VR garnered greater notice when took off in 2016 with the simultaneous launches of both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Since then, these two have been entangled in a proverbial brawl to see which is the superior VR headset. But over the years, the slugfest has escalated to new heights given the dramatic price drops, bigger libraries and the fact that the Rift now features room-scale support and motion controllers.
Even though that’s the case, VR isn’t exactly booming right now and it’s still attempting to gain a foothold in the entertainment industry. For so long, virtual reality was a concept that was prominently featured in sci-fi movies, shows and games. And when it finally came to us, it wasn’t as exciting and thrilling as it was hyped up to be for decades. Also, the reason why it isn’t being sold that well is that the high-end equipment costs a lot and requires a powerful PC to run it. This means that the middle-class won’t be able to afford it that easily.
Still, if one is willing to spare some cash to experience the wonders of VR, we hope you’re not confused as to pick either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. And if you are, then this is the article where we pick the two of these products apart and find out which of them excel in terms of hardware, software, setup, design, comfort, image, and sound quality and games.
A VR headset’s setup is one of the most obvious differing aspects. Granted that a powerful PC is required to run either Rift or Hive and that there are identical requirements, but the difference comes in the space required to use the device.
Setting up the Oculus Rift is a cinch. It takes no more than 10 minutes to plug in the headset, game-controller Wi-Fi stick, sensor and starting it up.
The Vive is just a tad more complex to set up. It has a tiny Link Box that connects the headset with your PC. You need to use the cables included in the product’s packaging to make the USB and HDMI connections from your PC to the LB and from the LB to the headset through the USB/HDMI cable that comes with the headset. Also, the LB needs to be hooked to provide power to the wall adapter that’s included with the Vive headset. And it’s after all that, can you start using Vive.
So Oculus Rift wins the first round.
In terms of raw hardware power, both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are at an impasse in that they both offer two screens with 1,080 x 1,200 resolutions that run at 90Hz. The latter number means that screens can render frames/images 90 times per second. This is a standard for VR products knowing that anything less than 90 seconds can cause motion sickness.
The HTC Vive, on the other hand, requires a larger set of screens at 3.58 inches compared to 3.54 inches on the Oculus Rift. The Vive’s field of view is a bit wider measuring at about 100 degrees horizontally whereas the Rift has a horizontal field of view at 80 degrees. However, the “official” number of both of them are said to be at 110 degrees.
Here are the hardware specifications for both headsets:
|HTC Vive||Oculus Rift||
|Display type:||PenTile OLED||PenTile OLED|
|Display size:||3.58 inches (447 ppi)||3.54 inches (456 ppi)|
|Resolution per eye:||1,080 x 1,200||1,080 x 1,200|
|Total resolution:||2,160 x 1,200||2,160 x 1,200|
|Field of view:||100 degrees horizontal (+/-) 110 degrees vertical (+/-)||80 degrees horizontal (+/-) 90 degrees vertical (+/-)|
|Weight:||1.03 pounds||1.04 pounds|
|Motion controllers:||2x Motion Controllers||2x Touch Controllers|
|Standard controller support:||Any PC-based||Xbox One|
|External sensors:||2x Lighthouses||2x Constellation sensors|
|Tracking area:||15 x 15 feet||Two sensors: 5 x 5 feet Three sensors: 8 x 8 feet|
|Inputs:||1x HDMI 1.4 1x USB-A 2.0 Bluetooth 4.1||1x HDMI 1.3 1x USB-A 3.1 1x USB-A 2.0|
|Required link box:||Yes||No|
|Audio:||1x Microphone 1x Headphone jack||1x Microphone Integrated headphones|
|Distribution:||Steam Viveport||Oculus Store Steam Viveport|
|Launch date:||April 5, 2016||March 28, 2016|
When the Vive launched, its price – along with being shipped with the headset, a “link box,” two “wand” motion controllers, and two Lighthouses – cost around $800. Since then the price has gone down to $500, though HTC’s headset was the first to offer room-scale motion tracking. And the Rift didn’t include motion controllers until the end of 2016, and also an extra sensor.
