If you’re into sim racing and haven’t tried it yet with a VR headset, you’re definitely missing out. When you pair a VR headset with your steering wheel, you’ll be immersed in the racing world like never before. We’ve listed the five best VR headsets for sim racing below, based on features, user reviews, and our own experience.
The Top-Rated VR Headsets for Sim Racing
|HTC Vive Pro 2
|HP Reverb G2
|Meta Quest 2
|Keep an eye out for
|Pimax 12K QLED
Top Pick: HTC Vive Pro 2
The HTC Vive Pro 2 headset is a top performer for sim racing. It offers true-to-life precision racing capabilities with its high resolution screens. Sim racers love how the colors pop on the vehicles to bring the racetrack to life. The Vive Pro 2’s high resolution screens make it easy to read the info on your vehicle’s dash, including the small text, without having to strain or move closer.
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is a cutting-edge VR headset. It offers an immersive experience with its stunning 5K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, every detail comes to life. It also features precise tracking with its SteamVR 2.0 base stations, ensuring accurate movement and responsiveness. The adjustable head strap and ergonomically designed face cushion ensure a comfortable fit, even during extended gaming sessions.
One of the standout features of the Vive Pro 2 is its wide field of view. With a field of view of 120 degrees, you’ll feel fully immersed in your virtual surroundings, with no distractions or limitations. And thanks to the intuitive set up process, setting up the Vive Pro 2 is a breeze. Simply connect the headset to your PC and you’re ready to dive into the VR world.
Overall, the HTC Vive Pro 2 is a true powerhouse in the world of virtual reality. Its impressive visuals, precise tracking, and comfortable design make it a top choice for both gaming enthusiasts and professional users.
Runner-Up: HP Reverb G2
The HP Reverb G2 virtual reality headset provides its users with an immersive gaming experience without breaking the budget. With its sharp image quality and high-resolution lenses, this headset delivers stunning visuals that transport you into a whole new world. The Reverb G2’s display and controllers provide a comfortable and responsive experience.
One of the best features of the Reverb G2 is its off-ear, Valve audio, which delivers incredible sound quality while also keeping you aware of your surroundings. This combination of audio immersion and situational awareness enhances the overall VR experience.
Another aspect to consider is the rumored discontinuation and support of the Reverb G2. These rumors have been going on for a few years now but with no announcement of a G3, it seems like the writing on the wall may be true. While it may no longer receive active updates or new features, the current version still holds up as one of the best VR headsets available. Plus the rumors say HP will continue with support till 2026.
Also Great: Meta Quest 2
Equipped with a sharper display and a faster processor, the Meta Quest 2 ensures that every detail of the virtual race track is crystal clear. The lightweight design and three point head strap adds to the comfort, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the virtual racing world without any distractions.
Whether you’re competing against AI opponents or challenging in multiplayer mode, this VR headset delivers a seamless and immersive experience. Equipped with a high-resolution display, the Meta Quest 2 delivers stunning visuals. With a refresh rate of 120 Hz, the Meta Quest 2 ensures smooth and fluid gameplay, reducing motion blur and increasing realism. This high refresh rate guarantees that every movement and action is accurately represented, enhancing your racing experience. The intuitive controls and responsive tracking make it feel like you’re actually behind the wheel of a high-performance race car.
The Meta Quest 2 provides an estimated 2-3 hours of playtime. This allows for extended racing sessions without interruption, keeping you fully immersed in the action. Furthermore, the Meta Quest 2 offers a generous amount of storage, allowing you to download and enjoy a wide variety of games. From realistic tracks to customizable vehicles, the possibilities are endless.
Luxury Pick: Varjo Aero
The Varjo Aero is a phenomenal addition to the world of VR, offering an unparalleled experience that’s perfect for sim racing. This professional-grade VR headset boasts stunning dual mini-LED displays with vibrant colors and sharp visuals, ensuring every detail on the race track is crystal clear. With an impressive resolution of 35 pixels per degree, the Varjo Aero provides an immersive and realistic racing experience, making you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
This high-end PCVR headset offers enhanced ergonomics, making it light and comfortable to wear during intense racing sessions. Despite its professional-quality features, it is designed to be accessible, opening up new possibilities for both businesses and individuals alike.
One of the standout features of the Varjo Aero is its edge-to-edge clarity provided by variable resolution aspheric lenses. This ensures that every corner, every car, and every finish line is displayed with utmost precision and clarity.
However, quality comes at a price. The Varjo Aero is priced at $1,990, making it one of the priciest VR headsets on the market. But for sim racers seeking the clearest and sharpest VR image currently available, the investment is undoubtedly worth it
Keep an eye out for: Pimax 12K QLED
The Pimax 12K QLED VR headset is a game-changer in the world of sim racing. This next-generation device features dual 6K QLED panels with mini-LED backlighting and 4400 elements for local dimming, promising an immersive and hyper-realistic racing experience.
One of the standout features of the Pimax 12K QLED is its expansive field of view. This wide perspective allows sim racers to fully immerse themselves in the virtual environment, enhancing their situational awareness on the track.
