The Best Standalone VR Headset for 2023
Immerse yourself in amazing virtual realities with impressive, high-performing VR headsets.
Using nothing other than the power of technology, virtual reality is an amazing way to travel. With motion tracking and the best standalone VR headsets, you can easily play a game or look around a virtual environment as if you were actually there.
Virtual reality gets more interesting when you’re using the right headsets. Given the sheer number to choose from, the selection can easily become confusing. It doesn’t have to be though, thanks to this buying guide.
We’ve outlined what’s most important to consider when picking the best VR standalone headsets. You can also take a cue from the brands we’ve suggested in this guide.
How We Picked
Field of Vision
Field of vision, also known as FOV, is important because it is an indication of how immersive a VR headset is. We took care to only suggest VR headset models with the best FOVs for a satisfying VR experience.
Pixel resolution is critical to the overall VR experience. A greater resolution translates to high-quality visuals and sharper edges. You will also benefit from easier-to-read text and a more upscale VR experience overall.
It’s also important that the VR headset you choose has an optimal size and weight. A good fit ensures comfort and a great user experience. Therefore, we prioritize these factors when suggesting our top picks.
A high-quality VR headset doesn’t have to trade affordability for functionality. As such, the best standalone VR headsets displayed here have reasonable price tags and offer great value.
Our Top Picks
One of the least-priced VR systems is the Oculus Quest/Meta Quest 2, and it doesn't require any additional hardware or cables sticking out of the headset. It runs several captivating VR experiences thanks to mobile components, notably the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset. Additionally, it offers a huge library of those experiences, so you're likely to discover something enjoyable. Wherever you travel in the real world, take VR with you as your compact, portable Quest 2.
The Valve Index is an excellent VR headset option with many exciting features. One key example is the controller, which makes up a large portion of the VR experience. This VR kit is revolutionary in that the controllers can track individual finger motions. This way, games that use the functionality become considerably more immersive.
With motion-control support, the Sony PlayStation VR headset provides captivating virtual reality to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The VR experience provided by this headgear is immersive. It's also compatible with non-VR applications and games and supports a variety of motion control options. When compared to PC-based headphones, you'll also value their lower entry cost.
Everything We Recommend
Who This Is For
If you play video games frequently, you should think about purchasing a VR headset. Moreso, creatives, movie buffs, and many other individuals, apart from frequent gamers, should also consider making this purchase.
VR headsets are more beneficial for other activities, such as socializing and working, as they become more common.
What are the best standalone VR headsets used for?
With the aid of a virtual reality headset, users may engage with virtual worlds and get a first-person viewpoint (FPV).
Virtual reality (VR) headsets essentially replace the natural environment with virtual reality content, such as a movie, game, or previously recorded 360-degree VR environment that allows for turning and seeing around just like in the real world.
Even though virtual reality has been around for a while, the attached hardware required to experience it has typically been expensive, large, and power-hungry. Today, VR apps have been able to penetrate the consumer market thanks to mobile VR headsets, which are essentially goggles that can carry a smartphone.
Each form of VR headset aims to give the user an experience that is so genuine they forget they’re wearing it.
Standalone vs tethered VR headsets
The year 2016 saw the release of all major VR brands, joining the countless mid-range and low-cost options that were previously available. In purchasing for yourself, you’ll inevitably have to decide whether tethered or wireless virtual reality is preferable for you.
The most popular type of VR headset at the moment is cordless. These include the largely less expensive smartphone-slot devices like Google Cardboard, but mid-range models also have wireless capabilities.
The complete lack of cords is undoubtedly the largest advantage of wireless VR, but they are also frequently heavier and less comfortable.
High-end VR headsets require a cable connection to reduce latency.
The most frequent negative side effect is nausea. This is common when there are considerable lags between physical movement and movement in the VR environment. Limiting latency to as little as possible—roughly 20 ms—is preferable, but the lower that number, the better.
Right now, only a cable connection can accomplish this.
The second key reason is processing power. With a self-contained VR device, you must have all the necessary hardware and a power source in the head-mounted display (HMD). On more affordable VR headsets, your phone provides all of this.
You can have a mid-range VR experience with it because it has more than enough power and battery. But as things become more intricate and processor-intensive, expensive gaming PCs and a tethered connection become essential.
Why You Should Trust Us
You can trust our recommendations in this guide because we consulted authentic and credible sources while. We reviewed information from expert test reports and in matters of VR and gaming equipment.
