With the click of a button and the flip of a switch, the headset comes down, and you are no longer watching your avatar fly a spaceship on a screen.
You are now the one flying the spaceship.
The Milky Way’s stars in Elite Dangerous are yours to traverse.
In the current world of VR, we are cursed with the blessing of choice when it comes to picking which headset we use to take us to the stars. With all of these choices, it can be daunting to decide which is the best VR headset for Elite Dangerous.
Here are our top picks.
Best VR Headsets At A Glance
- HP Reverb G2 (Best Visuals – Best Overall)
- Pimax 5K XR (Best In-game Experience – Alternative Choice)
- Oculus Rift S (Best Value)
- Valve Index (Best for Competitive Advantage)
- HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
- Samsung HMD Odyssey+
1. HP Reverb G2
The HP Reverb G2 has some of the highest video quality you will find. And it’s by far the clearest view currently available for flight simulation. You’ll be able to see the amazing detail and seamless transitions as you experience the seemingly endless stars, planets and asteroids of the galaxy.
Their new software has gotten rid of a lot of the aberration, so you’ll find that there are fewer blurred lines toward the edge of the lens.
One noteworthy feature is that it maintains proper tracking even in the presence of a good amount of sunlight. Congratulations, you won’t have to turn your VR area into a cave troll lair.
However, a narrower FOV of 80 degrees will mean that you may miss out on fully enjoying the vastness and wonder of space when looking at panoramic scenery.
The stock controllers run into tracking issues when moving out of range and have occlusion issues when wielding two-handed weapons. On the other hand, if you favor a HOTAS setup, this becomes a non-issue.
The Reverb G2 is our #1 choice if you plan on playing mostly flight sim games.
- Viewing quality within FOV is superb.
- Very light VR headset, heavy cable.
- Documented path to the best setup for this headset
- Excellent tracking system for controllers even with sunlight.
- Narrow FOV.
- Tracking and occlusion issues with stock controllers.
- Requires a powerful PC to take advantage of all it provides.
2. Pimax 5K XR
If you are looking to step into the world of Elite Dangerous and experience the fullness and wonder of the setting, Pimax 5K XR might be for you.
The crazy wide 200-degree field-of-vision (FOV) and high resolution are about as close to what humans see in the real world. On top of that, the OLED colors are brighter and achieve a blacker black than LCD. The contrast between celestial bodies and the blackness of space is utterly amazing.
It does come with some drawbacks though. The clarity suffers as FOV rises because the PPD gets lower. And the 82Hz refresh rate means pictures will take just a bit longer to be drawn than other headsets. This translates into some decreased smoothness and a bit of blurriness while pixels are switching on and off.
The screen door effect (SDE) is a bit more pronounced, and text might be a bit more ragged.
That said, if you’re looking to take all that Elite Dangerous has to offer and want the widest field of view then the Pimax is for you.
*Fun fact: The normal FOV us humans can detect movement is very large (over 270°) of which there’s the moveable area when your eyes move (around 180°).
- Wide 200-degree field of vision (FOV).
- OLED gives blacker blacks and brighter colors to enjoy the black expanse of the universe in Elite Dangerous.
- Better overall fit for most playstyles
- The screen door effect (SDE) is quite pronounced.
- Plastic casing susceptible to cracking.
- Very heavy headset, it’s big.
For those looking to jump into the world of VR without worrying too much about the many ways you can maximize every aspect of your headset, the Oculus Rift S is for you. You get to plug in, quickly learn the ropes and run off to explore.
The picture resolution is solid, and the picture is smooth for the most part. But, in a fast-paced, the 80Hz refresh will make motions seem choppy.
The headset is a huge improvement over its predecessors, and the SDE, while present, is much improved. The speakers are not the best, but a headphone jack is also built into the piece.
This headset is an excellent, affordable jump that many can make into the world of VR.
- Setting up is very easy and doesn’t require base stations, just a software download.
- It offers the best quality budget VR system.
- Has difficulty with fast-paced movement regardless of PC strength.
4. Valve Index
The Valve Index brings an amazing 120Hz (as high as 142Hz) refresh rate and high FPS to your VR experience. Even the most fast-paced gameplay will be smooth, given that your PC is powerful enough.
You can also change the refresh rate to 90Hz, to match a less powerful computer and still get amazing video quality.
