sensors, you are free to walk around in your 15ft by 15ft room (image above). Cameras identify objects and walls and thus Vive even warns you visually of hitting them. This leads to a truly immersive virtual reality experience to which neither of its competitors can compare. You will obviously need a big obstacle free room for it to work though.
Round 3: controller and audio
It is very likely you won’t be disappointed by any of the controllers that will be included along with the VR headsets: Everyone knows the DualShock 4 (Morpheus) and the Xbox One controller (Rift) to work great. Both head-mounted displays also allow the use of special VR controllers like Oculus Touch (image above) and PlayStation Move. The HTC Vive offers two wireless controllers, one for each hand, to interact with the virtual world. Oculus Touch may not be available at the launch of the Rift though, but Oculus said they will release it in the first half of 2016.
To experience the full virtual reality, you do not want to forget about the sound. Sony created a new 3d positional sound engine to make sure that you hear exactly where the action happens. While Project Morpheus and the HTC Vive need additional headphones, Oculus Rift already has them built in. First voices say that they sound pretty good, but if you want to replace them you can do so too.
Round 4: games, games, games
No matter how awesome the demos on your VR headset work, you want to play the full, big games, don’t you? So which headset has the most promising future regarding games? Project Morpheus obviously has the best conditions as it wears the PlayStation name and works together with a PS4 which has been sold over 20 million times back in march this year. Thus exclusive titles like RIGS for instance will probably be quite common. Though, it won’t be easy for Sony to stand against the PC front. There are already more than 200 Oculus Rift ready games available for PC, since everyone can order a Rift developer prototype for $350 at Oculus’ website and the community seems to be on fire.
Besides specifically developed VR titles like EVE Valkyrie (image above) and several ports, a 3D-driver called vorpX manages to convert many of the latest DirectX9-11 games into the VR universe – with working Stereo 3D and head-tracking. Thus you will be able to play GTA V, Battlefield, Call Of Duty, Bioshock and many more with PC VR headsets like the Oculus Rift – and HTC Vive is likely to be supported too as soon as it is released.
Talking about the HTC Vive, it is yet hard to say what games will arrive on it. The Vive with its full positional tracking follows a completely different path than its competitors, and thus it needs customized content to reach its full potential, which is in early stages of exploration. Powered by SteamVR and developed with a cooperation with Valve, nobody can predict the future. However, since it is still a PC headset most of Oculus Rift´s games are likely to be play-able on the Vive as well. Valve, by the way, has been among the first to ensure that their games are working with the Oculus Rift. This is why you wouldn’t expect less of their HTC Vive.
Round 5: prices and release dates
In the end, money rules the world, right? Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift will both probably cost around $300, whereas HTC Vive (image above) will be far more expensive, due to its position tracking technology. And one of these VR headsets alone is useless: Project Morpheus needs a PS4 to run, while Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require a high-end PC. Thus Morpheus will be by far the budget-friendliest option, as you can afford a PS4 for like $300 nowadays. However, if you already own a high-end PC or a PS4, you know which option would be the most reasonable one. Oculus recently published the recommended specs:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
Such a system costs at least $1.000; and the HTC Vive may need an even stronger setup. This whole price discussion is a serious problem of VR headsets, as it influences the suitability to the masses, and thus their success. Which is basically why Project Morpheus in combination with the successful PlayStation 4 is so interesting to observe.
The first virtual reality headset available to the public will be the HTC Vive, which is going to be released around christmas. Followed by the Oculus Rift in the first quarter of 2016 and Project Morpheus in the first half of 2016. It will be interesting to see how the HTC Vive hits the market, as it is the least masses-friendly device, because of its high expected price.
The verdict: which VR headset to buy
Due to the aforementioned reasons you obviously cannot call one of these headsets “the best one”, and there are still important information missing. But there is an easy way to find out which one fits your needs best. Therefore, instead of writing a long conclusion, we decided to create a little graphic that should be able to help you (click on the image to enlarge it).
Whichever VR headset you are going to buy, you should remember that this is only the first wave and that virtual reality is in an early state of development. The upcoming products won’t be near perfection, for example due to lack of depth. And last but not least, there are even more VR headsets coming in the next couple of years, like StarVR for example. Checkout our specification table to learn more about other VR headsets.
Now it is your turn: Which one are you going to buy and why?