Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: The Vive Is Better (for Now)

The virtual reality era officially began with the of launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive this spring. But which platform should you bet on? There's the $599 Rift with its slick design, large catalog of games and cheaper price tag and its new $199 Oculus Touch controllers or the $799 Vive's impressive room tracking technology, virtual controllers, and unique camera?

Based on our Oculus Rift review, Oculus Touch Controllers review and HTC Vive review, we've put the Rift and the Vive in a head-to-head battle to help you decide which VR headset is best for you.

Design

Neither the Vive nor the Rift is the most fashionable piece of hardware. But if we had to hit the runway with one of these devices strapped to our heads, we'd prefer the Rift. It has a smooth, sleek, minimalist design that boasts clean lines and gentle curves, and it kind of looks like the headset from anime classic Ghost in the Shell.

Credit: OculusCredit: Oculus

The Vive has a funky, sci-fi design that's intriguing, but the strategically-placed photosensors give the impression that the headset is still in its prototype phase compared to the Rift's polished, consumer-ready presentation.

Credit: HTCCredit: HTC

But what puts the Rift over the top are the built-in headphones that fold down and gently press onto your ears to deliver an immersive audiovisual experience. People looking to use the Vive will have to supply their own headphones, which is nice if you have a favorite pair of buds or cans, but ultimately is another piece of hardware you're adding to the whole setup.

Winner: Oculus
Overall, the Rift's design is more polished and consumer-ready than the Vive's. Having a built-in audio system is a huge plus.

What's Included (and What's Not)

Each headset comes with an assorted bag of goodies to enhance your VR experience. The Vive includes a headset, a pair of handheld trackpad controllers and two base stations, which provide 360-degree motion tracking using lasers and infrared.

Credit: HTCCredit: HTCThose jonesing for the Rift will get the headset, sensor, remote, cables and an Xbox One controller. But if you're willing to shell out an additional $199, you can also get the new Oculus Touch controllers, which bring your hands into VR equation.

The Touch controllers will not be available when Oculus Rift launches this spring. Credit: OculusThe Touch controllers will not be available when Oculus Rift launches this spring. Credit: Oculus

Winner: Vive
The Vive gives consumers everything they want right out of the box instead of making them wait and pay more down the line.

Specs and Features

The Vive and the Rift have nearly identical specs, including 2160 x 1200 OLED displays with 90Hz refresh rates, HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. The few key differences are found in the sensors and tracking area.

The Rift features an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and 360-degree positional tracking. The Vive swaps out the magnetometer for a laser position sensor and front-facing camera. Most of the Rift's experiences are seated affairs meaning it doesn't need more than 5 x 11 feet of space to operate properly.

However, with an extra sensor now available for the Rift and its new Touch controllers, the space expands to 6 feet x 6 inches x 5 feet. If you want to give the two-sensor room tracking setup a try, you'll need 4.9 x 4.9 feet for two sensors and 8.2 x 8.2 for a three-sensor setup. The room-mapping Vive needs a bit more room for users to walk around, which is why the headset needs a space of 15 x 15 feet.

Winner: Vive
Despite requiring a lot more space than the Rift, the Vive's front-facing camera and laser-position system let you walk around the room without becoming the victim of an unfortunate pratfall.

PC Requirements

Oculus VR, HTC and Valve made it pretty clear that you will need powerful desktops and laptops to power your virtual adventures. On the laptop front, both headsets will require at least an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 8GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 GPU (although we recommend Nvidia's 10-series Pascal GPU), 2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4, 1920 x 1080 display and Windows 7 or above.

There are a few key differences on when it comes to desktops, namely CPU, RAM requirements and ports. The Vive can function with a minimum Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, 4GB of RAM with either HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 and at least one USB 2.0 with a Windows 7 operating system. As far as GPUs, you'll need at least a Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290.

Thanks to Oculus' new Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) technology, which eliminates image stutter in VR apps that don't hit 90Hz, effectively allowing lower-end PCs the ability to support VR. That means the minimum your system needs to run Rift titles starts with an Intel i3-6100 or AMD FX 4350 processor, at least 8GB of RAM, a Nvidia GTX 960 or AMD Radeon RX 470 GPU, HDMI 1.3 with three USB 3.0 ports plus one USB 2.0 port. Unfortunately, ASW doesn't work on Windows 7, so you'll need a system with minimum Windows 8.

Winner: Oculus

Although both headsets require high-end systems to operate, the Oculus' recent tech launches have lowered the bar significantly, making VR a possibility for scores of PC owners.

