True virtual reality is still in its infancy, but already two front-runners have emerged in the race to the top of the industry: Oculus and HTC. In the battle of Oculus Rift vs Vive, there is not yet a clear winner. Each company's virtual reality offerings has its pros and cons, and each has some exciting games available and still more coming out soon. Read on to find out if we can determine a victor in the battle of the Oculus Rift vs Vive.
Oculus Rift vs Vive Comparison Table
An Introduction to Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has fascinated science fiction writers for decades. Star Trek's holodeck brought the idea into the mainstream, and there have been plenty of aborted attempts to bring virtual reality into people's homes. Children of the 90's might remember Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy, for example. Today's virtual reality headsets are the closes technology has come yet to presenting true, consumer-ready virtual reality.
The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are two of the first modern virtual reality headsets to hit the market. They have a similar design: a pair of goggles blocks the player's view of the outside world, while headphones built into the headset add to the immersion. Using cameras and internal accelerometers and gyroscopes, the headsets can track a user's motions so when they turn their head to look at something in their virtual world; they'll actually turn their head in-game.
The first virtual reality headset to hit the market was the Oculus Rift. Oculus, now owned by Facebook, collaborated with Samsung to bring this product to market. It connects to a gaming PC via a USB cable to allow gamers to play in full, 360-degree virtual reality. Its first competitor was a collaboration between HTC and Steam, dubbed the Vive. Together they are the two biggest players in the virtual reality space. They have the best games, have had a few years to refine their hardware, and are affordable enough for people to bring them into their own living rooms. When you set the Oculus Rift vs Vive though, which one comes out on top?
The two headsets share many of the same specs. Both must remain tethered to a PC to function, and both boast a resolution of 1080 by 1200 pixels per eye. Both also have a refresh rate of 90Hz, too. So what are the differences? The Oculus Rift connects to a PC using a USB 3.0 connection, while the Vive can use USB 3.0 or an HDMI cable. The Oculus Rift can be used with an Oculus Touch controller or an Xboxgamepad while the HTC Vive can only be used with the HTC Vive Motion Controllers. Finally, Oculus has its own software platform but also works with SteamVR, while the Vive uses SteamVR exclusively.
Oculus Rift vs Vive Comparison
The Oculus Rift was the first consumer-grade virtual reality headset to hit the market. Its screen offers 1080 by 1200 pixel resolution per eye, with a 110-degree field of view and a 90Hz refresh rate. When it comes to sound, the Oculus Rift has built-in on-ear headphones that are reasonably comfortable for most users and easy to use. It also includes a built-in microphone for multiplayer chat and voice commands. In the battle of Oculus Rift vs Vive, both headsets require beefy gaming PCs to operate. At the very least you'll need an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 GPU and 8GB of RAM.
In order to connect to a PC, the Oculus needs at least two USB 3.0 and an HDMI port. That means you'll have a lot of cables around you as you play, which can be annoying depending on how much motion the game you're playing demands. Controlling any game in virtual reality is tough: the game has to simulate your hands with controllers you can't see. The Oculus Touch controllers are comfortable to hold with highly responsive analog sticks.
In addition to the controllers, each Oculus Rift comes with two tracking cameras that turn the system into a full-room virtual reality rig. The only thing in the way of a seamless experience is the cables, which are a tripping danger when you're wearing the headset.
The Oculus Rift costs roughly $$ on Amazon. This includes not only the headset and controllers but also six free games including the critically acclaimed title Lucky's Tale. It's everything you need to get started playing great virtual reality titles.
The Oculus Rift has a great screen and low latency if you have a suitable PC gaming rig to run it on. The biggest drawback to the hardware itself is the three cables that must be plugged into it. Each is begging to be tripped over while you're exploring virtual worlds, and they inevitably become tangled. The Oculus Rift vs Vive battle won't be won or lost because of cables, but the Rift definitely gets the short end of the stick here.
Comparing the Oculus Rift vs Vive in size and design, the Rift comes out on top. It's smaller, sleeker, and lighter, which is a big deal when you have to wear it on your head. It's comfortable enough for those who wear glasses but lacks a way to move the screen farther from your eyes to accommodate them.
The built-in headphones are great, but your mileage may vary when it comes to how comfortable they are on your head. Overall, the slim form factor and lighter weight make it easier to wear the Oculus Rift for extended periods than it is to wear the Vive.
