Choosing a VR Headset
What to consider when choosing a VR Headset
Last updated on April 8, 2022
Over the past several years, the number of Virtual Reality Headsets has expanded to give users several options to choose from when deciding on what headset to use. When making a decision about what headset to use it's important to take the following into consideration:
1. What are your needs from a headset - how will you be primarily using it? 2. Do you prefer standalone or tethered? 3. Headset Specifications 4. What is your VR "system" budget?
Your needs from a headset
This is an important question to start with as this can help you decide how 'big' or 'small' you want to go. VR 'systems' - that's the headset and computer setup can range in price from as low as $300 to as high as $15,000 depending on your needs and how you configure your setup. If you just need a headset to get going in VR and try things out, then the lower cost configurations such as a standalone $300 Oculus Quest 2 will be a perfectly viable solution. However if you plan on spending a lot of time in VR and have a need for high resolution imaging, then you may need a more high end setup that can support higher resolution displays and more data.
Standalone or tethered
A "Standalone" headset is a headset that can be used on it's own without any outside tracking systems, and without the need to be connected to a computer. The Oculus Quest 2 is a fully standalone VR headset - the computer, power and speakers are all embedded inside the headset. A tethered headset is one that requires a computer to be connected in order to work. Most headsets are tethered as they can take advantage of much more powerful graphics cards compared to a standalone system.
While Standalone systems offer more flexibility and are easier to travel with, they can be limited in their performance as they are essentially using similar processors as mobile phones. That said, the flexibility they offer may be more advantageous depending on your needs.
What are the primary headset specifications that really matter?
- Refresh Rate
Resolution:Headset resolution determines how sharp the image will appear in front of you - in general, the higher the resolution, the sharper the image. Because your eyes are so close to the displays inside the headset, the pixel density for VR has to be much higher than a typical computer monitor. If you look really closely at most computer monitors, you will easily be able to see the pixels that make up the image. In VR, low resolution headsets create something that is referred to as a "Screen Door" effect -- basically it appears as if you are looking through a screen door because you can see the separation of the pixels. Higher resolution means you have more pixels, and therefore a sharper image. It also requires more computing power to drive those pixels, which is why higher resolution headsets are tethered and require a computer. All current VR headsets on the market offer good pixel density and the screen door effect of previous generation headsets has pretty much been eliminated.
Refresh rate is how fast the image in front of you refreshes, or changes. Again, the higher the number, the smoother movements in VR will appear. Refresh rates are measured in hertz, or n/1Second where n = the number of times the image refreshes. So a 60hz refresh rate means that the image will completely change 60 times per second. For gaming, higher refresh rate is important because things are moving quickly and as a player you will want to see what is happening fast and smoothly.
For gravity Sketch, Refresh Rates of 70hz or above will appear smooth and will be fine. Higher rates that some headsets are capable of will result in a smoother experience, but won't drastically make a difference. All current VR headsets on the market offer totally acceptable and usable refresh rates that will work great for Gravity Sketch. That said, if you plan on doing any gaming, you may want to look at ones that can handle higher rates.
What is your VR 'System' Budget
Just a few years ago getting into VR meant that you would need a powerful PC Tower or Laptop, and an expensive VR headset - essentially getting into VR would cost you around $2500 at the very minimum. These days a lot has changed, and you get get started in VR for as little as $300 with the Oculus Quest 2, without the need for a computer. However, if you want a higher resolution headset, or more power, you will want to start considering what your VR 'System' budget is. This is largely dictated by your needs and what kind of performance you are seeking. Gravity Sketch runs very well on any supported headset and graphics card. That said, it also is capable of taking full advantage of higher end systems, however as a user, you should know that at a certain point, you won't notice much of a difference as Gravity Sketch doesn't require things like super high frame rate, and super fast response rates. As a creation tool, the primary factor that will affect Gravity Sketch is a models overall complexity. That said, if you plan on using your VR headset for gaming, or with other applications that require more performance, this is important to keep in mind when creating your system budget.
We hope this small guide to helping you understand what to consider when choosing your headset has been helpful. If you have any questions when deciding, or if you feel we left something out here, don't hesitate to let us know.