Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive: which is the best VR headset after 2 years?

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Steven L. Kent
@stevenlkent
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Summary

  • Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: hardware updates
    • HTC Vive Pro replaces HTC Vive
    • The Oculus Rift now offers Room Scale tracking
  • Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: accessories
    • Oculus Touch controllers allow using hands in VR
    • HTC Vive Trackers: the long-awaited revolution
    • HTC Vive Wireless Adapter: an official wireless adapter for the Vive
    • HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap: the Vive headset
  • Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: software updates
    • Oculus Rift Core 2.0 vs SteamVR Home: the new interfaces
    • Optimization features
  • Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: VR content
  • Rift eye vs HTC Live 2018: Grand Prix
  • Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018 : verdict

In the virtual reality headset market, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have symbolic significance. Marketed one month apart, these two devices are considered the first consumer VR headsets. They made it possible to begin the democratization of virtual reality.



When released, both helmets offered similar performance and price points. However, in two years, the Rift and the Vive have evolved a lot, both in software and hardware. In addition, manufacturers have chosen to take different directions. Therefore, we suggest you analyze step by step the changes that now differentiate these devices in order to determine which is the better of the two.

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: hardware updates

Let's start this comparison with the hardware part. In this area, we can say that HTC Vive has undergone more updates since the Taiwanese manufacturer has simply decided to release a new version of its headset: the HTC Vive Pro.


HTC Vive Pro replaces HTC Vive


Available from April 5, 2018, this new model is distinguished mainly by a screen definition up: 2880 × 1600 against 2160 × 1200 for the original Vive (and the Oculus Rift). This represents an increase of 78%. The Vive Pro also benefits from an improved design, including the presence of headphones with integrated amplifier.

Its new headband is also supposed to make it more comfortable. The weight is also better balanced to reduce the feeling of heaviness often criticized in the first Vive. The dual microphone and dual front camera are also among the novelties, along with a nice blue color.

Le Vive Pro is also compatible with the Lighthouse 2.0 tracking system (which is not the case with Vive). The new tracking stations are notably capable of covering a larger area and of tracking several helmets simultaneously. However, they are not available when Vive Pro is launched.

You might be wondering why we chose to refer to the Vive Pro as a hardware update to the Vive. The explanation is simple. The price of the Vive Pro is 879 euros, almost the same price as the HTC Vive when it was first released in 2016 (900 euros). We can therefore consider that the HTC Vive Pro takes the place of the HTC Vive.

The Oculus Rift now offers Room Scale tracking

For its part, the Oculus Rift has not undergone such a drastic hardware update. Oculus is also working on a new model of the Rift which will operate wirelessly, the Santa Cruz Project, but it will not be available until the end of 2018 at least.



Nevertheless, the Rift has benefited from a significant change since its release. It is now possible to take advantage of Room Scale tracking (room scale) 360 degrees by placing three or four Oculus Sensors around you. Originally, only the HTC Vive offered this feature. This was also the main strength of HTC's headset.

Rift users were originally supposed to face the sensors, as is always the case with the PSVR to name just one example. After several months of experimentation, the Oculus Rift tracking Room Scale works perfectly. On this point, the two helmets are therefore equal.

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: accessories

Since 2016, many accessories have been marketed for virtual reality headsets. Some of these accessories, developed by third parties, are compatible with the Rift as well as the Vive. On the other hand, Oculus and HTC have also created their own accessories only compatible with their respective helmets.

Oculus Touch controllers allow using hands in VR

While accessories cannot be considered as hardware updates per se, they can transform the experience offered by VR headsets in depth. This is the case of Oculus Touch motion-sensing controllers of the Oculus Rift.

When it launched, the Oculus Rift came with a simple Xbox controller. In December 2016, however, Oculus launched the Oculus Touch controllers. These accessories whose movements are detected by the Oculus Sensor simply allow you to use your hands in a natural way and intuitive in virtual reality. The result is stunning and greatly amplifies the feeling of immersion in VR.



