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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Comfortable, quality design
Excellent audio spatial awareness
High-resolution OLED display looks amazing
Can be worn for hours with no eye strain
Difficult to set up
Currently only supports the HTC Vive wand controllers
The HTC Vive Pro headset sets a new standard for room scale VR, with a phenomenal display and incredible tracking, but it carries a hefty price tag that may not be worth it for the average consumer.
We purchased the HTC Vive Pro Headset so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you are looking to invest in the best PC powered, room-scale VR experience possible, you’ll want the HTC Vive Pro. It has excellent tracking, a high screen refresh rate, a clear lens display, and a comfortable headset you can wear for hours, offering the best VR headset in the market. But when HTC decided to add “Pro” to the headset’s name, they also added a prohibitively expensive price tag which makes it hard to recommend for the average consumer.
The Vive Pro is the HTC Vive’s grown-up sibling, improving on the Vive by adding built-in headphones and a hard plastic adjustment strap. It also rids itself of the litany of cables the Vive needed to connect to the link box, opting instead for a proprietary connector. The headset is rather heavy, weighing 550 grams, but the adjustable tightening strap keeps the headset from sliding forward and makes the product feel balanced.
It will take some wiggling to get the fit perfect, but the headset is made to be worn for hours and used for years. The tether to the Vive Pro is 16 feet long, allowing you plenty of space to roam in a 6-foot x 6-foot space. The headset has two cameras on the front and interfaces with infrared base stations to detect your location and movements. While the base stations are small, they are solidly built, allowing you to tilt them at many angles and install them up to 15 feet apart.
Most of the Vive Pro’s best improvements over the Vive are for ergonomics: integrated audio, an easy to remove headband, a monocable tether, and better resolution.
Inside the headset, HTC has placed FHDS lenses that can be adjusted in both focal distance and interpupillary distance. The headset also comes equipped with removable audio ear cups that are padded with a very breathable faux leather. The face pad is made of foam, which does a decent job of absorbing sweat, but you may want to consider swapping it out for a pleather pad that can be wiped down if you like to stay hygienic while sharing headsets. If you would like to further customize your Vive Pro, there is a wireless adapter to make your headset wireless and prescription lenses to free you from glasses.
HTC assumes that if you’re buying a Vive Pro, you must be a pro at setting up VR rigs. We used the Vive Pro headset with the base station 1.0 and wand controllers that come with the Vive, so please read our review of the Vive for more information on that side of the installation.
Once the base stations are taken care of, you can move on to installing the firmware. HTC’s website has a driver installer package ready to download. It will install the Vive Pro drivers, base station drivers, wand drivers, Viveport, and Steam VR. When it finishes the installations, it will walk you through setting up your play space in Steam VR.
The Vive Pro has more sensitive sensors than the Vive, so make sure that your environment is clear of any objects or surfaces that could interfere with the IR signals. This includes but is not limited to: mirrors, TV remotes, or other IR devices. This is not stated in the installation manual or anywhere on HTC’s official FAQ, despite how likely you are to run into this problem.
If interference isn’t a possibility and you are still having tracking issues, try restarting your PC, restarting the link box by unplugging it and replugging it, or rebooting the HMD from the Steam VR menu. Steam has a list of common errors or problems with VR headsets you can consult if you are still stuck, and HTC allows you to submit support tickets. It is unfortunately not unheard of for a customer to receive a faulty headset, so remember to take advantage of your warranty and consider sending it to HTC for an RMA to test if your headset is truly faulty. If so, they will either repair it or send you a different one free of charge.
The display on the Vive Pro is breathtaking. Everything looks crystal clear, with little ghosting, screen door effect, or low refresh rates to hinder your experience. HTC gave the Vive Pro dual AMOLED 3.5-inch diagonal lenses with a 1600 x 1440 resolution per eye and a refresh rate of up to 90 frames per second.
During play, the HTC Vive Pro’s display really shines.
There is no light bleed from the bottom of the headset, and it has a 110-degree field of view. When you look at the edges, the crispness does fade, which helps focus on the center but also slightly disappoints for those hoping to have a larger field of view. For now, it is the best VR view that you can easily buy.
If you want something better, you will have to invest in more experimental headsets such as the Pimax 8K VR headset. But don’t worry, the Vive Pro is still excellent at avoiding eye strain thanks to its quality screen and interpupillary/focal adjustment options.
