2024 WorldViz VR Budgeting Guidelines for Scientific VR Labs

January 24, 2024

WorldViz VR presents its 2024 guide to cost considerations for VR hardware, software and application development for scientists looking to start or upgrade their VR research lab.

Download a full PDF version of this guide here.

Please also read “How do I Set Up a VR Lab” to learn about the proven benefits of VR in research settings, and topics such as physical space layout, general system selection criteria, VR displays considerations, VR software considerations, and more.

WorldViz VR is pleased to present its “2024 Budgeting Guidelines for Scientific VR Labs”. Designed for scientists interested in conducting VR research, this updated guide not only discusses the latest VR headsets such as the Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3, Varjo XR-4 and the Vive Focus 3, but also covers 3D projection, rendering computers, motion tracking and other sensors, VR software, facilities, personnel, installation, training and support.

We give you an overview and also show you typical examples of total system costs at different levels. Whether you are just starting out and looking for the most cost effective way to get up and running or preparing to make a large investment to build a state of the art VR facility, this information is for you to get a successful start. For specific pricing information, or to discuss your project with our experts, please email us at sales@worldviz.com or request a quote.


When you pencil out what you will need for a proper VR project, there are some important building blocks to consider. First, will you be using a VR headset or a VR projection system, or both? Second, you’ll need a rendering computer with ample graphics capabilities, and possible wide-area motion tracking and other sensor systems such as eye tracking or biofeedback. Third, you’ll need VR software for creating and rendering your applications. Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your facilities, personnel, installation, training and support. Here is an overview of each component to give you an idea of what you may want to spend.

Primary VR Headset Displays used in VR Scientific Labs

  • Meta Quest Pro
  • Quest 3  
  • Vive Focus 3
  • Varjo XR-4

How to Decide which VR Headset is Right for You

Currently, the Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3, Varjo XR-4, and Vive Focus 3 are the predominant headsets in both academic and commercial virtual reality labs. This trend reflects not only their superior features and performance but also the phasing out of previously popular models that are no longer available.

The Meta Quest 3 is the most cost effective solution and has the benefit of being able to run either tethered to a PC for high performance or independently as a completely wireless device, either with its own independent operating system (based off of Android) or by using Air Link, a wireless streaming solution for use in combination with a PC.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the specifications of these three primary headsets:

Meta Quest Pro

  • Display: LCD, 1800 x 1920 per eye
  • FOV: 106 degrees
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Tracking and Capabilities: Eye tracking, face tracking, hand tracking, upper body tracking, mixed reality
  • MSRP: $999

Meta Quest 3

  • Display: LCD, 2064 x 2209 per eye
  • FOV: 110 degrees
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz and120 Hz
  • Tracking and Capabilities: Hand tracking, upper body tracking, dual 18 PPD color passthrough cameras
  • MSRP: $499.99 for 128GB, $649.99 for 512GB

Varjo XR-4

  • Display: Dual 4K mini LED displays, 3840 x 3744 resolution per eye at 51 PPD
  • FOV: 120 x 105 degrees
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Tracking and Capabilities: 20 Mpx dual passthrough cameras for mixed reality, 300 KPix LiDAR with 7m range, 200 Hz eye tracking, DTS 3D spatial audio, hand tracking with optional Ultra kit
  • Standard Edition $3,990 with controllers
  • 33 PPD passthrough
  • XR-4 Focal Edition $9,990 with controllers
  • 51 PPD passthrough with Autofocus
  • XR-4 Secure Edition Pricing on request

Vive Focus 3

  • Display: 2 x LCD, 2448 x 2448 per eye
  • FOV: 120 degrees
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Tracking and Capabilities: Hand tracking, optional eye tracking, and face tracking modules, Grayscale passthrough via tracking cameras
  • MSRP: $1300 with controllers

Pimax Crystal

  • Display: QLED, 2880 x 2880 per eye
  • FOV: 130 degrees
  • Refresh Rate: 160 Hz
  • Tracking and Capabilities: Hand tracking (via module), eye tracking, utilizes tracking cameras for passthrough
  • MSRP: $1599 with controllers

Additional XR Headsets

  • Pico 4 and Pico 4 Enterprise $430/$939
  • HTC Vive XR Elite $1099 (plus eye tracking and face tracking optional modules)
  • Vive Pro 2 Full Kit: $1,399
  • Valve Index: $999
  • Big screen Beyond $999
  • VRGineers XTAL 3 VR, NEO: $9,200/$11,800


3D VR Projection Systems (including rendering computer and supporting components)

  • One-wall stereo Projection VR system: Cost dependent on projector, rendering hardware, mounting and tracking requirements. Typically $20,000 ~ $60,000.
  • Multi-projector with multi wall systems: Hardware cost determined by type and numbers of projectors, rendering hardware, mounting requirements and blending requirements ROM: $50,000~$85,000 for 2-sided integrated Projection VR system and installation. $100,000+for a multi-sided showroom.
  • Traditional “CAVE” type system with rear projection array, cinema class projectors, floor projection, motion tracking. ROM: $250K - $500K all the way up to $1 Million plus depending on size and sophistication. These systems have a very large physical footprint.
  • PRISM: The WorldViz VR PRISM virtual simulation room offers high-resolution surround projection with directional sound and touch interactivity to deliver lifelike audio-visual stimuli for various environments, particularly focused on presentation or learning. PRISM stands out because it is user-friendly and does not require special programming skills for creating or playing scenes; users can simply drag and drop clips into the application for immediate use. Prices vary from $50K to $100K depending on room size.