In terms of comfort, speakers don’t make contact with your ears, and the padding can be adjusted to fit a very wide range of faces and head shapes. All of this allows you to play comfortably for longer. Additionally, the stock speakers themselves work quite well so long as you don’t mind others hearing some of what you are playing.
- High refresh rate for smoother gameplay in fast-paced gaming situations.
- No-contact speakers allow you to play comfortably longer and enjoy high sound quality.
- Eye relief knob adjusts to change FOV or to accommodate glasses.
- Lack of grip in controllers might not favor long play sessions.
I’m going to start by addressing the big issue — cost. This headset does have some of the best features on the market. However, it does come with a hefty price tag.
The headset itself fits very comfortably and feels secure. It even has a nifty feature that allows the display to flip up instead of having to lift the whole piece to sit on the top of your head.
Unfortunately, this flip feature often leaves the display just a little bit outside that Goldilocks zone where the picture is the clearest. Lens distortion and God rays take away from the immersion you should be enjoying.
Another feature of this headset is the option to go completely wireless if you purchase an additional piece. While it might be great for other VR games, this isn’t as much of a benefit for Elite Dangerous players using a HOTAS setup.
Essentially, there are a number of improvements to increase performance, but each comes at a cost and drives the total system price up.
- The black levels are good for an LCD.
- Padding is soft and easy to clean.
- Wireless headset option.
- Diagonal pixel matrix causes ragged edges in text.
- Headset hinge causes unclear imaging, God rays and narrower FOV.
- Cost increases with added options
The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ gives a great experience overall. While its 110-degree FOV does not quite match the wide FOV of the Pimax, it does have other features that might make you consider it.
Its anti-SDE technology helps remove the annoying black lines that are a constant reminder that you are in a virtual world. This new feature will help you fully immerse yourself in the game.
For extended VR sessions, the weight may become a bit much for your forehead, which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
On the point of comfort, the headset does wobble a bit when playing fast-paced games. The stock face cushion may be a bit stiff for some, but it is removable, and you can replace it with one that suits you better. For those of you who wear glasses, this headset should give you no difficulty.
- Anti-SDE technology.
- Good resolution and smooth lines.
- Easily connects to your computer.
- Wobbly in a fast-paced game.
- Stock controller strap and facial pad aren’t the best quality.
How do I know if my PC can handle a VR headset to play Elite Dangerous in VR?
The quick answer is to check all of the headset requirements for the one you want to buy and see if your PC meets the minimum requirements. Some headsets like the Valve Index will run on the minimum requirements and still treat you to an awesome display.
Each headset will be different and have different requirements such as needing various ports to connect to base stations. Some require a more advanced graphics card or a faster processor.
I’m new to Elite Dangerous. Should I get a VR headset for this game?
The short answer is that it depends on your playstyle.
Some are interested in the game economics and how they can build or modify ships, explore new areas and get new items. Others drink in the beauty of the universe and are satisfied flying through the vastness of the cosmos.
If you are more interested in just the strategy and not as keen on enjoying the astounding artwork, perhaps spending that extra cash on VR hardware is not for you. But, if you want to be in the pilot seat mining, fighting or marveling at unexplored areas, then the VR experience is worth it.
Is Elite Dangerous better in VR?
You have the whole of the Milky Way, thousands upon thousands of stars, to explore. Why cut out the experience of marveling at the breathtaking artwork and environment in the game?
A VR headset will allow you to better immerse yourself in the world regardless of your playstyle. However, a VR headset is a must if you wish to experience the thrill of flying through space and the stars. The right VR headset coupled with HOTAS leads to an experience that will keep you continuously entertained.
The HP Reverb G2 may yield some of the most amazing visuals, but the narrow FOV fails to capture the grandeur of space. That planet or sun that you narrowly avoided smashing into just will not have that same impact.
The Oculus Rift S is an excellent choice to get into the world of VR due to its ease of use and affordability.
The Valve Index may even be the one to give you that bit of an edge in a pitched fight.
Overall though, the Pimax 5K XR will give you the best experience when exploring the universe of Elite Dangerous. The wide FOV will allow you to enjoy a large portion of the world and give you the immersion experience the game seems so eager to share with you. The SDE may be less of a problem due to the color scheme of the environment. Moreover, for most of the roles in the game, the lower refresh rate will not affect gameplay. However you choose to enjoy the game, I hope to see you among the stars.