- OLEDs offer a high contrast picture quality as compared to LED.
- VR headsets come in different designs, audio inputs, and adjustment options.
- To use your VR or Mixed reality headsets, you will have to download the Steam VR application.
Virtual Reality technology is the game-changer. It is a radical change in the way we game, a much more immersive experience, and is simply not comparable to playing games non-VR.
VR technology transcends reality and essentially creates an illusion of another reality. VR-compatible headsets are the central hardware you need to enjoy VR games. And although VR headset devices are expensive, the experience on offer is unparalleled.
Steam VR has come up as the leading VR experience, delivering on immersive gaming across a number of popular titles without going overboard with the integration or usage.
It enables you to experience VR gaming content using different Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality headsets.
Check out the best VR headset for Steam in 2021 that you can buy to enter a whole new dimension of gaming. Before that though, it’s important that you’re updated with VR gaming as it stands in this post-COVID 2021.
Virtual Reality and Steam: User’s Guide
Steam VR was developed by Valve with an emphasis on allowing room-scale VR experience using position tracking. Initially, it was introduced only on Oculus Rift but later expanded to HTC Vive and other Virtual Reality headsets.
Over time, Virtual Reality gaming and streaming have only become smoother thanks to higher resolution images.
Worth mentioning, Windows also released mixed reality support with its fall creator update allowing users a lot of mixed reality experiences such as painting 3D and mixed reality viewer.
To support mixed reality, Windows also launched partner-developed hardware. But the question users often have is what exactly does Mixed Reality offer above Virtual Reality.
The fact that it combines both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality makes it different. However, few devices can leverage the best of both.
In actual gaming though, the immersive environment of VR wins over the combination of VR and AR, the basis of Mixed Reality headsets. Moreover, the design only differs with just a camera on the front to show real-life objects.
We have also created a series of guidelines that can help you get a perfect device on your budget. First and foremost, Steam VR should support VR headsets. Check the device description and search online to reassure.
Most mixed reality headsets come with an instruction manual to link with Steam VR.
Since these devices are bulky and placed on top of your head, the most critical factor becomes your equipment adjustments.
We recommend choosing a device with the highest resolution and audio quality within your budget. To help you out, we have reviewed the best VR headset for Steam.
Best VR headsets for Steam
1. HTC Vive System
Up first, we have reviewed the only two headsets currently available with native Steam VR support. One of them is this HTC Vive.
HTC Vive was one of the best Virtual Reality headsets during its launch in 2016. It comes with an out-of-the-box design with multiple motion sensors and works with both Steam VR and Windows Mixed Reality.
With a 2160 x 2100-pixel resolution OLED display, you will need quite the hardware for rending high-resolution picture quality. It recommends using at least intel i5 4590, along with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD FX 8350 and above, to take complete advantage of the offered by HTC Vive.
You get complete cushioning around the lens to filter out excess light. Its 3-way head strap helps in a snug fit, which also acts as a cable management system.
HTC Vive comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack as there is no internal audio system attached with the VR headset.
You can connect any wireless earphones to avoid the wire mess. This VR headset’s prime highlight is the Chaperone system that warns you for crossing the playable area boundary.
You can purchase the HTC Vive VR headset for just below $800. Click here to know more about this bundle purchase.
- Works with original Vive gear
- Higher-resolution offers better visual clarity
- No internal headphones
- DisplayPort based connection
2. Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift is among the earlier Steam compatible VR headsets that were extensively supported by Steam VR.
Believe it or not, this product is manufactured by a subsidiary company of Facebook. This VR headset design is very sleek and flat, offering just the Oculus branding on the front.
Oculus Rift offers decent padding and fits well on heads of different sizes. It features an integrated headphone with proper padding to filter the outside noise.
You get dual lenses, which put together a combined resolution of 2160 x 1200 pixels to provide sharp picture quality.
Minimum systems required to take advantage of the system are Intel core i5 4590 or later versions with and NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or later versions.
You also need at least 8 Gigabytes of RAM, HDMI 1.3 port, and four USB ports to function this system.
The controllers on these VR headsets are also very intuitive and easy to use. You can play a number of games that require high mobility area as the sensor can track a large area of up to 5 feet x 7 feet dimensions.
Check out the Oculus Rift.
You can get this VR headset for around $400.
- Native Steam support
- Immersive gaming experience
- It comes with all the necessary cables.
- Requires a lot of USB ports for connections.
- Minimal scope for head adjustment.
Other Mixed Reality headsets
3. Oculus Rift S
Oculus Rift S is an improvement over its predecessor in several areas and is available at a relatively lower price than other VR headsets even today.
This is one of the most compact packages around including a VR headset, controllers, and tethering cables.
Oculus developed Oculus insights that use three simultaneous tracking processes. It uses accelerometer and gyroscope data from headsets and the controllers while capturing your movements with 5 in-built cameras on the front of the Rift S.
These features are complemented with AI software to rectify any system-based error.
Rift S offers 1280 x 1440 resolutions per eye with a max refresh rate of 80Hz with a weight of just 561 grams.
Instead of OLED, this rift model features an LCD that offers lesser contrast than the OLED displays. The design of Rift S doesn’t allow lifting of the headset to take a peek outside.
For that, you will have to use the front cameras or remove the entire headset. You can buy the Rift S for around $400 – this is one of the most affordable Steam compatible VR headsets around.