Direct View LED

  • An emerging class of immersive virtual reality / mixed reality systems is based on direct view LED technology to create an alternative to CAVE / Projection VR systems. These systems would be very bright and have a low physical footprint but would have unique facilities requirements including temperature management and power consumption. Cost is variable depending on the area that needs to be covered by LED panels but typically the cost is double to triple that per square foot as ahigh end CAVE system, i.e. $1 million + depending on size and configuration.

Rendering Computer and Graphics

  • For VR headsets: The rendering computer requirements are similar to a high end computer gamer setup. Currently the highest end is nVidia 4090 GPU but 3070 and 3080 are good alternatives and more widely available. For CPU an Intel Core i7 or i9  processor is recommended. Speed of the processor is more important than multiple cores. The cost for such a computer setup is$1,000 ~ $5,000.
  • For Projection Systems: One Wall Projector or Multi Projector Multi Wall systems computer cost is $2,500 ~$6,000. Graphic cards nVidia Quadro 5K/6K is $1,950 ~ $4,300 per unit. Multiple units may be needed if the system is multi-sided.

Hardware - Tracking

  • For consumer VR headsets: Basic tracking is included in VR headset price for Meta Quest line, Vive Focus 3, and Varjo VR headsets. These VR headsets contain inside out tracking for hand controllers and VR headset position. The Vive Pro 2 and Vive Pro Eye require an additional external tracking system called Base Station which is typically included in the purchase bundle.
  • For scientists and researchers who are utilizing consumer VR headsets but require a higher degree of accuracy and resolution or access to absolute position tracking data they may need to purchase a specialized optical positioning system such as the WorldViz PPT motion tracking system pictured below. The cost for such a system starts at $28,000 to track a single VR headset user in a 30 x 30 ft area.
  • For projection system: Specialized tracking is needed if hand and head tracking is required for first person interactivity. This type of system costs typically between $18,000 (Wall configuration) and $28,000 (Corner configuration) depending on the number of projectors.

Hardware - Sensors

Sensor is the hardware to record or input additional data about users or environment. It can influence an application directly or provide researchers with more context for participants. Sensors are use case specific and primarily utilized in research applications.

Typical sensor functionality and pricing:

  • Eye Tracking: $200 ~ $1,700 as built-in or add-on
  • Bio-Physio measurement: $8,000 ~ $20,000
  • Haptic Devices / Force Feedback: $50,000 +
  • MoCap: Starter system is around $20,000+
  • Data Gloves: $4,000 ~ $20,000

Hardware - Motion Capture

Motion capture technology can play an important role in both VR production as well as specialty VR research applications. For production, “MoCap” is a valuable tool for generating human avatar animations in the development of video games, training applications, social scenarios and more. For researchers, motion capture technology provides necessary data for extremity tracking applications in the fields of kinesiology, sports sciences, and neuroscience.

Some of the most popular professional motion capture system manufacturers include:

  • Xsens (inertial based tracking system)
  • Optitrack (optical tracking system)
  • Vicon (optical tracking system)
  • AR51 (marker less tracking system)
  • Captury (marker less tracking system)

Pricing can vary but we would recommend budgeting at least $25,000 to cover hardware and software costs for a single user motion capture system.

A low cost alternative to traditional professional motion capture systems is the Vive Tracker 3.0 which is used with the Vive Base Station tracking system. A minimum of three Vive Tracker 3.0 plus specialized straps is around $400 USD (not including the base station / Vive system). This article covers how the Vive Base Station + Vive Tracker can be used as a MoCap alternative.

Real Time Rendering Software

Game engines:

  • Unity: $1,800 ~ $2,040 per year; per seat
  • Unreal: Free initially. After commercial success, 5% royalties for sales over 1 million

Scientific engines:

  • WorldViz VR Vizard: $4,000 ~ $6,000 per academic permanent license. $6,000~$10,000 per commercial perpetual license. Multi-seat licenses start at $2,000 per academic perpetual license
  • SightLab VR Pro: Experiment Generator & Analytics Suite for Vizard $2490 (single user), $4,990 (multi-user) + Vizard - An extension toVizard that allows for expanded options in experiment generation. Create experiments with little or no code as well as utilize a wide selection of templates, including interactive replays, data visualization and analysis. Multi-user version also available for remote collaboration.

