If you are looking to take your sim racing experience to the next level, there is no better addition to your setup than a VR headset. There are lots to choose from, but some are far better than others. Below, we have compiled a list of the best headsets for sim racing.
So, what is the best VR headset for sim racing? There are some great ones to choose from, and here are the 5 best VR headsets for sim racing:
Each of these VR headsets comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and so we have gone into some more depth on the features of each one below. It’s not just as simple as which one has the highest resolution display, and there are a lot of things to consider before you buy one.
What To Look For In A Good Sim Racing VR Headset
When buying a VR headset specifically for sim racing, there are a few things you need to consider alongside the aspects that you would normally have to think about when purchasing a VR headset for any other purpose. Sim racing offers a unique gaming experience, and so you need to make sure you pick an option that is suited to sim racing and not simply gaming in general.
In no particular order, the key aspects that you need to consider when buying a VR headset for sim racing are:
- Size and shape
- Comfort factor
- Range of motion
- Position tracking
- Sound and display
- Field of view
Size, Shape & Comfort
Starting with the size and shape of the VR headset, you obviously want to pick something that isn’t too bulky or too small. Although the shape of the headset will vary by brand and by type, they are all fairly similar. However, you may find that some headset shapes will fit your head better than others, and some larger ones may be uncomfortable.
The size and shape, along with the weight, are all important when thinking about the comfort factor of the headset. Some higher-end VR headsets have a lot packed inside them, and so can become quite heavy. This is something that you will have to consider when buying as you will not want to put strain on your neck while you are racing.
If you want to get the most out of your VR headset, you will need to pick one that you can wear for long racing sessions. With race lengths varying greatly by game, track and vehicle, you will need to pick one that you are comfortable wearing for short and long periods of time.
In sim racing, keeping your eyes fixed on the track is important, and so you will probably find yourself staring straight ahead for long portions of the race. However, you will still have to look around you for other cars, turns and terrain changes, meaning you need a headset that is comfortable in each of these situations.
The next thing to consider is the compatibility of the VR headset. Some headsets are only compatible with certain consoles, and so you need to make sure that the one you opt for actually works with your PC or console.
Compatibility also extends to the actual games that you want to play. Not all racing sims have a VR option, and so you have to make sure that the games you want to play will allow you to make use of your VR headset. Always check beforehand, so that you don’t end up wasting your money on a headset you can’t fully utilize.
Range of Motion & Position Tracking
You also have to consider what the motion tracking capabilities of the VR headset are. If you want to experience the full VR capabilities of some of your favorite racing sims, you need to factor in how close the headset will make your movements in real life correspond to those in the game.
Some VR headsets use cameras to monitor the tracking process, while some use larger tracking towers. To experience the full immersion of a sim in VR, you need to ensure your headset is able to emulate your movements in the game. If not, you may find yourself experiencing VR sickness, as your movements will feel lagged and less controlled.
The range of motion and degrees of freedom (DoF) are two other factors to consider when buying a VR headset. The range of motion will usually be 360°, meaning you can look all around you while you are playing. This will probably be less important in a sim, as you won’t often find yourself turning to look directly behind you when sitting in the car.
The DoF essentially refers to the number of types of movements that you can make. Three DoF is fairly standard, and this allows you to look up and down, left and right, while standing or sitting in one location. If you move around the room these movements won’t be tracked and so they won’t affect your in-game experience.
Some high-end VR headsets offer six DoF, and this allows you to move around in physical space and have your movements tracked. This is less important in sim racing, as you will normally be seated in the car at all times. This means it is an important factor to consider in terms of price, as there is no point spending more money for three extra DoF that you can’t take full advantage of.
Sound & Display
The sound system of the VR headset is also key for sim racers, as the quality of this will dictate how realistic it feels to be sitting in the car. With constant engine sounds and tire squeals, you don’t want the sounds to be distorted or muffled. This will make for an unpleasant racing experience and can hurt your ears too.
In games where you have a co-driver, you want their voice to be crystal clear as well. Thus, it is important to consider whether or not you want a headset with a built-in sound system, or whether you would rather use an external sound system. Some VR headsets will also include a built-in microphone, an important consideration if you plan to race with your friends.
The display resolution is another key factor to consider, as this is what you will be looking at while you have the headset on. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image will be, and thus the more realistic it will feel. This pairs with the refresh rate of the display, with a high refresh rate making for smoother visuals, and lower ones contributing towards motion sickness.
Field of View
Next up, you have to think about the field of view (FOV) of the headset. Usually this falls around 100-110°, but some headsets offer more and some less. A larger field of view will make things feel more realistic, while also meaning you don’t have to turn your head as much to check where other racers are. A smaller FOV will do the opposite, making it feel less realistic.
Finally, you should also consider the price. For a VR headset, this doesn’t mean you should tend toward the cheaper end of the scale. Instead, the best VR headsets for sim racing tend to be on the more expensive side, and so the price consideration is only there to ensure you don’t spend any extra money on features that you can’t use, such as extra degrees of freedom.