- Higher image resolutions
- New head strap for higher adjustments
- Lighter headset
- LCD panels offer less color contrast and vibrance
- Built-in audio quality is poor
4. HTC VIVE Cosmos Elite Virtual Reality System
HTC released the cosmos elite in the latter half of 2019. HTC VIVE Elite cosmos comes with a lot of new features.
With this complete VR system, you get a wireless controller and headset offering a considerable playing area of up to 160 square feet.
It claims to have an ultimate precision with higher freedom of movement, capable of tracking behind the head and crisscross movements.
The picture quality on this headset is 2880 x 1700 pixels, focusing on minimizing the screen door effect.
It is recommended to have at least 4 GB of system RAM, intel core i5-4590, or equivalent processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 and above GPU with at least 4 GB of VRAM.
With its flip-up design, you can quickly switch from playing VR games to other compatible apps and return to gaming again without removing the headset.
It also comes with rich stereo audio that offers an entirely immersive experience making it one of the best VR for Steam.
Click here to get this VIVE cosmos VR system. It is currently priced at around $900.
- Superior movement tracking
- Higher picture resolutions
- Difficult external tracker setup
5. Dell Visor
Dell Visor marks the first entry of the computer hardware manufacturer into the Virtual Reality domain.
The device itself has been crafted to resolve a lot of problems faced in earlier models. The first noticeable aspect of its design is the cable management and flip-top headset.
That essentially converts to ease of use and adjustments using a tightening knob provided at the back.
Unlike Rift S, this model comes with a hinge design, which makes the head strap act as a counterweight to keep the headset hung on the head strap rather than being pressed against your face that can leave marks.
You can even flip up the Visor whenever you need a break without the need to remove and change adjustments repeatedly. Dell Visor comes with a 2880 x 1440 resolution, offering a 110-degree field of view.
It can display up to 90 frames per second. Apart from regular tracking sensors such as an accelerometer and gyroscope, you also get a magnetometer for enhanced tracking.
All the padding is attached with Velcro, which allows you to replace them as per need. The Dell Visor requires HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports to operate.
Moreover, it weighs 600 grams without the cables, but since the head strap counterbalances the weight, you don’t have any inconvenience while using it.
It recommends using a 4 GHz processor with 4 or more cores and a GPU equivalent or higher than NVIDIA GTX 965M or AMD RX 460. It’s currently available for around $650.
- Premium build quality
- Higher resolution
- Proper cable management and replaceable cushioning
- No in-built audio system
- Too expensive considering the lack of inbuilt audio
6. Lenovo Explorer
Lenovo Explorer is a similarly built Mixed Reality headset with dual external cameras. The first thing noticed about this headset is lightweight that weighs in at just 380 grams.
You get ahead strap with rear adjustments while the headset is attached with a hinge with the head strap.
Lenovo Explorer provides a 1440 x 1440 pixels resolution in both eyes. It covers the light bleed very well with the extra foam padding around the lenses. It even comes with removable padding, capable of absorbing sweat, allowing you to change the paddings after prolonged usage.
While it doesn’t offer an integrated audio system, you get a 3.5 mm audio jack for attaching a headphone/microphone combo. This mixed reality headset allows you to enjoy a playing area of 11.5 feet x 11.5 feet.
You will need at least an Intel Core i5 7200U with 8GB of RAM and a Direct-X 12 capable discrete GPU recommended by Lenovo.
Although currently discontinued, this is a top-notch Steam compatible VR. Keep an eye out here to check for available units or watch out for this space!
- Easy motion tracking and wide playing area
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Available at a bargain price as compared to other mixed reality headsets
- No haptic feedback
- LCD offers less vivid colors
7. Samsung HMD Odyssey+
Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus comes with OLED 1440 x 1440-pixel resolutions, offering a 110 degrees field of view.
This resolution provides a user-perceived resolution of 1233 PPI. Other than most of the other VR headsets, this one comes with a manual control IPD.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus comes with an integrated AKG spatial audio system that offers a completely immersive gaming experience.
The volume controller and Inter-Pupillary Distance setting are located below the headset for ease of access. Odyssey plus provides you with a completely wire-free experience.
These VR headsets track the outside movement with external cameras, which can also see the surrounding reality.
The adjustable control IPD comes in handy for the best visual engagement and ease of usage, not available in most other VR headsets on this list.
While it doesn’t offer the conventional flip-up design, this design has its fair share of pros. It helps take off the load on your face by counterbalancing everything with the head strap.
The Odyssey Plus weighs in at just 594 grams. It offers decent padding on the head strap and headset, however, only the cushioning on the headsets is removable.
They can be upgraded for a better and comfortable fit. It also makes Odyssey Plus one of the VR headsets for Steam comfortable for users with glasses.
Check out the Samsung Odyssey Plus right here, currently available for around $800.
- Built-in spatial audio system
- Reduced screen door effect
- No flip settings
- A bit expensive
Virtual reality is the future of gaming, promising an immersive gaming experience that will only get better over the years. Although there are a large number of options to look for, one should focus more on usability and requirement. With stunning picture quality and audio support, you can easily wade your way through a perfect device for your budget.
1. How to play Steam games on gear VR?
For all non-native VR devices, you need to download Steam VR and driver from the Steam website. You can get the driver for about $10-15 right here. Before using this iVRy driver for Steam VR, you must install the Gear VR application on the mobile device. When first using this driver, you must choose the launch button to start so that any additional services and drivers get auto-installed.
2. Does Steam VR work with Oculus?
Steam VR supports Oculus. You can expect the Oculus Rift to natively support Steam VR. You need to follow a series of settings and steps for other Oculus devices. Check out our review to know more about it!