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Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive: Which VR headset should you buy?

evan kypreos


Both PC heavyweight VR headsets are out in the wild, so it’s time we put them through their paces to help you decide whether you should buy the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

When I first discovered that HTC was making a VR competitor to the Oculus Rift, I thought that the review I’d write of both products would take the form of a straightforward shootout.

The reality is very different.

Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive take great first steps in a world where virtual reality is commonplace, but having spent time with both I can attest that they take very different paths.

This makes deciding which is better a tricky proposition. Both have strengths and weaknesses but the nub is this: where you can walk around when using the HTC Vive, resulting in a more immersive and truly ground-breaking experience.

The Oculus Rift lets you play sat down for hours at a time, but the experiences are less incredible.

Of course, there’s far more to it than that, so read on to find out why both virtual-reality headsets are brilliant in their own ways.

Video: Watch our in-depth Rift vs Vive comparison

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive – Setup

One of the most obvious ways that the two VR headsets differ becomes apparent right from the start at setup.

It’s a given that you’ll need a very powerful PC to run both. Minimum requirements are similar, but you’ll also need to consider the space in which you’ll be using the device.

The Oculus Rift is a doddle to get ready. I plugged in the headset, sensor and Xbox One controller Wi-Fi stick, and was up and running in less than 10 minutes. I didn’t have a single sticking point on any of the three PCs I connected it to.

The HTC Vive is far more involved. For a start, there’s the space you’ll need to fully utilise it. HTC suggests 2 x 1.5m is enough; in our opinion the ideal room would be closer to 3m x 3m, which is a big investment if you don’t live in a mansion.

It comes with two sensors that need to be placed high and at opposite corners of the room. These require power and are supplied with mounting brackets, the idea being that you’d screw them into the wall permanently.

Video: HTC Vive unboxing

The headset itself also requires power, via a link box that connects it to the PC.

Once all the above is sorted, and you’ve run through the Vive’s lengthy installation process (including following such advice as “remove pets”), you’ll still have to update firmware on the headset and controllers.

With everything in place, I was good to go. Within minutes I discovered that the long cables often get in the way, and I regularly had to rearrange myself so as not to get too tied up when walking around.

The Oculus Rift is undoubtedly easier to set up, but the bigger issue is whether you have the space available to dedicate to the Vive. If the answer is no then its biggest advantage, being able to stand and move around, is negated.

Related: PlayStation VR review

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Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive – Controllers

Playing games in VR offers a totally different experience to using a TV or monitor. Having a 360-degree, three-dimensional environment means you can be far more involved.

There’s no doubt that the HTC Vive is able to take advantage of these incredible virtual worlds to a greater degree – and that’s mainly due to its controllers.

The Vive’s wireless controllers are a triumph in design and usability. You get two – one for each hand – and they’re visible, floating in the air, when you don the headset.

The triggers are in the perfect place for your index finger, making shooting games – such as Hover Junkers – a dream to play. There’s a clever button in the grip, too, that makes picking up objects feel intuitive; simply clench your fist.

Related: Oculus Rift vs PlayStation VR

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While I’m not a huge fan of the touch pads on the Steam Controller, they work brilliantly on the Vive. You can use them to flick through menus, plus they adapt depending on the application. This means you can have a scroll wheel for flicking through weapons, or make each corner of the pad a different button – it’s dead clever.

If I have any gripes it’s that the menu button is a bit of a stretch to reach, and I’d like more than the 4-5 hours of battery life.

By contrast, the Oculus Rift comes bundled with an Xbox One controller.

There’s nothing wrong with it, but it isn’t designed with virtual reality in mind – and it shows. Pure VR games such as Vanishing Realms and the upcoming Arizona Sunshine simply won’t work with it. However, it’s still excellent for sit-down gaming, such as the brilliantly addictive Eve: Valkyrie.

Oculus has designed its own Vive-like controllers, but they’re not yet available and will need to be bought separately when they do finally arrive.

The HTC Vive’s controllers are a great asset to the package and, if you have the space to take full advantage of them, serve to make the Vive a far more tempting proposition than the Oculus Rift.

Related: Oculus Touch review

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive – Design and comfort

One of the major differences between the Vive and Rift is their design, with both headsets prioritising different aspects.

Everything about the Rift screams design with one thing in mind – lightness.

