Virtual Reality gaming, or VR gaming, has taken the gaming industry by storm.
Developers release games specifically tailored to the experience, with many more games offering their own benefits from optional VR use.
One such type of game where either VR or traditional monitor play can be experienced are racing simulators, or iRacing. VR headsets offer a ridiculously immersive experience that can turn a casual race into an adrenaline fueled adventure.
To fully immerse yourself into the game, you need the best headset. Here are the best VR Headsets for iRacing.
Best VR Headsets At A Glance
- Valve Index (Best High-end)
- Samsung HMD Odyssey+ (Best Value)
- Oculus Rift S (Best Budget)
- HP Reverb G2 (Best Resolution)
- Pimax 5k Plus (Best Field of View)
- HTC Vive Pro
- HTC Vive Cosmos
Virtual Reality gaming, or VR gaming, has taken the gaming industry by storm. Developers release games specifically tailored to the experience, with many more games offering their own benefits from optional VR use.
One such type of game where either VR or traditional monitor play can be experienced are racing simulators, or iRacing. VR headsets offer a ridiculously immersive experience that can turn a casual race into an adrenaline fueled adventure. To fully immerse yourself into the game, you need the best headset. Here are the best VR Headsets for iRacing.
#1. Valve Index – Best High End/LCD Headset
The Valve Index VR headset tops our list as the best high end headset. Designed and built by the legendary game developer Valve, this VR headset spares no expense to give users the greatest VR experience possible.
Designed for immersive gaming, the Valve Index features a pixel resolution 1440 x 1600 LCD panel for each eye, offering a total resolution of 2880 x 1600. Each visual panel delivers a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz, with a 120° field of view. While the manufacturer specifies a 130° field of view, users report a 120° maximum.
Aurally, the headset’s off-ear speakers allow for lower frequency sounds that appeal to accuracy and immersion. Despite releasing more than a year and a half ago, the quality of the components continue to set this headset apart from competitors.
The headset is designed for use specifically with the equally impressive Valve Index Controllers and Valve Index Base stations. However, the headset features backwards compatibility with other models such as the HTC Vive controllers and base stations.
- Maximum immersion with the top quality equipment
- Full field tracking with base stations
- Top performance specifications without needing the most high end computer hardware
- High price point: over $1000 for full package of headset, controllers and two base stations
- Steam software holding back the headset from maximum potential
Overall, the Valve Index sets an incredibly high bar for all similar VR headsets. Unfortunately, that bar comes with a very high price. Find it on Steam for a great deal.
#2. Samsung HMD Odyssey+ – Best Value Headset
The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ earns its spot on our list as having the best value. Featuring a dual 3K AMOLED display of 1440 x 1600 pixels resolution for each eye, the headset offers top quality visuals.
The specified horizontal field of range comes in at 110°, on par with similar priced headsets and the industry standard. However, since the average person’s field of view exceeds 200°, many headsets with this field of view make the gaming experience feel cramped. The refresh rate is adjustable between 60 Hz and 90 Hz.
Samsung partners with AKD to deliver excellent quality headphones with a number of their products, including the Odyssey+ VR headset. The AKD built-in headphones envelope the user into the game’s atmosphere with 360° spatial sound.
The price of this unit varies from $300 while on sale to more than $800, depending on availability. The average price of the headset comes to $500 under normal expected circumstances of supply and demand. At that price point, users get a wonderful headset that can stand up to the big boys priced over $1000.
- Easily accessible price point
- Quick and easy setup
- Much lighter and more comfortable than its Odyssey predecessor
- Clunky controllers
- Size adjustment limited
- Best for videos, not for gaming
While the Samsung Odyssey+ gives users wonderful specifications and major improvements over its predecessor, issues with the controllers and tracking make gaming frustrating in some cases. Still, the value is unbeatable if you can pick it up on sale.
#3. Oculus Rift S – Best Budget Headset
Oculus Rift built its name with the emergence of VR gaming, and holds a spot as a pioneer of the technology. Oculus offers several models of VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift S. Designed as a replacement for the original Oculus Rift, the Rift S offers some improvements, and downgrades, over its predecessor.
The Oculus Rift S uses a single panel LCD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. While the field of view increased five degrees to 115° over the first Oculus Rift, the lower refresh rate of 80 Hz cancels out any net gain on visual specifications.