The premium VR headsets are definitely much better for sim racing, with cheaper ones tending to take away from the experience. Therefore, you should not use price as your main criterion when picking a headset and should instead only consider it when you are struggling to choose between two that you want.
Each of these criteria is important, with the most important factors arguably being the comfort factor, the display and FOV, and the tracking capabilities of the headset. However, we have considered each one when compiling the list below, and it will hopefully help you to make an informed decision about which VR headsets are best for sim racing.
The 5 Best VR Headsets For Sim Racing
1. Samsung HMD Odyssey+
Compatibility: Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update | Display size: 4.03” diagonal | Resolution per eye: 1440×1600 | Refresh rate: 90 Hz | Field of view: 110°
At the top of our list of best VR headsets for sim racing is the Samsung HMD Odyssey+. This headset covers all of the bases of a great VR headset, and it does it all with a lightweight ergonomic design that maximizes the comfort factor. Samsung even crafted the Odyssey+ out of a cooling fabric so that you can comfortably wear it for long races.
In terms of display, the Odyssey+ is one of the best. Its 1440×1600 pixels per eye display, paired with its dual 3.5” screens will make every race feel that bit more realistic. With a high refresh rate of 90Hz, you also won’t have to worry too much about motion sickness. This is a big plus, especially for long races.
It offers a wide field of view of 110°, which is on the high end of the scale and will mean you can make fewer head movements when scanning your surroundings for other racers and obstacles. This is essential in a sim racing game as you need to keep your eyes on the road as much as you can.
The Odyssey+ uses inside out tracking, which means there are no extra sensors required. This gives you 6 degrees of freedom, but more importantly allows you to save some space as well. Paired with the lightweight nature of the headset, all of the movements that a race requires can be made smoothly and comfortably.
In terms of sound, the Odyssey+ has a stellar built-in sound system that will make all of the racing sounds crisp and clear, leading to a further enhanced sim racing experience. It also has a built-in microphone, which is ideal for racing with friends without having to use an external microphone.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ is a higher-end VR headset, coming in at the pricier side of the budget range. However, for the quality of the VR experience provided, along with the comfort factor and motion tracking abilities, we think the Odyssey+ is the best VR headset for sim racing.
- High resolution and refresh rate for crisp visuals
- Large FOV
- High range of motion
- No wireless option
- Tracking not as precise as those with external sensors
2. HTC Vive Pro
Compatibility: Windows 7 or later | Display size: 3.5” diagonal | Resolution per eye: 1440×1600 | Refresh rate: 90 Hz | Field of view: 110°
Our runner up for the best VR headset for sim racing is the HTC Vive Pro, which is beaten by the Odyssey purely due to the lesser value for money. The Pro Starter Kit from HTC comes in at the higher end of the budget range, and so it is only for those that are looking to get the most regardless of the price. In terms of quality, the Vive Pro definitely delivers.
The Vive Pro provides the same 1440×1600 pixels per eye resolution as the HMD, along with a refresh rate of 90Hz for extremely smooth visuals and crisp graphics. The headset also offers an FOV of 110°, which means you can keep your eyes on the road while also being aware of what is around you.
The HTC Vive Pro comes with its own built-in sound system, which will provide the wearer with excellent sound clarity no matter what game they play. There is also a microphone built-in to the headset, and this, paired with the internal headphones, means there is no need to wear any extra headphones or microphones which would hinder the overall comfort of the headset.
Where the Vive Pro does come in ahead of the Odyssey+ is with the motion tracking capabilities. The Vive Pro uses external tracking, which yields extremely precise motion tracking for more accurate matching of in-game movements with the movements your head makes.
However, we believe that this is less important in sim racing, where head movements are limited, and the movements of the steering wheel and pedals are more important. Although the motion tracking is superior, the price:value ratio makes this already small difference much less favorable. Still, the HTC Vive Pro is definitely a contender if you are happy to spend cash.
- Comfortable to wear
- High resolution, FOV, and refresh rate
- Precise external motion tracking
- Not too affordable, for relatively unnecessary features for sim racing
- Takes a while to set it up
3. Lenovo Explorer
Compatibility: Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update | Display size: 3.51” diagonal | Resolution per eye: 1440×1440 | Refresh rate: 90 Hz | Field of view: 110°
In third place we have the Lenovo Explorer. This VR headset provides a slightly lower resolution per eye than the Samsung HMD Odyssey+, but its 2880×1440 display offers excellent visuals. The display is also slightly smaller in size, which makes it ideal for those that don’t mind sacrificing screen size for a lower weight.
A unique selling point of the Lenovo Explorer is the handy visor functionality that allows you to move it up and off of your face quickly and easily. This means that you don’t need to take the entire headset off when you need a break, and so you can flip it up quickly while you are in the pit lane for example, or in between races with minimal hassle.
The Explorer also uses inside out tracking, similar to the Odyssey+, which means there is no need for any extra sensor towers. This means you get a good range of motion without losing any space around you, ideal for smaller racing rigs where space is limited.
You can also experience a refresh rate of 90Hz, making for smooth visuals and a lack of motion sickness. This, paired with the 110° field of view, means you can take in all of your surroundings quickly and easily no matter which car you are racing in. These two specifications alone help to bring the Lenovo Explorer into the number 3 spot in our rankings.