Motion Tracking

Each headset has its own method of motion tracking. Valve's "Lighthouse" base stations bounce lasers onto the light sensors strategically placed on the Vive and the controllers.

HTC motion sensors. Credit: HTCHTC motion sensors. Credit: HTC

It's an ideal methodology for room tracking, but for the tracking to work, the two base stations must be mounted on the wall or placed on a book shelf.

You also need to ensure that you have enough space (at least 6 feet x 5 feet by 6 inches) and enough electrical outlets (a minimum 7) to properly utilize the room-tracking technology. Otherwise, you'll be forced to use the standing-only setup, but where's the fun in that?

Oculus' motion-tracking solution, called Constellation, employs an optical sensor connected to your desktop or laptop via USB, making it more suited for a seated VR experience. However, the new Touch controllers ship with an extra sensor, allowing for limited room scaling ability. Oculus is currently working on a full room scale solution that will utilize a trio of sensors. That means you'll have to fork out an additional $79 for the pleasure.  

Winner: Vive
Although setting up the Vive will be more of a hassle, it's worth it for the ability to physically walk around an area in virtual reality.

Chaperone

Both the Rift and the Vive allow you to have experiences in a new immersive fashion. Vive, however, enables you to walk around and explore this new space utilizing Valve's proprietary Chaperone technology. Leveraging room-tracking capabilities, the Rift's Guardian system will project a blue-green grid when you're getting too close to a wall or other errant furniture or pet.

Valve has taken its safeguard technology to the next level with the front camera, showing the outside world in an inky blue tint, saving you from crashing into any nearby obstacles. The camera can also be accessed by double-tapping a button on the controller. It comes in handy, in case you need to find something in the room and would rather keep the on t

he headset.  

Chaperone is also coming to the Rift, albeit in a limited capacity. You'll still get the Tron-like grid when you get too close to a boundary, which grants the headset a level of mobility it previously lacked. However, without a camera on the headset, you lose out on the passthrough ability.

Winner: Vive
The Vive's camera, with its pass-through ability, gives the headset a distinct advantage over the Rift by providing a glimpse of the outside world for safety and mundane tasks like finding a lost remote.

Phone Integration

Just because it's tethered to your PC, that doesn't mean your VR headset won't work with your smartphone. When it launches, the Vive will have the ability to synchronize with your phone over Bluetooth to answer calls and messages while in VR land, meaning there's one less reason to take the headset off. Oculus lacks a similar feature.

Winner: Vive
Having the ability to answer texts or phone calls without removing the headset is a useful feature.

Games

Each device launched with a pair of games. The Rift debuted with the colorful platforming adventure title, Lucky's Tale and multiplayer galactic shooter EVE: Valkyrie. The Vive kicked things off with a limited-time exclusive on the darkly ironic sandbox title Job Simulator, along with the 3D art program Tilt Brush and a deceptively addictive building game called Fantastic Contraption.

Even better, most of the VR games living in the Steam store can be used by the Vive and the Rift thanks to Valve's open-source SteamVR platform.

Lucky's Tale. Credit: Oculus

HTC currently claims there are nearly 300 games and apps in its library,including Elite: Dangerous, Budget Cuts, Hover Junkers and Arizona Sunshine. However, many of those games and apps feel like shallow demos instead of a fully fleshed-out experience.

Credit: Neat Corporation

Oculus VR currently offers more than 150 games and apps, including Minecraft, Rock Band and Edge of Nowhere. And to make sure Oculus Touch has a deep well of content, Oculus has announced an additional 53 titles.  

Winner: Oculus
You'd expect Valve to have the upper hand when it comes to games, since it has a massive catalog of PC titles. However, Oculus has been hard at work building up a formidable library. Securing a few platform-exclusive titles is an excellent strategy to bringing gamers on the fence to its side, but only if they’re triple A quality.

MORE: Best Oculus Rift Games So Far

Price and Value

At first glance, this seems like a no-brainer. Priced at $599, the Oculus Rift is significantly cheaper than the HTC Vive ($799). That is until, you factor in the new $199 Touch controllers, which brings the grand total to $798. That puts the Rift on a par with the Vive, which already bundles its pair of virtual controllers with the system.

Winner: Draw

Buy the Touch controllers, and the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive run neck and neck in terms of price.

Bottom Line

On paper, there's no question that the HTC Vive is the superior virtual reality headset. But the Oculus Rift is right on its tail. The Vive allows you to physically walk around your designated space, an immersive experience that is yet to have an equal. The Chaperone technology and the camera will make sure you don't trip over an end table while you're exploring distant lands. Even better, the Vive can sync with your phone, allowing you to answer it without removing the headset.

