The virtual reality wars are about to become the next console wars.
Leading the way are the Oculus Rift – owned by Facebook – and the HTC Vive – created in a partnership between HTC and Valve.
Which device is best for you? Which company deserves more of your virtual reality dollars? Let’s find out as we break down the differences between the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
-Oculus Rift: $599
-Vive VR: $799
When Oculus was initially asked about the price of the device, they famously said it would probably cost around $450. Instead, the device ended up priced significantly higher.
Then, HTC announced the price tag for its VR system and people were like “Oh, I guess the Oculus isn’t so bad, then”.
Of course, neither of these prices take into account the powerful gaming PC you’ll need in order to enjoy the virtual reality system in your own home. Expect to pay at least $1,500 for that.
Clearly, virtual reality won’t be for those on a tight budget – at least not yet.
What Do You Get for that Price?
Both virtual reality devices come with a fair share of goodies and extras along with the base virtual reality kit. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included in each package.
-One Oculus Rift headset
-Desktop IR LED-tracking sensor
-Xbox One controller
-Oculus Remote controller
-Two bundled games (Eve: Valkyrie, which is only available to preorder customers, and Lucky’s Tale, which is available to everyone)
Meanwhile, Oculus Touch controllers (which provide similar hand-tracking to the Vive’s offering), are coming in the second half of this year, although Oculus hasn’t announced how much they’ll cost. In the meantime, you can stick a Leap Motion controller to the headset for a price of $90 (although I recommend waiting for the real Oculus Touch, as this is unlikely to come with extensive game and app support in the future).
HTC Vive VR
-One head-mounted display with front-facing cameras
-Two wireless base stations
-Two positon-tracking controllers
-2 bundled games (Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption, both of which are limited-time offers)
HTC Vive has come with a similar approach to the Xbox One, where Microsoft decided to bundle a mandatory Kinect to the console. Like Microsoft, HTC is hoping customers will eat that fee and thereby encourage developers to make games supporting that feature.
It didn’t work out great for Microsoft, as they would eventually release a cheaper Kinect-free model of the Xbox One. But it wasn’t a complete disaster either.
PC Hardware Requirements
If you’re looking for a virtual reality headset that doesn’t require a beefy PC, then you’ve come to the wrong comparison article.
That’s right: both the Vive and the Oculus will have beefy PC hardware requirements. Both require the following:
-Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
-Processor: Intel i5-4590 CPU (the Vive also supports AMD FX 8350 or higher CPUs)
-RAM: 4GB for the Vive, 8GB for the Oculus
-USB Requirements: One USB 2.0 port for the HTC Vive, three USB 3.0 ports for the Oculus + 1 USB 2.0 port (4 ports in total for the Oculus)
Looking at these specs, you’ll be hard-pressed to put together a VR-ready PC for less than $900, and you’ll want to spend more if you’re future-proofing it.
Alternatively, some companies are already offering Oculus-ready PCs that are certified by Oculus itself. Bundles start at $949 with the purchase of a Rift.
HTC hasn’t announced any bundles or special deals yet, although at least one company has launched a Vive Optimized PC (although it has a starting price of $1,600).
What’s the Best Choice?
The Oculus Rift is a better immediate choice in terms of value, although you’ll need to spend more for the full VR experience (with the handheld controllers). Nevertheless, both devices have pretty similar PC hardware requirements.
At this point, it’s too early to compare the virtual reality devices in other categories. Your best bet is to choose the system you believe in most – regardless of the cost. Because the long-term cost of each is about the same.