This way, we were able to identify the most important criteria to consider when selecting the best VR headset.
How We Picked
We conducted in-depth and intensive research across various reputable sources. We were able to identify the criteria that matter most when selecting a good VR headset. The most important criteria to include the following:
Field of view
Field of view, or FOV, as it is more commonly known, provides you with an indication of how immersive a VR headset is. In general, you should look for a VR headset with a field of view (FOV) of between 100 and 120 degrees. This appears to be the market cap (for the time being, at least!).
For comparison, the FOV of human eyes is about 220 degrees. It’s important to prioritize a good FOV, and so we ensured to provide our suggestions in this review with this criterion in mind.
Before purchasing any VR headset, it’s a good idea to look at the resolution and refresh rate, as these are essential to a satisfying VR experience. A greater resolution will result in visuals of higher quality when displayed on a screen.
It will result in sharper edges, easier-to-read text, and a more upscale VR experience overall.
The type of VR headset will also determine this feature; entry-level devices typically have built-in speakers. High-end models often have built-in headphones and, in some circumstances, built-in microphones.
All in all, these VR headset options have reputable audio quality.
Comfort and fit
When it comes to choosing the best standalone VR headsets, the fit is a crucial criterion to consider. For one thing, a good fit is necessary as it helps secure the headset during use. This is important to increase comfort during VR and gaming sessions, and to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness.
When choosing the best standalone VR headset, you’ll find that it’s important to consider size and weight. These are important measures of portability, especially if you’re the kind of gamer who likes to take their virtual realities with them everywhere they go.
This is why we made sure to recommend VR headsets that have an optimal size and weight and are very portable.
Price vs. quality
The price of a VR headset depends on several variables. The resolution, control mechanisms, and tracking techniques, as well as whether or not it needs a PC. The priciest VR headsets will typically need a high-priced PC to operate.
Some users are also quite particular about the design of their preferred VR headsets. If you’re one of these gamers, it should delight you to know that you can get functionality and aesthetically pleasing designs when choosing the best standalone VR headsets.
Our Picks For You
Best Pick - Oculus Meta Quest 2
Who It's For
Quest 2 is, to put it simply, for anyone who enjoys playing in virtual reality. It has a reasonable price tag, offers a ton of games and applications, and requires only a plug to recharge its battery. This might not please you if you want the most advanced visuals and are ready to spend two, three, or four times as much on a headset and at least that much again on a PC. But for everyone else, it's a great starting point for exploring VR.
Why It's Great
Even if Meta has replaced the Oculus branding, the Quest 2 is still, without a doubt, the best VR headset you can get at the most affordable price. It has inside-out tracking and standalone capabilities, just like the original, but in a more compact design.
The major flaws of our top pick are that it requires a Facebook account to use, and it has no Bluetooth headphone support. It also has a rather short battery life. Nonetheless, this pick performs extraordinarily, even more than most picks that cost way more than it does.
The Quest 2's display is its main attraction. It has one of the most detailed screens of any VR headset list, with over 2K per eye, after the Vive Pro 2.
Additionally, Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR2 Platform is available on this standalone VR headset, providing a significant performance boost that exceeds the capabilities of the current standalone apps and games.
If that wasn't enough, you should also know that you can connect your Quest 2 to your PC via Oculus Link to play VR games that are only available on PC.
There is currently no VR headset that can equal the hybrid functionality. The Meta Quest 2 is the best VR headset overall and also ranks well in terms of cost-effectiveness.
Runner Up - Valve Index VR Kit
Who It's For
Due to its superior performance and ground-breaking controllers, this VR headset is ideal for PC use. Choose this one if you're just getting started with VR on a PC. To give your VR experience new life without spending money on the entire Valve Index system, you can get the controllers for less if you already own a SteamVR-compatible headset such as the HTC Vive, Vive Pro 2, or Vive Cosmos Elite (not the ordinary Cosmos) along with its base stations.
Why It's Great
The Valve Index particularly excels since the controllers—the second key element—make up a large portion of the VR experience other than the headset. Unlike other controllers' standard trigger grips, these are revolutionary in that they can track individual finger motions and make games that use the functionality considerably more immersive. In Half-Life: Alyx, it's especially fantastic to watch your fingers jiggle.
The major downside of this pick is that it is expensive, and it requires room setup and a tethering cable. However, it is high-quality, and you can be sure that you’ll get a more than satisfying VR experience.
The finger-tracking controllers of the Valve Index's innovative consumer VR headgear make it one of the best standalone VR headsets we've yet seen.
