When you take a look at the VR industry, the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR are the two most popular headsets. The PSVR has sold over 4.2 million units (per Ars Technica) and the Rift has sold a lot of units as well, although nowhere near what Sony’s set has done.
I have both units and decided to do a Oculus Rift vs. PSVR article to let you know which one I think is better.
Things to Think About Before Buying a Premium VR Headset
You can break down VR headsets into a few categories: mobile VR, standalone VR, and premium VR headsets. Generally speaking, these headsets rise in price as you add features, but there are gems in each of these.
I tend to lump the PSVR and Oculus Rift into the premium category. You need a separate rig to power both, and the experiences are something you just can’t get on the mobile headsets.
Still, if you’re thinking about one of these headsets, I think you’d be wise to consider the following:
Do You Have a PC or a PS4 Console?
What kind of gaming platform do you have?
Do you have a gaming PC that can handle the beefy graphics card required to power VR?
If not, do you have a PS4 console?
You’re going to need to have one of these to use your headset, and your choice will weigh heavy on the platform you have.
You can play both the Oculus Rift and PSVR sitting down, but I think the best VR experiences are done when you can move around.
Both headsets support six degrees of freedom (6DOF), but you need room to move around.
Keep this in mind when you’re wanting to set up an area to play.
VR controllers are a huge part of the experience, as they become your virtual hands.
You’ll want to look at the controller choices for your headset, as both the PSVR and Rift have wildly different options.
It’s a striking difference that I’ll get into later on in the comparison, but you need to think if controllers are a big deal to you.
The Ideal Buyer
If you’re someone with a bit of technical savvy and has the ability to invest in a PS4 or a heavy-duty gaming PC.
You’ll need to hook these devices up and set them up, so if that frustrates you, then a premium VR headset may not be for you.
If you do know your way around your devices, these headsets may be a great choice.
Introducing the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR Headset
The Oculus Rift is the granddaddy of premium VR headsets. The device was designed by Palmer Luckey, who famously founded Oculus, launched a Kickstarter, and sold his company to Facebook for $2 billion.
The Rift is the first retail headset from Oculus, and it’s been a big success.
In 2019, Oculus added the Rift S to their lineup, offering up internal tracking and a few better tweaks.
Rift Pros and Cons
The PlayStation VR was launched by Sony in 2016 and has gone on to become the best-selling VR headset of all-time.
The headset uses a PS4 or PS4 Pro console to power the games and has seen hundreds of titles released to the PlayStation Store.
The device isn’t as beefy in all specs as the Rift, but it has been impressive in its scope.
PlayStationVR Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve introduced both headsets, let’s get down to comparing the Rift vs. the PSVR, showing off the strengths of both.
The hardware for both devices compare well, but there are certain ways that each device prevails.
The overall build quality of the Rift is a bit nicer, as it feels comfortable and is well-balanced across your head.
The PSVR also feels good, but there are certain elements such as the back button that clamps the device to your head, which feel a bit cheap.
These two are very close in this area, but I give the edge to the Rift.
The Rift has a resolution of 1080 x 1200 per eye coming through an OLED at 90Hz.
The PlayStation VR has a display resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye, which is also on an OLED display at a variable 90Hz-120Hz refresh.
Once again, things are about equal here, but if you’re going on pure specs, the advantage goes to the Rift.
It should be said that graphics will depend heavily on the rig you use to power the games.
You’ll need a good gaming PC with a powerful graphics card to get the most out of your Rift. Similarly, the PS4 Pro has a big boost on performance and is the ideal way to play on your PSVR headset.
In terms of your audio experience, the Rift blows the PSVR out of the water.
Quality is just about the same on both devices, but the Rift includes over-the-top 3D spatial headphones that attach right to your headset. Conversely, the PSVR ships with some earbuds that are wired and attach to a hub that hangs from the headset.
You really just can’t beat those Rift headphones, and the placement of the jack on the device is much better than the PSVR.
Software is where things start to get interesting. The Oculus Rift uses your PC and has access to the Oculus Store, SteamVR, Viveport, and other stores. The PSVR is stuck with games only on the PlayStation Store or physical discs you can pick up.
Although this seems like a clearcut advantage for the Rift, there’s a big thing going for PSVR: exclusives. Sony has some awesome properties at their disposal, and the exclusives they have for PSVR cannot be found anywhere else.
Of particular note is Astro Bot VR Rescue, which may be the best VR game I’ve ever played. There are other exclusives also available, including Gran Turismo Sport, Farpoint, and Blood & Truth.
In my eyes, the exclusives give the PlayStation VR the edge here. You can play a vast majority of the games available for Rift on PSVR, but you cannot do it the other way.
The controllers for both devices do their jobs, but the advantage here goes to the Oculus Rift.
The Touch controllers are almost an extension of your hands. They’re very sensitive, have rumble, and can conduct even small movement for your hands. There have been times where I’m stuck looking at my hands, amazed at how detailed the finger movement is.
The PSVR uses the old Sony Move controllers, which debuted with the PS3 almost a decade ago.
While these work, they feel clunky. There are also some issues from time to time with tracking, which can be the difference between life and death depending on the game you’re playing. They’re not terrible, but certainly not something that feels as premium as the Touch controllers.
I say that playing with the Touch is like playing with excellent leather gloves on your hands while playing with the Move is like playing with oven mitts on your hands.
In terms of sheer value, it looks like PSVR is the clearcut winner. There are countless bundles available that package the PSVR with games, the controllers, and the camera required to get in on the action.
The Rift itself doesn’t usually come in packages like you get with the PSVR. You do get the camera, headset, and Touch controllers, but the price is usually much higher. This hurts the value proposition a lot, especially considering that many games available for the Rift can also be played on the PSVR.
The Big Winner
The device has clear advantages in terms of audio and visual quality as well as the controller, but the PSVR has the advantage when it comes to exclusive games and value proposition.
I say to look at Oculus Rift vs. PSVR like this: Go with the choice that matches your current hardware.
If you have a PlayStation 4, you’re better off going with a PSVR. If you have a PC and no PS4, go with the Rift.
If you have both a PS4 and PC, weigh what’s most important to you. If having the cutting edge graphics and performance matters most, the Rift is the way to go.
If you love Sony’s exclusives and don’t want to break the bank for a headset, then the PSVR is a perfect choice.
I am spoiled in this regard. I have both, and I get the best of both worlds.