How to Set up the HTC Vive Headset

Get your HTC Vive headset up and running in now time

What to Know

  • Clear enough space in your room to have a 2M x 2M play area.
  • Download Steam and install SteamVR.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions for hardware and software setup.

This guide will walk you through setting up your HTC Vive virtual reality headset.

How Do You Set up a Vive Headset?

You need a clear space to use the Vive and you'll also need a Steam account.

  1. Mount your lighthouse tracking sensors in opposite corners of your VR playspace, ideally with at least 6.5 feet of diagonal space between them. Make sure it's clear of furniture or potential tripping hazards and within reach of your desktop PC. Then connect the power cables to the Lighthouse sensors and turn them on.

    HTC Vive setup, clearing playspace.


    The Lighthouse base stations react poorly with reflective surfaces like mirrors, framed pictures, or glass cabinets. Be sure to move them out of the play area, or cover them with something non-reflective when playing and setting up your Vive headset.

  2. If you don't have it already, download Steam and install it. Once installed, log in with an existing account, or make a new Steam account.

  3. Search for and install SteamVR.

    SteamVR setup page.
  4. Plug your headset into the link box with its USB, power, and HDMI connectors, then connect the link box to your desktop PC with the HDMI and USB cables. Connect the power cable to the link box. Also, power on your controllers using the lower central button.

  5. Your PC will then install a lot of drivers for the new devices. Wait for that to complete before continuing.

    You should see a green light on both controllers when it's finished.

  6. Startup SteamVR within Steam. When given the option, choose a Room Scale or a Standing Only experience.

    SteamVR standing or room scale experience.
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions to orientate the controllers, set the floor height, and—using a room-scale space—set the boundaries of your virtual play area.

    Vive pairing help menu.

    If you encounter problems with any of the sensors, controllers, or headset, use the SteamVR options menu for help with pairing or detection.

    The room-scale play area designation step can be particularly finicky at times, especially when defining edges near walls, so you may need to repeat that step a couple of times to get it right.

  8. From there, you can put on the headset and begin using it. You can buy games, install them, and play them from within VR, or explore Valve's default virtual play spaces with different environments, items, and games you can play there.

    Alternatively, remove the headset and purchase any games or experiences you want to play and install them as you would any other Steam game before donning the headset to begin playing.

How Long Does It Take to Set up HTC Vive?

If you don't encounter any hiccups, you should be able to set up your Vive within 30 minutes. However, the first time you do it, you will need to double-check some settings, and installing software can take some time, depending on your PC and internet connection.

Setting aside an hour and a half to get everything sorted is a good idea, but it may take a little longer in some cases.

However, once it's up and running, you should be able to set things up in just a few minutes the next time you want to play.

How Do I Start Vive?

If you want to start playing a VR game or experience with your HTC Vive, start up your PC and Steam, and select SteamVR in the top right-hand corner. As long as all your Lighthouse sensors and controllers are powered on, they should all be automatically detected, and you can put on your headset and start playing.

Why Is My HTC Vive Not Working?

Troubleshooting VR hardware isn't easy. Even half a decade from the HTC Vive's release, it can still have some frustrating problems. Fortunately, there are tutorials and plenty of helpful guides to help with your specific issues.

The best way to figure out your problem is to search for the exact issue you have, as you'll likely find someone else who has encountered it. However, here are a few good ideas worth trying if you can't find more specific help:

  • Restart SteamVR: Turning off SteamVR and powering it back up again can often fix many problems with your Vive not working as intended.
  • Restart Steam: Restart Steam itself and then start SteamVR again to see if that works.
  • Reboot your PC: Restart your PC and then start up Steam and SteamVR again. That can sometimes kick whatever problem you're having into the curb.
  • Check the firmware is updated: Check that the firmware on your headset and controllers is all up to date.
  • Reinstall SteamVR: Uninstall SteamVR, and then reinstall it again.
  • How do I set up HTC Vive base stations?

    Start by plugging in the power cables to the base stations and wall outlets, and then connect the base stations and set the channels. Mount the HTC Vive base stations diagonally, at opposite corners of your designated play space, making sure the front panels face the play area's center. Don't move or adjust the base stations after setup, or you'll have to set up your play area again.

  • How do I set up an HTC Vive Cosmos?

    Go to Vive's setup page and download the setup file. Follow set up prompts to install and run the file. If you move your Vive Cosmos VR system to a different area, you'll need to rerun the setup process.

  • How much space do you need for an HTC Vive?

    There are no minimum spacing requirements for a standing or seated experience. For a room-scale setup, however, Vive recommends a minimum area of 6 ft. x 6 in. x 5 ft. It’s important that your play space is big enough so you can move in a diagonal area of up to 16 ft. x 14 in.

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