For its part, HTC is also preparing motion-sensing controllers for his VR headset: the Vive Knuckles. Originally announced in 2017, these controllers are supposed to offer similar operation to the Oculus Touch. Unfortunately, as of April 2018, the launch date for these accessories has still not been announced.

For the time being, Vive owners must therefore be satisfied with Vive Wands controllers supplied with the Vive from the start. While these motion-sensing controllers allow the use of hands in virtual reality, they are not able to detect the user's finger movements. The experience is therefore much less successful than that offered by the Touch.

HTC Vive Trackers: the long-awaited revolution

Vive Trackers are accessories with a more than enticing concept. By attaching these sensors to an object, it is possible to make the object appear in the VR and use it. In theory, it is therefore possible to turn anything into a controller : a knife, a sword, a baseball bat, a phone… a developer has even managed to make his cat appear in virtual reality. Enough to revolutionize VR!

However, to be able to use an item with the Vive Tracker, it is necessary that a developer creates a compatible experience beforehand. However, at present, there are few compatible games.

In November 2017, HTC has started selling bundles grouping Vive Trackers with accessories. These bundles are currently two in number. The first combines a gun with the game, the second combines a tennis racket and the game.

It is also possible to get TrackStraps bracelets, to attach to your wrists or ankles for full body tracking. This makes it possible to play VR dance games like or soccer games like. About ten other games are compatible with these accessories, but it goes without saying that the potential is still far from being fully exploited. This is unfortunate, as Vive Trackers could give the HTC Vive a sizable advantage over the Oculus Rift.

HTC Vive Wireless Adapter: an official wireless adapter for the Vive

As part of CES 2018, HTC has announced its wireless adapter HTC Vive Wireless Adapter. As the name suggests, this accessory allows you to use HTC Vive wirelessly. Freedom of movement and user comfort are greatly increased. The accessory is based on Intel's WiGig technology, which helps keep latency to a minimum and prevents interference. It will be available in summer 2018 for a price which is not communicated.

This is a big advantage over Oculus which still hasn't announced a wireless adapter for the Rift. However, remember that adapters are already marketed by third parties for the Rift. The most famous is TPCast, available since the end of 2017 for around 300 euros.

HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap: the Vive headset

Since its launch, The Oculus Rift has always been fitted with an integrated headset. This is not the case with the HTC Vive, which was content to have a jack plug. Users therefore had to plug in their own earphones / headphones. This still added additional cables to manage.

In June 2017, however, HTC Vive offers Deluxe Audio Strap headphones directly replacing the original Vive harness. This accessory allows you to enjoy quality sound, reduction of surrounding noise, volume adjustment buttons and also improves the comfort of the headphones. Unfortunately, we encountered a problem with this accessory during testing. The helmet broke and HTC refused to reimburse us ...

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: software updates

Software level, the Rift and the Vive have also evolved a lot. Their respective interfaces have changed a lot since the early days, and optimization features have been implemented by manufacturers.

Oculus Rift Core 2.0 vs SteamVR Home: the new interfaces

Since December 2017, Oculus has launched its Rift Core 2.0 interface bringing many improvements. This radical update aims to make the Rift experience more intuitive and more personal and optimize performance.

La new Oculus Dash interface, accessible from any VR application and designed for Oculus Touch controllers, brings together all of the Rift menus in a central hub. It is superimposed on the running content, which makes it possible to easily navigate from one application to another, to communicate with friends, but also and above all to use non-VR PC applications within virtual reality .

It is possible to launch multiple applications simultaneously on virtual screens. The different windows can be rearranged and resized at will.

Le Oculus Home home menu meanwhile has been modified to offer more customization options. Users can now decorate their virtual space as they wish using furniture, toys, artwork or trophies won in the different games. Even the background landscape can be changed. In addition, it is possible to invite friends to this personal space.

For its part, in May 2017, Valve launched the SteamVR Home menu. Like Oculus Home, this menu is presented as a fully customizable 3D environment accompanied by social features. Since September 2017, there are even mini-games in this virtual space. A major evolution from the original Steam VR menu which boiled down to a two-dimensional interface.