Although Valve's headset is getting older, its compatibility with Steam VR and Vive devices, superb audio quality, and fancy controls still make it hardware worth considering. The pressure-sensitive "knuckle" controllers from Valve look like gloves, and they can monitor all five fingers.
Though not all apps take advantage of them, the HTC Vive, which is also based on the Steam VR platform, is mix-and-match compatible with Valve's gear. The Index headset boasts a clear, wide field of vision display and good audio.
You must first set up the external "lighthouse" boxes that the Index uses in a room before using it. It's not as independent as the Quest 2, which can monitor the room via in-headset cameras. It's not wireless, either, but if you already own some older HTC Vive hardware, you could mix and match the Index's components.
Most Cost-Effective - Sony PlayStation VR
Who It's For
Fans of PlayStation who already own a PS4 or PS5 and want to play VR games on those consoles should use this. However, you might want to wait a little bit if you want to make the most of your PS5. A new PlayStation VR system called PlayStation VR2 is being developed by Sony. Although its release date is unknown, it appears to be superior to PS VR in every regard, including having brand-new motion controllers.
Why It's Great
The PlayStation VR headset from Sony adds captivating virtual reality to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. It also supports motion control, and you can expect an immersive VR experience with this VR headset. It has full motion control and is compatible with both VR and non-VR apps and games. You will also value its lower entry cost compared to PC-based headsets.
The tracking of the Sony PlayStation VR is rather basic; it makes use of the PlayStation Camera, and the movement space is very constrained. However, it excels at providing seated VR experiences because that is its intended use.
The only VR headset available for console gamers is the PlayStation VR headset; although Microsoft's Oculus Rift S allows users to play Xbox titles, it does not support VR. With its 5.7-inch OLED display, Sony's virtual reality headset offers gamers low persistence and, as a result, less motion blur.
This VR headset has a 120 Hz frame rate, which is more than the 90 Hz offered by the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift S, and extremely low latency (18 ms). Although we're not sure the PS4 or even the PS4 Pro can handle it, it theoretically makes beautiful 120-frames-per-second gameplay possible.
Sony offers a second device (which is smaller than the PS4) to handle the majority of the graphics processing, so it appears that they had the same idea. It can also be used with Sony's (failed) Move controllers, giving the outdated controllers a new lease on life. It tracks the position of your head.
Almost Made The Cut - HTC Vive Pro 2
Almost Made The Cut
Get this VR headset to enjoy an amazing VR experience with a detailed, captivating display.
One of the best VR headsets in terms of display detail, cutting-edge accessories, and tracking precision.
Who It's For
The Vive Pro 2 with Valve Index controllers is the ideal VR setup to choose if you want the best VR experience without going to professional-level extremes. You'll spend a few thousand dollars at least on it before accounting for a PC with the necessary specifications, but you'll get an incredible picture and controls
Why It's Great
The pixel-packed display does an incredible job of adding additional detail to beloved VR games and virtually eliminating the screen-door effect. It's a truly amazing panel.
On paper, the HTC Vive Pro 2 might look like the ideal VR headset, with the greatest resolution of any headset at the moment, a wide 120-degree field of view, and a fluid 120 Hz refresh rate, but in practice, it falls a bit short of the advertised performance.
The weirdly rectangular FOV is the problem; the 120-degree FOV only refers to the horizontal FOV. When compared to VR experiences like the Valve Index, it gives some of them a slightly claustrophobic feeling.
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is one of the most technologically advanced consumer VR headsets according to test reports from experts, with the sharpest image possible at 2,448 by 2,448 pixels per eye, and it is aimed at both enthusiasts and pros. Although it comes at a steep price, you still need to buy base stations and controllers—it unquestionably provides the nicest images we've seen in VR so far. Also, on a more favorable note, you can use the Valve Index controllers with this VR headset.
Like the Oculus Quest 2, it is compatible with SteamVR and has its own VR app store called Viveport. Instead of selling individual pieces of software, the shop provides the subscription-based Viveport Infinity (Opens in a new window) service, which grants unrestricted access to VR experiences. Outside of SteamVR, that's a wonderful bonus.
Care and Maintenance
Cleaning your standalone VR headset
No matter how germaphobic you may be these days, it’s quite impossible to entirely disinfect standalone VR headsets, but you can still feel at ease with a thorough cleaning and a few precautionary measures to make the process simpler the next time around.