Like ultimate sports cars built for the track, it’s stripped down to the bare essentials while retaining strength and slick looks.

Touch fabric wraps around the lenses and a thin plastic cover on the front provides rigidity. It’s an austere look, but a handsome one. There’s only one control, which allows you to adjust the spacing of the lens.

Video: Oculus Rift unboxing

The straps on the headset are thin and light, too, enabling you to achieve a tight fit on your head, thereby minimising movement and rattle.

Even the built-in, on-ear 3D headphones are designed to shave off a few grams from the final weight of the headset.

By contrast, the HTC Vive is full of bells and whistles.

The lenses are clad in thick, dimpled plastic that in my opinion looks more stylish than that of the Rift’s finish. The Vive also features a front-facing camera, power off button and knob for lens adjustment.

It uses a similar system of velcro straps to fit heads of various shape and size, but these don’t go as far back on the head. Initially, this makes the Vive feel a little like it might fall off

your head. It won’t – but there’s certainly more movement on the head than there is with the Rift.

Both headsets use foam to provide a cushion for your face, but I preferred the thicker one on the Vive. I have a big nose, so was pleased to discover that both headsets sit well on my head and block out all light. However, testing them on those with daintier features I discovered gaps around the nose bridge that let in light.

The HTC Vive includes additional foam inserts and nose pads to resolve such issues, but the Oculus Rift doesn’t, so you’ll have to work something else out if it’s a problem.

While the Vive’s foam is thicker, it isn’t more comfortable than the Rift overall. The Oculus weighs 470g with headphones, where the Vive weighs 555g without headphones. That may not sound like much, but it is. I had no issues playing on the Rift for hours at a time; but I’ve found my neck straining following extended sessions with the Vive and headphones.

When it comes to design and comfort, the Oculus Rift comes out front – those integrated headphones sound great, without adding much weight to the overall unit.

Video: Trusted Explains – What is VR?

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive – Games and software

The Oculus Rift comes bundled with Eve: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Both are polished games with plenty to offer – and Valkyrie, in particular, offers memorable moments of frantic gameplay.

The Vive’s freebies provide more of a showcase of its capabilities than games you’ll want to play for hours on end.

Fantastic Contraption lets you build machines to complete tasks, like a less violent version of Besiege. It’s great fun and gets the creative juices flowing.

Job Simulator, on the other hand, is brilliantly accessible for gaming and VR newbies alike, while Tilt Brush isn’t a game at all but rather an 3D canvas for creating beautiful “paintings”.

Watch the 10 best games on HTC Vive:

The HTC Vive’s bundled games are the more impressive initially, but you’ll get over the novelty pretty quickly. The Rift’s games, on the other hand, are a lot more involved, and I found myself frequently returning to Eve: Valkyrie in an attempt to improve.

Of course, these aren’t the only games you can get. Arguably, the HTC Vive’s strongest games have to be bought, and there are a couple of crackers that have proved to be a blast. Multiplayer shooter Hover Junkers is superb if a little rough around the edges, but my favourite is Vanishing Realms. Even though it’s still in early access, it provides a solid few hours of monster smashing.

It reminded me of Zelda on the Wii. You can fight with sword and shield, bow or magical staff, all of which require different moves with the controllers – and there were two occasions when I realised I was totally immersed.

HTC Vive Pre

The first was when I saw some gold beneath a spinning scythe. I went too close the first time and it knocked off my head, so I lay on the floor and crawled under it the second time. I don’t mean I made my character crawl; I mean I went down on my belly and inched my real body forward, all to get a few gold pieces because I wanted a better sword.

The second must have looked even more comical in real life. In classic RPG fashion, you can eat to recover health points. You do this by moving food in your hand to your mouth. I found a nice juicy apple and moved it towards my head and found myself opening my mouth – in real life – to take a bite. I’m just glad I was at home alone.

By contrast, most of the Oculus Rift’s games feel like they can be played on a normal monitor or TV as well. In some ways Chronos is similar to Vanishing Realms, and is a superb game in its own right – but the mere fact that it’s third person and using an Xbox controller makes it far less immersive.

That’s the core difference between these two headsets – their experiences are different. The Vive’s is the more impressive, when it works well, but I keep being drawn to the Oculus Rift for a proper evening of gaming.

Both headsets have their own portals to access games, although in the case of the Vive, you can also use Steam.

