vive upgrade options, comparison and review: vive, vive pro, cosmos elite, wireless adapter & gtx vs rtx

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I don’t normally write reviews but partially due to also not being able to find many on the subject i recently found myself in the rare position of having all 3 pc vive vr headsets at the same time (and not being paid to do so) if your looking to upgrade or trying to choose a headset hopefully some of this will give you the answers i know i was looking for at the time

ive owned a vive since launch and its one of the best purchases ive made, use it all the time and recently decided to upgrade, the obvious choice was the cosmos elite which had just been released i decided to stick with vive over index because of valves history with hardware releases and the lack of availability (which typically also means long waits for replacements and warranty issues), also ive had to contact htc on a few occasions and they’ve been perfect every time, headsets arrive in a matter of days and my original vive has never had even minor issues. i havnt used an oculus since DK2 and cant offer any insight on the rift i left them out of my upgrade decision because im used to and happy with steam vr, i can also use oculus store and access its content with “revive” a free app for getting rift games on steamvr, there may be one that works the other way but again, no experience with it.

The cosmos elite looks fantastic out the box but i didn’t even have to turn it on to know how i felt about it, if you look at the side youll notice the halo (bit that goes on your head) is above the headset where as the original vive is fixed around eye height. due to this the elite sits infront of your face and not on it, quick turns will dislodge it and hit you in the nose, the current workaround for this which ive found online is to remove one of the cushions, which is a little better despite being extremely uncomfortable.. maybe if your not used to vr your not expecting any better but compared with the vive i found it a constant irritation. The poor fit also results in light bleed and i sometimes found myself pressing it to my face with one hand to get a better look at things. The resolution is higher yes, but the screen positioning is never correct. imagine youve upgraded your 1080p tv for a 4k but instead of mounting it on your wall you paid a chap to hold it a few hundred yards away and wobble it around while you bing on murder mysterys.. suddenly the resolution isn’t so important.

ide spoken to vive before purchasing and asked if it was ok to return the headset if i didn’t think it was a good upgrade for me. they were happy to do this if i paid the postage to send it back (see, good company) i returned the elite and ordered a vive pro with the same terms (hmd only with my 1.0 base stations and controllers) it actually got it here before i posted the cosmos so for a couple days i had all three XD

vive pro also has a horrible strap system but nothing compared to the elite, its hard to fasten the back tightly if you want a secure fit and due to the plastic band clip system it uses (imagine a big cable tie) i can see the most commonly used “ridge”/” tooth” wearing down over time, it comes with headphones that are comfortable but very hard to position and sometimes ping off during game play, i found i had to click them down and then put then headset on, they also tend to wobble around abit during gameplay -i was aware of them most of the time. the pro can however be fitted with the original vive strap or vive delux audio strap so there are other options to get the fit thats right for you. The key feature of the vive pro is the amoled screen which arranges pixels diagonally instead of horizontally and vertically, the idea is that when you turn your head you dont look across the lines between the pixels and the image appears clearer, it absolutely dose and if your deciding between the vive and vive pro its worth the extra money. the pro is also the only headset on the market using this technology and i can confirm it makes a bigger difference than the elites slightly higher resolution screen. amoled screens do however have a much shorter lifespan than traditional lcd, tft etc. they cant be left in direct sunlight and can burn easily if an image is left on them for to long, there’s even a potential for damage when combining sweat and the hmds heat as they are extremely sensitive to water damage this is worth considering if your looking at a second hand vive pro overall the pro was not a worth while upgrade from the vive, if i was to go back ide buy it instead but the resale value of vr headsets isnt high and £500 for a slightly better screen and slightly worse fit just wasn’t viable. remember most vr games are low res already and although the image is clearer i didn’t find it had a significant impact on anything in game ( i couldnt read any in game texts for example that i couldnt with the vive already) it also required alot more gpu power to run which i think counteracted the res with frame rate issues and overall did not improve my experience.

up until now with my vive ive been using a gtx 1070, it works fine but i could see from my time with the pro and comsos that getting any more from it was going to be difficult. I upgraded to a 2070 and turned up a few settings including super sampling then reconnected the original vive, turns out frame rate is king.. all 3 headsets have 90fps and with the 2070 im constantly glued to that, the difference this upgrade made to my gaming experience compared with higher res screens was phenomenal. when developing vr games and applications 90fps is considered the “sweet spot” any lower can cause motion sickness and break immersion, the 110fps available on valves index shows a lack of testing in my opinion and would lead to more fluctuation as your gpu aims for the higher output (this is however just an opinion i haven’t tried the index). i was never previously bothered by frame rate drops on the vive but i think you dont really notice these things till youve seen the alternative, once i did the difference was clear. sticking with the 2070 left me some change which i was lucky enough to pick up a wireless adapter second hand on ebay with.

the wireless adapter fits all 3 vive headsets (despite the implication from the 3 different versions sold) the only difference is the cable that comes with it and yes that cables £50 for pro £100 for elite and around 8 inches long πŸ™ πŸ™ (this is considered a dick move).. alternatively you can totally coil the long cable up and get the cheapest version. the salt in the wound being that these cables fit the wireless port poorly and sometimes come loose (mine now features some insulation tape which has solved the problem) aside from wanting the upgrade after 2-3 years of treading on a cable (apparently in the same place? every.. single..time) was a major factor in me buying the adapter. i intend to keep the system long term and the cable clearly dosnt have a particularly long life span -Again, this is worth considering when looking at second hand vr sets or high end sets where replacement cables or alternative options like wireless arnt available.. on this note vives face masks, nose guards and headstraps are all replaceable πŸ˜‰

if the best thing ive purchased is my vive the second is the wireless adapter.. it may even be the other way around. vr gaming without a constant need to be aware of the cable is a whole new level of immersion, even when playing simple standing games like beatsaber. a part of me was always thinking about the space i was in and the location of the cable, its literally a weight of your mind. i found myself spinning with dual miniguns in serious sam and may even have achieved a sort of roll in pistol whip. the upgrade seems expensive to remove a cable but the included pcie card and wireless laser scanny thing (its late) the battery pack and adapter itself is alot more hardware for your buck than i was expecting. if you looking at wireless adapters it may help to know you dont need a htc power pack, any usb power bank will do. ( you can also charge vive controllers via power banks while there in use,lpt)

In my opinion the ability to play vr games is great, its worth buying into overall.. great for partys and has hundreds of experiences that simply have no comparison, upgrading your screen resolution while your there is like going to disney land in an armani shirt.. nice when you notice it but ultimately unnecessary and completely incapable of measurably impacting your experience. maintaining 90 fps and loosing that cable, that’s the fast pass πŸ™‚

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