Virtual reality is an ever-growing part of racing games. But which VR headset should you get for sim racing? Here is our rundown guide.
Single screen setups are great, while triple screens make for better immersion but can use up a lot of space. The perfect compromise therefore has to be virtual reality. In sim racing, there is little better than donning your VR headset and plunging yourself in the virtual world behind the wheel of a race car.
More and more racers are discovering the joys of VR which means more people are looking for the perfect headset. There are plenty of options on the market; each of which tackles the sim racing question in a different way.
With so many characteristics to compare, it can be difficult knowing which headset is perfect for you and your needs. But with this short guide, you should know where you stand.
What Matters for Sim Racing VR?
Indeed, virtual reality headsets are all very different despite looking similar – like a box strapped to one’s face. There are many characteristics that set each model apart. Some of said figures are more important than others, especially when it comes to sim racing.
Whilst weight and size is important for those that plan on using VR in more active scenarios, these aren’t crucial for those that sit in front of a wheel. Instead, more technical factors are worth the investment.
The most important factor to look out for when buying a VR headset for sim racing is the refresh rate. This not only impacts the lens’ frame rate, it also has an influence on the smoothness of your movements in-game. In fact, a headset with low refresh rate will make for jagged movements as you’re looking around the car. This will make for poor racing lines and will render race craft difficult.
Elsewhere, the lens resolution and size will be important to your immersion. A wider field of view means you can look around better without much head movement. Greater resolution will mean you can look further ahead without the distance becoming a blurry mess.
Be careful though, as the ratio of FOV and resolution is important. This is because lenses with poor pixels per inch will make your eyes strain harder. Furthermore, a higher ratio will demand more of your computer. The compromise here will be up to each individual’s personal preference.
Oculus Rift S: The Entry-Level Option
Whilst the Oculus Rift S is no longer available to purchase new, it does make for an excellent first dip of the toe in the world of sim racing in VR. One can easily pick a lightly used second hand model up for under €200. An acceptable expense in comparison to other options on this list, it gets better. Being second hand, a headset is unlikely to lose too much value and should sell easily without making a loss if it isn’t for you.
For that price, one certainly doesn’t get many headlines in the specs department. At a refresh rate of 80Hz, it will offer the poorest frame rate of the lot and movements may appear ever so slightly jagged from within the set. That being said, the human brain is very smart and does its best to iron these bumps out so you’ll rarely notice them.
As for the resolution, the Rift S matches the company’s (Meta) current proposal with a pair of 1280×1440 lenses. This is certainly adequate for an immersive experience. And with a field of Vvew range of 88°, it isn’t going to boil your computer.
Meta Quest 2: All-round VR headset
As mentioned above, the Oculus Rift S was superseded in 2019 by the wireless, standalone Meta Quest range. Today, the company is on its second iteration of Quest models with the third on its way this Autumn. With the incoming replacement, the Quest 2 currently costs just €350 new from the Meta website. But second hand models sit around the €250-€300 mark.
The Quest’s big selling point is its ability to run without cables. Whilst it is originally made as a standalone device with many fun games available to install, it can connect with a PC via Air Link. Much like Bluetooth, this is perfectly smooth according to many accounts whilst some opt to run it with the Link cable for better reliability. Due to its standalone capabilities, the Quest takes a smaller toll on a PC and so games traditionally run better than the Rift S.
Spec-wise, the Quest 2 is very similar to the Rift S. It can run up to 90Hz and features two 1832 x 1920 lenses – one for each eye. Akin to the Rift S, it caps out at around a 90° FOV which makes for a superior ppi figure.
HP Reverb G2: Getting Serious
Stepping away from the Zuckerberg-branded headsets and we arrive at HP with their Reverb G2. This headset certainly provides a step up when it comes to the LCD screen lenses. In fact, this model comes with a pair of 2160×2160 lenses making for a total screen resolution of 4320×2160 across both eyes.
The significant jump in resolution does come at a few costs however, the first being the cost itself. This VR headset comes in at around €700 depending on the store. Sure, it may be one of the best VR headsets for sim racing. But it is twice the price of the next serious challenger.
This increase in price also offers a 90hz refresh rate and Field of View of 114°. Furthermore, it is one of the lightest headsets around weighing in at just 0.5kg. This may not be crucial to sim racing, but it does mean it will remain comfortable for longer, putting less strain on your neck. It will also make it more useable in active titles should you want to try those out.
HTC Vive Pro 2: Best sim racing VR headset?
The HP Reverb G2 may be a great headset but it isn’t the best for VR. That title, in our book, goes to the HTC Vive Pro 2. One of the newest models on this list having released at the end of 2021, it is also the most expensive costing €850.
The steep price does come with a 5K screen resolution however. In fact, with each eye sitting behind a 2448×2448 pixel lens, the overall display resolution is 4896×2448. Furthermore, the HTC Vive offers a 120Hz refresh rate which will surely reduce any eye strain and the 120° Field of View should make for an unobstructed view.
All this tech will come at a further cost of increased strain on your computer however. So it is important to make sure your PC will handle the headset’s minimum requirements – and more – before ordering one.
More Choices Available
Aside from these four main, most popular options, there are plenty of other choices in the VR market. Newer brands like Varjo who produce the critically acclaimed Aero exist for those willing to take the risk on a newer product.
There are also high-end, expensive models with impressive specs like Primax’ range of high-resolution offerings. However, these will not only set you back financially. They will also require a NASA super computer to run smoothly, especially in some of the better sim racing VR games.
Which VR headset do you use for sim racing and how do you like it? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!