Virtual reality headsets are great for many things, but flying a plane may not be one of them. Unless you have the best VR headset for flight simulators. These headsets provide an immersive experience that can make you feel like you’re really in the cockpit. So if you’re looking to take your flight simulator experience to the next level, be sure to check out some of the best VR headsets for flight simulators in this blog
Top Rated Best VR Headset For Flight Sim
1. Valve Index
The best VR headset for a premium experience on a gaming PC
- An amazing display that works for everyone
- Hand tracking that is natural and real
- Fits comfortably with lots of padding
- SteamVR 2.0 base stations allow precise motion tracking
- SteamVR has tons of content
- The PC price is higher than the VR cost.
- Not very portable
The Index system by Valve is the current pinnacle in VR. Although it may not be as visually fidelity as the HP Reverb G2 (read our Valve Index Vs. HP Reverb G2 comparison article), it does offer more freedom than the Oculus Q2 2. Valve index is a highly sought-after item due to its combination of precise tracking, comfortable headset, and seamless Steam integration.
The Valve Index boasts has some of the most impressive visuals of any mainstream commercially-available HMD. It boasts a display resolution that equals the Vive Pro, Quest, and Odyssey+, but is paired with a 120Hz refresh rate (up to 144Hz in an experimental mode).
The LCD display is 3.5 inches in size and has a combined resolution of 2880×1600. This means that each eye can see approximately 1600×1440. The refresh rate can reach up to 144Hz, and the field of view is 130 degrees. These specs were made possible by the most powerful desktop computers for VR.
In an effort to accommodate as many people as possible, the Index includes a manual IPD adjustment slider and adjustable eye relief. You can adjust the harness to achieve a comfortable fit. There is also high-quality audio built-in. The Index motion controllers and precision tracking are handled by two base stations. You might also want to look at the best Joysticks and Flight Sticks for Flight Simulator.
You can purchase the Index as a complete package starting at $1,000. However, you can also buy individual pieces if your Vive hardware is already in use. Although it is a more expensive option, this will provide the best VR experience outside of Flight Simulator.
2. HP Reverb G2
- Spectacular visual experience
- Audio quality is superb
- Tight, comfortable fit
- SteamVR is fully compatible
- Tether cable 20 feet in length
- The controllers could do a lot better
- FOV could be larger
- Motion tracking is not very good
It is clear that HP Reverb G2 is a little more premium than the Valve Index. However, it feels better than any other Windows Mixed Reality headset I have seen. You know, Windows Mixed Reality headsets are the best VR headsets for flight simulators. They provide an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re actually in the cockpit of a plane. They’re also affordable and easy to use, making them a great choice for beginners.
The Valve Index offers more features, such as external tracking and motion controllers, but the HP Reverb G2 is all about the headset experience. This might be the only thing that matters if you are seated at a desk and have your hands on Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Reverb G2 features dual 2.89-inch LCD displays with a resolution of 2160×2160. This combined resolution is 4320×2160, which blows away the Index. You can enjoy a wonderful viewing experience with IPD adjustments.
Reverb G2 was updated by HP in late 2021. It now has a new face gasket that allows for better eye relief adjustments, a wider FOV, and better controller tracking. A new cable was also added to the “G2-V2”, as many call it. It has better compatibility with AMD systems and an updated link box. Although the Index’s native FOV is slightly smaller at around 90 degrees, and the refresh rate at 90Hz is the highest, these specs still require a powerful computer.
The Reverb G2 harness was designed by HP by Valve, so Index users are familiar with the design. The built-in headphones will provide great sound quality, and the straps can be adjusted for additional comfort. There is no light bleeding around the face gasket and plenty of padding.
Reverb G2’s motion controllers are a drawback. They aren’t as intuitive as Index controllers and rely on the headset for tracking. You might not use the controllers as much if Flight Simulator is your primary focus. This is the place to go if you want to see the entire world from the sky.
3. Oculus Quest 2
- Built-in CPU delivers excellent performance
- Impressive display clarity
- Affordable price
- Connect to your computer
- Forcible Facebook login
- Battery life is very disappointing
- There are no manual IPD adjustments
Oculus Quest 2 is now called the Meta Quest 2 because it can operate without a computer. The Snapdragon XR2 processor is included, along with 6GB RAM and up to 256GB storage. The LCD display is located at the front with a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye. A built-in battery can last for about two to three hours before it needs to be charged.
Oculus Link is recommended for Flight Simulator. This is a USB-C cable that allows the Quest 2 to be tethered to your computer, effectively turning it into an Oculus Rift. It will allow you to access Oculus and Steam games libraries as well as Flight Sim’s VR side. If you’re not interested in purchasing the Oculus official Oculus offer, our selection of Quest 2 Link alternative cables can save you money.
Oculus Link makes the Quest 2 more than just a standalone VR headset. The Quest 2 is a VR Swiss Army knife that can do everything. It can play VR on the go and also support Oculus Rift compatible games. A recent update has made it even more affordable, with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Oculus Touch motion controls are now available for the Quest 2. They rely on inside-out tracking of the headset. They are comfortable and have touch-capacitive sensors that give you a real feel. The Quest 2 has its limitations. It requires a Facebook account in order to use it. There is no manual IPD adjustment. This is the best option if you’re looking for an untethered experience that can double up as Flight Simulator’s VR system.
