We recommend Oculus Rift S VR Headset

What is the Oculus Rift S?

Oculus announced the Oculus Rift S at GDC on March 20, 2019. It's the next evolution of the PC-powered Oculus Rift, bringing improved Fresnel lenses, higher pixel density for less screen-door effect (SDE), Oculus Insight inside-out tracking that removes the need for external sensors, and all-around improved comfort and weight distribution, thanks to a new design that was worked out in partnership with Lenovo.

The Oculus Rift S runs on the same platform as the original Oculus Rift, meaning it has access to a ton of exclusive and otherwise high-quality VR content right from launch. It was released officially May 21, 2019.

What makes the Oculus Rift S different from the Rift?

The Rift S has been redesigned with improved lenses and a better display, which together ultimately delivers a better-looking VR experience. Higher pixel density means you will see less of a grid when focusing on the display — also known as SDE — and the picture is sharper which, together, increases the immersion level. Instead of the OLED display with 2160x1440 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate that was used in the original Rift, the Rift S has a single LCD display with a 2560x1440 resolution.

The biggest improvement in display quality isn't the resolution though, it's the pixel arrangement. The original Oculus Rift used a display with a diamond pentile subpixel layout. That means there are large gaps between pixels since these diamonds can't be arranged in a straight grid. The Oculus Rift S utilizes an RGB stripe display, meaning its pixels are all aligned in a perfect grid. Oddly enough, the refresh rate was decreased from 90Hz on the original Rift to 80Hz on the Rift S. Conversely, other new headsets feature refresh rates up to 144Hz.

To remove the necessity of having to set up three or four external Rift sensors to get a quality room-scale experience, the Rift S uses Oculus Insight, which was first introduced with the Oculus Quest. With five sensors built into the Rift S headset, Insight is capable of scanning all items in your VR space for a true representation of the physical world. It looks for distinct features, like corners and edges, and builds a 3D map of the playspace, then combines it with data coming from the headset's gyroscope and accelerometer to identify the headset's position in space once every millisecond.

To go along with Oculus Insight tracking, the Rift S also comes with new Touch controllers that we first saw alongside the Quest. Like the first generation of Touch, the new hardware has a ring around the controller covered in IR lights. It now loops over the top of the controller so that the headset can more easily keep it in view. The same input and hand presence apply here even though some buttons have been moved.

Oculus worked with Lenovo's Legion gaming division to design the Rift S, and the result is a headset that is more comfortable to wear for some people. It blocks more light around the nose, and the weight is distributed better to avoid it slipping or causing any pressure points. The halo headband still has a top strap to keep the headset from creeping down, but it now has a dial on the back that is used to easily adjust the fit. The downside to this design is that the headset can slip off more easily when quickly tilting your head forward or backward.

Instead of built-in headphones as the Rift shipped with, the Rift S is using a similar audio system as the Oculus Go and Quest, which is integrated into the headstrap. Sound seems to come out of nowhere when using it. This makes setup simpler in titles where lower fidelity audio is acceptable, as you won't need to fiddle with headphones just to hear what's happening in VR. For games where audio quality is more important, like Beat Saber, a 3.5mm audio jack in located on the side for headphone or earbud connection.

The front of the headset looks a lot like the first Rift, though it has a bit of a cutout along the bottom where the sensors are housed. These sensors are part of the new Passthrough+ technology, which utilizes Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) to provide a better view of the physical world around you when, say, someone needs your attention and you don't want to fully remove the headset.

The Rift S only features two cables to plug in: one USB 3.0, and one DisplayPort. That means significantly fewer ports than the original Oculus Rift, which would require two ports for the headset and an additional USB port for each tracking camera (typically at least two additional). All the best Oculus Rift games are compatible with the Oculus Rift S.

Oculus Rift S vs. Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift S Oculus Rift
Resolution 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye) 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye)
Pixel Density Approx. 600ppi 456ppi
Screen Type LCD Pentile AMOLED
Refresh Rate 80Hz 90Hz
Field of View Approx. 115° 110°
Optics Second-gen hybrid Fresnel lenses
Decreased screen door effect
Decreased god rays
Hybrid Fresnel lenses
IPD Fixed 64mm Variable 58-71mm
Sensors Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Tracking Integrated room-scale
6DoF inside-out Oculus Insight
5-camera sensor internal tracking
Non-room scale by default
6DoF external Constellation camera
360-degree IR LED head tracking
Mixed Reality Passthrough+
(True stereo-correct viewer)
Passthrough
(Non-stereo-correct viewer)
Headphones Oculus Go/Quest near-ear speakers
Headphone jack
“3D audio” headphones
Headphone jack
Design Twists Lenovo designed with Halo strap
Improved comfort
Improved light blocking
Single cable connection
First model
Connectivity DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 (5-meter) HDMI 1.3, USB 3.0 (4-meter headset), USB 2.0
Controllers Oculus Touch with 360-degree tracking support Oculus Touch with 180-degree front-facing tracking support
Requirements Intel i3-6100 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX 470 Intel i3-6100 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX 470
1 USB 3.0 Port 1 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0 ports
Weight
500 g
470g

What kind of PC do you need to power the Oculus Rift S?

The Rift S has relatively low minimum PC requirements, but your experience in VR will only get better as you scale up in performance hardware. Here's what Oculus has posted for required hardware.

Oculus Rift S minimum PC requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10.
  • CPU: Intel Core i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti / Radeon RX 470 or greater.
  • GPU RAM: 8GB.
  • Ports needed: 1 USB 3.0 , 1 DisplayPort

Oculus Rift S recommended PC requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10.
  • CPU: Intel i5 4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon R9 480 or greater.
  • GPU RAM: 8GB.
  • Ports needed: 1 USB 3.0 , 1 DisplayPort

If you find that your hardware is lacking, see how to get some extra performance out of your existing PC. If that proves to not be enough, be sure to have a look at our roundup of the best desktop gaming PCs for VR.