The first virtual reality helmets appeared on the market 25 years ago. Then the technology was quite raw, and the industry quickly forgot about this direction. The renaissance began 8 years ago with the development of the Oculus Rift. The mobile device promised a revolution: with a creak, but it was a success.

Following this, many IT companies announced their developments in the field of virtual and augmented reality. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Valve, HTC, HP, Samsung (there is even a helmet for the Playstation from Sony) and other lesser-known companies have released their devices. Each new model gets rid of the shortcomings of the previous one. If earlier the placement of the so-called base stations around the apartment (which tracked the position of the helmet in space) was a prerequisite, now there are models with built-in sensors. With each new model, the resolution of the built-in screens, their hertz, the quality of the built-in sound and other characteristics are growing.

Naturally, the more advanced and modern the model is, the more expensive it is, but there is a second “disadvantage” – VR helmets do not yet work without a powerful PC (but this is also temporary).

True, there are many models that work with a smartphone. Their design is a plastic or cardboard case with built-in lenses and a smartphone holder that acts as a display. The decision, frankly, is controversial, and such models were not included in this collection. We are interested in helmets that work in conjunction with a PC – so to speak, at the forefront of the gaming industry.

Oculus Rift S: bestseller

  • overall resolution: 2560×1440
  • refresh rate: 80Hz
  • jack: 3.5mm
  • motion controller included
  • Minimum PC Requirements: Intel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or higher; graphics card NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or higher; RAM 8 GB or more; DisplayPort 1.2; USB 3.0; Windows 10
  • Price: from 36,100 rubles.

Everything is perfect in this model: high resolution, built-in motion sensors, manipulator controllers included. There is exactly one drawback – the inability to adjust the interpupillary distance. So if you have a non-standard facial physiology, the picture can be greatly distorted and blurred. We recommend that you first test the helmet for individual compatibility in a store or VR club in your city. The low price makes them a bestseller.

Samsung HMD Odyssey: advanced version

  • resolution overall: 2880×1600 / per eye: 1440×1600
  • refresh rate: 90Hz
  • viewing angle: 110°
  • Windows Mixed Reality
  • interpupillary distance adjustment
  • built-in headphones
  • motion controller included
  • Minimum PC Requirements: Windows 10 – Creators Update, Intel Desktop i5 or AMD FX-4350 , NVIDIA GTX 1050 – AMD Radeon RX 460, RAM – 8 GB
  • Price: from 49 990 rubles.

The main feature, in addition to rich packaging, is Windows Mixed Reality (MXR) technology. The helmet has built-in outward-facing cameras that monitor changes in the position of the helmet relative to the environment and transmit information to the running application. In fact, the helmet can be described as one of the most affordable helmets with MXR technology.

HTC VIVE Pro Eye Full Kit: a constructor for those in the know

  • resolution overall: 2880×1600 / per eye: 1440×1600
  • refresh rate: 90Hz
  • viewing angle: 110°
  • interpupillary distance adjustment
  • built-in headphones
  • motion controller included
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350; RAM: 4 GB or more; video output: DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 port or faster; Windows 8.1 or higher
  • built-in microphone, front camera, HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, USB-C 3.0, DP 1.2, Bluetooth, SteamVR Tracking, accurate eye tracking
  • Price: from 119,990 rubles.

HTC glasses are the powerhouse of VR technology. A bunch of features, including eye tracking, is a great confirmation of this. The price bites, but there is a way out! Firstly, you can buy only a helmet (without controllers and external sensors), then the purchase amount will drop by almost half. Secondly, parts like the same controllers and external trackers are interchangeable with the previous generation. That is, you can buy a new helmet, but purchase trackers and controllers from the previous generation. Save more, although you have to hunt in the secondary market.

Valve Index VR Kit: heavy artillery

  • resolution per eye: 1440×1600
  • refresh rate: 144Hz
  • interpupillary distance adjustment
  • built-in headphones: 3.5 mm jack
  • motion controller included
  • OS: Windows 10, Processor: Dual Core with Hyper-Threading, RAM: 8 GB RAM, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970; AMD RX480, DisplayPort 1.2 USB 2.0
  • 2 SteamVR 2.0 Base Stations
  • Price: from 149,990 rubles.

To begin with, the best VR game to date is Half-Life: Alyx, and it was developed for this helmet, although it is also available on other VR systems. Includes 2 controllers and 2 base stations. Overall, this is the best helmet in terms of visual experience. The picture and sound, according to many users and experts, are the best on the market. Of the minuses: there are problems with tracking fingers and the general fragility of the controllers. And in Russia, the helmet is not officially sold.

Pimax 8K Plus: an option for techno-maniacs

  • resolution per eye: 3840×2160
  • refresh rate: 90Hz
  • viewing angle: 200°
  • interpupillary distance adjustment
  • jack: 3.5 mm
  • Windows 10, NVIDIA RTX 2060, Intel I5-9400, 8GB RAM, USB2.0/3.0, DP1.2
  • Price: from 84,900 rubles.

We learn the virtual world mainly through the eyes, Pimax 8K Plus offers to look at the virtual world through two 4k displays, one per eye. You won’t find a higher pixel density today. Base stations and controllers are not included with the device, they will have to be purchased separately. On the plus side, accessories from HTC Vive and other brands are compatible with the device.

If you prefer traditional consoles, it would be useful to read our article where we compare the next hits: Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.


VR glasses