You can maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, and refraining from touching your face to clean a headset by wiping it down to eliminate the macro gunk (the bits you can see or feel, such as sebum, brine from evaporated sweat, hair, dead skin cells, makeup, dust, etc.).
Although headphone manufacturers will typically have their cleaning instructions, there are some general suggestions you should keep in mind. Avoid using harsh solvents or abrasives like acetone, alcohol, etc.
These can harm many different types of plastics and the glue that holds materials together, leaving a frosty, unsightly residue that you don’t want, especially on your lenses.
Avoid using cleaning products like Clorox wipes. Although it may be alluring given their accessibility and the fact that most polymers shouldn’t react with Clorox wipes that don’t include bleach, you shouldn’t let the wipes’ chemical irritants go too close to your skin, eyes, or other sensitive body parts.
Keep Clorox wipes away from the lenses, facial interface, and nose guard, but feel free to use them on hard plastics like the headset’s outside surface and controls.
The majority of the cleaning, both inside and out, should be done with a lint-free cloth. Remember that lenses are easily scratched and should only be cleaned with the provided microfiber cloth or a lint-free cloth while gently expanding the cleaning circles.
Except for the lenses, clean everything with non-abrasive antibacterial wipes. excellent for removing all kinds of junk.
Remove and clean any removable pieces individually. To reach all the crevices on the part itself and where it snaps in, remove any parts from your headsets that you can safely remove, such as the facial interface, nose guard, or light-blocking guard.
Consider taking preventative precautions, including purchasing a VR cover for your facial interface or a brand-new facial interface with a surface that is easy to clean, like PU leather (aka pleather).
This is an excellent long-term method of keeping your VR headset clean because almost all manufacturers sell VR headsets with spongy foam facial interfaces that soak up perspiration and filth. There are plenty of them that can be found on Amazon, eBay, and specialty retailers.
There are a few techniques to mostly sterilize your headset, but unless you fear it has come into contact with a dangerous infection, you might be better off concentrating on keeping it generally clean.
These sterilizing techniques include employing UV light or alcohol-free antimicrobial wipes. However, for a thorough cleaning, we advise that you adhere to the CDC’s or WHO’s detailed instructions.
How to set up a VR headset
Any VR headset will require a strong PC first. Additionally, you should make sure you have enough room for your VR experience. Dedicated GPUs, not the motherboard, should be used by desktop users to connect their VR headset and desktop monitor.
The smart thing to do is to refer to the installation manual for the specific VR headset you end up purchasing.
The detailed instructions you’ll need for an effective setup will typically be included in the manufacturer’s guide, so take advantage of the information here to set up your VR headset to the best of standards for a premium VR experience.
You also need to make sure you have enough tracking stations if your VR headset utilizes outside-in tracking. To play in tethered mode, you might additionally need to purchase a special HDMI cable or USB cable, or you might need to buy the controllers separately.
Additionally, if you wear glasses, make sure the headset is compatible with them. To use your VR headset with glasses, you might need to buy a spacer; alternatively, the manufacturer might give one to you for free if you ask.
Ensuring the headset is properly secured
Check to verify if you can see a single, clear image; this is better achieved when the headset is level and securely fastened on your head, so it’s important to wear it properly.
Stop using if you feel unwell
A healthy sense of balance and motion is necessary for a comfortable virtual reality experience.
You should avoid using the headset if you have a cold, the flu, headaches, migraines, earaches, or are exhausted. Doing so may make you more susceptible to unpleasant symptoms.
There is also the concern of motion sickness when using VR. In virtual reality, the ears convey that the body is static and that no movement is taking place, while the eyes convey that the individual is sprinting and jumping across a dimension.
A type of motion sickness might occur due to this because the eyes and ears are not in harmony.
Fortunately, there are methods for overcoming this motion sickness. The first step is to shorten your virtual reality sessions, as there is a significant association between exposure time and VR sickness, and that danger increases with longer exposure times.
You should also think carefully about the games you choose. Games significantly impact the state of your emotions. It will be quite beneficial to select games where you can move very little.
In games where you are moving, darkening the screen edges is also a great preventative strategy, but teleporting rather than walking helps even more.
Further Reading and Similar Topics
March 30, 2023
National Virtual Vacation Day — March 30
Do you know that you can travel the world while sitting in your armchair?
March 8, 2023
National Retro Video Game Day
Celebrate Retro Games and bring out your old games to release your inner child.
July 8, 2023
National Video Game Day – July 8
Dust off that old Nintendo and haul your prized collection of games out of the closet.