- Check out: How to connect Oculus to TV
4. Oculus Rift S
- The cockpit has enough resolution to allow you to read the instruments comfortably
- The least capable computer is required to run
- Inside-out Tracking (quick, easy to set up).
- Wearable for long periods of time
- Very affordable price
- Far away objects not able to be resolved
- Higher FOV will increase immersion
- Not too good built-in audio
- No manual IPD adjustment
Many flight sim enthusiasts are raving about Oculus Rift S, whether they’re looking to get into VR for the first time or upgrading their HTC headsets and Rift CV1 models. The Rift S is a great value for money, and the Rift S delivers.
The display resolution and display quality have been improved to allow you to see the instruments clearly without having to zoom in or lean in. Although the ability to see units from afar is much easier, it still leaves a lot to be desired.
The Rift S’s large visual sweet spot is a positive feature. It should not be difficult to put on the headset and adjust the head position. It works for me, at least. Many others have also reported the same.
The field of view is roughly the same as the 1st-gen models. I don’t mind it being lower, but it is manageable and doesn’t ruin immersion too much.
Flight sims are actually very well suited for the refresh rate of 80Hz. The difference is not noticeable compared to a headset running at 90hz. For most users, it will be more convenient to use 40fps + ASW to achieve the best balance between visuals and performance.
The Rift S doesn’t have manual IPD adjustment. You should ensure that your IPD is within the recommended range (61.5mm to 65.5mm). You might consider a headset that allows you to adjust the IPD manually.
The Rift S is a great product that can transform your reality. If you do decide to purchase it, this headset is one you won’t regret. This headset is great for flight simulations and equally (or more) suitable for VR gaming and experiences thanks to its accurate tracking and ergonomic controllers.
This is a great all-arounder and well worth the money. This is true even if there aren’t many available.
5. Pimax 8K X (Ultra Premium Option)
- Clear Image Quality
- Largest Field of View
- Fussy Settings
- Bad Color Reproduction
The Pimax 8K X is the best headset in terms of clarity, visuals, and field-of-view. It has almost twice the resolution and FoV as most consumer-grade headsets. However, it is still within the budget of flight simmers who have to purchase graphics cards and premium joysticks.
The main problem with the Pimax 8K was its need for so much GPU power. Practically, it isn’t much different because you can scale down supersampling. It still looks better than other VR headsets. It is still possible only with the top-end GPUs such as the 3090Ti and 3080Ti. But we flight simmers are used to it. Quality comes with a price.
Should You Buy a VR Headset for Flight Sims at all? Factors to Consider
It’s difficult to say whether VR and flight simulators are a good mix for you. It is subjective, as it depends on the individual’s needs and preferences.
Next, I will list some factors that VR can be used with flight simulators. It is hoped that it will allow you to think through your own situation and make a decision about which headset you prefer.
Flat Screen vs VR Headset
You have probably been using your flat-screen TV, monitor, or similar flat-screen display to play flight sims. A regular flat-screen display will provide you with high resolution and excellent graphics.
VR gaming does not offer the same level of visual clarity. The main tradeoff is a reduction in overall graphics. This will depend on your headset and PC capabilities. It could cause problems with VFR (inability to see objects at a distance – PAPI lights etc.) or IFR flights (might need to lean in order to see certain gauges properly, difficult-to-manage dials/switches).
It is, however, generally compensated for (for most uses cases) by the immersion and perceptions of depth, distance, and size that VR allows you to experience. A VR headset gives you a unique, wonderful spatial experience of the world around it that you won’t be able to get with regular monitors.
While I’ll be covering many other aspects and quality in this article, the key difference between VR and regular gaming will be resolution vs. immersion.
The Purpose Of Playing
The purpose of your flight sims and the games you play are also factors in deciding if VR is right for you.
This is a bit more difficult if you want to take notes while flying, which is understandable. Either you have to take off the headset and write notes (which stops the immersion), or you can use plugins that allow a virtual screen to hover in your cockpit. This isn’t the most comfortable option.
This is true for reading maps and other activities that are often linked to planned flights. You might choose VR over flat screens in this instance.
If your goal is to fly GA aircraft and then use simulators to simulate the experience of flying over real landscapes and controlling the plane, then VR will be the best option.
Choosing the Right VR Headset for Flight Simulators
Once you’ve decided VR is for you, you need to find a VR headset that suits your needs and flight simulation. This section does not focus on any specific VR headsets but on the general characteristics and specifications, you should look for in a VR headset.
One of the most important tradeoffs in VR is image clarity and resolution. This is true for some VR headsets, especially the 1st-gen ones like Oculus Rift CV1 and HTC Vive, but it’s not so severe for other headsets, such as HP Reverb.
