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Best Oculus Quest Alternatives in 2020

Oculus Rift S
Oculus Rift S (Image credit: Windows Central)

Oculus Rift S

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The Oculus Quest is difficult to buy these days due to stock shortages so that you might be on the hunt for another virtual reality headset. The Oculus Quest is a unique headset because it can provide untethered or PC-powered VR in a single device, but there are plenty of other impressive VR headsets these days. The Oculus Rift S (opens in new tab) gets you access to a vast library of games from the Oculus Store and SteamVR and provides a better PC-powered experience than the Oculus Quest using Oculus Link. If you prefer a wireless setup, you can get an HTC Vive Cosmos (opens in new tab) with a wireless adapter.

Best Overall: Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Oculus Rift S

Comfortable for long sessions

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable design
+
80Hz refresh rate
+
Access to Oculus Store and SteamVR games
+
Doesn't require external sensors

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires you to be tethered to a PC
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Lower resolution than Oculus Quest
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Struggles to differentiate itself from the Oculus Quest

Hardware often sees the largest jump in quality and design between its first and second generation. This was the case for the Oculus Rift family of devices. The original Oculus Rift was good, but the jump to the Rift S ditched the requirement for external sensors and brought several other improvements. The Rift S is comfortable thanks to its halo design that lets the device rest on your head. It also has integrated audio, so you don't have to wear headphones, though you can choose to. Its 80Hz refresh rate helps games appear smooth, though its resolution is slightly lower than the Oculus Quest.

The Rift S works with the Oculus Store's massive library of games as well as SteamVR. These libraries combine to make an enormous range of games that you can choose from. Unfortunately for the Rift S, the Oculus Quest stole its thunder recently with the introduction of Oculus Link. This feature allows you to tether your Oculus Quest to a PC and play all of the Oculus Rift S's library of PC games. The Rift S still has some hardware advantages over the Quest, such as a higher refresh rate, but it struggles to differentiate itself from the similarly priced Oculus Quest.

The biggest drawback of the Oculus Rift S (opens in new tab) is that it has to be physically tethered to a PC. The benefit of relying on a PC is that if you have the right specs, you can play games with incredible fidelity. The downside is that you're tethered to a device. You also need to own a gaming PC with the appropriate specs. While you are physically tethered to a PC, the five Insight sensors of the Oculus Rift S make set up easy and let you move to different rooms if you can move your gaming PC.

Best Budget: PlayStation VR

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare VR

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Playstation VR

Easy-to-share virtual reality

Reasons to buy

+
Works with a console many already have
+
Large library of games, including exclusives
+
Easy to share on TV

Reasons to avoid

-
Bad controllers
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Aging hardware

PlayStation VR (PSVR) has a massive benefit of working with a console that millions of people already have. You don't need to grab a gaming PC to jump into VR, assuming you already have a PlayStation 4. PSVR's price can depend greatly on if you get it in a bundle. It's worth waiting to get a good deal since it occasionally goes on sale for as low as $265 with some games. Its effective cost is lower than several competing headsets if you already have the PS4 required to use PSVR.

PSVR is also to the best headset on this list for sharing VR. You can easily share your VR session onto a TV and allow your friends and family to watch. This doesn't rely on wireless casting like the Oculus Quest either, so it's a simpler set up to share your games. Speaking of games, PSVR has an extensive library, including several exclusives to enjoy like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (opens in new tab).

PSVR is a bit old at this point and could do with a refresh. Its controllers are also far behind competitors. If you're a VR enthusiast or want the best VR experience, PSVR isn't for you. If you want a budget-friendly VR experience that you can share with your friends, it's a great choice.

Best Wireless (with adapter): Vive Cosmos

HTC Vive Cosmos Tracking

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

HTC Vive Cosmos

Wireless or tethered VR

Reasons to buy

+
Works with HTC Vive Wireless Adapter
+
90Hz refresh rate
+
Supports SteamVR Tracking 1.0 and 2.0

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher price
-
Add-ons quickly increase price

If what initially allured you to the Oculus Quest is its wireless nature, then you should check out the HTC Vive Cosmos. It's compatible with the HTC Vive Wireless Adapter (opens in new tab), allowing you to walk around your home or office while playing VR. It also has inside-out tracking with its built-in cameras, meaning you don't need to set up any external sensors. Whether you use it wirelessly or tethered, the Vive Cosmos will provide a substantial VR experience. The main difference is that no matter how you use the Vive Cosmos, it requires a gaming PC.

The Vive Cosmos has a 2880x1700 combined resolution, which is higher than many competing headsets. It also has a smooth 90Hz refresh rate. The HTC Vive Cosmos supports SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0, so you can use a mixture of accessories with it.

One unique thing about the Cosmos is that it's modular to a point. You can purchase the headset and controllers and enjoy VR with just those, or you can add things like the wireless adapter. There's also an external faceplate on the way that will allow you to connect the Vive Cosmos to external towers, resulting in more precise tracking.

Best Premium Headset: Valve Index

Valve Index Press

Source: Valve (Image credit: Source: Valve)

Valve Index

Top of the line VR

Reasons to buy

+
144Hz refresh rate
+
130-degree field of view
+
Precise tracking

Reasons to avoid

-
High price
-
Requires wired tethering to PC

If you want a high-end VR experience, the Valve Index is the headset to beat. It has several specs near the top of the VR market, including a 130-degree field of view and a 144Hz refresh rate. Because the Valve Index focuses on precision, it utilizes external tracking over inside-out tracking. You need at least two base stations for the Valve Index, which help ensure precise and smooth tracking.

The "Knuckles" controllers of the Valve Index are among the best on the VR market. They can rest in your hand without you having to grip them at all times, which frees up your hand movements for gameplay.

The two most significant drawbacks of the Valve Index are its tethered nature and its price. You need to have a gaming PC connected to your Valve Index to play in virtual reality. On the price side of things, the Valve Index has the specs to justify its price; it just has a higher entry price than many competitors. If you already have some base stations or other hardware, you can purchase the Valve Index without them for as little as $499.

Bottom line

Picking the best VR headset for you depends mainly on your budget and how you want to use it. The Oculus Rift S (opens in new tab) is a relatively affordable way to access a massive library of games from the Oculus Store and SteamVR. If you were initially intrigued by the Oculus platform, then the Rift S should deliver an enjoyable experience. It's comfortable, doesn't require external sensors, and comes at a reasonable price.

The main drawback of the Rift S is that the Oculus Quest can deliver a similar experience for around the same price. While the Oculus Rift S does require a wire to your PC, it doesn't require external sensors like the original Oculus Rift. If you have a gaming PC or are willing to grab one to create a VR setup, then the Oculus Rift S is an excellent way to step into VR. It has a refined design that's nice for longer play sessions and good specs for its price point.