I found Oculus Home to be the slicker and easier to navigate and use. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better suited to virtual reality than Steam is currently.

Related: Oculus Rift vs HoloLens

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive — Image and sound quality

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets pack very similar hardware specs. Both have dual OLED displays with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,200 per eye, both have a 90Hz refresh rate and 110-degree field of view, and both need very similar PC requirements to run.

Interestingly, I didn’t suffer any nausea with the HTC Vive – something that caused me to abandon using the Oculus Rift on occasion. I don’t think this has anything to do with the hardware, however.

Games on the Vive tend to use a fixed camera, whereas the games on the Rift were all first person, allowing me to rotate using the Xbox controller’s right analogue stick as well as look around.

Both headsets appear a little pixellated, but it’s possible to see more of the Vive’s sub-pixel array on occasion, meaning the red, green and blue lights of which the pixels are made are a little visible.

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Due to the way the lenses wrap the screen, you also get some light-rays at the edges of your vision, but I find this less of an issue on the Vive. On the other hand, I find text easier to read using the Oculus; it seems to blur less when I move my head while reading.

Both headsets have their pros and cons when it comes to the screens, which makes them quite even. Neither is perfect – to achieve that both would require a significant boost in resolution.

For sound, however, the Rift is streets ahead. The attached headphones may not look like much – in fact, one of the TrustedReviews team compared them to airplane headphones – but they sound great and are very comfortable. If you don’t like them, you can remove them and use your own headset.

The HTC Vive comes with a pair of in-ear headphones that are attached to the headset via a 3.5mm jack. They sound okay, but proved annoying as they kept popping out. In the end, I opted to use my over-ear gaming headset instead. This improved the sound drastically, but also added more weight – I found my neck became tired soon after wearing the the Vive and headphones for more than half an hour at a time.

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive — Other Things to Consider

Of the two virtual-reality headsets, the HTC Vive is the more expensive at £689/$799; the Oculus Rift costs £499/$599. That’s a fair difference, and I’d also argue that the games bundled with the Rift with will keep you entertained for far longer than the Vive’s offerings.

Buy Now: HTC Vive at Amazon.com from $949

However, those Vive controllers are awesome, and I expect the Rift’s motion controllers are likely to cost a fair sum when they’re released, making the price difference between the two headsets negligible.

Buy Now: Oculus Rift at Amazon.com from $798

The HTC Vive also comes with a front-facing camera that lets you see what’s going on in the real world. This is extremely useful and is a feature from which the Oculus Rift would benefit. On the other hand, the Rift has a sensor that recognises when the headset is no longer on your head – take it off and it will automatically pause the game you’re playing, which is neat.

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Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive — Which should you buy?

Picking between these two virtual-reality headsets is tricky, but I’d say that it depends on how you want to experience virtual reality.

If you have the space to dedicate to it then the HTC Vive is the one to go for – no doubt about it. It provides the more incredible experiences, even if they’re short-lived, but you can use it like the Rift too, although it’s less comfortable.

If, on the other hand, you’re planning to play sat down then you should consider buying the Oculus Rift, and save a bit of money in the process.

Neither are perfect, yet, and nor should they be – this is the very start of true virtual reality following the numerous false dawns over the years. However, both are hugely impressive and will be a must-have for any tech-head. There’s also already a healthy catalogue of titles to keep you occupied, with many more great games in the pipeline.

What would be the first thing that you would do with a VR headset? Let us know in the comments below.


July 2, 2015, 11:12 pm

There is nothing special about the xbox one thing, the only thing in the partnership is the controller. Valve announced that Vive will be able to do the same thing because that is a feature of Windows 10, not an Oculas exclusive.

And you are also forgetting about FOVE which will most likely be replacing Oculas as Samsung's GearVR choice (samsung is an investor)


It allows you to have lower spec pc due to the focus, and it will support Valve's lighthouse.

As for controller, both are bad, something like GloveOne which allows haptic feedback is the best option.



July 3, 2015, 1:35 am

Nice article and well written. I'm excited to try all three. Steam has a huge platform for games already and I imagine VR fitting into it perfect, and Facebook has funny money to throw at VR. So let the battle of VR fans begin. Lets hope it stays more cordial then the console wars.


July 3, 2015, 11:41 am

I never had chance to use any of those glasses but I have some concerns.

