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Meta Quest 2 Vs Valve Index: Which VR Headset Is Better?

Correction 10/5/22: A previous version of this article reported that Meta Quest 2 only offers games through its app store. Steam Games can be played on the Meta Quest 2 using third-party apps.

The Meta Quest 2 and the Valve Index are perhaps the most well-known VR systems available to the public in 2022. Known as the Oculus Quest until its rebranding, the Meta Quest 2 is the successor to one of the original mass-market VR kits and is about the same price, or slightly cheaper than, most gaming consoles. The Valve Index, on the other hand, is a high-end VR set with extremely modern graphics for a much higher price.

Comparing the Meta Quest 2 and the Valve Index comes down to a few key factors. The portability and use of space of each VR set varies wildly, and though graphics and hardware certainly mean a lot, how comfortable players feel while using each set matters too. Each VR set price point is on opposite ends of the spectrum, and deciding whether to go with a Valve Index or Meta Quest 2 can come down to how much you're willing to spend.

Portability and Space Requirement: Meta Quest 2

One of the defining features of the Meta Quest 2 is that it works off of an internal battery, one that typically lasts anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. The entire VR kit is made up of three objects in total – the two controllers and the headset – which makes it the more portable of the two. Plus, it doesn't require nearly as much space as the Valve Index, which when fully set up can take up an entire room. The Meta Quest 2 can be set up in practically any space with enough free space to turn around, and the ability to create your own boundaries makes it work for large-scale areas as well.

The use of a battery over a wired connection and the lack of room-scale technology does have its downsides for the Meta Quest 2. Using the two Base Stations included with the Valve Index kit, the headset is better able to translate a player's real life movements into the VR space they are experiencing. Many users find the Valve Index to be far less motion sickness-inducing than the Meta Quest 2, but the wired connection and required additional hardware severely limits its versatility.

Graphical Fidelity and Software: Valve Index

Many VR aficionados consider the Valve Index to be the king of VR systems in the current generation, in large part due to the specs and capabilities of its high-end hardware. The graphics in Meta Quest 2 games are not exactly up to modern standards, often being compared to the PlayStation 2 or GameCube. That's not even mentioning the visual blurriness that has become somewhat synonymous with the headset.

The Valve Index, on the other hand, is a proper modern piece of technology. It runs games in full HD and with barely any of the blurriness, warping, or jaggedy rendering that the Meta Quest 2 is somewhat infamous for. Compare "Half Life Alyx" to "Resident Evil 4," exclusives for the Valve Index and Meta Quest 2 respectively. The difference is night and day — but that's also because the Valve Index's higher tech costs a lot more money to produce and purchase.

Affordability: Meta Quest 2

As of August 2022 a new Meta Quest 2 costs just under $400 or $500, depending on whether you purchase the 128 GB version or the 256 GB version. It's a bit more expensive than it was earlier in the year as Meta hiked the price up significantly thanks to production costs. But despite this price hike, the Meta Quest 2 is still about half the price of the Valve Index. When it comes to the affordability factor, though, it's not just a question of price, it's also a question of availability.

The Valve Index VR Kit, which contains a variety of parts including everything necessary to get the VR system going, goes for $999 through the Steam storefront. The Valve Index has historically gone out of stock relatively frequently, too, which adds to the inconvenience factor. The Meta Quest 2, though, can be found in virtually every electronics and tech store in the U.S and almost never goes out of stock. 

Hardware and Comfort: Valve Index

The Meta Quest 2 and the Valve Index, and really most VR headsets available in 2022, aren't the most comfortable things to wear for extended periods of time. They tend to be heavy, they never fit quite right strapped to the head, and no matter what system you use the screen will inevitably fog up after a while. However, the Valve Index manages all of these factors better than the Meta Quest 2. The padding on the headset is more comfortable, the screen is less of an eyesore and stays clear for longer, and it's a bit lighter than the Meta Quest 2. However, being a wired device is a major downside, as players will find it difficult to comfortably move around a large space.

The other Hardware that comes with a Valve Index is far more modern than the Meta Quest 2, though, which helps to mitigate this limitation. You may brush up against the wire every now and then, or unplug it completely, but the reduction in motion sickness from its higher-quality room-scale simulation is a key factor in VR comfort. The controllers for the Valve Index are considered the most futuristic of any VR set thanks to its near-full simulation of players' hand movements. The Meta Quest 2 has limited hand tracking capabilities, but it pales in comparison to the realistic movements capable of the Valve Index.

Valve Index is the better VR set, but the Quest 2 is a good entry point

The Valve Index and the Meta Quest 2 are, to put it broadly, on the opposite ends of the current VR generation. The Meta Quest 2 is on the lower end, with graphics that leave players wanting and less accurate simulations of movements. The Valve Index is on the higher end, able to run modern HD titles with nearly no tearing, blurriness, or motion sickness. As VR sets go, the Valve Index is far superior to the Meta Quest 2 for sheer quality.

However, the Meta Quest 2 is not necessarily a bad VR system. Because it's the most affordable VR kit on the market, the Meta Quest 2 serves as a good entry point into VR for newcomers. The graphics might not be great, but why does that matter when you are experiencing the virtual space for the first time anyway? If you don't want to spend a grand on a VR set right away, the Meta Quest 2 will let you experience VR at a much lower cost. If you don't mind spending more money for a superior product, go with the Valve Index.