But while the Vive lets you walk, the Oculus Rift lets you feel with the new Touch controllers. Deftly mimicking your hands, the Rift's controllers puts a whole new spin on "reach out and touch someone.  

It's a major breakthrough for gaming and social pursuits. The company is not afraid to put its money where its mouth is boasting over 200 full-fledged apps and games, which is where the real war for VR supremacy will be fought.

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  • TheLankyMan
    The Question is will room scale vr really take off? or will it be great at first and then thats it. Most developers are going to want to develop there content across all 3 devices to get more reach, so standing/ walking a few steps and sitting will prob be as far as most will go, plus cables in the way and people with smaller rooms by there desk. Have you tried any of these devices? because im liking the look/feel impression with the oculus touch controllers but not sure about vives wand ice cream scoop style ones? or is this mainly a comparison from information read?
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  • Anonymous1A4
    When a real Virtual OS gets made. The benefits of room scale VR will become apparent to you.

    I don't want triple monitors for more workspace. I want a bigger room for more workspace.

    Let's put it this way. VR without the room scale experience is not VR. It's as simple as that. The Rift is basically just transfering mouse and thumbstick camera control to your head. The Vive is actually making VR a reality.

    Another way to describe what Rift vs Vive really is.
    Go google what is going to end up being M$ attempt at VR.
    You stream from the XB1 to windows 10. Then you get a VR space with a simulated monitor in front of you. IE. You may as well play it on a real screen for the VR benefits that you are getting out of it. That is pretty much what the Rift is. You're actually better off just sticking to playing the entire thing with a gamepad including looking around. It's a Glorified 3D TV that you strap to your head.

    In fact, if you haven't noticed. Most people stop using the rifts VR features once the novelty of the Rift wears off... IF you watch youtube streamers etc, you'll start to notice they start spending most of their time looking straight ahead and turn their camera with the thumbstick on the controller instead.

    VR is so much more than cockpit simulators, and that is the only genre that Rift is catering itself too.

    You want to know what I see with room space VR.
    Flowcharts. 3D Flowcharts.
    Microsoft Visio VR, pretty much.

    Also... I want you to imagine 3DS MAX type programs.
    Do you not see the benefit of room scale VR for those?

    Room Scale VR technically, is not for the gaming side. It is for the productivity side of VR. HTC Vive is a more capable VR device for the business sector... and that is important.

    If the Vive captures the attention of the business and productivity market.... Whoa! I don't care how much advertising Facebook dumps into Oculus, they will not win without the room scale.

    Oculus = Transitional VR
    Vive = Future VR.
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  • TheLankyMan
    Unfortunately you have not answered my question just added more, oh don't get me wrong i can see the benefits of room scale vr and the immersion. maybe when they release wireless headset in the future then the benefits can really start kicking in, but for the time being with developing for 3 platforms , wires and cables and not much room in people houses i still cant see it being entirely practical. you can move around with the oculus your not just stuck sitting or standing its just not as far, the touch controllers seem more natural and they have a lot more content. you also said i want bigger room for more workspace, most people cant do that. Oculus just seems more practical for current technology , ( move around but in smaller space) and cheaper. im also guessing you've not tried the rift as there is a lot more content than just games, plus they were all demos at the time and your not going to need to go 15 ft for all those ideas that you have. but hey this is all new at the mo. it will be interesting to see how everything really evolves when they both release their 2nd generation headsets and industry has had a chance to really shine. (hopefully they both will be like putting a pair of glasses on) also a vr os sounds really cool . for some reason minority report come to mind :-) Whats really needed at the mo is getting these units into shops so people can try them in action, so if you have the space and money get the vive if not then oculus. or maybe even psvr kicks both there asses ( i hope not)
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  • Anonymous1A4
    I think the glasses might be out of the question.

    Have you seen LG's attempt? The biggest complaint is light bleeding in from the outside world. So until mankind figures out how to make light and air turn into mass, these big bulky headsets are about as close as we are going to be getting to a holodeck for quite some time.

    But I do see a future where people are wearing Matrix, Neo style, glasses and seeing Advertisments at places like Harkins similiar to what you see in Back to the Future 2 with the shark eating Marty McFly, etc.

