Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Which Should You Buy?

If your feathers ruffle easily, just walk away from this video now. Treat it like granny porn and rapid-close this bitch as fast as you can. I want this video to open a dialogue for open-minded VR enthusiasts and newcomers, not devolve into a fanboy dick measuring contest.

Now that that’s out of the way…

How this Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive Comparison is Formatted

I don’t intend this video to be the end-all, be-all of Vive vs. Rift comparisons, but almost every comparison video I’ve seen on YouTube comes across as incredibly biased. I wanted to contribute to the conversation with as neutral of a perspective as I’m humanly capable.

Today I’m going to discuss eight topics in order of importance. I’ll talk about what I believe to be the most important buying factor first, then the second most important buying factor, followed by six others in decreasing importance.

My intention is that you can rule out one headset or the other based on the most important factors, then decide how much the smaller factors matter to you.

Best Overall Virtual Reality Experience

So with that in mind, let’s talk about the most important decision-making factor: which headset produces the best overall virtual reality experience?

Based on my experiences so far, Oculus appears to have launched a better headset. It wins out on many of the finer points I’ll discuss later.

Oculus Rift CV1 review and overall virtual reality experience rating

But HTC and Valve launched a superior virtual reality experience with the Vive. Being able to walk around and use your hands to interact with your environment significantly increases how immersive the experience is.

Front View of the HTC Vive

Oculus plans to launch their Touch controllers later this year, which could potentially put them back on top in which case they’d be the best virtual reality headset overall. But until then, and believe me – I never thought I’d be saying this – the HTC Vive produces the best and most immersive virtual reality experience.

Do You Have the Room for Room Scale VR?

But of course room scale VR requires a lot more space than seated or standing experiences. So if you don’t have enough space in your home for room scale virtual reality, the Oculus Rift wins by default. And by no means will you be disappointed if you buy one – it still provides an amazing virtual reality experience, and you’ll be able to use your hands with compatible Oculus titles in a few months.

Convenience of Room Scale vs. Seated/Standing VR

But now that we’ve discussed whether or not you have the space for room scale, there’s a distinct difference between capability and convenience.

Sometimes I just want to sit down, chill, and play an Oculus game. This is possible with a lot of virtual reality titles on the Steam marketplace as well, but if you prefer stationary seated or standing experiences rather than moving all over the room while you play, the Rift is the obvious winner.

I love putting on my Vive and bouncing all over the room. I’m having a blast and getting a bunch of exercise to boot. But if that’s not your cup of tea – buy the Oculus Rift. The reason why becomes clearer as we discuss some of the finer points, like the visual experience each headset produces.

The Rift vs. Vive Visual Experience

The HTC Vive's Optics and Display

Although the Vive has larger Fresnel lenses and a reportedly larger field of view, the off-center vision isn’t as crisp and, personally, I find the glare in the Vive to be more pronounced.

Oculus Rift CV1 optics and Fresnel lenses

The Rift, on the other hand, has significantly better off-center vision and its lenses are more than large enough to immerse you – the extra field of view the Vive boasts isn’t really noticeable because it’s all in your peripheral vision. And although glare is still an issue with the Rift, I find it less noticeable and feel like it impedes immersion less often than the Vive.

HTC’s Audio Solution vs. Oculus’

Oculus Rift CV1 Headphones and Audio Quality

And these subtleties become even more pronounced when we begin looking at each company’s audio solution. The built-in headphones on the Rift are much higher quality than I expected them to be, and I didn’t realize how convenient they were until I received my Vive.

HTC Vive's Headphones

Comparatively, the Vive’s audio solution is painfully clunky. It comes with earbuds that are more convenient than using your own headphones, but once you start navigating the choppy waters of putting the headset on, putting your headphones on, putting the controller wrist straps on, and then dealing with all of them and their added cords while in the Vive, you’ll wish they executed audio as well as Oculus did.

Which One Wins on Comfort?

Oculus Rift CV1 Design and Aesthetics

Then there’s comfort. The Rift weighs less, is smaller, and has rigid support straps vs. HTC’s flaccid headband solution which hangs on your face noticeably heavier.

Side View of the HTC Vive

And the placement of the side adjustment straps was executed tremendously better by Oculus, whereas the Vive’s are seemingly always in the way of my ears no matter how I try to adjust it. Oculus went through a lot more testing and refinement in their design, and it really shines through when talking about comfort.

With all of that being said, the Vive is still comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. That’s why this wasn’t mentioned until this point in the video.

Does HTC or Oculus Have Better Customer Support?

But unlike all of these points that, in my opinion, put Oculus clearly on top, everyone loses when it comes to customer service. Neither company has a phone number you can call for help, which for a several-hundred-dollar tech purchase is pretty outrageous.

