Buyers Guide: The Best Standalone VR Headsets in 2023

Buyers Guide: The Best Standalone VR Headsets in 2023

Published: 26-01-2023
Updated: 09-10-2023

Every month it feels like a new standalone VR headset is coming to the market, which can make choosing one extremely difficult. 

We have the unique opportunity to test numerous VR headsets every month, and through our testing, we have narrowed it down to 15 VR headsets that you should consider and awarded some with titles like ‘the best overall standalone VR headset’ and ‘the most feature rich’. So you can jump to whatever category you find most interesting.

Pico 4: The best overall VR headset

ProsCons
Great value, cheaper than Quest 2No headphones Jack
4K+ resolutionWired streaming is not user-friendly
Superior comfort
Small and lightweight from the new pancake lens
RGB passthrough for mixed reality
Immersive 105° field of view
User-friendly automatic IPD

The Pico 4 VR headset is hands down the best standalone and all-in-one VR headset. For €429, you get an industry-leading battery life, the new pancake lens for improved visual clarity, small size, feathery weight, and a 4K+ crispy resolution in an immersive 105° FoV.

PicoXR came out swinging in late September 2022 with Pico 4 and Pico 4 Enterprise. As we concluded in our Pico 4 review, “Pico 4 delivers a substantially better visual performance with higher pixels per inch, a wider and immersive field of view, superior comfort, and best of all, at a lower price than Oculus Quest 2 / Meta Quest 2… the new Pico 4 is ready to take the mantle from the once untouchable Meta Quest 2.”

DisplayDual LCD
Resolution2160 x 2160 pixels per eye
LensPancake
Field of View105 degrees
Refresh rate72-90Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 5 integrated cameras with hand tracking and mixed reality
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Price€499 (256 GB)

Oculus / Meta Quest 2

ProsCons
Loads of accessories availableNot future proof
Massive VR gaming libraryNo dynamic foveated rendering
Continuous updates with new featuresNo Bluetooth headphone support
Still affordableShort battery life
No more Facebook account requirementRequires accessory for better comfort
Blistering 120Hz refresh rate

Despite its price increase, Meta Quest 2 is still one the best VR headset for virtual reality gaming. It is the most popular, which means a massive VR games library and incredible customizability with plenty of available accessories.

Oculus Quest 2 is the best standalone virtual reality headset for VR gaming, and the reasons are that Meta updates its VR headsets continually, bringing new features to the headset. Lastly, its popularity means game developers always will release their games for the headset, making its gaming content for the Meta Quest 2 plentiful.

DisplaySingle LCD
Resolution1832 x 1920 pixels per eye
LensFresnel
Field of View90 degrees
Refresh rate90-120Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 4 tracking cameras with hand tracking
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Price€549 (256 GB)

Meta Quest Pro: The most feature rich but for a steep price.

ProsCons
Impressive tracking featuresExpensive
New Snapdragon XR2+ processorOnly 1-2 hours of battery life
12GB of the fastest RAMThe resolution should be higher
Continuous Meta support with updates and new featuresFor now, its mixed reality could be better
Dual-camera video passthroughNot automatic IPD
AI-enabled body tracking
Excellent build quality

The Meta Quest Pro VR headset went above and beyond with extensive tracking features, with hand, face, and eye tracking, even AI-enabled body tracking. It is the first VR headset to feature the new Snapdragon XR2+ chipset. On paper, this VR headset is excellent. However, the Meta Quest Pro is expensive and is lacking in areas like battery life.

Meta set out to develop the best standalone VR headset, and in many ways, they succeeded. The Meta Quest Pro will push the boundaries of mixed reality run by its capable processing, like the newest Snapdragon XR2+ processor, and 12GB of the fastest RAM. While the Quest Pro has a limited resolution count compared to other headsets, the Quantum Dot display technology from Samsung makes the visuals pop. Yes, the Meta Quest Pro has a reduced battery life and a lofty price tag: the number of features in this VR headset is costly and power-hungry.

DisplayDual LCD with Quantum Dot and Local Dimming
Resolution1800 x 1920 pixels per eye
LensPancake
Field of View106 degrees
Refresh rate72-90Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 10 tracking cameras with eye, hand, and face tracking
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2+
Price€1799.99

Lynx R1: The best mixed reality headset

ProsCons
Secure privacy and data protectionLimited FoV in virtual reality
Great open design for mixed realityThe resolution could be higher
Affordable from crowdfunding
Solid MR 3D object occlusion and stability
Unique lens technology
WiFi 6 connectivity
Good battery life
Great hand tracking from Ultraleap

Lynx R1 and Lynx R1 Pro are crowdfunded mixed reality headsets with excellent real-time image processing. Lynx R1’s IR sensors and 3D object stability, combined with its reasonable price, make the R1’s mixed reality better than rivaling MR headsets.

Despite that we only have had limited testing with the crowdfunded Lynx R1 and Lynx R1 Pro, we can safely say the VR headset’s mixed reality and full-color video passthrough with its white balance and contrast optimization is the best for its low cost. There is minimal 3D object jitter with impressive object occlusion, and the open design blends the mixed reality experience perfectly.