Playing with the Vive Pro is a delight. Once it’s properly set up, tracking is virtually flawless and the images are clear and quick. The refresh rate is as high as your PC can handle, up to a cap of 90 Hz. However, because the Vive Pro has twice the resolution of the Vive, HTC recommends at least a GTX 1070 for optimal performance. We tested the Vive Pro on a PC with an Intel Core i7-8700k and a GTX 1080.
During play, the HTC Vive Pro’s display really shines. It has a great 110-degree field of view that makes games like Skyrim VR and The Wizards feel like reality. For incredibly active games that require jumping, crouching, and turning, the headset’s rear strap does a phenomenal job of keeping the headset from moving in any direction. And unlike the Vive or the Rift, the Vive Pro’s tether is decently resistant to kinking from the tangling that happens when you move around in room-scale VR experiences.
The Vive Pro has built-in speakers and headphones, both of which are a pleasure to listen to. The on-ear pads do a solid job of reducing ambient noise, and the audio itself is phenomenal at delivering the games’ spatial design. The sound fills your virtual environment and is a great asset for games that rely on spatial awareness. However, if the Vive Pro’s built-in audio system is not to your liking, HTC made its headphones removable and replaceable.
If you opt into the Vive ecosystem, you have two officially supported platform options: HTC’s Viveport or Valve’s Steam VR. The Vive and the Vive Pro are primarily designed to work with Steam VR, but Viveport purports an interesting subscription model for videogames similar to Netflix, allowing you to pay about $10 monthly for five game downloads. Steam VR works just like Steam, you only buy the games you play.
It’s difficult to recommend the Vive Pro to anyone but the most demanding of VR users.
Whichever platform you choose, the Vive Pro will boot into the Steam VR home, a virtual space where you can browse available games. There are many excellent VR games currently available on Steam, such as Skyrim VR, Beat Saber, Elite: Dangerous, The Wizards, and Moss. Outside of gaming, we like VR Chat, Altspace, Virtual Desktop, Google Tiltbrush, Youtube VR, and more. Steam VR is doubtlessly the most populated VR Software platform available today.
However, the Oculus store has many enticing exclusive experiences. Don’t let that stop you from getting a Vive or Vive Pro. ReVive is an open-source software that imports your Oculus games into Steam VR. It’s an easy installation (just download the installer and run it), and there’s no setup required. Once it’s installed, you launch Steam VR and Oculus games appear in your Steam VR Home’s library.
The HTC Vive Pro HMD has an MSRP of $799, and the kit with the 2.0 base stations and controllers costs $1,400. That is $100 more than buying a Vive Pro HMD and a Vive system at MSRP. Unless you are a heavy VR user (think VR Arcade owners), the Vive Pro’s price is not worth the upgrade over an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
HTC Vive: While the Vive Pro’s screen is incredible, the Vive is still good in its own right, and already comes bundled with controllers and sensors. Most of the Vive Pro’s best improvements over the Vive are for ergonomics: integrated audio, an easy to remove headband, a monocable tether, and better resolution. The user experience of the Vive Pro is virtually identical to the Vive, with a similar installation process and identical software.
Oculus Rift & Rift S: Other headsets to consider are the Oculus Rift and upcoming Rift S. The flagship Oculus lineup, while not having as high a resolution or as accurate of tracking, can also do room-scale if you add a third sensor. It also has a more intuitive and aesthetic user interface than Steam VR. Additionally, the Rift Touch controllers are much more comfortable and easy to use than the Vive wands. You should consider the Vive Pro over the Rift if you are willing to compromise in ease of use, controller comfort, and price.
Pimax: The Pimax line of headsets also run on Steam VR and are not as polished as the Vive or Oculus headsets, but they do tout an even higher resolution screen than the Vive Pro and a greater field of view. The 5K has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 per eye and the 8K has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 per eye. Both have a refresh rate of 90Hz and a 200° field of view. However, its high resolution means it requires an even more powerful GPU to run optimally.
The best VR headset, but it’ll cost you.
It’s difficult to recommend the Vive Pro to anyone but the most demanding of VR users. The price for the headset alone is high above what the regular Vive costs for a full kit. We only recommend the HTC Vive Pro if you crave high-resolution VR experiences and money is no object.