I’ve had decent experiences with Oculus support. I’ve had horrible experiences with HTC.

With Oculus, I’ve submitted a ticket on three occasions and had a response within 24 hours all three times. Not bad for a company that really fucked customers when it came to pre-purchase and shipping support.

But with HTC, I filed a request eight days ago and STILL haven’t heard back. I called in to HTC’s general support line, and they told me that I would be forced to use Vive’s live chat support, where I waited several minutes for an agent, and once one connected, they dropped a few minutes later without saying a word to me or acknowledging the fact that they were ever there.

Fortunately I was able to solve the tracking issue I was having with my Vive by reading through some threads on Reddit, but it took me hours to troubleshoot the problem on my own and if I’d needed a replacement part – forget about it. I would have spent several more hours waiting, following HTC’s shitty step-by-step instructions back and forth via LIVE CHAT – not even on a fucking telephone, and waiting for my replacement part to arrive after sending my dysfunctional component back.

Their slogan should be, “HTC Vive support – not even once.”

So even though both options are shitty, Oculus wins out here too. Let it be known, however, that I’ve read my fair share of Oculus support fumbles online too, but my personal experiences lead me to believe that they’re more dependable on the whole.

HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift Aesthetics

And that brings us down to aesthetics – which device looks better?

Oculus Rift CV1 front-underside angled view

Of course this is the most subjective topic discussed in this video, but I think the Oculus Rift is significantly more attractive than the Vive, but that’s just me. You’ve seen plenty of 4K ultra high definition shots in this video and my reviews of each headset, so you probably know which one you prefer aesthetically by this point in the video.

HTC Vive with Controllers

Who Will “Win” In the Long Run?

Now that we’ve covered all my totally subjective observations, let’s descend down to complete speculation. Who’s going to come out on top in the long run?

Truth be told, picking one would be kind of like saying Xbox is going to lose and Playstation is going to win. In the end, I think they’ll both win. The differences are pronounced right now, largely due to the fact that Oculus launched without motion controllers, but in the coming months when the playing field is leveled, who comes out on top?

Again, this is pure speculation, but I think as long as they stop bending customers over and fucking them every chance they get, Oculus comes out on top. They already win on all of the finer points. The only thing that puts them behind overall is the lack of Touch controllers, which Oculus users hope to God they haven’t launched yet because they’re perfecting the technology before launch. Even in pictures, the Touch controllers look like a much more natural and elegant solution compared to Vive’s wands.

Oculus has several virtual reality visionaries on board, and ultimately they’ve had a lot more time to get the technology right. I think that really shows when comparing the headsets side-by-side, and ultimately, I think it’ll show in the virtual reality experience as well.

Does that Mean Vive Customers “Lose”?

But does that mean that anyone buying the Vive now loses? Definitely not. The Vive will continue to deliver an awesome VR experience regardless, and so far the Steam marketplace is a dramatically better experience than what Oculus has given us. Just like Oculus has been working on the hardware a lot longer than HTC, Valve has a HUGE head start when it comes to their gaming marketplace.

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Which Should YOU Buy?

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive

At the end of the day, these are two very different devices that each have their strengths and weaknesses. If I couldn’t afford them both and I had to choose one TODAY, I’d choose the HTC Vive. If I wanted to buy the headset I thought will be the winner in the long run, I’d buy the Oculus Rift or, at the very least, wait until the Touch controllers are released so that I could make a completely informed decision.

Trust me, there will be plenty of people (myself included) making videos reevaluating these solutions side-by-side once the Touch controllers come out. 

There are no losers here. Both headsets are amazing, enjoyable, and create remarkable virtual reality experiences. At the end of the day, it comes down to what’s right for YOU, and I sincerely hope this video helped at least get you closer to knowing which purchase works best for you.

If you want even more detail, I’ll be releasing a ridiculously in-depth buying guide by May 30th which will detail everything I’ve discussed here and a whole lot more. It’ll be free to download at VirtualRealityBuyingGuide.com.

Thanks for Reading – Leave Your Thoughts as a Comment Below!

Thank you so much for reading my side-by-side  Vive vs. Rift comparison! If you have any questions, or you think I’m missing something here, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear what you think.

2 Comments

  1. Totally agree with this review.
    I will say the Delux audio strap from HTC is a game changer for the vive. It should be standard equipment. Better comfort and way nicer audio performance and it’s designed to work with the 3in1 cable which really improves mobility.
    How about your take on the screen door effect on both headsets? I just have a vive so I can’t compare.
    Cheers

  2. I’ve never tried either one of these. I have the poor man’s version, the Samsung Gear. But from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, I’m leaning towards the rift. Although I think room scale VR would be cool too. Maybe I’ll just have to get both 🙂

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