Amazon Prime Day Pixel 7 Phone Pixel 7 vs. Rivals Target Deal Days Pixel 7 Pro Cameras Pixel Watch Google Pixel Event McDonald's Boo Buckets
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Accept
Why You Can Trust CNET
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Best VR Headsets of 2022

The Quest 2 still remains the best, but new options are coming soon.

The cost of a new VR headset might be going up these days, but the quality of VR experiences still makes the price tag worth it. The best headset out there, the $400 Quest 2 offers a completely wireless experience, with access to a huge library of fantastic games like Resident Evil 4 and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners -- it can also be connected to a PC to play titles like Half-Life: Alyx. Yes, it's a great time to get into VR, but it might get even better in the coming months.

A new wave of next-gen headsets is expected in the next six months or so. Meta has a new VR headset (likely a Quest Pro) on the way that will support face tracking and mixed reality -- and will no doubt come with a pretty hefty (over $800) price tag. Similarly, Apple is expected to have some form of advanced VR-AR headset either late this year or early next year that could also be super-expensive. Sony is also expected to release the PlayStation VR 2, which will work with the PlayStation 5 and feature new controllers. And in the meantime, we may see more phone-connected headsets like the HTC Vive Flow start to pop up, too.

VR in 2022 remains an impressive but still limited proposition. Thanks to tremendous advancements in the visuals, tracking and overall performance of VR hardware, the best VR headset options have become more realistic and immersive. These advances have made VR a viable option for a lot of applications and more appealing to businesses, which are starting to take note of the technology's power and potential for becoming a big part of everyday life in the future. More advanced metaverse platforms and social worlds have given VR owners more to explore, too. Even so, VR still hasn't become a necessary product for most people.

If you're looking for the best VR headset, the ideal choice will depend on what you enjoy doing in the virtual world. VR's strongest applications tend to be gaming and fitness. The Oculus Quest 2, which is an excellent home VR console, is still one of my favorite ways to play games. But you still have to decide whether you want a headset that plugs into your PC or console, or a stand-alone option like the Quest 2 (which can also double as a PC headset). 

Oculus Quest 2

The Quest 2 is still the best VR headset right now, but more headsets are expected soon.

Scott Stein/CNET

Companies such as Qualcomm (which makes the chips inside most self-contained VR headsets, including the Quest 2) are building new chips that point to a wave of better stand-alone headsets at lower prices -- including ones that plug into your phone -- but those haven't fully materialized yet. 

If you're a PC gamer, a PC-connected VR headset offers the most versatile collection of software for an immersive VR experience, and also lets you use that headset for creative and business tools. Note that a more powerful VR system will still be largely tethered to a desktop or laptop and may require external sensors.

And what about console gaming? The aging PlayStation VR is still fun, but you're better off waiting for the next-gen PSVR 2 if you have a PS5.

Augmented- and mixed-reality headsets aren't ready for everyday use yet, although the next generation of VR headsets could start blending AR into the mix using passthrough cameras. We update this best VR headset list periodically, but note that prices are subject to change.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Good: Self-contained and wireless; great touch controllers; comfortable design for gaming; doubles as PC VR headset; plenty of apps

Bad: Now $101 more expensive

The Quest 2 used to be $299, but a surprise price bump to $400 (or $500 for the version with more storage) has made Meta's nearly two-year-old self-contained VR headset even more expensive. But even with the increased price, the Quest 2 remains the best and most versatile VR headset of the moment. It's also, considering it requires no gaming console, phone or PC, the most affordable.

Meta/Facebook is expected to have a new "pro" headset later this year, but its face tracking and better displays could add up to a $1000 price. The Quest 2 remains the recommended pick until a Quest 3 arrives, which may not happen until 2023.

The base model's 128GB of storage is plenty for storing dozens of games and apps, although keep in mind there's no way to add more storage after purchase. Meta's also allowing accounts to bypass Facebook logins, although a new Meta account will still be required.

The Quest 2 reminds me of the Nintendo Switch for its versatility and fun, and it has a growing library of surprisingly effective fitness apps. The Quest 2 can also connect with a PC to run more advanced apps from Steam or Meta's own app library, using a single USB-C cable or wirelessly.

HP

The good: Really sharp high-res display, great audio, comfortable design

The bad: Mediocre controllers

If your idea of the best VR headset is to have the best image quality in consumer VR, HP's VR headset wins. For serious gamers (or VR racing sim fans), it's probably your best choice. The 2,160x2,160-per-eye resolution and 114-degree field of view are the best at this price range, and the lightweight, comfy headset also has fantastic drop-down speakers designed by Valve. It's technically a Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headset that prefers to launch into Microsoft's native Windows 10 VR ecosystem, but it bridges with Steam VR and works with those games and apps, too. Built-in camera-based room-tracking is easier to set up than the Valve Index's external base stations, but is more prone to tracking errors. The included controllers, based on Microsoft's VR controller design, feel clunkier than either the Quest 2 controllers or Valve Index controllers. Also, the over-ear speakers are your only audio choice: there's no headphone jack.

