If you want to know which VR headsets work with a Mac, we’ve taken a look at the best VR headset for Mac of 2021.

The market for virtual reality equipment is already worth over $10 billion worldwide and experts predict that this will increase at least 20% annually until 2027.

Macs are still behind the curve when it comes to VR as popular headsets like the Oculus Rift are not compatible with Macs.

macOS users also can’t use VR helmets with popular online communities like VR Chat on Mac.

However, the introduction of Mac compatible eGPUs is opening up a while new world of VR headset compatibility to Mac users and Apple is rumored to be releasing it’s own VR headset next year.

As you’ll see, unfortunately there are still very few headsets that officially work with Macs.

After much research, we chose the HTC Vive Pro as the best VR headset for Mac in 2021 because it’s the only VR headset that is officially compatible with Macs and offers the best performance on macOS.

HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality System
  • STEAM VR 2.0 TRACKING - From seated to standing to full 22’11”’ x 22’11” room-scale. Ideal for multi-user environments for sub-millimeter tracking accuracy
  • HIGH RESOLUTION DISPLAY - Dual-OLED displays with industry leading resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels for unparalleled visual fidelity of graphics, text, and textures
  • SPATIAL AUDIO WITH NOISE CANCELLATION - Hi-res, high impedance headphones, 3D spatial sound with active noise cancellation for an immersive experience without distractions from real-world sounds
  • MULTI-USER AND EXTENDED USE – Even weight distribution of the headset, easy on and off, and adjustments for head size, glasses and interpupillary distance (IPD) makes multi-user and extended use easier than ever
  • VIVE TRACKER ECOSYSTEM – Expand business use cases by adding real-life objects to VIVE Tracker bringing the object into your virtual simulation. Ideal for motion capture, automotive, aerospace or heavy equipment simulation.

Alternatively, if you’re disappointed by the lack of VR glasses that currently support Macs, we also recommend checking out the Oculus Quest 2 which is a standalone VR headset.

The Oculus Quest 2 uses an onboard Android system to deliver games and apps in VR so Mac compatibility isn’t an issue – and it’s a lot cheaper than the HTC Vive Pro.

Oculus Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset — 256 GB
  • Next-level Hardware - Make every move count with a blazing-fast processor and our highest-resolution display
  • All-In-One Gaming - With backward compatibility, you can explore new titles and old favorites in the expansive Quest content library
  • Immersive Entertainment - Get the best seat in the house to live concerts, groundbreaking films, exclusive events and more
  • Quest 2 requires your Facebook account to log in, making it easy to meet up with friends in VR and discover communities around the world
  • Easy Setup - Just open the box, set up with the smartphone app and jump into VR. No PC or console needed. Requires wireless internet access and the Oculus app (free download) to set up device

Best VR Headset For Mac: HTC Vive Pro

When you’ve done all this, you can finally start looking at which is the best VR headset available to Mac users.

We can save you a lot of time and disappointment by strongly recommend the HTC Vive Pro as the best VR headset for Mac because the HTC Vive Pro is the only VR headset that officially supports macOS natively.

This means that when more VR games eventually become available on Mac, you can get rid of your Windows installation and use your HTC Pro VR helmet natively with macOS.

If you opt for an Oculus Rift or Oculus Quest 2 on the other hand, they will only work with Windows installed on your Mac.

With the HTC Vive Pro, you’re guaranteed both Mac compatibility, better stability and far more game support than buying any other headset.

Note that on the official HTC Vive Pro Site, it still says that the HTC Vive Pro is not compatible with Macs.

However, we can confirm that the HTC Vive Pro definitely does work with Macs.

Apple also announced at the WWDC 2018 that macOS 10.14 Mojave is HTC Vive Pro compatible and support has continued to improve in every version of macOS including Big Sur.

The confusion is because initially, there were problems with the HTC Vive on Mac until chip manufacturer NVIDIA released updated GeForce graphics drivers.

There are two options when buying the HTC Vive Pro.

You can either just buy the HTC Vive Pro headset only which retails for less than $700.

However, for this, you only get the HTC Vive Pro HMD (head mounted display) – nothing else.

Alternatively, you can buy the HTC Vive Pro System which includes everything and retails for around $1,300.

For the extra money, we definitely recommend going for the entire HTC Vive Pro System as it includes not only the headset, but also the all important version 2.0 controllers and base station which are essential to experience VR on a Mac in all its glory.

If there’s no availability on Amazon, you can also buy direct from HTC here.

HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality System
  • STEAM VR 2.0 TRACKING - From seated to standing to full 22’11”’ x 22’11” room-scale. Ideal for multi-user environments for sub-millimeter tracking accuracy
  • HIGH RESOLUTION DISPLAY - Dual-OLED displays with industry leading resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels for unparalleled visual fidelity of graphics, text, and textures
  • SPATIAL AUDIO WITH NOISE CANCELLATION - Hi-res, high impedance headphones, 3D spatial sound with active noise cancellation for an immersive experience without distractions from real-world sounds
  • MULTI-USER AND EXTENDED USE – Even weight distribution of the headset, easy on and off, and adjustments for head size, glasses and interpupillary distance (IPD) makes multi-user and extended use easier than ever
  • VIVE TRACKER ECOSYSTEM – Expand business use cases by adding real-life objects to VIVE Tracker bringing the object into your virtual simulation. Ideal for motion capture, automotive, aerospace or heavy equipment simulation.

Pros:

  • 100% Mac and macOS compatible
  • Stunning visuals and sound quality
  • Amazing 2K display
  • Lots of accessories
  • Solid build quality

Cons:

  • SteamVR no longer supported on Mac
  • Requires an eGPU on your Mac first
  • Availability depends on your region

Alternatives To The HTC Vive Pro

If you’re looking for a cheap VR headset for your Mac, the next best thing to the HTC Vive Pro for Mac is the standard HTC Vive which was originally released in 2016.

The main problem you’ll have is finding one as it’s now discontinued by HTC.

best vr headset mac - htc vive

However even if you can find one, we strongly recommend the HTC Vive Pro over the basic HTC Vive because the VR experience is far better than with the basic HTC Vive.

The HTC Vive Pro was released in 2018 and is a massive improvement on the basic HTC Vive Pro.

Most notably the HTC Vive Pro has:

  • Dual Lens: The HTC Vive Pro has an extra lens which provides far more tracking capabilities. For example, the HTC Vive Pro can track hand gestures whereas the basic HTC Vive can’t.
  • Built-in headphones: There’s no need to add your own headphones like with the standard HTC Vive as it’s built in to the Pro version. The difference is sound is incredible and really enhanced the reality of games and apps.
  • Higher Resolution: The HTC Vive Pro supports stunning 2K images with 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye versus 1080 x 1200 in the basic HTC Vive.

Alternatively, in view of the lack of VR headsets available for Mac you may also want to consider getting Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.

The Oculus Quest 2 (which succeeds the now discontinued Oculus Quest) is a standalone VR headset so you don’t need to connect it to you Mac in order to enjoy games and apps on it.

You don’t need a Mac, PC or indeed anything else to use the Oculus Quest 2 but you do need to connect it a Facebook account in order to use it.

Oculus Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset — 256 GB
  • Next-level Hardware - Make every move count with a blazing-fast processor and our highest-resolution display
  • All-In-One Gaming - With backward compatibility, you can explore new titles and old favorites in the expansive Quest content library
  • Immersive Entertainment - Get the best seat in the house to live concerts, groundbreaking films, exclusive events and more
  • Quest 2 requires your Facebook account to log in, making it easy to meet up with friends in VR and discover communities around the world
  • Easy Setup - Just open the box, set up with the smartphone app and jump into VR. No PC or console needed. Requires wireless internet access and the Oculus app (free download) to set up device

It is possible to connect the Oculus Quest 2 to a Mac but because it’s not officially supported, it’s quite tricky to setup and not recommended.

Finally, there’s also the HTC Vive Cosmos.

The main difference between the HTC Vive Pro and Cosmos is that the Vive Pro relies on external sensors for 360 degree tracking whereas the Cosmos is more compact for living room use and relies on 6 internal cameras for 310 degree tracking.

The HTC Cosmos will work with Windows installed on your Mac but it is not compatible with macOS so you won’t be able to use it natively with your Mac when more VR apps and games are available natively on Mac.

HTC VIVE Cosmos
  • 6 TRACKING CAMERAS - Get expansive movement coverage with a wide tracking field-of-view
  • SUPERIOR VISUAL FIDELITY - 2880 x 1700 combined-resolution, 90Hz refresh rate & adjustable interpupillary distance (IPD) dial for visual comfort and quality
  • CONVENIENT FLIP-UP DESIGN - Snap back to reality with a simple push of your display and headphones
  • STEAM & VIVEPORT LIBRARY ACCESS - Play your favorite VR games & apps straight from VR's top content stores
  • VIVE REALITY SYSTEM (VRS) - Be more immersed, beginning to end, with a reimagined user interface for VR

How To Use VR on a Mac

Here’s what you’ll need to start using a Virtual Reality headset like the HTC Vive Pro on your Mac.

  • An eGPU

Unless you’ve got one of the latest Mac Pros, before you even start thinking about getting any VR gogglesg you’ll need a Mac compatible eGPU first.

An eGPU (External Graphics Unit) is an external graphics card which is essential for your Mac to handle the demands of VR games and apps.

