Simulation racing is rapidly becoming the most popular eSports worldwide, with thousands of leisure and professional gamers investing in racing simulators. Unfortunately, not all gamers have the budget or space to invest in a huge, high-resolution single or triple-monitor setup.
Those who compromise on screen size and quality often limit their visual field and fail to immerse themselves into the virtual surroundings fully. This is where VR sim racing headsets come in to offer racers a smart alternative and eliminate both space and budget constraints.
However, there’s been a lot of speculation surrounding this relatively new technology, leaving many people questioning whether VR headsets for sim racing are worth the investment. Truth be told, there has been a massive improvement in VR technology in the last few years, and many gamers claim virtual simulators can provide better experiences than conventional setups depending on the quality of the headsets.
Therefore, in this post, we’ll dive deeper into VR sim racing and share 7 factors to consider before splashing out your cash on a VR headset for this purpose.
Is VR Sim Racing Worth It?
If you’re still on the fence regarding whether or not VR sim racing is worth investing in, you’d be pleased to know that the VR industry has made some massive strides in fostering a realistic racing experience. Modern headsets offer full 5D depth. This allows racers to fully immerse into the virtual environment. That’s not possible with any triple-rig setup. VR sim racing headsets are also less restrictive than their counterparts.
They allow racers to glance over their shoulders as if they’re sitting in a real car. However, VR still has a few quirks. For instance, many gamers find them uncomfortable, especially during long races. Secondly, they’re still behind in terms of resolution compared to 4k gaming monitors.
7 Factors to Consider Before Buying a VR Headset for Sim Racing
If you’re on-board the VR sim racing bandwagon and looking to invest in your first headset, here are seven factors you should consider before splashing out your cash to ensure you get a headset that is meant for simulation racing and not simply racing in general:
1. Shape, Size, and Comfort
The first step in picking the right VR headset for sim racing is to consider its shape and size. Ideally, you want to pick a headset that’s neither too bulky nor too small, so head to a local store and try on different options. Although most headsets are similar in shape and size, some fit better than others.
Secondly, you need to ensure your headset is comfortable, especially if you’re looking to play for hours. Some higher-end options pack several additional features, making them heavier than their counterparts. As a result, users find it more difficult to turn and look around. So, make sure you pay attention to the weight when deciding.
Next, you need to consider the VR headset’s compatibility as not all options are universal. Some might work only with consoles or PC, while higher-end options might be compatible with both. So, if you’re on a budget or not looking to upgrade your platform anytime soon, you can opt for either pc-only or console-only headsets.
Secondly, you should know that the headset also needs to work with your games and racing sim. So, before you buy one, determine if your simulation software or game supports VR. You don’t want to spend money on something you can’t use.
3. Motion Range and Position Tracking
Like monitors, VR headsets vary in terms of quality. In this case, quality mainly depends on the headset’s motion tracking capabilities. The math is simple – you need to opt for an option that emulates your real-world movements in the virtual world effectively (without lag). To make the decision easier, pay attention to the degrees of freedom (DoF) and motion range.
For sim racing, you should pick one with 36o degrees motion so you can easily turn and look in all directions while driving. The DoF refers to how many movements you can make (3-6). For sim racing, you don’t need six DoF since you’ll be seated in a car at all times. However, if you come across two identically-priced options with different DoF, pick the one with the higher number.
4. Display Resolution
We’ve already established that 4k monitors offer a much better resolution than the available VR headsets in the market. Therefore, the display resolution is a key differentiator of quality when deciding which product to buy.
The math is simple – the higher the resolution, the more realistic your experience would be due to sharper images. As far as the refresh rate goes, the best options in the market offer 90Hz, so that should be your ideal choice.
Since sim racing is meant to mimic real-world physics, sound is another important factor you should consider when choosing a VR sim racing headset. Ideally, you want a sound system that produces all the immersive audio in the game. It should provide the immersive feeling and help you monitor the car’s performance and wear and tear during a race. When testing different options, you should avoid those that make weird noises even if they’re significantly cheaper. This is especially true if you’re going to race with a co-driver.
6. Field of View
The Field of View plays a crucial role in sim racing as it determines how much a driver can see during a virtual race. The larger the FOV, the more realistic your racing experience would be. Ideally, you should opt for a headset offering between 100-110 degrees (the higher, the better).
Once you’ve considered the factors above, you need to decide how much you’re willing to spend so you can narrow down the best options for your budget. VR sim racing headsets tend to be more expensive than conventional ones since they offer a premium experience in terms of resolution, sound, resolution, FOV, and other factors. Therefore, you should be prepared accordingly.
However, price shouldn’t be the most important factor in your purchase since headsets come at varying prices. You can easily find an option offering better features and value for money than mainstream brands.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when picking the right VR headset for sim racing. However, when you explore and test different options using the factors in this post, the decision-making process will become much easier, and you can walk out of a store with the best VR headset for your needs and budget.
VR technology is rapidly growing, and each year, we’re seeing massive improvements in headsets. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time until VR simulators and headsets take center stage and replace monitors. So, if there was ever a time to invest in one and improve your VR sim racing skills, it’s now!