In the Oculus Rift vs Vive battle of controllers, both offer unprecedented levels of immersion thanks to motion controls. The Rift's are considerably smaller, and while both are comfortable, the Rift's come out on top overall. Playing with them will take some getting used to, but once you learn the button placements, they'll become second nature.
There has yet to be a true killer app title for virtual reality, but both the Rift and Vive have tons of great games available. The Rift comes out on top here yet again though thanks to the Oculus Store, which has some exclusive titles that the Vive can't access. Meanwhile, the Rift has access to the SteamVR store, so it can play every title the Vive can.
The HTC Vive has a lot going for it in the battle between Oculus Rift vs Vive. Its screen is identical to the Rift's: 1080 by 1200 pixel resolution per eye, a 110-degree field of view, and a 90Hz refresh rate. It earns an edge over the Rift thanks to a dial that allows users to adjust the distance their eyes are from the screen, which is great for overall comfort. On the downside, the Vive has no built-in headphones, instead relying on an auxiliary jack for a user to plug in their own. Earbuds are included with the Vive, or you can use your own headphones; either way, it adds another wire that gets in the way.
Worse, getting your favorite pair of headphones to fit comfortably under the headset can be a pain. When it comes to specs, the Vive has identical PC requirements aside from only requiring 4GB of RAM. We would, however, encourage users to have at least 8GB of RAM when using both of these devices to get the best possible performance. The Vive gets the edge when it comes to connectivity though: it needs just one USB 2.0 port and one HDMI port. The means fewer wires trailing behind you as you explore your virtual worlds.
The Vive's controllers are wand-shaped and covered with buttons that are light and easy to pick up and use, but slightly less comfortable than the Rift's. They also cost a lot more: if you need to replace a Vive controller, it will run you about $130 while the Rift's go for around $70.
The biggest knock against the Vive is its higher price tag: it will run you around $$$ on Amazon. That price includes the controllers and a two-month subscription to Viveport, Vive's gaming subscription service. You won't keep the games like you do with the Rift's six free titles, but you can try a wide range of virtual reality games to see what you like.
With nearly identical screens, it's tough to separate the Oculus Rift vs Vive on the hardware front. Ultimately, the Vive gets the edge because it needs fewer cables to function and technically only requires 4GB of RAM. It's a little easier to move around with fewer cables, making full-room virtual reality more feasible. The only thing Vive loses to the Rift on is the sound; having to plug in a separate pair of headphones is annoying, but not a deal breaker.
The Vive is slightly heavier and bulkier than the Rift, so your neck might get more tired faster while using it. The bigger issue with the Vive is once again its lack of built-in headphones. If you want to use your favorite gaming headphones for the best possible sound, you'll have a difficult time making them fit comfortably under the headset. Luckily, HTC's included earbuds are good enough.
The Vive's controllers are great, but a little bigger and a little less comfortable than the Rift's. More importantly, a replacement is almost twice the price as one for the Rift at around a whopping $$ to the Rift's $.
While there's nothing wrong with the Vive's game selection, the fact is that it has zero exclusives. Anything that can be played on the Vive through SteamVR can also be played on the Oculus Rift, while the Rift has the Oculus Store, which offers a few great exclusive titles. As time goes on you will probably see great exclusives for the Vive, but for now, we have to give a significant edge to the Oculus Rift in this department.
The HTC Vive has some excellent features, like the ability to adjust the distance of the screen from the eyes and only two cables needed to connect to a PC. However, compared to the Oculus Rift, it comes up short in a few crucial categories. The Rift's built-in headphones make it more comfortable and convenient to use for long periods of time, and the price is $ lower than the Vive's. Both of those are important to consider, but the biggest advantage the Rift has over the Vive is the Oculus Store.
These two systems are very close in quality. They have nearly identical displays, their controllers are both excellent, and neither is that much more or less difficult to set up than the other. When two systems are this similar, gamers have to look at the games to decide. That's where the Oculus Rift comes out on top. It can play anything the Vive can plus a few exclusives, and that's more important that an extra cable or two to most gamers.
Keep in mind too that the virtual reality market is in its infancy. In fact, both Oculus and HTC have new headsets hitting the market in the form of the Oculus Go and the HTC Vive Pro. The Go is a $$ device built to expand the virtual reality market, while the Vive Pro is by far the best headset on the market but will cost over $$$ to get working. Therefore, if you want the best consumer-grade virtual reality experience for an affordable price, we recommend the Oculus Rift.