Google Cardboard vs Oculus Rift

Two of the biggest virtual reality systems to hit the market recently are Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift. Although both very different in a lot of ways, each system is capable of giving the user a virtual reality experience like never before.

The Google Cardboard is a lot more affordable but has fewer capabilities than the Rift, however, it’s the ideal choice for those who want to test the waters with virtual reality. Using the Cardboard has even led some reviewers to want to try more with the Oculus Rift.

Putting on Head VR Gear

With so many devices now available you often hear debates about Google Cardboard vs Samsung VR vs HTC Vive, so it can become very confusing to know what’s what. Thankfully, we’ve compiled the top selling points of Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift to give you the facts on each.


This is probably the biggest of point of difference with the Google Cardboard vs Oculus Rift, as the prices have hundreds of dollars between them. The Cardboard ranges from around $15 – $25, depending on where you purchase it.

This includes the cardboard frame needed for construction and the instruction manual. Google even encourage their customers to get creatives and add designs to their system once constructed.

The Oculus Rift is considerably pricey when compared to the Cardboard, but not without good reason. At the launch, this device cost $599 which included the headset, Xbox controller, remote, sensor, and a copy of the Rift game Lucky’s Tale.


As the name suggests, Google Cardboard is made from cardboard. This is one of the reasons that it enjoys the low price that it does, making it one of the most accessible virtual reality systems ever made. It’s also constructed with focal lenses, magnets, a rubber band, and a hook and loop fastener.

Google Cardboard Goggles

Construction of the Oculus Rift is a little more complicated, however, the main components are wires, cables, sensors, lenses, an ARM processor and various computer chips. The structure of the Rift is infinitely more intricate allowing it greater capabilities when gaming or watching movies.

Games and Movies

Both systems enjoy a great selection of games and movies, with updates and new downloads constantly made available. Each system requires the user to download its software but in very different ways.

The Oculus Rift works on a PC connection, so games and movies are controlled through here. However, Google Cardboard is simply the viewer for which your smartphone displays the entertainment, so all content is received from the Google Play or Apple Store.

When gaming with the rift, the user places the headset on to enjoy a visual and audio immersion into the virtual world. The user controls the game with a gamepad or controller as they make their way around the simulated environment which takes up their full field of vision.

A little more basic but impressive nonetheless, gaming with the Google Cardboard can also be immersive. However, the user must plug a separate controller into their phone to be able to use controls. The games are a little more basic than the Rift and you’ll need separate headphones, but the illusion of being transported to another world is still very possible.

The Google Cardboard also encourages users and developers to create their own apps, games, and content to be used in VR, making it a great tool for sharing ideas and designs.


To use your Google Cardboard, you don’t need much more than your smartphone. The basic design of the Cardboard means that anyone can make their own at home, and this is encouraged by the company on their website. Simply insert your smartphone and download the Google Cardboard app which splits the screen into two parts, giving a stereoscopic view.

VR Glasses

The requirements for the Oculus Rift are more in-depth and require a computer connection to use. Because it is such a high-end device, the computer must run Windows 7 SP1 or higher and have over 8GB or RAM. In addition, Intel i5-4590 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970/AMD 290 or higher are both needed too. HDMI outputs and USB ports are also required for this setup.

Due to the specific requirements needed for the Rift, there are now many bundles available to purchase that have a virtual reality ready computer for sale as a package with the Oculus Rift.

Side effects

Virtual reality has long been known to cause adverse side effects reported by users after playing games or watching movies on the device. The new models, unfortunately, have also had their fair share of criticism, with some users reporting dizziness and nausea as two common side effects.

The Google Cardboard was designed without a head strap to combat this very effect, as it was believed that having to hold the device yourself would prevent people from turning their heads too fast. This motion is thought to be responsible for making users dizzy.

Oculus Rift has also reported side effects of eye strain, vision problems, dizziness, nausea, and even running into furniture, according to Venture Beat. Developers are constantly looking for ways to reduce and prevent these side effects, though, in particular, the dizziness.

The Verdict

Although both systems offer users a virtual reality experience, they should be considered extremely different devices. Some people may even prefer to own both if they can afford it, to enjoy the best parts of each system.

Both have their pros and cons, but it’s important to remember that they’re the first generation of their kind, so their development still has a long way to go.

Wooden Gavel Hammer

For a cheap and effective way to enjoy virtual reality gaming and movies, the Cardboard is ideal. However, if you’re looking a more technical and immersive experience the Oculus Rift is a clear choice. Whichever you choose, there’s no doubt that each system can provide the user hours of entertainment the likes of which they’ve never witnessed before.