The headset’s high resolution of 12K ensures crystal clear visuals, allowing you to see every detail of the race track. This level of detail can provide a competitive edge, helping you spot potential hazards or opportunities on the track that could make the difference between victory and defeat.
Comfort is also crucial during long racing sessions, and the Pimax 12K QLED doesn’t disappoint. It is designed with an ergonomic headset to provide a comfortable fit. The controls are touch-type, and offer intuitive navigation.
Although priced at around $2,400, the investment is worth it for those seeking an unmatched sim racing experience. So, strap on your Pimax 12K QLED, rev your engine, and prepare for a thrilling ride!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to fully immerse yourself in sim racing, then yes, you should buy a VR headset. As opposed to holding a gamepad when sim racing, a VR headset paired up with a steering wheel and pedals is far superior. You’ll have a true connection with your virtual vehicle that isn’t possible when using a standard controller.
Some sim racers report having motion sickness from using VR headsets, so yes, it’s possible. That’s why it’s best to pace yourself and slowly build up the time you spend behind the wheel. If you’re worried you won’t be able to stomach the VR experience, consider opting for a triple monitor setup.
Any VR headset that works for gaming at large will work with sim racing. That being said, there are things that differentiate good racing headsets from bad racing headsets. Check the next section “What to Look for in a VR Headset” for an in-depth look at the factors that most dramatically impact the quality and usefulness of VR headsets in general as well as with regard to racing sims.
The Pimax 8K X is currently the highest-res headset available to consumers, although it is rather hard to recommend to most gamers as virtually no one has access to PC hardware capable of pushing the hardware to it’s limit. Realistically speaking, even 4K headsets are overkill at this point for most users – but they tend to represent a great value as GPU and games are catching up rapidly and you’ll be ready when they hit mainstream.
What to Look for in a VR Headset for Sim Racing
Here are some of the most important things to look for in a VR headset for sim racing:
Perhaps the most vital consideration to make when looking for the best VR headset for sim racing whether the headset you’re looking at is conducive to a comfortable gaming experience. Sim racing, more so than your average VR experience, is physically taxing in ways that hard hard to quantify from outside of the sim racing experience.
However, if you’ve ever worn a VR headset before, you can probably follow the logic here: mainstream headsets weigh anywhere from just under one pound, to just under two pounds – and that isn’t taking into account the downward/outward pull from connected cables that can add considerable tension. All of that weight and being pulled in different directions – by the head, no less – contributes greatly to fatigue and discomfort that even the best vr headset has yet to fully overcome.
Now add-in the additional accoutrements associated with VR sim racing, such as force feedback wheels that use vibration motors, haptic feedback and powered pulley mechanisms that simulate terrain and driving conditions and actively work against you in order to simulate the driving experience in fine detail – and you have a recipe for discomfort both in the short-term and with regard to long-term hobby-grade gaming.
Not to put too fine a point of the whole “comfort” thing, but now consider that all of this will be exponentially compounded by your body being effectively grounded by your racing pedals, which will be mounted/affixed and will not move with you. This necessitates that you find a comfortable position and commit to it – otherwise you’re risking a chain reaction of maladaptation that will have your whole body asking you why you chose this hobby in the first place.
Now, let’s push past all of the pessimism and acknowledge the most important factor in all of this – the VR headset itself! To be entirely frank, no part of your setup matters as much as the headset itself. The comfort you feel with your chosen set when playing racing games is paramount, so get a set that you feel comfortable wearing for long periods of time. As a general rule, lighter is better – but less/lighter/more flexible cables is also a massive contributor. A comfortable chair is also extremely important, as is making sure you have everything adjusted to proper heights/distances for comfortable gaming sessions.
This may all sound unbelievably daunting, but think about what you’re trying to accomplish here: via Assetto Corsa or Project Cars or any other sim racing game of your choice, you’re aiming to be fully transported into a racing racing experience that transcends gaming and brings you as close to the real thing as you could possibly get without dedicating your life to racing. There is absolutely going to be a sacrifice of time and money on your part, but the payoff in the end will be that much more rewarding because of the investments you’re making even now – by reading this article!
Compatibility is another major consideration that shouldn’t be taken for granted when shopping for a sim racing headset. While high-end headsets require high-end hardware to power them, others are somewhat more flexible as an option. Make sure to take into consideration not only the processor and GPU requirements, but also the ports required to connect to and power your headset and associated hardware.
If your only bottleneck is ports, you don’t necessarily need to run out and buy a new PC or motherboard – chances are that a good USB hub or dock will solve your ailment. If GPU is your bottleneck, now is arguably the best time ever to buy a new GPU, as the latest generation is surprisingly cheap and the previous gens are being sold at absurdly low prices to make space for the current inventory. CPU markets are in a similar situation at the moment and you can grab a stellar previous generation Intel or AMD Ryzen series chipset at a reasonable price point.
Perhaps the least-discussed and most important point of consideration here is the room in which you intend to play! You’ll need to set up a tracking station in the room, and possibly other sensors depending on the headset and setup you choose to go with – these will necessitate a bare-minimum of 5 by 5 feet of unoccupied space you can dedicate to your VR racing.