How harmful are they for eyes? Having 2 monitors very close to eyes. If you play it for long time, will it harm eyes in long run? I already have some discomfort looking at sun in games like Alien: Isolation (on monitor), have to close eyes or turn away from it or close it with my hand. How it would be with glasses?

And another question would you lose touch with reality if you play too much? Straight 10 hours or so. How would it affect your sanity?

And the third question, how would it affect "tryhard" games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Unreal Tournament? Are you going to lose advantage vs monitor, gain advantage or it will be same?

No one probably know those questions yet.


July 3, 2015, 2:45 pm

These HMDs don't have that in your face feeling like the old personal home theater glasses of 10+ years ago/ The lenses trick the eyes actually. It feels like you're focusing at about arm's length. ( I know this because I used it both with and without glasses. The blur is what I'd expect without my glasses ).

T Sheehan

July 3, 2015, 9:24 pm

A headline like "which should you buy" is pure clickbait. Show a little more integrity and just tag it as something akin to "The Current VR Heavyweights Contenders, but which will take the Title *WHEN THE FIGHT BEGINS*?"


July 4, 2015, 2:20 am

So how in the world will the xbox one run this ?...its far from high end...


July 4, 2015, 2:26 am

I'm running an i5 16gig ram...500gb ssd drive r290x and still get some judder on some high end games with my dk2....i see the xbox one very limited on gaming in vr

D. Aberdeen

July 4, 2015, 9:25 am

"you’ll also be able to stream Xbox One games to your Oculus in a virtual reality living room."
Rift. You stream games to your Rift. Oculus belongs to Facebook.

Jared Tapia

July 6, 2015, 8:11 pm

You still have to have a gaming computer to run it with the Xbox. If you have Windows 10, you can already stream Xbox One games to your PC, this just turns the stream into a virtual screen in a virtual living room.

Xbox One --> PC --> Oculus Rift

The only thing extra that the Xbox is doing is streaming the video, which it already basically does with the hardware they packed into it. This just makes it viewable in the Rift.

In reality, you may actually be able to run this BETTER than you currently can with your native games. The only thing your PC will be doing is rendering the static living room and be slapping a video on the wall, which it can do with relative ease already.

Jared Tapia

July 6, 2015, 8:12 pm

Copying what I said to another commenter:

You still have to have a gaming computer to run it with the Xbox. If you have Windows 10, you can already stream Xbox One games to your PC, this just turns the stream into a virtual screen in a virtual living room.

Xbox One --> PC --> Oculus Rift

The only thing extra that the Xbox is doing is streaming the video, which it already basically does with the hardware they packed into it. This just makes it viewable in the Rift.

Ironbunny IonBunny

July 23, 2015, 6:25 pm

too early to tell. Vive seems like a better option. Backed by a huge dev group and the favorite game library platform steam. But really i think i may hold off til both vive and oculus comes out. Then see what they have to offer and pick the best one. Unless vive comes out with half life 3. Then i'd buy it without question. As long as half life 3 is slapped somewhere. We all know valve been waiting for something revolutionary.. or close to it.. to make next half life game special and ground breaking as was hl1 and hl2. So maybe they'll really release half life 3 for vive.. or at least announce it at it's release. If virtual reality isn't that ground breaking tech valve was talking about all this time.. idk what is. WHY WONT YOU GIVE ME THAT EXPERIENCE GABE?!

Travis Stitt

July 26, 2015, 3:35 am

You are an idiot. The rift and the oculus are the same thing. They're synonymous. It's called "The Oculus Rift"

Nelu Ungureanu

August 7, 2015, 7:01 pm

so if i own an older i5 2300 @ 2.8ghz will bottleneck my gtx 970 witch i plan to buy?
I know its off topic but will sure use some advise. thank you

Logan Russo

August 12, 2015, 8:26 pm

No Oculus is the company that produces the Rift. It's liking saying you will be able to steam Xbox One games to your Samsung.


August 13, 2015, 12:52 pm

Why would I want to steam my XBone games to a virtual living room, alone, while sitting in an office chair, when I already have my XBox in a real living room, with a lag free TV, sitting on my comfortable couch, where friends and family can be involved? This seems like such a campy feature. Furthermore...It wont even free up my TV for someone else to use without some rejiggering of wires because Microsoft encouraged me to connect my Cable box through it. So now, not only am I using two gaming systems, for a party trick I can only assume, I'm occupying both entertainment centers entirely, AND I'm ignoring my family while doing so. This just screams bad idea. Atleast Nintendo and Sony put a remote play device, with its own screen, in my hands, so I could enjoy my games while the tv is being used to watch bachelor or some other reality show garbage.