This is essential to use a VR headset with a Mac because the processing power required by VR/AR games and apps is just too much for your MacBook or iMac to handle on its own.

egpu for vr headset on mac

 

Note that at the moment, eGPUs do not work with the latest M1 chip Macs and there are no VR headsets compatible with M1 Macs.

You’ll need a Mac with an Intel processor running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later and a Thunderbolt 3 port to use an eGPU in macOS.

The bottom line is, as long as your Mac is from 2015 onwards, you should be good to go.

  • Install Windows on Your Mac

Secondly, you need to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp if you want to play any major VR games on your Mac.

The reason for this is there are still virtually no native VR games or apps for Mac available.

To make matters worse, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world Valve recently announced it was discontinuing SteamVR on Mac meaning there will be no new VR games released on Steam for Mac users.

You can get round this however by running Windows on your Mac for free with Boot Camp and enjoy all the VR games that PC users can on Steam and other platforms.

For parents, this means that your kids can even use a VR headset to play Roblox in VR.

Note that using a virtual environment like Parallels to run Windows on your Mac will not work because virtual environments cannot connect to eGPUs yet.

By installing Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp, you can then connect an eGPU to your Mac as if it were a PC and eliminate all the barriers that currently prevent Mac users enjoying VR on macOS.

install windows on mac for vr boot camp

Is There An Apple VR Headset For Mac?

Apple is currently working on two VR projects – Apple Glasses and Apple VR.

Apple Glasses are due to be released in 2022 and will be part of Apple’s Augmented Reality project that will work with hundreds of VR and AI apps on the iOS and Mac app store.

These apps use LiDAR technology in the latest iPhones which can remotely scan distance and depth and “understand” it’s surroundings.

Apple VR which is also due for release in 2022 is Apple’s project to build a VR headset which will be more like a traditional VR helmet for gaming and other VR enabled apps.

It’s rumored that the Apple VR headset will use 8K lenses with eye tracking technology and will cost in the region of an eye watering $3000.

Very little is known about Apple’s mixed reality VR headset project still but The Information claims to have seen a mockup of how it will look.

apple vr headset

Source: The Information

VR Games Available For Mac

Apart from the hardware, the other major requirement to enjoy VR games on Mac is of course gaming developers or platforms that are willing to support it on macOS.

The bad news is that at the moment, there are very few.

There simply haven’t been many VR manufacturers or software developers focusing on Macs, mainly because of the lack of VR software and hardware support in macOS.

It hasn’t helped that Apple dropped 32-bit gaming support with the release of macOS Catalina and it also hasn’t adopted standards like OpenGL and Vulcan popularly used in gaming.

Until recently, the one stand out exception was Valve’s Steam platform and specifically SteamVR.

Steam is one of the biggest distribution platforms for games on both Mac and PC and is the only major gaming platform officially supporting VR gaming on macOS.

Unfortunately, in May 2020 Steam announced that it had dropped support for SteamVR on Mac which means Mac users need to install Windows on their Mac to enjoy the full catalog of VR games on Steam.

The State Of VR For Mac In 2021

The good news is the long term outlook for VR gaming and applications on Mac in 2021 looks bright.

VR apps are set to boom on macOS, helped by the long-awaited announcement by Apple back in 2017 that macOS 10.13 High Sierra would support VR technologies and hardware like eGPU boxes.

At the 2018 WWDC Apple announced that macOS 10.14 Mojave would officially support the latest HTC Vive Pro head mounted display and this support has improved even more in macOS 10.15 Catalina and Big Sur.

This has really opened the flood gates to VR on Mac and once setup, you can use video editing software such as Final Cut Pro X, Epic Unreal 4 Editor, and Unity Editor to create 360° video and VR 3D content.

best vr headset mac - unity editor vr mac

Unity VR editing on Mac

It also promises to take simulations to another level, especially for things such as for flight simulators on Mac.

The more recent news that Apple is set to release it’s own Apple Glasses and VR headset in 2022 is also surely good news for Mac users, although they certainly won’t be cheap.

The situation with VR gaming on Mac however is another story entirely and it will be quite a few years before there are many Virtual Reality games or Augmented Reality apps available on macOS.

Conclusion

At the moment, the HTC Vive Pro is still the only game in town for Mac users as it’s the only one to officially supports Macs including macOS Big Sur.

However, as long as you install Windows on your Mac, you can use any VR headset out there including the Oculus Rift.

As VR starts getting traction on macOS and more Mac users get eGPUs, there will surely be more VR headsets released throughout the year that are compatible with Macs even though Valve has dropped support for SteamVR on macOS.

And if rumors are to be believed, Apple will also release its own VR headset next year to go along with it’s new generation of new ARM M1 chip equipped Macs.

In the meantime, you can get a taster of what it’s like to use an HTC Vive below playing the game Contagion VR Outbreak.

You can also watch a setup of an iMac using an HTC Vive natively for VR gaming here:

 

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