With the release of the Oculus Quest 2 last year, it’s never been easier to get your VR fix in, even if you don’t have a PC that leaps the hardware barriers to running VR-based apps. Mind you, compared to the dawn of consumer VR, there’s a lot of PCs that would meet at least the base requirements these days.
There’s a whole range of Oculus headsets you could buy – and understanding the differences between them is key to getting the right headset for your VR needs.
You might be pondering whether it’s worth picking up the Oculus Quest 2 if you’ve already got the Oculus Quest 1, or indeed if there’s more value in chasing down a cheaper set of the older models. Equally, there’s still the Oculus Rift S in play for those who want a PC-based solution. Here’s what you should consider when picking an Oculus VR headset.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
Design and Build
There’s a very obvious design change in the Oculus Quest 2 relative to the Rift S and Quest 1, and that’s in colour tones. The Rift S and Quest 1 use black and grey tones, giving them something of a Matrix-y feel, while the Quest 2 has a softer, more Apple-like White finish.
It’s more than a colour change in the design department, too. The original Quest uses a simple rubber headstrap to fit its VR headset to your bonce, while the Rift S has what Oculus calls the “Halo Headband”, designed for longer gaming sessions. The Oculus Quest 2 features a simple soft strap that Oculus says is easier to place on and off compared to the Quest 1, as well as a flip-up visor for if you want to quickly see the real boring world out there.
Slip any of Oculus’ headsets on, and you’ll be facing a display of some sort. The difference between all 3 comes down to resolution, refresh rates and focusing lengths.
The Oculus Quest 1 is the outlier of the bunch, using an OLED where its siblings have LCD displays, with a resolution of 1600 x 1440 and refresh rate of just 72Hz. In most display senses OLED is usually seen as preferable for colour presentation over LCD, but you get other benefits with the LCD displays in the Oculus Quest 2 and Rift S.
The Oculus Quest 2 uses LCD panels with individual eye resolutions of 1832 x 1920, slightly up on the Quest 1, but it’s in refresh rates – which are more critical for a device that close to your optic nerves – that you’ll quite literally see a difference. The Oculus Quest 2 supports refresh rates of 60Hz, 72Hz and 90Hz, and while not every app will punch up to that 90Hz barrier at launch, it could quickly be a big difference maker.
On the PC side of the VR equation, the Oculus Rift S uses an LCD display at 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye), but with a 80Hz refresh rate.
As standalone devices, both the Oculus Quest 1 and Oculus Quest 2 require their own onboard processors. For the Quest 1, that’s the well regarded but somewhat aged Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 alongside 4GB of onboard RAM, while the Quest 2 bumps that up to a Snapdragon XR2 with 6GB of RAM. The Rift S of course is relying on your PC to do the heavy graphical lifting.
Again, there’s a story of relative storage bumps between the Quest 1 and Quest 2. The entry level model of either headset comes with 64GB of onboard storage, but the top tier Quest 1 jump that up to 128GB, while the top tier Quest 2 packs in 256GB. VR apps can be pretty data-heavy, so if you want a wider range of experiences on your VR journey then that higher spec model would be the way to go.
The Touch Controllers that Oculus makes for the Quest 1, Quest 2 and Rift S look fairly similar, with a simple grip and loop design no matter which model you opt for. The Quest 2 controllers are a little more like the Rift S models in terms of the spacing around the thumbstick and buttons, and Oculus says that it’s also more battery efficient over time.
There’s no PC connected to the Oculus Quest 1 or Oculus Quest 2, and you don’t drop a smartphone into them in the way that Samsung and Google tried to get us all excited about a few years ago… so how do you actually get VR experiences on them?
The answer is the Oculus Quest store, where you can pick up a wide range of VR apps – paid and free – compatible with the Oculus Quest headsets. The processor improvements on the Oculus Quest 2 should see some titles that really push the limits here, but there’s still a pretty wide selection of apps that are compatible with the original Quest model. The Oculus Quest is also compatible with Oculus Link, which lets you tether to a PC in the same style as the Rift S to access Rift-specific games, as well as your wider PC VR games library.
The Rift S does have to put up with being tethered to an actual PC, but the trade-off there is that you get easier access to a much wider array of gaming experiences, because you’re not just limited to the Oculus store. If you’ve got VR titles from other platforms such as Steam, you can use your Rift S headset to play them.
The downer here is that Facebook is discontinuing the Rift S this year, as it appears it sees the future more in producing standalone headsets like the Oculus Quest 2. Given the existence of Oculus Link and the higher refresh rate on the Oculus Quest 2, you can see why they’re thinking that way.
Strictly speaking, the Oculus Quest 1 has been discontinued. When it launched, the 64GB model cost $649 and the 128GB model cost $799. You definitely shouldn’t pay that for an Oculus Quest 1 headset now, and a quick bit of online auction house sniffing suggests you can score one for around $300-$400, maybe cheaper depending on storage and condition.
The newer Oculus Quest 2 is available for now exclusively through Amazon Australia, and it’s cheaper than the original Quest was, which is nice. The 64GB model costs $479, while the 256GB model will hit your wallet to the tune of $639.
There are a couple Oculus Quest 2 accessories available too, like an Elite Strap ($82.93) to improve comfort while wearing the headset. There’s also a deluxe version of the Elite Strap that comes with a battery add-on and carry case, and will cost you $186.69.
If you’re still keen on the Rift S, it costs $499 through Amazon.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.