Travis Stitt

August 13, 2015, 8:28 pm

Think of it like this. The Xbox 360 can be called an "xbox" or a "360". The company that owns it is Microsoft. Just like you can call it an "oculus" or a "rift". And the company that owns it is Facebook. And your analogy makes no sense by the way.

William Curtis

August 19, 2015, 1:08 pm

Not really, The Oculus Rift can be know as either the 'Oculus' or the ' Rift' (or the 'Oculus Rift'), but the company that makes it is 'Oculus', a subsidiary of Facebook. It's like when you buy a car from Chevy. It is made by Chevrolet, which is in turn owned by General Motors who gets all the profit.

Travis Stitt

August 19, 2015, 5:47 pm

Yeah dude that's exactly what I just said...? I'm trying to tell these guys that there is nothing wrong with calling it 'Oculus'. I have the DK2 and i don't refer to it as the "DK2" i just call it the 'Oculus'. I tell my girlfriend that I'm going to go play with the 'Oculus' not the 'DK2'. Everyone I know refers to it as the 'Oculus' not the 'Rift'. Just like people say that they need to wipe their nose with a 'Kleenex' and not a 'facial tissue'. 'Kleenex' is a brand name and 'facial tissue' is what the actual product is called. What I'm trying to say is that the guy who wrote the article is not wrong in saying that "you will be able to stream xbox games to the 'oculus'." You can call it 'Rift' if you want but there is also nothing wrong with calling it the 'Oculus'.


September 5, 2015, 4:37 pm

Depends on whether you have a cinema sized screen in your living room or not lol. It will basically give your Xbox One game a screen in VR that's bigger than the one you have in the real world.


October 24, 2015, 4:13 pm

in short: yes!


October 24, 2015, 4:21 pm

1: There is no reason why it would harm your eyes to be close to a monitor. There was a myth before that your eyes would be harmed if you were too close to the TV, but as i said, that was a myth. There could possibly be discomfort of beeing near a monitor with too much brightness or too low resolution, but as these VR's are made to be so close it would be no problem.
Also, it is supposed to simulating reality. Most people would know you should't stare at the sun or anything that would make it uncomfortable.

2: How it would affect your sanity is entirely up the the individual person. For some it would never be a problem, for some, there was a problem already with the first gaming consoles or TV. Act with caution if you have underlying mental problems.


January 7, 2016, 5:51 pm

For me the camera in the Vive is enough to make it the most appealing. That coupled with the 'lighthouse' beacons that will allow you to physically move around in the space, I think it's a clear winner.
I've not used either, so can't comment on screen quality, but from what I've read the Oculus may have the upper hand there currently. Hopefully they'll both release full specs soon.

Ken Chong

January 10, 2016, 7:32 am

Vive for sure, backed by Valve, and steam ready, no kidding man.
and bigger problem is, 599 USD for a package including Xbox controller???
my Oculus Rift dev kit already collecting dust on the shelf

Andrew Thompson

January 10, 2016, 2:47 pm

Saying that the vive is better than oculus because you can walk around is ridiculous, no normal person has a 15 x 15 room in their home that is empty, so walking around is out of the question. It will only end in accidents. As for the motion sickness, your brain gets used to it after so long, which is why it states you need to play for short periods of time to start with and gradually your brain gets used to VR.

When i first got my Dk2 i was motion sick the first few times, but i got used to it and can play skyrim for hours in VR, sitting in a chair. The motion sickness is much much worse if you use the analog stick to look around with, rather than using your actual head.

Being able to walk around is a gimmick, its stupid. How are you meant to be immersed in an open world VR game when walking around, when you are limited to the size of your room? You will need to walk the length of your room, turning 180 degrees every 10 steps, just to walk in a straight line in the game that is larger than your room........ GREAT!

The 360 degree treadmills will solve this problem, and they are compatible with all VR headsets, so at the end of the day, Go for the best headset for its visual quality and specs, not for the fact that you can walk 10 feet then need to turn around because you are confined to your rooms walls.

Tom Old

January 10, 2016, 10:29 pm

Sell it, bro! Just got £300 for mine.

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