From the HTC Vive to the Oculus Rift there are plenty of choices for the best virtual reality (VR) experiences to run through your PC. Most of these headsets start at about $299 and that can seem like quite a commitment to be making for something you're not sure if you like or not.
Used VR headsets are popping up more and more as the technology continues to develop, but the selection is fairly limited for now. We know where you can get used headsets, but there are a few things to consider before diving into second-hand VR.
What to consider before buying a used VR headset
Do you have everything that's required?
You can't just go out and buy a VR headset and expect it to work with your existing computer or phone. For example, if you're considering the HTC Vive, then you're going to need a PC with a top-of-the-line graphics card, a powerful CPU, at least 4GB of RAM, HDMI 1.4 output, and more.
If you don't have the necessary PC to run a VR headset, then saving money on the headset itself is the least of your worries. Check out our favorite Dell PCs and laptops for VR, especially if you're not quite sure where to start.
You'll also need to make sure you have a dedicated VR space, which is extremely important. Your entire gaming experience can be ruined if you find yourself trying to play in the smallest space possible because you keep running into walls or furniture!
Let's just get right to it: Buying a used VR headset is somewhat akin to buying a used pair of headphones. It's been tight against someone's face and they've likely sweat into it with perhaps an eye goober or two has slipped into the mix. So, firstly, you need to be OK with that. (Or, you need to look into how to clean your headset!)
What you should then consider is perhaps replacing the foam face pads on your VR headset of choice. In the case of some headsets, like the HTC Vive, you can even replace the nose rest, that is, whenever they decide to ship spare parts.
Is the used VR headset that you're considering in working condition? If at all possible, test it to make sure. This will be nigh-impossible if you're buying online, so you should ask for photos of the hardware working and more detailed photos of the hardware (ports and all) to make sure it's not damaged. The best case scenario is having a video call for you to see, real time, that the equipment works. If not, ask for videos of them turning on the system and using the controllers!
Also, be wary when you come across sellers who are marketing their equipment "as is." If there aren't enough photos to suggest that the hardware is not damaged and in good working condition, ask for more. If the seller refuses don't fall into that trap and go to another seller.
Buy only from trusted sellers
Until VR really takes off, Craigslist just isn't going to be a valid source for used VR headsets. If you're purchasing your used VR headset online from sites like eBay or Swappa, make sure you're buying from trusted sellers and only those with great track records.
Where to buy used VR headsets
Many of the prominent VR headsets, like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are still pretty new, so don't be surprised if you're not finding crazy deals on them for quite some time. That being said, here are the few places we've found used VR headsets and so far:
- Swappa: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Razer OSVR Hacker Dev Kit
- eBay: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
- Amazon: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
- Call your local GameStop.
We all know GameStop is not one to cut prices down as cheap as buying it from a private seller, but you can get a console for a discount that can come with a warranty.
That's it for now. We're sure you could find used Vives and Oculus Rifts on Craigslist, but we're not gonna go there. That being said, if you're ballsy enough to spend that much on one from Craigslist, make sure you test it first. No test, no buy.
Have you found used VR headsets from any reputable sellers that we may have missed? Out the back of a hatchback in an alley doesn't count! Sound off in the comments below!
Updated April, 2018: We've updated links and information about buying used headsets as well as price updates!
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Essa Kidwell is an expert in all things VR and mobile devices who can always be found with an Oculus Go, a Pixel 2, and an iPhone 7+. They've been taking things apart just to put them back together for quite some time. If you've got a troubleshooting issue with any of your tech, they're the one you want to go to! Find them on Twitter @OriginalSluggo or Instagram @CosmeticChronus.