Now that virtual reality is finally inching towards mainstream use, you may be wondering just how much a VR headset actually costs. These devices used to be particularly expensive affairs, but with tech growing cheaper and a rising demand for affordable kit, we're actually seeing the best VR headsets sitting at some reasonable prices.
Interestingly, however, it's the cheaper VR headsets that haven't quite made it through to today's renewed interest. The Oculus Go and Google Daydream both brought VR to the masses with sub-$100 price tags, but the experience was unrefined, suffering from the teething problems associated with every new technological venture. These days, we've learned that for palatable virtual reality (or at least a virtual reality experience you'll want to spend any significant length of time in), headset prices start at around $300 / £300.
Of course, you'll still find budget VR headsets available for under $30 / £30, but the real good stuff starts at $299. We're running through each price point; cheap, mid-range, and premium, to find out exactly how much a VR headset should cost you, depending on the features and specs you're looking for.
|Cheap||$15 - $50||Smaller brands, usually running off smartphones|
|Mid-range||$300 - $600||Oculus Quest 2, HP Reverb G2|
|Premium||$800 - $1,000||HTC Vive Pro 2, Valve Index|
How much is a cheap VR headset?
The cheapest VR headset used to be the Google Cardboard - a $9.99 box made out of (yep) cardboard. The premise here was simply; fold the card around your phone and stick it on your head. Since the demise of Google's first iteration, we've seen a multitude of cheap devices hitting the market. At under $50 / £50, you'll find a headset designed to hold and run off your smartphone, with a comfortable strap, ventilation in the padding, and anti-glare lenses that should help with any motion sickness.
These budget devices can cost as little as $15 but don't offer the full-scale VR experience advertised today. Instead, you'll be limited to smaller gyro-based mini-games, 360° video apps, and social spaces, as very few of these cheaper models offer controllers or body tracking.
However, if you're looking to test the feeling of this technology before investing in a more expensive headset, there's no harm in toying with one of these more novelty-focused gadgets. You'll be able to see if it's a playstyle you can get behind, though it's worth keeping in mind that you'll likely experience more visual disturbances (and the motion sickness that can come with them).
How much is a mid-range VR headset?
VR headsets for PC don't really exist in the $100 - $300 price range. While console-specific sets like the Nintendo Switch Labo system and PlayStation VR (PSVR 2 will likely come in a little pricier) will sit a lot cheaper, the experience for PC owners is very different. The fact is that, while this tech is certainly getting cheaper, there's no way to scale down these components and still provide good value for money. We wouldn't recommend investing this much cash in a headset that's still going to run off your smartphone - the experience just wouldn't justify the investment. The cheapest mid-range headset, then, is the Oculus Quest 2.
At $299.99 / £299.99, this is the most popular headset on the market - and the model we'd recommend to the vast majority of first-timers. A self-contained unit that runs off its own CPU, while also connecting to a PC or laptop for more demanding titles, the Quest 2 is the de facto choice for most people. There's enough power under the hood to offer a quality virtual reality experience, but you're not spending on high-end tracking or a more luxurious display resolution.
A mid-range VR headset can cost anything up to around $600. The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and HP Reverb G2 both also fall into this category, but the former does have a few caveats blurring the line between mid-range and top of the line. We often see this with headsets priced at over $500 - you can pick up the device itself for this mid-range price point, but you'll be spending around $200 on extra tracking stations to make this a truly premium product.
How much is a high-end VR headset?
If you're looking for the best of the best, you can expect to around $800 and over. The HTC Vive Pro 2 comes in at $799 and boosts your experience over cheaper devices with a greater 2448×2448 per eye resolution and motion tracking enhancements. Right at the top of the scale, though, you'll be spending $999 on the full Valve Index kit. The headset by itself is $499.99 but needs its pricey tracking stations and controllers to work. This is the very top of the range, with the latest in display and tracking technology and the capability to run incredibly demanding games.