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What's the cheapest way into virtual reality: PlayStation VR, Oculus, Vive, or Gear VR?

Last week we showed you guys a quick specs-comparison for all the major VR headsets that are hitting shelves this year. Today, it's time to break down the price of each device just so you'll know exactly how much you'll need to save up!

Breaking down the price for each headset is no easy task, especially with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive running off of a separate PC — you can buy one, build one, or upgrade your current computer's hardware, so costs there can vary widely.

So to make this a little easier, we're addressing this price comparison from someone who wants to take the easiest/cheapest route into virtual reality. So for the Rift and Vive, we are going to consider their 'console' to be the cheapest compatible PC that the headset makers mention on their sites.

HeadsetSamsung Gear VRHTC ViveOculus RiftSony PlayStation VR
Price$99$799$599Standalone: $399,
Bundle: $499
Console or Minimum PCSamsung Galaxy S6 series, S7 series, Note 5HP ENVY Desktop 750-220ASUS G11CD desktopSony PlayStation 4
Console/PC price$599, $799$949$949$349
Add-ons w/ pricenonenoneOculus Touch: TBAPS4 Camera: $59,
PS Move Controller: $49
Total Price$698 (Galaxy S6) to $898 (Galaxy S7 edge)$1,748$1,548$848

As expected, Oculus and HTC's headsets will cost you well over a thousand dollars if you don't already have a powerful enough PC. That being said, if you have a decent PC you may be able to swap out a few of the components to meet the minimum system requirements.

It's worth noting that the HTC Vive is more expensive than the competition because it comes bundled with a pair of infrared laser lighthouses for 3D positioning and dual motion sensitive hand controllers. As for the Oculus Rift, you'll have to play strictly with a gamepad until they announce how much and when the Oculus Touch controllers will be released.

What's most surprsing about this table, though, is that the PlayStation VR with a PlayStation 4 is actually cheaper than a Galaxy S7 Edge with Gear VR in both its standalone and bundle packages. One thing is clear, though: no matter the platform, getting into virtual reality isn't going to be cheap.

Does this table sway you towards one headset over the other? If so let us know in the comments!