Again, it would be disingenuous of anyone to imply that your VR setup is going to be the easiest setup of your life or that everyone has everything needed for a great experience right out of the box – but if you’ve read this far, it’s probably safe to assume you’re willing to put the work in!
The resolution of VR headsets has come a long way since the beginning, and it still has a long way to go in terms of meeting the desires of the most hardcore gamers because – let’s be honest – they’ve been spoiled by massive, high-resolution monitors for many years now! Dropping into VR means interacting with a different form of visual output entirely – one in which images are effectively doubled, necessitating a halving of resolution in order to maintain framerate expectations.
This effect is further exacerbated by the fact that the screens are so much closer to your eyes than conventional monitors would be, effectively lowering the DPI and by extension one’s perception of the resolution on display.
While that may sound like a deal-breaker for some, consider first that resolution isn’t as relevant to the naked eye as is DPI which is relative to your distance from the monitor. Many hardcore gamers are surprised the first time they strap into a high end VR set and don’t mind/can’t tell the difference in resolution from their monitors. Others will notice the difference but appreciate that the tradeoff is absolutely worth it for some experiences.
Of course, a higher end headset will come at a dramatically higher price point than many others on the list, but core gamers have come to expect to pay more for higher quality experiences and shouldn’t be surprised by these price points.
All said, resolution is a non-issue for some and a primary selling point for others – if you find yourself in the latter camp, skip straight to the high-end stuff; if you find yourself agreeing to the former, save yourself a ton of money and go with one of the more mainstream sets.
Field of View
Field of View, also known as Field of Vision or FoV, refers to what may most easily be understood as your “vision cone”. FoV is the slice of the 360 degree pie that a display is able to project to you at any given time. Anyone who’s ever fiddled with an FoV slider in a PC game before will have a strong idea of what is being measured here, but it’s still important to consider the implications.
Your field of view dictates how much of a given seen is projected to you at once, and by extension how much is hidden from view. Some games do not benefit much, if at all, from fields of view exceeding the 90 to 110 degree FoV provided by most VR headsets. Racing games, however, benefit dramatically from increased FoV.
From a cockpit view, a bigger Field of View means more view of the periphery – a better view of cars overtaking you, cars you’re overtaking and so forth. Also consider that VR headsets track your head movements and as such, a wider FoV means less movement on your part in order to turn and see even more of the periphery or even what’s behind you.
More FoV in racing games translates directly to more immersion and an advantage over your opponents who have less awareness of what’s going on around them. Needless to say, you can absolutely have a wonderful experience when racing in VR with a standard FoV, but more is almost always better. Whether or not it’s worth more associated cost is entirely up to you, but it is recommended that you lean toward “yes, it is”.
Much like resolution, your need for high refresh rate is going to be largely predicated upon you pre-established expectations. If you’re a hardcore PC gamer who’s been at the forefront of hardware adoption for the last few years, you’ve been a part of a scene that is absolutely obsessed with framerates and performance; as such you’re going to have a hard time getting immersed in a low refresh rate as provided by many low end or mainstream VR headsets.
In fact, it’s virtually impossible to recommend that hardcore PC gamers opt for anything other than one of the best VR sets which offer a higher refresh rate. That said, those who have managed to elude the call of the framerate sirens have much more flexibility here!
Sound is a secondary or even tertiary concern for some when it comes to VR gaming, but it’s something that needs to be discussed nonetheless; after all, VR is all about immersion, and it’s pretty hard to be convinced you’re inhabiting a world that doesn’t have great sound quality.
Virtually all of these sets will come with some sort of built-in audio solution, though none of those solutions are especially impressive and you’ll likely want to add a headset or in-ear monitors in order to shore up that weakness. This is where input capability comes into play, and it’s advised that you aim to get a headset that has 3 5mm input. Don’t let that be a deal-breaker though – some will instead have USB-C.
All-in-all, don’t sweat the built-in audio, but do ensure that you can upgrade or at least bring along audio hardware that you already own!
While it may seem as if we’re taking a step in the wrong direction by placing price at the bottom of this list of considerations, but it’s hard to recommend placing price above the preceding. VR is a rapidly evolving segment of gaming, and hardware is the most important piece of the puzzle for consumers. Unlike monitors, graphics cards or even mice, there are not currently a lot of “diminishing returns” scenarios to consider with regard to VR sets.
Whereas the delta between the cheapest (recommendable) headsets and the bleeding-edge products is quite wide in terms of cost, one can’t rationally argue that the more expensive sets aren’t worth the extra money. To be fair, they may not be worth it for every person in every circumstance, but there is certainly a lot of value in a headset that will last longer, be compatible with more future games and hardware and provide a dramatically more realistic experience in the here and now.
This isn’t meant to say the lower-priced headsets on this list are a bad deal; to the contrary, they are all absolutely worth your time and consideration! The takeaway here should be that, if you find yourself thinking you’re better-off spending more on a better headset – you’re probably right!
Last Updated on September 16, 2023