The Lenovo Explorer offers excellent visuals, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a built-in sound system. It comes with a 3mm headphone jack, which means you can use your preferred headphones. This can affect the comfort factor, but the low weight of the headset compensates for this.
You can no longer buy the Lenovo Explorer directly from Lenovo, but that didn’t prevent us from putting it on our list. You can still grab one for yourself on elsewhere online.
- Lightweight design for maximum comfort
- High resolution and refresh rate
- Handy visor lift function for quick breaks
- Smaller screen size
- Relatively high price for smaller screen
4. Oculus Rift S
Compatibility: Windows 10 | Display size: Not Specified | Resolution per eye: 1280×1440 | Refresh rate: 80 Hz | Field of view: 115°
The Oculus Rift S is in at number 4 on our list, and it brings unique features to the table. The first stand out point for this VR headset is the extra-wide field of view. At 115°, you have a lot to look at without turning your head, and it is definitely on the high end of the scale.
The Rift S also has a high-resolution screen, although it is lower than the first three on our list. The 1280×1440 pixels per eye is enough to make for some very sharp images, and you will still be able to enjoy a heightened sim-racing experience with this headset from the moment you put it on.
One drawback of the Oculus Rift S is the relatively low refresh rate of 80Hz. Although still high enough to provide smooth graphics, it is lower than the other headsets on this list. A lower refresh rate can lead to some motion sickness, but this is where the slightly lower resolution actually helps as it almost acts to balance the effects.
The comfort factor of the Oculus Rift S is high, with a comfortable and secure design that will fit any racer’s head. The headset also has a built-in sound system, which omits the need for external headphones. The sound quality will make every engine noise as crisp as possible, and it also has a built-in microphone, making communicating with friends and other racers as easy as possible.
The Oculus Rift S also saves some space, as it requires no external motion sensors. The built-in cameras actively take in your surroundings, meaning you can move things around as you play if they are getting in the way. This does mean it is not quite as precise as the HTC Vive Pro in terms of motion tracking, but for sim racing it more than does the job.
Prices for the Rift S seem reasonable given the features that it does offer. The price also justifies its position on this list as it is not quite as sharp as the first three in terms of graphics, but it will still give you a highly immersive VR sim racing experience.
- Crisp graphics
- Comfortable and light
- Large field of view (115°)
- Less precise motion tracking
- Slightly lower resolution and refresh rate than other headsets
5. HP Reverb
Compatibility: Windows 10 | Display size: 2.89” diagonal | Resolution per eye: 2160×2160 | Refresh rate: 90 Hz | Field of view: 114°
Finally, at fifth place on our list is the HP Reverb. This VR headset puts a focus on crisp and smooth visuals, with a high 2160×2160 pixels per eye. This, paired with the refresh rate of 90Hz, means you can experience a truly immersive VR experience. The Reverb also offers a higher than average FOV of 114°, which means you can check on your opponents around you without moving your head too much.
The price of the HP Reverb starts at the higher end of the budget range, though it fits in quite well with the other headsets on our list from a purely price-related standpoint. The value that you get aside from the graphics comes in the form of comfort. The Reverb mixes plastic with fabric, and the ergonomic design makes it super comfortable, even for long races.
The Reverb also has a built-in sound system, which is adjustable, making it easy to move out of the way if you don’t need it. You can also choose to attach your own headphones if you wish using the 3mm jack. There are also dual microphones on the HP Reverb, handy for those that want to race with friends.
The HP Reverb uses attached cameras for its motion tracking, which, as we have seen with some of the other headsets on the list, allows you to not have to worry about any external sensor towers. The small dip in tracking precision is not very noticeable, as sim racing tends to require less movement than other game genres.
The HP Reverb is a contender for the best VR headset for sim racing, but its affordability issue puts it in fifth place. Although it comes with a very high-resolution display and a wider FOV, there are a few bulky cables to worry about, and there is the occasional movement tracking issue. But it is still a very good choice for those wanting to enhance their sim racing experience.
- High resolution and refresh rate
- Large FOV (114°)
- Light and comfortable
- Bulky cabling
- Some motion tracking issues
There are plenty of options when it comes to picking a VR headset, but you can narrow it down quite substantially for sim racing in particular. There are key things to consider, with the most important being the display resolution, refresh rate, field of view, and the overall comfort of the headset. Price is not always important, but it can be a deciding factor.
We think the best VR headset for sim racing is the Samsung HMD Odyssey+, as it provides crystal clear graphics with a high level of comfort. It also has a high refresh rate and reasonable FOV, making it extremely well-suited to sim racers. There are several others on the list that will work well, and so it is important to do your own research to find one that suits you.
What are the cheapest VR headsets for sim racing?
There are lots of cheap VR headsets out there, but when it comes to virtual reality you really should not be focused too much on the price. There are several models by Oculus and HTC that are quite affordable, but they tend to have much lower resolutions and compatibility. Most cheap VR headsets just don’t work with many racing simulators.