So when it comes down to hardware, HTC Vive has the slighter edge.
System requirements for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are almost similar and both require powerful PCs to run them as we said earlier.
To run either of the headsets, you must have a PC that comes with at least an AMD Radeon R9 290 GPU or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 and Intel Core i5-4590 CPU. For the HTC Vive, you need 4GB of RAM at the very least, while the Rift requires at least 8GB. Though you should really push for more memory no matter which headset you choose and make sure it touches no less than 8GB.
The big difference, however, comes with connectivity. The Vive requires just one USB 2.0 port along with an open HDMI port, whereas the Rift requires at least two USB 3.0 ports in addition to an open HDMI port.
Here are the complete minimum requirements since September 2018:
||HTC Vive||Oculus Rift|
|Processor:||Intel Core i5-4590 AMD FX 8350||Intel Core i3-6100 AMD FX 4350 AMD Ryzen 3 1200|
|Graphics:||GeForce GTX 1060 Radeon RX 480||GeForce GTX 1050Ti GeForce GTX 960 Radeon RX 470 Radeon R9 290|
|Output:||HDMI 1.4 DisplayPort 1.2||HDMI 1.3|
|Input:||1x USB-A 2.0||1x USB-A 3.1 2x USB-A 2.0|
|Operating system:||Windows 7 SP1 Windows 8.1 Windows 10||Windows 10|
In terms of processing power, both are impressive, but the HTC Vive wins this just a little bit thanks to its requirements for USB ports.
The motion control on the Vive are wands that are covered in buttons and allows accurate tracking in space. If any of the controllers are turned on, it will show up on Vive’s loading area as it does in our world, enabling you to reach and pick it up while you have your headset on. Every controller includes prominent touch pads and triggers.
The Oculus Touch motion controllers, on the other hand, are a lot more comfortable in our hands than Vive’s controllers, not to mention the analog sticks are better suited for many games than the touch pads on Vive’s controllers. They were previously offered separately from the headsets for an extra $100 but are now included with the Rift headset package.
Oculus Rift etches a win here.
Both Vive and the Rift have their own content stores with which users can purchase games and ultimately play them. The Vive’s store is the SteamVR, which is Valve’s in-built platform for its Steam store (the most popular and largest PC game store). The Oculus Rift has the Oculus Store, a digital store that is available exclusively for the Rift.
When it comes to selection, the Rift sails past the Vive as it has access to both the Oculus Store and SteamVR. Although the Steam selection appears to be slightly restricted compared to the Vive due to the absence of motion controls, users are still able to access it. Vive users, sadly can’t access the Oculus store, which costs them this round greatly.
Oculus Rift wins!
Both the Vive and the Rift have greatly reduced in price rates since their launch. The Rift was initially priced at $599 but came down to $399, while the Vive has now down to $499 after coming down from $799. And now that both of them offer whole-room VR and motion controls, the Oculus Rift provides better value.
Oculus Rift wins again.
Rift or Vive
It is indeed a close one with both headsets rubbing against each other in every category, from the setup and software to the pricing and the hardware. Nevertheless, the Oculus Rift wins our vote at the end of the day. The reasons why this is our final say on the matter is because the Rift allows us to access two VR content stores without any hurdles and is much easier to set up.
Though there are more USB 3.0 ports to set up than the Vive, plugging in the headset and the sensor is so much easier than running cables from a central link box to the headset, the PC and a power outlet, while also making sure that the two extra sensors on the walls are plugged into their respective outlets.
What’s more, is that the Rift is much more comfortable to wear than the Vive for regular use. Not to mention, it is a cheaper alternative and now comes with the same features. Ultimately, the crown for the superior VR headset goes to the Oculus Rift.