It typically lists for $599, but it's often been on sale for less.

Read our HP Reverb G2 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Good: Futuristic controllers; high-quality headset; works with Vive hardware

Bad: Expensive; requires room setup and tethering cable

Valve's headset is starting to age, but its Steam VR and Vive hardware compatibility, its excellent audio, and its fancy controllers still make it hardware worth considering. Valve's "knuckle" controllers are pressure-sensitive and can track all five fingers, making them almost like gloves. Not all apps make the most of them, but Valve's hardware is mix-and-match compatible with the HTC Vive, which also is built on the Steam VR platform. The Index headset has excellent audio and a sharp, wide field-of-view display.

The Index works with external "lighthouse" boxes similar to the HTC Vive, meaning you need to set those up in a room first. It's not as self-contained as the Quest 2 or HP Reverb G2, which can track the room with in-headset cameras. It's also definitely not wireless, but if you already have some older HTC Vive hardware, you could add on parts of the Index to mix and match.

Read our Valve Index review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Good: Plenty of games; lower price; works with many PS4 controllers like the DualShock and Move

Bad: Resolution isn't cutting-edge; Sony hasn't yet made great VR controllers that match the competition, but the PSVR 2 will bring plenty of upgrades

Sony's nearly six-year-old PSVR headset is still the only head-mounted display for gaming consoles, and it still offers a surprisingly immersive experience. But with the PSVR 2 expected to arrive later this year, anyone who has a PS5 should wait for what should be far superior hardware and a new game library to go with it. The PS5 works with the old PSVR, but it's clunky and requires a breakout box full of wires to connect. It also needs outdated PlayStation Move controllers for some games, or your old PS4 controllers and camera, plus a camera adapter, to work. 

The cost of a PS5 and PSVR 2 could be very expensive, far beyond the $400 all-in price of a Quest 2, but it could be a far more advanced gaming platform for VR.

Playing PSVR on a PS4 still holds up, though. Sony has delivered -- and continues to deliver -- many excellent virtual reality games, many of them exclusives. (A few good games to start with are listed here.) Note that this PlayStation VR headset is increasingly hard to get, and that may continue as Sony pivots to PSVR 2.

You're receiving price alerts for Sony PlayStation VR

VR FAQs

Should I wait to buy a VR headset?

There are a lot of expected headsets this year and next year, as I mentioned above: Meta's Project Cambria, PlayStation VR 2 and Apple's mystery device. There are bound to be others. VR is a technology that's still in flux, with companies aiming for products that are smaller and more able to be connected to devices like phones. It's probably best to spend as little as possible to avoid investing in outdated gear. The Quest 2 is still the best value and most complete headset even at its higher price, but a true Quest 3 upgrade could be arriving next year, and competition is likely to increase.

What should I look for in a VR headset?

It depends, really, on whether you're connecting to a PC or not... and whether you plan to do work with it. There are plenty of Windows-compatible headsets, but they vary in display resolution. Higher is better, and so is a larger field of view. Headsets can refresh at up to 120Hz now, and the faster they can refresh, the more natural and smooth VR movement feels. Most PC VR headsets have similar controller designs, and can bridge to work tools and apps. For portability or stand-alone comfort, the Quest 2 doesn't have any competition right now. For gamers with a game console, the PlayStation VR is the only option, but you'll probably want to wait for the PSVR 2 if you have a PS5. Also, consider the app libraries: the Quest has a lot of exclusive games, Windows-connected headsets have lots of compatibility with work apps and experimental tools, and Sony's PlayStation library has unique VR games, too.

Do any of these headsets work with phones?

The old world of phone-based VR headsets -- like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream -- are basically dead. A good number of the current iPhone, Android and VR app options don't even work with the old mobile VR goggles. The Quest 2 does have a phone app for streaming content for a parent to monitor, and can receive phone notifications and sync some health data for workouts, but it's still not fully integrated with phones. If smartphone-based VR comes back, it will more likely be in the form of small headsets that plug into phones via USB-C for VR content, VR gaming and other uses.

How do I care for my VR headset?

VR headsets can get dusty and grimy. Take extra care with the lenses, which should be cleaned gently with microfiber cloths the same way you'd treat glasses (don't use liquids). It's a good idea to invest in a silicone cover to protect the face plate from sweat and dirt, or look for extra face covers to swap out over time. It's a very good idea to keep your headset covered when not in use. Take extra care not to expose your VR headset to bright sunlight: The sun can damage VR displays if beams hit the lenses of the headset. (To be safe, I keep mine in cases, or turn the lenses away from windows.)

More for gamers