    AR will be able to take it there, but VR needs to block out all exterior light to work.
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  • TheLankyMan
    Anonymous said:


    Oh yes war there seems to be, Main advantage of vive is 15ft tracking distance and controllers being shipped with the product. im ordering a rift also for the reasons in previous comments to someone eles, but that doesn't mean i don't like the vive, people seem to be stuck in "im siding with this product and that product". i think its going to be like xbox vs playstation wars all over again :-)
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  • TheLankyMan
    Anonymous said:
    I think the glasses might be out of the question.

    Have you seen LG's attempt? T

    yeah i heard its terrible.

    Maybe something like Geordi La Forges visor from star trek, just a little thicker and more stylish :-)
    As for AR im not sure about that one, it cant take you to places but it does look amazing. i really want to see more from Magic Leap http://www.magicleap.com/ as every company in the world seems to be investing in them.
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  • Brian_91
    Is GTX980 really required? I thought it was GTX970?
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  • TheLankyMan
    Anonymous said:
    Is GTX980 really required? I thought it was GTX970?


    Thats a good point, the information in the article is wrong, yes a gtx 970 will run it and you only need a Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater not a i7 (although it will help) just checked the oculus page so this info is accurate and the vive should run the same, plus if you have any kind of modern computer your going to have at least 8gb of ram. the only difference is you need at least 3 usb 3.0 ports for the oculus
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  • Aekero
    While I actually like seeing someone actually voice a strong opinion one way or another, I can't help but feel like this article is a little biased. For one, _content_ is huge, much more so than things like phone integration. I also believe that walking around a room with a wired headset isn't very realistic, wires + very limited range to me aren't a good solution to "movement immersion". I know what chaperone does, but bottom line is you can't move very far in a direction before you have to turn, creating a disconnect between physical/perceived movement. PC requirements are negligible, price and value are not another point, more a variation of "what's included". Similarly "specs", "motion tracking", and "chaperone" basically use the same point of being able to stand and move as the reason why vive wins. A score of 7-2 sounds way more skewed than it really is. At this point I'd see the difference as having the limited ability to walk + controllers, vs having a little more content available at launch + price.
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  • jasonelmore
    @Anonymous1a4 You are mis-informed about the Oculus Rift.. It also has room scale, it's just 5 feet less area horizontally. The Rift does not need 2 sensors for room scale because they integrated sensors into the headstrap, where as the vive did not.

    Here are the room scale specs for each HMD:

    Oculus: 10x15 feet
    Vive: 15x15 feet

    The Oculus's controllers just aren't ready, or you would see a lot more demo's for it. Shame on oculus for not getting these controllers out the door, but to say oculus does not have room scale is totally incorrect.

    ALso

    Also toms is retarded for cherry picking features from the vive them comparing them to oculus, but not doing the same for oculus's extra features.

    Price: Seriously you gave that to Vive? they both come with controllers and the oculus is cheaper. You think the controllers are gonna be $250? because that's what they would have to be to make up for the price difference, counting the xbox one wireless controller MSRP

    Phone Integration: Oculus has already added phone integration in the latest beta SDK, this is not a hardware feature, but a software one. Useless category to judge HMD's on because you know both HMD's will have these phone features.

    PC Requirements: Oculus only needs 2 USB 3.0 Ports.. 1 for the HMD, 1 for the tracking station. Both HMD's only need 1 USB if you take tracking out of the picture. Vive requries 2X cables for each lighthouse, Plus Vive needs a higher spec HDMI port. So lets count the cables. Vive 1 USB, 1 HDMI, Link Box 1 HDMI, 1 USB into PC; PLUS 2 Power Cables for each box. Now lets look at oculus: 1 USB for HMD, 1 USB for Tracking, 1 HDMI for HMD. That's it.. no link box, no power cables dangling on the wall.

    Games: Games is everything, and Oculus also has movies and TV shows made for VR. Vive has no movies or TV shows, and has a generic catch all store called steam. Oculus has AAA Titles launching day 1, with 20 more coming this year alone made by their own studio. Vive: Valve didnt even make a real game for their VR. No portal, no HL no AAA title. Just some apature laboratories demo and thats it. And even if Valve did make a game, it would take them 10 years to make it, because thats how they roll. It is inexcusable for Valve to release all this hardware (steam machines, Steam controller, Steam VR) and not even attempt to make a 1st part AAA game for any of it. They are content with making digital hats, and weapon skins, while they continue to sell other developers games.

    This whole article stinks of preconceptions.
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  • torana 1a9x
    will my i7-3960 processor be right for both,i emailed ouclus but they say not aall i5 and i7 for best play work,They go by single core performance ,but mine is slightly better
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