Oculus Go vs. Oculus Rift – Which Should You Buy?

To cut a long story short, I quenched my technological thirst with the Oculus Rift.

Oculus has changed the game when it comes to virtual reality. They’ve put out the Oculus Rift, the Go, and recently, the Quest. Each of these headsets is great in their own way, and they each serve their own purpose.

Owning all of these, I wanted to do an Oculus Go vs Oculus Rift comparison.

What are the differences between these headsets and which one is better?

Read on to find out.

Things to Consider Before Buying a VR Headset

VR is great tech. I’ve been to the moon, killed goblins, and even been called dirty words by children in virtual reality. Each time I put on the headset, I know I’m going to be doing something cool.

When you’re thinking about buying a VR headset though, there are some things I’d consider before plopping down a wad of cash.

Some of these include:

Expectations

Are you looking for cutting edge gaming experiences or a new way to consume media?

Each headset can deliver these experiences, but some will be better than others in particular categories.

Keep this in mind when you’re looking at your headset options.

Wired or Wireless

Ideally, all VR would be wireless, but that’s simply not the case.

PC headsets are generally wired to your computer, whereas headsets like the Go are wireless.

While being tied to a computer is a real PITB (pain in the booty), you often get better visual experiences with the wired headsets.

Budget

Unless you’re the luckiest guy in the world, you’re probably going to be paying for your VR headset. In this aspect, your budget does play a role.

Do you want to spend a few bucks for a piece of cardboard, or do you want to drop $600 or more on a top-of-the-line device?

Make sure you factor in what you’re willing to spend before you get too far into researching your next headset.

The Ideal Consumer for VR

I say that VR is tech for everyone. Literally, anyone from an 8-year-old boy to a 100-year-old grandma can drop into a headset and be wowed. With that said, most VR consumers are 18-54 and are tech savvy.

I wouldn’t recommend dropping $600 on a headset if you don’t know how to navigate around your computer and solving different tech issues. You should probably buy-in only if you feel comfortable getting around a VR space and solving small issues that may pop up from time to time.

Presenting the Oculus Go and the Oculus Rift

Before I begin the comparison, I want to let you know that both the Oculus Go and the Rift are excellent VR headsets. I own both, and I freaking love them.

With the design, Oculus really put comfort and functionality at the forefront, and you can tell the difference between an Oculus device and any other developer.

By the way, you can check out my full review of the Go here.

Build Quality

Both the Go and the Rift are well-built, but they serve different purposes. The weight of the devices is virtually identical, with the Rift coming in at 470 grams versus the Go’s 468 grams.

The way the devices sit on your head is the main difference though, as the Go’s straps seem a bit flimsier, whereas the RIft is more substantial.

Another feature you need to take into account is the tether that is required with the Rift. The headset goes right into your PC, and it can feel like a pain to rub against your neck, back, or armpits.

The Go is completely wireless, and this isn’t an issue.

Winner: Tie

Visual Quality

If we’re going on straight terms of the screen quality in the headsets, then the Go would seem like the obvious winner. It has a screen resolution of 2560×1440, which gives you a resolution of 1280×1440 per eye.

This compares with the Rift’s 2160×1200 screen, which delivers 1280×1200 per eye.

This isn’t the only factor though. Both screen types are different. The Rift uses an OLED display, while the Go has simply an LCD. This means that black levels on the Rift are better, and the higher refresh rate of 90Hz versus 72Hz on the Go, makes things a bit smoother.

When you combine all of these factors with a better computer powering the headsets, the Rift comes out ahead in terms of visual quality, at least in my books.

That’s not to say that the Go sucks in this regard to its visuals.

It looks really good. I just think the Rift is better when all things are considered.

Winner: Rift

Audio Quality

Both the Rift and the Go have built-in audio options for users. The Rift has over the top headphones attached to the device, while the Go has tiny speakers that are included in the strap arms of the device.

Both provide 3D spatial audio and work well. If you don’t like these options, you can use your own headphones.

A lot of users like the Rift headphones, but I think they’re nuts. To me, the option of having the audio piped into my ears while not having them covered or anything in them is way better. It’s also not obnoxiously loud, as people next to me say they can barely hear anything.

I give the edge to the Go here.

Winner: Go

Controllers

Both devices come with controllers for manipulating the virtual world. The Go has a single device that serves as more of a pointer than anything else. The Rift ships with Oculus’ Move Controllers, which become extensions of your hands. You can control different finger movements, and the controller is spectacular.

Combined with the 6DOF of the Rift headset, there’s no comparison here. The Rift is the winner by a country mile.

I should say that if you want to play with a Bluetooth controller, you can do so on either device.

I’ve hooked in an Xbox One Bluetooth controller to both and had great results.

Winner: Rift

User Experience

You can do a lot of great things with both devices, but the overall user experience on the Rift is superior. Users do get a similar setup for the menus and launch tables of both devices, which is polished and lets you easily navigate between your library, settings, social interactions, and more.

The real benefit when it comes to using the devices is the Rift’s 6DOF (degrees of freedom) technology. This means that you can move side to side as well as front to back, and up and down in your virtual world. When you’re playing games, you can actually lean for a gun or duck below a sword.

This is something that the Go can’t do, as the device is stuck in 3DOF, which only lets the user go side to side rotationally. While 3DOF isn’t bad, it’s just a whole different beast compared to the Rift.

Another aspect to consider is the computer that powers the devices. The Rift is tied into a capable gaming PC, while the Go has its computer all contained in the headset, using mobile phone grade materials. This means that the experiences aren’t going to be as in-depth as you’d find on the Rift.

You can simply do so much more on the Rift, and combining this with the 6DOF gives the Rift yet another edge.

Winner: Rift

Setup/Teardown

One thing that I always complain about when using VR is setting up and tearing down the devices.

If I use something like my PSVR, I have to pull it out, plug it into boxes, and then set it up.

When I’m done I have to tear it all down and pack it away, unless I want my cat chewing on the cords.

The same experience is had with my Rift. I hate having to set it up, calibrate the different cameras, and then putting it all away when I’m done. Sometimes I’m simply pooped from playing a game like Superhot or Beat Saber, and I just want to chill.

The Go is superior in this aspect. You simply pull it out of its case, turn it on, and you’re ready to go.

When I’m done, I just turn it off and put it back in its case. It’s super simple and saves me a few minutes of fighting with cords. This seems like a small element, but it’s actually a big deal.

Winner: Go

Conclusion

I really love both of these devices, but if I have to choose one over the other, I’d say that the Oculus Rift is better. While it’s a pain to have that cord and to have to set it up, the 6DOF and different ways to use the device are just superior to that of the Go.

Despite losing the straight-up comparison to the Rift, I still use my Go a lot. I love how easy it is to use, and it’s actually my preferred headset when I’m watching media or streaming PC games to play.

You can buy Oculus Rift on Amazon here.

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