Optional 3D modeling tools:

  • 3DS Max
  • Maya
  • Sketchfab
  • Blender


Depending on research or presentation goals, your existing facilities might need to be modified somewhat to fit a VR lab or a demo room. Facilities cost can be as low as zero if a fitting room is already available. If re-modeling is needed, it can be a substantial budget, typically $10K to $100K.

  • For corner projection systems: Flat uniform walls with white matt paint in a room with ideally high ceilings.
  • For room layout: Use energy saving lighting and block out daylight and sunlight. Eliminate reflective surfaces by using carpet or rubberized flooring.


At least one person is in charge and appointed to be the go-to person for any changes, updates or technical questions. We recommend a small team of 2 or 3 people fully or partially in charge of the VR system, specifically if they are used by a large group of users.

  • Cost for VR personnel in your facility depends on salary levels.


A small ready-to-use system like a laptop + VR headset or the WorldViz VR Vizbox does not require installation. It’s portable and made to work “out of the box”. Large systems like projection setups require substantial work. Installation cost also depends on location for travel cost and time.

  • Cost for installation: Typically for a one-person installation varies from $2,000 ~ $10,000 depending on location, install duration and requirements for the system scope.


Typical systems come with a minimum of ½  day training. For a group of new users, we recommend 1 ~ 4 days of on-site or remote training depending on system complexity and goals.

  • Cost for training: Often around $1,000 ~ $8,000 depending on length and location of the training and required level of training (entry or advanced).
  • On site training is typically more costly than remote training.


Most WorldViz VR systems come with a one year hardware warranty and Silver level support- access to a ticket based support system with less than 24 hour turnaround time. Extension of support agreements are dependent on complexity of the supported setup and hardware.

  • Cost for support: WorldViz VR support costs 10% ~ 15% of the total system cost per year. The exact amount will depend on system specifics, location, expected support level and purchased period.

VR Application Development Considerations

VR application development can be conducted in-house or outsourced to specialized firms such as WorldViz VR. The process encompasses several distinct phases:

  • Pre-production, which involves defining project objectives and storyboarding;
  • Prototyping, entailing the creation of mock-ups or 'gray boxing' with provisional assets;
  • Milestone development, focusing on graphics creation and logic implementation;
  • Quality Assurance, dedicated to rigorous testing and bug resolution;
  • Finally, Distribution and Execution, covering deployment and operational aspects.

VR Application Development - Graphics

  • Purchasing art assets

Assets can be purchased from Sketch fab, Turbo squid, Unity Store, 3D Warehouse and more. Many purchased assets require a clean up. Prices range from $10 ~ $1,000.

  • Developing art assets

In house or hiring 3D artists for custom graphic development for conversion of CAD models to VR ready assets, Photogrammetry or traditional modeling by hand.

  • Using generative AI tools to generate art assets

Use tools such as Luma Labs, 3D CSM, Skybox Blockade Labs or others to generate 3D content with text prompts using generative AI. This is a rapidly growing field and options will most likely increase substantially.

VR Application Development - Programming  

Many modules and example scripts exist in online tutorials, i.e. WorldViz provides demo source codes. Leverage student programmers or your own programming team. WorldViz programming services can be hired at an hourly rate. Most popular VR programming languages:

  • Unity: C#
  • Unreal: C++
  • Vizard: Python

Custom Development - Hiring A Studio

Cost for “soup-to-nuts” custom application development can vary widely. When existing resources can be used or purchased cheaply, the minimum cost for a from scratch projects can often start around $15,000. If art needed to be custom produced, a typical project costs between $50,000 ~ $100,000. Budgets can go up from there depending on requirements.

Typical VR Project Budgeting Examples

Low Cost System - Barebone DIY Budget - $1, 500

  • Pre-configured gaming computer: $1,000
  • Low cost VR headset such as Oculus Quest 2:  $299
  • Free and open source software and in house development: Free

Commercial Integrated System Budget Options - $8,000 ~ $20,000

  • WorldViz Headset VR - Vizard + Computer + VR Headset: $8,000 ~ $15,000
  • WorldViz Headset VR with Eye Tracking: $10,000 ~ $20,000
  • WorldViz VizBox: $5,000 ~ $10,000

Projection and Specialty System Budget - $50,000 ~ $75,000

Fully integrated projection system with installation - $50,000 ~ $75,000

For specific pricing information please email WorldViz at sales@worldviz.com or request a quote HERE.

Download a full PDF version of this guide here.

Please also read “How do I Set Up a VR Lab” to learn about the proven benefits of VR in research settings, and topics such as physical space layout, general system selection criteria, VR displays considerations, VR software considerations, and more.

About WorldViz VR
Based in Santa Barbara, CA, WorldViz VR is an industry-leading provider of virtual reality solutions for the enterprise and public sectors. Its patented VR products and solutions are deployed across1500+ Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions and government agencies. WorldViz VR products and services help businesses solve real-world challenges in sales, product design, education, training, marketing, consumer research and many others. For more information, visit www.worldviz.com.

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