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Spec Showdown: Oculus Rift vs. Samsung Gear VR

Finally, after years of waiting and wondering, the Oculus Rift is right in front of our faces, and it’ll be available soon. The Oculus Rift is set for full in just a couple months, with the first wave of the recently announced preorders being shipped on March 28. Meanwhile, Samsung has been pushing another, more affordable headset, the Gear VR, to the masses. Though these devices were contrived with two very different audiences in mind, we nonetheless thought it would be fun to compare the two in a savage battle for the Metaverse!

Updated January 6, 2016 by Brendan Hesse: Updated with Oculus pricing, availability, and hardware requirements information revealed at CES 2016.

Related: The Oculus Rift is $600: Here’s what you need before pre-ordering

Oculus Rift

Oculus-Rift-2

Gear VR

samsung gear vr gray background

Optical Lens 110 degrees or greater 96° field of view
Display 2160 x 1200 pixel, 90Hz built-in OLED displays 2560 x 1440 pixel Super AMOLED
Refresh Rate 90 Hz 60 Hz
Required Hardware PC with Windows 7 SP1 or newer, 8GB of RAM or more, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/AMD 290 equivalent or greater Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+
Sensor Gyrocope, accelerometer, magnetometer, Constellation array Accelerator, gyrometer, geomagnetic, proximity
Focal Adjustment None Focus adjustment wheel
Interpupillary Distance Coverage Default distance set at 64 mm, adjustable range TBA 54~70 mm
Physical UI Xbox controller, Oculus Touch controllers Touchpad, back button, volume key
Connection HDMI 1.3 video output to headset•2x USB 3.0 ports for peripherals MicroUSB connection to Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+
Dimensions  TBA, 1.3 x 14.7 x 7 inches for Dk2 dev kit 201.9 x 116.4 x 92.6 mm
Weight <380 grams 310 grams
Color variants Black Frost White
Price $599 (Includes headset, Xbox One Controller, Sensor Array, and bundled software) $99, plus cost of phone
Availability Pre orders available, begin shipping on March 28, 2016 Available Now
DT Review Hands On Review

Design

While neither option is going to blow you away in terms of style, appearance-wise, Samsung has Oculus beat with its Gear VR headset. There’s no denying how trendy this thing looks, even if the whole concept of fashionable VR is completely foreign to us right now. At least on the exterior, it’s the perfect complement to Samsung’s mobile devices, which is an appreciated touch considering it works so closely in conjunction with the Galaxy Note 5 and the trio of Galaxy S6 handsets.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Oculus Rift’s appearance isn’t exactly subtle. Though the final design we see below has iterated significantly on the previous dev kit’s design and certainly bears a more pleasing aesthetic than the one before that, it’s still hard to ignore how bulky it looks, even if it does promise a weight under 380 grams.

The matte finish might serve better than the Gear VR at resisting scratches, but it doesn’t save the Oculus from the uncomfortable stares you’ll assuredly get while donning the display.

Winner: Gear VR

Performance

Performance-wise, the Oculus and Gear VR are two different beasts. The Oculus is a clearcut winner here, offering up two integrated OLED displays, bolstered by an accumulated 2160 x 1200 pixel crystal clear image and buttery smooth 90Hz refresh rate. While the Gear VR presents a fair challenge to the Rift in terms of resolution, as you can imagine, an Ultra HD image exhibited from a 6-inch smartphone will likely pale in comparison, and graphics performance is limited by smartphone hardware.

Winner: Oculus Rift

Software

The software catalogue, as you can imagine, is much more capable of delivering familiar content on the Rift. While Gear VR is host to some assuredly innovative indie offerings, games like House of Languages and Blind Swordsman aren’t exactly household names. No, the more well-known software rests in the hands of the Rift.

This one’s up to personal preference mostly, but I’m more interested in the prospect of the Rift to go back and play games like Half-Life 2 and Dying Light with an immersive new atmosphere as opposed to a few select glorified mobile games.

Winner: Oculus Rift

Related: 10 immersive apps and games that make Samsung’s Gear VR a must-have

Price

The Rift is an expensive piece of hardware on its own, running a $599 price tag. But when you factor in the need for an extremely powerful PC, that price point suddenly skyrockets. The Gear VR, on the other hand, is affordable for anyone with one of the compatible Galaxy smartphones at $99. Sure, for under 100 bucks you aren’t guaranteed the same level of immersion as you’d expect with the Rift, but it’s a nifty, low-cost sample of the future.

And you don’t have to know the first thing about PC specs in order to use one.

Winner: Gear VR

Conclusion

The Oculus Rift and Gear VR both deliver on almost paradoxical fronts. While Oculus brings the power of PC gaming to a head-mounted virtual reality display, Gear VR serves as a convenient introductory point for anyone only casually interested in this emerging tech. Especially in reference to pricing, much of Oculus Rift’s features remain ambiguous.

Considering both peripherals bear some sense of innovation, although in antithetical ways, making a decision on which is objectively “better” isn’t really needed this time around. They’re both powered by the same company (Gear VR is designed in conjunction with Oculus) and are both sure to evoke their fair share of buzz by the time their respective release dates roll around.

I suppose in that sense, everybody wins.

Winner: Tie