The display solved many problems with god rays which the previous model experienced. Some state that the Oculus Rift S reduces glare and rays significantly over many higher priced headsets.
Also featuring off-ear speakers, the sound quality leaves much to be desired. Many users list sound quality as a chief complaint with the headset. However, most users universally love the included Oculus Touch controllers, praising their hand positioning and responsiveness.
The Halo headband gives users an overall more comfortable user experience. Better weight distribution reduces fatigue.
- Very accessible price point at $300
- Great touch controllers
- Excellent screen clarity
- Numerous reports of motion sickness
- Poor sound quality
- Lower screen resolution results in eye strain
While the Oculus Rift S does not completely blow the previous Oculus Rift out of the water, several improvements make the Rift S a viable option for gamers on a budget. For $300, Oculus definitely helps introduce a larger demographic to the wonders of VR gaming.
#4. HP Reverb G2 – Best Resolution
HP went out of their way to deliver a VR headset with absolutely superb resolution. And they definitely deliver with the HP Reverb G2. Featuring dual LCD panels each with a resolution of 2160 x 2160, the total resolution comes to 4320 x 2160, knocking the competition out of the water.
The HP Reverb G2 offers an above average field of view at 114°, but still leaves gamers wanting a larger viewing scope even though it surpasses most of the competition. The refresh rate does not take advantage of the incredible screen resolution at only 90 Hz. While this rate is definitely considered reasonable, for a resolution like the one included a higher refresh rate is desired.
In order to get the most out of that screen resolution, high end PC hardware specifications are recommended. Otherwise, the display cannot be used to its full potential and you will be better off with a cheaper headset.
Like most VR headsets on our list, its inside-out tracking feature requires no additional equipment such as base stations. HP went and included four tracking cameras to aid tracking. Despite all those cameras, early user reviews report tracking issues.
HP teamed up with Valve to give the G2 off-ear speakers similar to that of the Valve Index. This results in excellent and immersive audio quality to coincide with a very powerful display. The headset can also be adjusted to fit any head size and shape, or so the company claims.
- Top notch display
- Extremely adjustable for maximum comfort
- Numerous tracking issues
- Technical bugs
While the HP Reverb G2 gives the VR community an unbeatable display, many other factors pull the headset down to the point where the high resolution cannot be fully appreciated. It currently sells for $600.
#5. Pimax 5k Plus – Best Field of View
You might have noticed a common complaint with most of these headsets when it comes to field of view. Frankly, they just cannot offer a field of view that does not make the user feel like they are in a tunney. Pimax decided to nip that problem in the bud with their series of VR headsets.
The Pimax 5k Plus features dual LCD panels each with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, offering a total resolution of 5120 x 1440. Coupled with a refresh rate of up to 144 Hz, Pimax really knows how to get the most out of that resolution.
But here comes the best part. The maximum field of view comes to an unbeatable 200°. With such a wide field of view, the immersive experience is really the best on the market. The peripheral vision extends nearly as far as the human eye can see. So no more of that tunnel vision feeling.
Priced at $650, users need to purchase their own controllers, base stations and headphones separately. The Pimax 5k Plus features no audio capabilities other than a headphone jack.
- Crazy wide (and adjustable) field of view
- Excellent resolution when calibrated correctly
- Coolest looking headset on our list
- Poor strap adjustment
- Expensive without additional required equipment
Pimax offers several other models, but the 5k Plus edges them out.
Pimax 5K XR
The Pimax 5K XR presents itself as a mild upgrade from the standard version. Both headsets offer the same visual specifications, however the XR has an OLED display as opposed to an LCD display. While this difference improves the colors and depth of the resolution, the LCD display offers a better gaming experience with less chop.
The XR also gives a slightly more comfortable headset strap, but at $250 more expensive the benefits are negligible over the 5K Plus. And since users favor the 5K Plus when it comes to gaming, the XR does not receive a recommendation.
Pimax 8K X
Simply put, the Pimax 8K X is just overkill. With a higher price point, the improved resolution makes little difference when it comes down to anything over 5K. Plus, the higher resolution requires higher computing power.
The resolution also requires users to patiently calibrate the incredibly sensitive settings. For $200 cheaper, the Pimax 5K Plus gives gamers a superb experience with a little less hassle.
Regardless of the specific version of the Pimax headset, the incredible field of view comes standard across all models. You can adjust them up to 200° for a real immersive gaming experience, or back it down to 120° if watching VR videos so you do not miss a thing.
