Best VR Headset for No Man's Sky Beyond Windows Central 2021
The No Man's Sky Beyond update brings PCVR support via SteamVR to your space exploration dreams, and if you want to get up close to the action, you're going to want a quality, head-mounted, PC-based display. The HTC Vive should check the most boxes, offering up external room-scale tracking, the option for wireless connectivity, and an AMOLED display that will make alien worlds truly vibrant.
Best Overall: HTC Vive
The HTC Vive is by no means as new as the Oculus Rift S or Valve Index, but it still offers a stellar VR experience at a competitive price. The package includes all you need to get started, including Vive head-mounted display (HMD), two motion controllers, and two base stations that are crucial for precise room-scale tracking.
The Vive has dual AMOLED displays with a combined resolution of 2160x1200, and its 90Hz refresh rate offers smooth visuals. The vibrant world of No Man's Sky is going to look great in the headset, and you'll be able to manually adjust interpupillary distance (IPD) for a better custom fit. Setup is going to take longer than with the Rift S due to the external base stations, but once complete, you'll be able to enjoy near-perfect tracking no matter how or where you're situated in your VR space. If you'd like to experience No Man's Sky standing up, this is crucial.
Adding to the benefit of the HTC Vive is an available wireless adapter. This small accessory removes the need for a cable running from your headset back to your PC, giving you the freedom to move around in your VR space without a cable to trip or tangle.
- 90Hz refresh rate for dual AMOLED displays
- Manual IPD adjustment
- Precise external tracking
- Wireless adapter optional
- Costs less than Valve Index
- Costs more than Oculus Rift S
- Longer setup due to external trackers
Runner-Up: Oculus Rift S
The Oculus Rift S is an updated version of the original Rift CV1, complete with redesigned internal audio, single LCD display with 2560x1440 resolution, and 80Hz refresh rate. It's not going to offer quite the same picture as the AMOLED displays in the Vive and the refresh rate isn't quite as high, but it's still an impressive system that costs quite a bit less. IPD adjustments are unfortunately handled at a software level, so if you're outside the optimal range (somewhere around 64mm) you might experience discomfort.
The Rift S is easy to set up thanks to tracking being handled by five built-in sensors instead of external trackers. Touch controller tracking has been improved since the release of the Rift S, but you might still see the controllers bug out, especially if your hands move out of sight of the headset's sensors. Here, you're getting convenience over precision. As for the controllers themselves, they're impressive pieces of hardware, no doubt second only to the controllers available with the Valve Index.
You'll get full room-scale support from the Rift S, though there's no wireless solution available for the Rift S. You're stuck with a five-meter tether back to your PC, though there are suspension systems available to get it off the floor. You can also extend your cable by six feet for about $15.
- Competitive price
- No external sensors required
- High-resolution display
- Touch controllers offer some finger detection
- Halo headband system is comfortable
- No wireless connectivity option
- No manual IPD adjustment
- Lower 80Hz refresh rate
Best Premium: Valve Index
Valve's own Index VR system is altogether an impressive achievement, and it's available to purchase in bundles or individual pieces based on other hardware you already own. Have a Vive's base stations already? Grab the headset and controllers for about $749. Just want the headset to use with original Vive controllers? The headset costs about $499. For the complete setup, you're looking at dropping about $999, however, making it the most expensive option.
Why so much? The Index uses two LCD panels with 1440x1600 resolution for a crisp image. This is the same resolution as the Vive Pro, but instead of two subpixels there are three, which provides far less screen-door effect for a clearer picture. On top of that, the Index boasts a 120Hz refresh rate (can be pushed up to 144Hz) and a higher field of view than the Vive and Rift S. IPD adjustments can also be handled manually, allowing more people to find an ideal fit.
The Index controllers actually strap to your hand and detect all fingers, giving you more freedom and a more natural feel. They're tracked by dual base stations for extra precision when playing in a room-scale setup. The tracking will also translate to the comfortable headset, which does not yet have a wireless solution and must be tethered back to your PC with a cable.
- High refresh rate and resolution
- Manual IPD adjustments
- Index controllers offer full finger detection
- Precise external tracking
- Comfortable headset fit
- Longer setup time
- Considerably more expensive
- No wireless solution
While all three of the VR headsets listed above are going to get you into No Man's Sky Beyond, the HTC Vive brings the best combination of features and price. The dual AMOLED displays have a 90Hz refresh rate and combined 2160x1200 resolution, IPD adjustments can be handled manually for a better fit for more people, and external base stations offer precise tracking for a room-scale setup.
The motion controllers might not be as advanced as the Rift S Touch controllers, but you can add Valve's Index controllers to the original Vive. If wireless VR also sounds appealing, only the Vive has an optional accessory available that removes the need for cables running from your headset to your PC.
As for Windows Mixed Reality (WMR), there have been significant issues with getting the game to run properly. Chalk it up to Hello Games not officially supporting WMR headsets. If you'd like to try to get a fix going, check out our guide.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and he spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Russell Holly is a Contributing Editor at Windows Central. He lives for the shiniest new thing and loves explaining its potential to improve your life. Whatever you do, don't tell his spouse about the drawer full of tech under the bed.
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