Also, remember that just the resolution will not show you the entire picture. Different VR headsets have different fields of views (FOV), which is the area in which the output pixels will be displayed. To compare the visual sharpness of a VR headset’s output pixels, I will use a “pixels-per-degree FOV” measurement.
Pixels per Degree of FOV
Let’s start with a Full HD monitor (1.920 x 1.080 pixels and a FOV 60deg) (the default setting for X-Plane11, and the same for War Thunder). A regular monitor will have 1920 pixels x 60 = 32 pixels per degree FOV in a horizontal plane.
Next, we’ll compare the benchmark to some of the more popular headsets. Remember that the FOV of a VR headset will depend on how close the headset (lenses) is to your eyes.
Remember that horizontal FOV specification in the calculations are estimates based on manufacturer information and user tests. Results can vary from person-to-person (and test-to test).
- Full HD Monitor 32 pixels per degree (1,920 x 1,080, 60deg HFOV)
- Oculus Rift CV1 10.8 pixels per degree (OLED 1080×1200, ~100deg HFOV)
- Oculus Rift S 12.8 pixels per degree (LCD, 1280 x 1440, ~100deg HFOV)
- Samsung Odyssey+ 13.1 pixels per degree (OLED, 1440 x 1600, ~110 deg HFOV)
- Valve Index 12.5 pixels per degree (LCD, 1440 x 1600, ~115deg HFOV)
- HP Reverb 18.9 pixels per degree (LCD, 2160 x 2160, ~114deg HFOV)
These calculations should not be considered as the final truth. The FOV measurements are estimates, as they are. Also, it is important to consider VR headset display type (OLED or LCD), which has 1/3 more subpixels per pixels than an OLED PenTile Display.
These calculations show that VR headsets still have a ways to go before they can match the sharpness of flat-screen displays. You’ll also know that resolution is not an exact measure of image sharpness.
Field of View (FOV).
A wider FOV (for the same resolution) reduces image clarity. The pixels are spread over a wider visual area.
This does not mean that a wide FOV is undesirable. It is actually the exact opposite. I believe FOV is second to resolution when it comes down to visuals. A VR headset that has a wider field of vision will give you a more immersive and realistic flying experience.
The FOV of the human eye is approximately 200 degrees. A VR headset’s FOV will affect how much you see in your peripheral vision. This could be analogous to horse blinders: If the FOV of a VR headset is too low, then you can only see the objects in front. You will need to move your head to see objects further to your sides.
When choosing a VR headset, it is important to consider the refresh rate. This is because a higher refresh rate means a more fluid and smooth gaming experience.
It is not important to think about sim flights, as your computer will not be able to reach the VR target refresh rate. The analogy I mentioned earlier is still relevant. A VR headset can deliver 45fps at 90fps on a standard 2D monitor.
A VR headset that has a 90Hz refresh rate will be most effective for you if you are trying to get 45fps. The VR headsets use an advanced frame-rate smoothing technique called “asynchronous spacewarp” (ASW), which extrapolates frames taken from frames previously created. It basically “guesses” every frame in order to achieve the 90HZ refresh rate.
It might be a good idea to choose a VR headset with a lower refresh rate (or adjustable). The Oculus RiftS has a refresh rate 80Hz. This means that you can achieve 40fps with ASW.
IPD, or Interpupillary Distance, is the distance between your pupils measured in millimeters. You might be wondering why it is important.
The recommended IPD range for VR headsets ensures you get the best possible visual experience. You will benefit from VR headsets with a manual IPD adjustment option if you have an IPD below or above the average. These headsets are more suitable for you.
Consider your IPD before you buy. Also, make sure to check the recommended IPD range. You must ensure that the headset is a good fit.
A VR headset must be capable of estimating the user’s position relative to the surrounding environment in order to blur the line between reality and illusion. This is crucial because it allows for immersive viewing.
High-end VR headsets can provide precise 1 to 1 positional tracking via either External (Outside in) or Internal (Inside out) tracking. Like its name, Outside-in tracking uses external sensors. It offers higher accuracy and lower latency. However, it does limit mobility.
Tethered VS Standalonepermalink
Tethered headsets, as the name implies, are connected to a computer or console. They are usually more powerful than standalone headsets. This means:
- A greater selection of compatible AAA titles
- Improved ability to manage graphically intensive content
- Better performance in general
However, the power comes with a price. The restrictions on Tethered headsets that are connected to a console or PC are greater. Although the restriction may vary from headset to headset it is usually not significant. Standalone headsets on the other hand offer unlimited mobility. This allows for a more immersive experience.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020’s tethered headset connections aren’t as problematic as other AAA titles, as the user movement is limited. So, both standalone and tethered VR headsets will do just fine.
1. Is Quest 2 worth the effort?
2. Can Oculus Quest 2 be used without Facebook?
3. Is Oculus 2 compatible with games?
There is no doubt that you should have a clear idea of the things that you need to consider before you settle on the product that you are going to buy. More so, it is essential to have a budget and not go overboard. If you have friends who have used the headsets before, then it would be good if you get to ask them some questions about the models they have used before deciding to buy one.
Lucidcam hopes this blog will be useful for you. Thank you for taking the time to read!
Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API