In short, the best mixed reality headset is Lynx R1. Yet, numerous MR headsets are about to launch in 2023, like ThinkReality VRX and HTC’s Vive XR Elite, so it will be interesting to see if the conclusion changes.

DisplayDual LCD
Resolution1600 x 1600 pixels per eye
LensCatadioptric freeform prism
Field of View90 degrees
Refresh rate90Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 2 optical tracking cameras and 2 IR sensors with hand tracking from Ultraleap
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Price$849.00

HTC VIVE Flow: The best casual VR headset

ProsCons
Unique designMust be tethered to a smartphone
Great priceCan only run casual VR applications
6DoF tracking
incredibly lightweight

HTC Vive Flow was the first VR headset to feature the now industry-standard pancake lens. And despite its requirement for being tethered to a smartphone, the VR headset is excellent. It is stylish, has a form factor like glasses, 6DoF tracking, and an incredibly lightweight. Simply, the HTC Vive Flow is the best casual VR headset.

Lastly, the low price for the HTC Vive Flow means the VR headset is ideal for activities like meditation and media consumption.

DisplayDual LCD
Resolution1600 x 1600 pixels per eye
LensPancake
Field of View100 degrees diagonal
Refresh rate75Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 2 tracking cameras
ProcessorTethered to a smartphone
Price€569

Pico G2 4K: Best VR headset for media

ProsCons
Most affordable VR headsetLimited processing capabilities
Excellent display experience
Can be fully operated from the headset
User-friendly
Movie length battery life

The standalone VR headset to watch media and have a theater experience from your living room or airplane seat is Pico G2 4K. If all you need a VR headset for is entertainment, this VR headset delivers the best experience compared to its price tag.

The Pico G2 4 K’s most convenient feature is that it can be controlled fully from the headset itself, alleviating the need for a controller.

Lastly, the VR headset’s weight of 278 grams and balanced comfort means watching movies for many hours doesn’t become uncomfortable.

DisplayLCD
Resolution1920 x 2160 pixels per eye
LensPancake
Field of View101 degrees diagonal
Refresh rate75Hz
TrackingInside-Out 3DoF
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835
Price€299 or rent from €40

Pico Neo 3 Pro

ProsCons
Wider FoV than Meta / Oculus Quest 2The resolution could be higher
Excellent price
Option for eye tracking with Pico Neo 3 Pro
A good amount of storage for VR games

As an alternative to Meta / Oculus Quest 2, Pico Neo 3 Pro is excellent. While both standalone VR headsets are comparable, the Neo 3 Pro has a 10% wider field of view.

Similarly, Pico Neo 3 Pro Eye is slightly more expensive than the Quest 2 but features eye tracking, which future proofs it through dynamic foveated rendering. A resolution technology that vastly increases graphical performance.

DisplayLCD
Resolution3664 x 1920 pixels per eye
LensFresnel
Field of View98 degrees
Refresh rate72-90Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 4 tracking cameras (Pico Neo 3 Pro Eye for eye tracking)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Price€599

HTC Vive Focus 3

ProsCons
High 5K resolutionExpensive
Ultra-wide field of viewFan noise can get loud
Ventilation system for increased performanceCumbersome IPD adjustment

The HTC Vive Focus 3 is the standalone VR headset to choose if you want the middle sibling between Meta Quest Pro and Pico 4. While the Vive Focus 3 doesn’t have mixed reality, it features a crisp 2448×2448 pixels per eye resolution and an encompassing 120 degrees FoV.

Additionally, the unique addition of a built-in fan system to cool down the Snapdragon XR2 chipset means the processor can be pushed harder and produce better frame rates in VR games. As a downside, when the fan kicks in, the noise can get distracting, but with a good pair of Bluetooth headphones, you can’t hear the blowing. Lastly, the inclusion of a MicroSD slot with up to 2TB of extra storage is staggering and lets you forget about ever doing storage maintenance again.

DisplayDual LCD
Resolution2448 x 2448 pixels per eye
LensDual-element Fresnel
Field of View120 degrees
Refresh rate90Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF from 4 tracking cameras with hand tracking
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Price€1.249

HTC Vive Focus Plus

ProsCons
Quality AMOLED displayQualcomm Snapdragon 835
3K resolution4GB RAM
3 hours of battery life
Viveport subscription

An affordable alternative to the HTC Vive Focus 3 is HTC Vive Focus Plus, with a 3K resolution beamed from an AMOLED display. This display type is one of the best for virtual reality, delivering the widest contrast levels, pixel transformation, and energy saving.

Unfortunately, the Focus Plus uses the dated Snapdragon 835 processor, meaning you can’t play VR games with the highest graphical settings.

Making up for that is the 3-hour battery life after just 30 minutes of charging, and the Viveport subscription is a wonderful way of discovering new VR games, content, and applications.

DisplayDual AMOLED
Resolution1440 x 1600 pixels per eye
LensFresnel
Field of View110 degrees
Refresh rate75Hz
TrackingInside-Out 6DoF with hand tracking
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835
PriceDiscontinued, find a reseller