5 Best VR Headsets for under $500 [Buying Guide]

VR headsets are the hottest new entertainment device and they are rapidly becoming cheaper for the average consumer. When they were first released the average VR headset could set you back around $800-$1000 and that’s not even including the hardware required to run them! Fast forward and there are now a decent number of headsets for under $500 and some of them don’t require anything extra to work.

Let’s take a look at the more affordable VR headsets available now and see how they stack up.

Top VR Headsets Under $500

Lens Features Rating Price Where to Buy

Oculus Quest

  • Stand Alone Headset
  • Inside Out Tracking with 4 Cameras
  • 2 OLED Screens
  • 1440 X 1600
  • 70 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Oculus Store
  • Snapdragon 835
$399/$499 Amazon

PSVR

  • Requires Playstation 4
  • Roomscale Tracking with PS Camera
  • OLED Screen
  • 960 X 1080
  • 80 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Playstation VR Store
$200/$349 Amazon

Samsung Odyssey

  • Requires VR Ready Desktop
  • Inside Out tracking
  • ALOMED Screen
  • 1440 X 1600
  • 90 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Steam VR
$449 Amazon

Oculus Rift S

  • Requires VR Ready Desktop
  • Inside Out tracking
  • LCD Screen
  • 1280 X 1440
  • 80 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Oculus Store
$399 Amazon

Acer OJO 500

  • Requires VR Ready Desktop
  • Inside Out tracking
  • LCD Screen
  • 2880 X 1400
  • 90 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Steam VR
$429 Acer

Oculus Quest

best vr headset under 500

The Oculus Quest is my top choice for a VR headset under $500. The Quest is a wireless all in one headset that doesn’t need any extra hardware to work. It features two high resolution screens and access to the Oculus VR store which has one of the best library of games and experiences.

If you are looking for a headset you can pick up and play whenever and where ever you want then the Quest is your best bet. The catch is that the Quest is powered by a mobile processor, meaning it can’t produce the same high quality graphics as more advanced headsets.

This doesn’t take away from the high quality experience, accurate tracking and high resolution ALOMED screens. It’s no surprise that the Quest is the more successful headset of the year and is routinely out of stock. The exclusive games available on the Quest are also hard to beat. You can even boost the Quests power using Oculus Link which allows you to plug your Quest into a VR ready PC and use its processing power to play more advanced games (including Half Life Alyx).

PROS:
  • Wireless + No Extra Hardware Required
  • Full Roomscale Tracking
  • Large Library of Games
  • Excellent Controllers
  • Hand Tracking Available

CONS:
  • On the Heavy Side
  • Lower Processing Power

Buy on Amazon

 

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PSVR

The PSVR helped to make VR mainstream and has been an unexpected success for Sony. When it was released the headset was pretty pricey, but with several reductions its now around $200 for just the headset and $350 for the full package. You’ll also need a PS4 to use it, but these are also fairly cheap these days.

If you already have a PS4 then the PSVR may be the most cost effective way to get into a full VR experience. Sony have invested heavily in content for the PSVR and the system enjoys some very high quality VR exclusives.

The main drawback for the PSVR is that the must be tethered to a PlayStation, requiring some hefty wiring and limited play space. You’ll also find the screen resolution of the PSVR to be below average. On the upside the PSVR enjoys a high refresh rate which means moving objects in your games and experiences appear smooth.

PROS:
  • Excellent Library of Games
  • Good Refresh Rate
  • Motion Controllers Work Well
  • Cheap if you have a PS4
  • Comfortable to Wear

CONS:
  • Poor Screen Resolution
  • Tethered to PS4
  • Difficult Set Up

Buy on Amazon

 

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Samsung Odyssey

Technically speaking the Samsung Odyssey is the most advanced headset in this price range, featuring high resolution screen, high refresh rate, built in AKG headphones and inside out tracking. Recent price cuts have put the headset under the magic $500 mark, however you’ll need a VR ready Windows machine to run it.

The Samsung Odyssey is one of a range of Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which is windows answer to VR. WMR is just a fancy way of saying any VR headset that can be run on a windows machine. The Odyssey is one of the best WMR headsets thanks to its excellent audio and visual hardware.

One issue with all WMR headsets is a comparative lack of content available compared to Oculus and PSVR. While you can also play Steam VR games of the Odyssey it’s not automatically enabled and requires a bit more set up.

What the Odyssey does do well is provide a high end VR experience for under $500 which makes it one of the best value headsets out right now. There’s also a new version, the Samsung Odyssey + that’s even more powerful, but you’ll have to spend around $100 more for the upgrade.

PROS:
  • Most Powerful VR headset under $500
  • High Resolution Screen
  • Built In AKG Audio
  • High Refresh Rate
  • Inside Out Tracking

CONS:
  • Requires VR Ready PC
  • Tethered Experience
  • Less Content Available

Buy on Amazon

See Also: Oculus Quest vs Rift S

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Acer OJO 500

The Acer OJO 500 is another, newer, WMR headset with some unique features. It’s the first VR headset to feature a detachable lens which makes it easier to keep clean. The OJO 500 also features a more comfortable head-strap and the highest resolution screen of any headset on this list.

The Acer OJO has been designed for businesses who may want to rent out or use VR headsets in a group envirnment. You’ll have the same drawbacks that other WMR headsets suffer from, namely the need for a VR ready PC and a wired connection to it.

PROS:
  • Highest Resolution Screen
  • Comfortable Design
  • Removable Lenses

CONS:
  • Requires VR Ready PC
  • Tethered Experience

Acer

 

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Oculus Rift S

best vr headset under 500

Oculus’ most advanced headset is the Oculus Rift S. Unlike the Quest the Rift S requires a VR ready desktop to use, however it offers a more advanced experience with higher quality graphics and larger games.

The Rift S plays second fiddle to the Quest in terms of popularity but it’s considered to be a more advanced VR experience if you can deal with being tethered to your desktop. The inside out tracking is very accurate and the design is more comfortable than the Quest. Overall this $400 headset is good value for money if you already have a desktop that can run VR.

PROS:
  • Most Powerful Oculus Headset
  • Access to Large Games Library
  • Comfortable Design
  • Accurate Tracking

CONS:
  • Lower Resolution Screen
  • Requires VR Ready Desktop.

Buy on Amazon

 

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How should you choose?

If you are brand new to VR then you may be wondering what the most important features are. Let’s consider what really matters when choosing a VR headset

Tethered vs Wireless 

At the start of the VR revolution all VR headsets required a powerful desktop to run, this is because VR games and experiences require a lot of processing power. Most of the current crop of VR headsets are also tethered, however there are a few which are now entirely wireless, like the Oculus Quest.

Tethered VR headsets offer better graphics, more games and lower latency whereas wireless headsets offer more freedom and are lower cost.

Screen Resolution

The higher resolution the headset screen the clearer the image will display. You’ll also want to consider refresh rate; the higher the better.

Library 

Much like Playstation and Xbox, each VR headset has its own library of games and experiences. Some are exclusive to a particular headset and some are cross platform. Most famous VR games like beatsaber and Half Life Alyx are cross platform. Steam VR is considered to be the largest library of VR games closely followed by the Oculus Store. Either will keep you busy for years with new games added all the time.

 

Read Next:

Oculus Quest Review 2020

PSVR vs Oculus Quest


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Owner of threesixtycameras.com. Writer, photographer and videographer. You can see my YouTube channel for guides of how to shoot 360 video. I've written for The Times, Digital Photography School and Sunday Express.  

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