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What's the best VR headset for the ultimate Half-Life: Alyx experience?
By Chad Norton on March 27th, 2020 at 06:53pm - original article from game-debate

Well, it’s that time again. The time where we look into the very best of what’s available regarding a certain aspect of the gaming hardware industry. This time we thought we’d focus on Virtual Reality, as ¬¬g_id:36729[Half-Life: Alyx]¬¬’s release has given people a lot more reason to consider purchasing their first headset, or even upgrading to a new one. So which one will provide the best HL: Alyx experience?

There’s a lot of different brands out there, and where there were only a few viable options just a couple years ago, there’s now tonnes of choices to choose from. So whether you’re looking for the very best of the best, or the cheapest, or the best in terms of price to performance, there’s something here that will surely tickle your fancy. So, without further ado, let’s figure out which VR headset will provide the best Half-Life: Alyx experience for you…

Oculus Quest / Oculus Rift S

Oculus Quest -

Display: OLED 

Resolution: 2800 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 72Hz

FOV: 110 Degrees

Setup: wireless

Price: $399 / £399

¬¬azn:Oculus Quest[Check Prices]¬¬

 

Oculus Rift S -

Display: LCD

Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (1280 x 1440 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 80Hz

FOV: 110 Degrees

Setup: Wired

Price: $399 / £399

¬¬azn:Oculus Rift S[Check Prices]¬¬

 

Starting at the cheapest option available, you have the Oculus Quest or the Oculus Rift S. The reason that I’ve paired these two together is because they’re both essentially the same with only a couple minor differences. It just depends on what kind of experience you’re after. Want a completely untethered and wireless experience? Go with the Oculus Quest. Want better quality/immersion? The Oculus Rift S will be a good choice for you. Both will provide excellent experiences for Half-Life: Alyx on the budget.

HTC Vive

Display: dual AMOLED

Resolution: 2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

FOV: 110 Degrees

Setup: 2 base stations, wired

Price: N/A

 

The original HTC Vive headset is no longer officially available. So why am I putting it here? Because the Vive is simply a great headset for the entry level VR enthusiast. It’s very similar to the Oculus Rift S, but can often be found much cheaper for the entire package online, as many want to get rid of their old set in order to upgrade to a better VR setup. I’ve found some second-hand sets myself around the $350 / £300 mark from online sellers. This is the headset I currently own myself and benchmarked Half-Life: Alyx on, and I can personally say that's a fantastic bit of kit. Whilst the picture quality comes off as a little blurry and you'll have to make do with reading things 2 centimeters from your face, it's still a great setup for experiencing Half-Life: Alyx in all it's glory.

Vive Cosmos

Display: LCD

Resolution: 2880 x 1700 (1440 x 1700 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

FOV: 110 degrees

Setup: Wired

Price: $699 / £699

¬¬azn:HTC Vive Cosmos[Check Prices]¬¬

 

The newest addition to the Vive family, the cosmos is just an upgraded version of the original Vive, completely replacing it on the official Vive website. With a better display and tracking, it should just be called the HTC Vive 2.0. The biggest upside to this version is the lack of tracking sensors, but that can sometimes put you at a disadvantage within too dark or too bright areas. Though, on the plus side, you can purchase separate face plates to suit your gaming style, including an easy upgrade to the Elite face plate just below. If you're looking for the standard, mid-range Half-Life: Alyx experience, this is it.

Vive Cosmos Elite

Display: LCD

Resolution: 2880 x 1700 (1440 x 1700 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

FOV: 110 degrees

Setup: Wired, 2 base stations

Price: $899 / £899

¬¬azn:HTC Vive Cosmos Elite[Check Prices]¬¬

 

It’s the same as the cosmos, just with base stations that allow for more precise and full 360 degree room tracking. The full package is more expensive due to the added base stations and upgraded face plate. Nothing else is different here except from that. The added external tracking allows for the kit to track the user's hands even behind their back, which can really add to the immersion in Half-Life: Alyx.

Valve Index

Display: LCD

Resolution: 2880 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 80/90/120/144 Hz

FOV: 130 degrees

Setup: Wired, 2 base stations

Price: $999 / £919

¬¬azn:Valve Index[Check Prices]¬¬

 

Without a doubt the very best VR experience you can buy. Not only was this what Half-Life: Alyx was developed in mind with, it also has the single greatest VR controllers on the market right now. It might not be the highest resolution available, but in terms of immersion and your experience as well as the price, the Valve Index is definitely the very best VR setup out there. If you want the ultimate, intended HL: Alyx experience, this is the top choice.

HTC Vive Pro

Display: Dual AMOLED

Resolution: 2880 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye)

Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

FOV: 110 Degrees

Setup: Wired (or wireless adapter), 2 base stations

Price: $1,199 / £1,119

¬¬azn:HTC Vive Pro[Check Prices]¬¬

 

The HTC Vive Pro is essentially just the ultimate Vive experience. It’s certainly the most expensive option to choose from which can make most shy away from it, and, to be honest, you can get the Valve Index for a much cheaper price with exactly the same specs and better controllers. Though, admittedly, the wireless adapter is incredibly useful, especially for immersion in the Half-Life world. If you feel like forking out the money, get this headset with the wireless adapter, plus the Valve Index controllers and you have got the perfect Half-Life: Alyx experience.

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I know that’s a lot of information to take in all in one go, so here’s a handy comparison table for all of you to compare against each headset:

Headset Resolution Refresh Rate FOV Setup Price
Oculus Quest 2800 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye) 72 Hz 110 Wireless

$399 / £399 (64GB)

$499 / £499 (128GB)

Oculus Rift S 2560 x 1440 (1280 x 1440 per eye) 80 Hz 110 Wired $399 / £399
HTC Vive 2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye) 90 Hz 110 Wired, 2 base stations N/A
Vive Cosmos 2880 x 1700 (1440 x 1700 per eye) 90 Hz 110 Wired $699 / £699
Vive Cosmos Elite 2880 x 1700 (1440 x 1700 per eye) 90 Hz 110 Wired, 2 base stations $899 / £899
Vive Pro 2880 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye) 90 Hz 110 Wired (or wireless adapter) $1,199 / £1,119
Valve Index 2880 x 1600 (1440 x 1600 per eye) 80/90/120/144 Hz 130 Wired, 2 base stations $999 / £919

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So there you go! Hopefully that will have helped your decision in choosing what VR setup will work for you. The beauty of some of the Vive/Valve headsets is that you can mix and match headsets, base stations and controllers to your heart’s content. So feel like you want just upgrade the headset? Go for it. Just want the added immersion of the Valve Index controllers? You can do that. It’s all up to you and what suits your playstyle and environment.

I'll be updating this article continuously with the latest VR hardware and setups, so I apologise for missing a few, but others will be added along with more information.

What do you think of VR? Will you be purchasing a new setup? Have you already got one? What do you think of it? I would love to know so please tell me in the discussion area!