#6. HTC Vive Pro
Offered as an improvement of the HTC Vive, most specifications make it a higher quality device than its predecessor. Of course, that also means a higher price.
With a dial AMOLED display at 1440 x 1600 per panel, the screen resolution compares itself highly to other top notch VR headsets. The 90 Hz refresh rate leaves choppiness behind for the most part, but still is not as smooth as the best of the best. The 110° field of view makes it average, which is still currently a little bit disappointing.
The HTC Vive Pro comes with detachable headphones, focusing on 3D spatial sound and a noise cancellation feature. Designers also paid special attention to comfort with this model, giving users a wonderful experience no matter how long they keep the headset on for.
Base stations included with the complete package offer that superb tracking experience, albeit a little bit more expensive. Many users of the original HTC Vive feel that the Vive Pro is a worthy successor. However, a lot of them shake their heads at the $1100 price point for the full system, more than double the cost of the original.
Still, the significantly higher resolution gives each player a VR experience without compromising on immersion. While the HTC Vive Pro does not top the specifications in any one category, the overall good specifications make it a worthy contender when considering a VR headset for iRacing.
- Good resolution and display specifications
- Very comfortable
- Sacrifices nothing
- Does not stand out from the top headsets
- High price point for middle of the road delivery
#7. HTC Vive Cosmos
Another HTC instant classic, the Vive Cosmos varies from other HTC models with a dual panel LCD display. Each panel offers a resolution of 1440 x 1700 pixels. It falls right in line with the other models with its 110° field of view and 90 Hz refresh rate.
The HTC Vive Cosmos offers an audio system featuring stereo quality sound from on-ear headphones, for a truly unique listening experience.
Many users feel that the Cosmos, despite a release date more than one year after the Vive Pro, does not offer any major improvements in VR technology. The LCD display and headphones compose the only major difference.
However, the Vive Cosmos’ price sits comfortably at $700. Significantly cheaper than the Vive Pro, the Cosmos leaves behind the base stations which give the Pro its wonderful tracking capabilities. However, the headset includes four cameras to retain a tracking experience on par with its cousin model while keeping costs low.
That being said, while base stations are a pain to set up and increase the price, they almost always result in an unbeatable tracking experience which the Cosmos might be lacking.
- Wonderful tracking without external sensors
- Improved motion controls
- Requires higher end computer hardware
- Requires DisplayPort 1.2
VR headsets add a substantial amount of immersion to the gaming experience, especially when it comes to iRacing. However, with the cheapest headset on our list going for $300, the question of whether or not VR headsets make the experience worthwhile definitely comes to mind.
Pros and Cons of VR Racing: Why Use VR at All?
Like all VR gaming, VR racing offers several unique benefits over the standard monitor playstyle. First and foremost, the immersive aspect makes you really feel like you are driving in a high stakes, fast paced race. The added entertainment factor from immersion alone makes VR worthwhile for the casual gamer.
But VR also gives the competitive player a couple of advantages over those without it. Improved vision and awareness stands out when using a VR headset. Track details pop out at the player in ways that monitors just cannot replicate.
VR headsets also heighten the experience of driving to the point where drivers feel their way through each race instead of just racing from muscle memory. And with a VR screen right in your face, you pay closer attention and drive with increased precision.
However, nothing is perfect. One of the downsides to VR gaming, including iRacing, is vision fatigue. With the screen so close to their face, many players have to call it quits when playing for too long due to eye strain.
The severity of vision fatigue varies per user, but the experience affects most to make it a notable issue.
Is VR Racing a Must?
For the casual player, the extra cost associated with a VR headset must be balanced out by increased enjoyment from the experience. And for most, the immersive experience of VR adds another layer to gaming packed full of all of its own benefits.
And at the professional or competitive level, many VR fanatics find that the right headset significantly improves their gameplay experience and makes them better performers. You might play well with a monitor, but you can be extraordinary with a VR headset.
Which Headset to Choose?
The right headset for you depends on price point, importance of comfort and any other particularity. However, based on the options listed above the Valve Index takes the cake for best headset for iRacing.
The price point of $1000 might be high, but it gives players a truly incredible and immersive experience. It sacrifices absolutely nothing from the best LCD display to an incredible audio experience. Given free reign, I would choose the Valve Index any day of the week. And not just for iRacing, but for all my VR gaming needs.