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Oculus just announced not one, but two new VR headsets coming this year: the PC-based Oculus Rift S and the standalone Oculus Quest. Here’s how these new headsets compare to their predecessors and competitors.

The Latest in PC-Based VR – Oculus Rift S


The Oculus Rift S is, as its name suggests, a minor upgrade to the original Oculus Rift. Like the Rift, it connects to your gaming PC with a cable for high-end VR gaming, either standing, sitting, or with room-scale play. The new Rift S costs $399, has a sleeker and “more balanced” headset (despite being slightly heavier), and boasts built-in room tracking so you don’t need to place sensors around your play area. This is partially due to its updated Touch controllers as well, which are redesigned versions of the much-lauded Touch controllers on the original Rift.

The Rift S also increases your per-eye resolution to 1280×1440, as well as slightly increasing your field of view. Finally, it includes a new feature called “Passthrough+” that allows a mixed reality-esque view of the room around you through a camera–no need to take your headset off to map your room. In other words, it’s a decent upgrade to the Rift that might not be enough to tempt current owners, but contains welcome improvements for new buyers.

The Tethered Competition – HTC Vive (and Vive Pro)


The Oculus Rift is largely regarded as the better all-around PC VR headset these days in terms of comfort and controller design, but the HTC Vive has always had a few big advantages of its own. HTC’s room-scale setup is widely seen as superior to the original Rift’s, with the lighthouses providing more robust tracking over a larger play space, at the cost of a few hundred more dollars ($499).

We haven’t used the Rift S’ new tracking system yet, so we can’t say whether it unseats the Vive, but it’s certainly possible that the Vive could keep its edge. That said, the Vive’s headset is a bit heavier and clunkier, and its resolution is a bit lower than the Rift S at 1080×1200 per eye, meaning you will likely get more of a screen door effect–unless you spring for the $1400 Vive Pro and its 2160×2160 per-eye image. The Vive also offers a separate wireless adapter for $299, which I think is pretty darn good, and which Oculus has no plans to duplicate–that’s a killer feature on its own, if you have the extra cash.

The Standalone Headset to Beat – Oculus Quest

Oculus’ other new headset, the Quest, makes a big push for untethered, PC-free VR. At $399, it’s the same price as the Rift S, though without the need for an expensive gaming computer. Like previous attempts at standalone VR, the Quest uses a mobile processor to run its games–the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to be specific–and 64GB of onboard storage, all of which make the headset a bit heavier and a bit more limited in power than the Rift S.

It also has a surprisingly higher resolution than its tethered sibling, sporting 1440×1600 pixels per eye. However, unlike most current standalone headsets, the Quest includes the same sensors as the Rift S for room-scale gaming without external sensors (though it uses four integrated sensors instead of the Rift S’ five, meaning you’re slightly more limited in the size of your play space). Anyone who’s tried other mobile headsets knows how much of a game changer this is, though, and while the Quest won’t have support for all of the Rift’s games nor the same graphical fidelity, the ability to play without a PC is huge, and likely the future of VR.

Even though I love my HTC Vive, I’m extremely excited to see what the Quest can do.

Cheap and Basic – Oculus Go


It’s hard to put the Oculus Go–or other mobile platforms, like Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View–in the same category as the above headsets. While the Oculus Go is significantly cheaper at $199 (for a 32GB version) or $249 (for a 64GB version), it lacks the larger room-scale features of its more advanced brethren, offering only head tracking and rudimentary controller tracking. It’s still fun, don’t get me wrong–but once you’ve tried a Rift or Vive, the Go just seems a bit weak by comparison.

With the Quest on the horizon, true VR fans will probably want to forego its now-dated predecessor.

If you’re on a tight budget and just want to watch movies in VR or play some basic games, the Go is definitely an enjoyable device, but with the Quest on the horizon, true VR fans will probably want to forego its now-dated predecessor.

These are far from the only headsets on the market, of course, and there are plenty of exciting options to come, like the still-mysterious Vive Cosmos and the wide-field-of-view Pimax 8K. but when it comes to the biggest names in VR, these are the devices you’ll likely look at most closely in the near future. The Rift S is a nice update to the older Rift, and the Quest is an exciting new development in VR. But none of them smoke their competition entirely, and each will have its own niche in the market for now.

Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for ten years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.

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