  • No thanks. VR cuts too much into my very real bank account for an entertainment piece. Now if they come out with VR movies...Batman v Superman in VR...heck yes.. "Suck gas evildoers!"
  • Why can't Microsoft make the Xbox as a possible processor unit for the rift/vive? I know they have a partnership with Oculus so they should take more advantage of it. And BTW which is the OS present in these VR headsets?
  • Re: "which is the OS present in these VR headsets?" There is no OS in the Vive or Rift. The easiest analogy is to think of them as a display (monitor)...that just so happens to fill you field of view & track with your head movement. The problem with using the Xbox, or heck even the PS4, is that these machines do not have the horsepower to push these headsets at the resolution and frame-rates required. At least not without severely sacrificing level of detail/effects. The consoles were geared more towards say a television of 30-60hz (translate to 30-60fps) at the very best. Even then, with modern graphical games they can't push these at both 60fps and full HD (1920x1080). Now witha  Vive or Rift you're pushing (nearly) 2x independent full HD displays, each at 90hz (90fps). A very modern and high-end processor (CPU) and graphics card (GPU) are required to run these "displays".
  • So why is the PSVR having a 120fps rate? How did they accomplish that?
  • My understanding is that the Sony will be rendering at 60fps and the the  headset will be like *upsampling* to 120fps(/hz), basically doubling. More of a trick. There's absolutely ZERO percent chance the Sony could hit 120fps on any kind of high-quality/AAA type title rendered game. A couple thousand dollar, top-end (modern) PC with a graphics card that costs more than a Playstation 4 can barely hit that. Do a search of frame-rates for current PS4/Xbox1 games, check games that are actually rendered at 1080p (many do actual rendering less than that, even if they display at that res)... on the PS4, see how many AAA games can do 1080p at 60fps - I'm guessing you won't find that many. Now... imagine doubling the number of frames it has to process (one for each eye) & then trying to increase the frame-rate on top of that.  
  • Do you think that the box is the reason why it has such a high frame rate?
  • They're all too expensive for me.
  • You could add one more option. Xbox. Requires expensive PC + expensive VR headset + Xbox. Most expensive & worst VR ecosystem. Mastermind.
  • Its a nice table, but need to do some more research. Google cardboard is much cheeper than any of those, like $5, and its not even on there. If you want something more polished than a peice of cardboard, they there are plenty of $20-$40 headsets that are just as nice as SAMSUNG VR.  Also, while it is nice to use a samsung s7 or s6 with the Samsung VR, you can use any android phone.
  • I asked @ a bell store, gear vr only works s6 onwords 
  • Already got a galaxy s6 edge and a playstation 4. The Samsung vr is more enticing because i can use it the go out in the world, at work and stuff. But obviously the content (in terms of games) will probably be better on playstation.. tough choice Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Samsung has oculus to back it up for content and they are not doing a bad job.
    There are desktop game like keep talking and nobody explodes in the store.
  • For something like this, I'm not sure the cheapest rig is the proper criteria. If you're going to enter the Matrix don't do it with some Google cardboard rig. Spend a few bucks, do it right and make sure it's what you expected.
  • All money saved will go STRAIGHT into paying for PornHub VR.
  • It's free.
  • How about considering which one actually gives the best experience?
  • HTC Vive does that :)
  • PSVR is the only one with proper RGB screen. And most ergonomic & easy to use, just plugin and play.
  • True but again HTC Vive blows everything else out of the water
  • But for a price thats over $2000 all up for it to deliver on the promise. You CAN get away with less, but like the specs for games, you really DON'T want to be running on the 'minimum' hardware.
  • How does the Vive blow the Rift "out of the water"? Hyperbole much?
  • While I agree - "out of the water" migh be a bit of hyperbole. "Better" than Rfit is fairly easy to justify - Better tracking technology, includes full room & 360-degree tracking "out of the box" (Facebook is instructing devs to "design for 180degree" due to limitations), adjustment *depth* (distance from eyes), larger viewing area (taller? not just ~110). The biggest mistake Facebook made was NOT including dual cameras & motion controllers. It's going to hobble & fragment devs. Designing for "lowest common denominator" - seated with an xbox controller in hand - woohoo....why not just by some nice big curved dispalays & enjoy better resolution?
  • But it's also just using one screen at a lower resolution. The others (Rift and Vive) are using one screen per eye and at a higher resolution to boot. The PSVR also has a smaller field of view.
  • Google Cardboard is the cheapest VR. By far.
  • Kinda spendy all around. But if you gotta have one, go big or go home. I just hope VR doesn't fail like 3D did. >.>
  • I doubt someone will buy the move controllers for PlayStation VR. But the camera is really necessary. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • With Microsoft charging devlopers $3,000.00 for just the headset are they even in the game? Usually they provide developers a substantial discount on the hardware so what can one expect a Hololens to retail for?
  • Microsoft aren't in the game at all. They are doing ar, not vr.
    On another note psvr doesn't require move controllers for any games.
    I've pre ordered the psvr as I already own a ps4 with camera and 2 move controllers. Posted from my o2 joggler.
  • Tried Cardboard, Google apps were terrible resolution.
    3D movie filming is a huge extra expense yet most block busters are. It is great if it's you and you shoot your own 3d.It came free on my 4k TV, so I am ok with that.
  • Re: "Tried Cardboard, Google apps were terrible resolution." The resolution is dependent upon the device you in it. Technically, at 2560x1440 - my S6 phone with Cardboard (or my GearVR) is higher resolution than Sony's or the Vive or Rift I have a Vive on pre-order...can't wait!
  • $3000 for MS AR, blew me away in Oct stage Demo.
    VR is temporary, AR is the future.
  • Exactly. VR will be a gimmick, AR will be integral to life
  • omg yes! exactly what im thinking, vr is just useful for games, ar is for everything
  • I've pre-ordered the PSVR.  Might change my mind before release, but its got things that push it a bit over the top for me.  RGB display unlike the nasty pentile stuff of the others, less than 1/2 the price of the others when you take the PC specs they need into consideration, pretty much plug'n'play, sony know gaming better than the other two, according to people who have used all 3 their headset seems the best ballanced till we can just pop on a pair of glasses, I get to wave around a dildo-looking move controller. Which isn't to say that Vive and Rift look bad, just that their RECCOMENDED price point of over $2000 for the headsets and required PC hardware is just way too high if all you want to do is play games till the 2nd or 3rd gen unts come out. Sure, you can get away with a lesser PC but thats just going to queer the whole deal when VR games start dropping frames and you have to lower your quality settings because you took a short cut on system specs.
  • VR is going the way of 3D
  • I'm just not excited about VR. Once it becomes cheaper and more developed maybe something compelling will come to fruition. I'm getting a wiff of 3D TV as well.
  • While the PS VR is cheap, its linked to the finite performance and lifespan of the PS4.  To me, its the riskiest propostition amongst the choices.  
  • Its also the one thats going to have the best support and # of games within a short time.  I think sony have said over 400 developers (460 i think) are creating content for a standardized platform, and that platform thing can go a long LONG way compared to a PC which has a virtually infinite number of configs devs have to target. Price is hugely important too, as are the number of systems out there that it can be just plugged into and go, unlike PCs where its less than 5% of steam running PCs that can meet the minimum specs. I have a feeling its going to be like 3D, but I'm still getting one.  Money isn't worth anything unless you spend it...
  • Oculus rift has the most developer support, given that developer input helped to shape the platform, and they have had significantly more time with Rift development kits.  Any standardization offered by the PS4 is highly overstated, since there aren't that many PC videocards capable of handling VR.  Porting a game from Rift to Vive will be significantly easier than to the PS VR, so Developers will be choosing between 2 devices (Rift/Vive), vs one (PS4).  Also you have to remember, Rift DK1 & 2 devices have been around for years, so most early adopters will be settling on Rift/Vive.    Sony will have to depend more on console exclusive gamers, as gamers who have both gaming PCs and PS4s will naturally choose the Rift/Vive for their performance advantages. Rfit and Vive had more uses beyond gaming, similar to Hololens, so while their popularity for gaming may wane, the platforms are here to stay.  I can't say the same for the PS VR.
  • It will be compatible with the next PlayStation. There is no doubt about it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Im surprised the author did not mention the OSVR from Razer.  Its going for $300 and its up to v1.4 and this looks promising too.
  • I'll let others spring for it first and be the guinea pigs. I'll check it out once some decent games come out and it matures.
  • Yea, first wave are beta testers, second Gen is much better.
  • Re: "first wave are beta testers" Ummm....that would be NOPE. "Beta testers" could be applied to all of the dev kits/hardware circulating the past ~1-2yrs. 1st-gen - sure. So what? Re: "second Gen is much better" Pisha ....2nd gen stinks icky. THIRD Gen is where it's at! j/k aside... Yeah, we pay a premium for 1st Gen, of course 2nd/3rd/4th (silly not to wait til 5th?!) is better - that's what "Gen" genrally means.... you people who don't want to plop down the dough on 1st-gen should be happy we're paving the way (paying for) your cheaper+better future generations. No reason for silly/snarky & innacurate commentary like "beta testers", just because you don't want to spend/can't afford it. If you truly think this equipment is "beta" - you know nothing about it & need to educate yourself.