Optimization features

In addition to these interface improvements, the Rift and Vive have also been enriched with software optimization features. End of 2016, Oculus launched an API called "asynchronous spacewarp". This technology allows games to be run internally at 45 GPS while displaying them at 90 FPS on the headset screen.

To do this, the spacewarp system integrated into Oculus Runtime analyzes the difference between two images and generates a synthetic image to compensate for it. This does not replace the native 90Hz rendering, but represents an alternative for PCs that cannot achieve such a refresh rate.

Thus, while the Oculus Rift originally required at least a PC equipped with an Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card and an Intel i5-4590 processor, it is now possible to run it on a machine equipped with a Nvidia GTX 960 graphics card and an Intel i3-6100 processor (or AMD FX4350).

For its part, in April 2018, Valve launched a new “auto resolution” feature for SteamVR. This feature allows optimize the graphics rendering according to the graphics card on board by the computer running the HTC Vive. Thus, even less efficient machines will be able to run games without slowing down (at the cost of lower definition).

In addition, users are now able to customize settings for each application. Thus, depending on the performance required for each game, the user can modify the definition manually on a case-by-case basis.

You will understand, the respective interfaces of the Rift and Vive have evolved a lot and now offer a much more successful experience. It is however difficult to separate the two helmets on this plan.

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018: VR content

It's obvious: a virtual reality headset is useless without quality content. In two years, many VR games and experiences have been released for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

However, it is clear that the Oculus Rift has taken the advantage thanks to its many exclusives. From best VR games available today, some are only available on the Oculus Store:…

For its part, HTC Vive has chosen to remain open in order to promote the development of the VR market as a whole. This is the reason why Valve and HTC refuse to develop exclusive games. This move is laudable, but allows Oculus to gain an edge in the area of ​​content. Note, however, that it is possible to play Oculus exclusives on HTC Vive using the free Revive software.

Rift eye vs HTC Live 2018: Grand Prix

In the two years that have passed since their launch, The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have seen their prices drop many times. Their respective manufacturers have indeed been forced to reduce costs to attract more consumers, and to adapt to competition from Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

When it was launched in March 2016, the Oculus Rift was priced in Europe at 589 euros and 700 euros with the controllers. However, following the commercial success encountered during a promotion in the summer of 2017, the company decided to definitively lower the price of its helmet. Today, the Oculus Rift is available for 449 euros with Oculus Touch controllers.

For its part, the HTC Vive was offered for the tidy sum of 899 euros. In August 2017, the headset in turn benefited from a price drop of 200 euros to 699 euros. In April 2018, to celebrate the two years of Vive, this rate was again reduced by 100 euros. From now on, the HTC Vive is offered for 599 euros.

Despite everything, the price of the Vive remains higher than that of the Rift with a difference of nearly 150 euros. In addition, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, the new HTC Vive Pro is launched at a price of 879 euros, which is almost as much as the Vive when it was launched. In terms of price, The Oculus Rift is therefore much more accessible.

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive 2018 : verdict

After two years of intensive use, and while taking into account the developments listed in this article, I must admit that the verdict is final. In my eyes, the Oculus Rift greatly surpasses the HTC Vive.

More comfortable, with much more immersive Oculus Touch controllers, the Rift is also distinguished by a catalog of exclusive high-quality games. I also prefer the Oculus interface to that of Steam VR. If we add to this a lower price of 150 euros, it seems clear that the Rift wins on all points.

In addition, I have never encountered bugs or technical problems with the Oculus Rift for two years. I can't say the same with the HTC Vive. Every week, a new Steam VR error seems to appear… when it is not the headset screen that turns all gray.

The HTC Vive also has arguments to make, starting with the Vive Trackers. Unfortunately, as explained above, this innovation is clearly not yet sufficiently exploited to tip the scales. Regarding the Vive Pro, even a higher definition of 78% is not enough in my opinion to justify a price difference of 430 euros compared to the Oculus Rift.

Obviously, this conclusion remains subjective. There is no doubt that some of you prefer the HTC Vive. It's your right, and I also invite you with great pleasure to discuss it in comment!



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