An in-depth review of the HTC Vive Pro
The HTC Vive has so far been our favourite headset from the first generation of VR devices. Although the most expensive, it offers the best performance in terms of visuals, tracking, immersion, and overall quality. The Oculus Rift is a close second, and, after a shaky start, it’s now only fractionally behind the Vive on all fronts. We were delighted when we first heard of HTCs plans for the Vive Pro, an improved headset that builds upon everything the original Vive did right. We were less pleased when we saw the price tag. With a full set of sensors and controllers, the HTC Vive Pro costs almost twice that of the other premium headsets.
Is this price point justified? Our full review looks at some of the key specs and features of this headset and discusses whether it’s enough of an improvement to warrant that cost.
HTC Vive Pro Pros and Cons
- It does everything the original HTC does, but better. Improvements are made all around, especially with the screen.
- It looks less like a prototype and is far more comfortable than the HTC Vive.
- The price tag puts it out of reach for the casual consumer, especially when you take into account the hardware needed to run it.
HTC Vive Pro Key Specs & Requirements
The first Vive model has some pretty impressive specs, and the Pro goes beyond even these. It’s a professional-grade headset that offers a truly remarkable experience thanks to some stunning hardware:
|Screen||A 3.5 inch 2,880 x 1,600 (615 PPI) AMOLED screen is one of the biggest improvements, making it one of the better screens currently available. It has a 110-field of view (slightly disappointing) and a 90Hz refresh rate.|
|Connectivity||Requires a wired connection via HDMI and USB 3.0. However, a wireless adapter is available.|
|Tracking||The Vive Pro is capable of tracking the user in a 33 x 33 feet square.|
|Audio||It features dual mics as well as head strap headphones.|
|Sensors||G-sensor, IPD sensor, gyro sensor, proximity sensor.|
|Price||£799 – £1,082.50 / $799 – $1,399 depending on if you buy just the headset or sensors and controllers too.|
The requirements, unsurprisingly, are fairly demanding:
- Operating System: Requires Windows 10 with at least the Fall Creators Update installed.
- CPU, RAM, and Storage: 4+ GB RAM is required, as well as an Intel Core i5-4590 processor. Hard drive storage will be needed for games.
- GPU: You’ll need at least an NVidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480.
- Network features: Uses PC’s network features.
Although there are some very impressive features there, it’s the cost that’s the perhaps the most notable. At over £1000/$1000 for the full kit, you’ll have to have plenty of savings to be able to afford one. Clearly, this isn’t a headset for the everyday VR fan.
HTC Vive Pro Hardware
There’s a lot to get excited about from a hardware perspective. The gorgeous 3.5 inch 2,880 x 1,600 (615 PPI) AMOLED screen gives a level of visual fidelity that we haven’t seen in a VR headset before. Details are clearer, text is easier to read, and the overall experience is more immersive than either the Vive or Rift. It’s slightly disappointing that the FOV on the screen isn’t wider. At 110-degrees, it’s no better than anything currently on the market, and is in fact less than that offered by the Star VR headset.
It’s slightly disappointing that the FOV on the screen isn’t wider. At 110-degrees, it’s no better than anything currently on the market…
There are other significant additions too, the built-in headphones and dual microphones mean that you feel a little more engaged in your VR environment and have less to worry about in terms of wires and external devices. The controllers and lighthouse sensors are the same as those that come with the original Vive, and both are still excellent.
HTC Vive Pro Key Features
The main draw of the Vive Pro is the ‘Professional’ aspect of it. The price point alone should be enough to tell you that it’s not for the casual gamer. Even the Vive website showcases the Pro with the headline ‘VR Solutions to Elevate Your Business’. This is a headset that’s aimed at companies hoping to engage with customers on a new level, to develop their own VR experiences, or to train employees. And it’s clear that’s what the HTC Vive Pro is all about. The high fidelity visuals, crystal clear audio, and improved design give it an appeal beyond games. HTC even offer a variety of programmes and service packages to help businesses use the Pro commercially.
This is a headset that’s aimed at companies hoping to engage with customers on a new level, to develop their own VR experiences, or to train employees.
With features such as modular tracking, the chaperone system, and noise-cancelling audio, the Pro can be used in a range of ways across some huge spaces. There is so much potential for VR experiences based on multi-user play. The Vive Tracker, additional wireless trackers, also means that real-life objects can be brought to life in virtual reality. And, with the front-facing cameras, the headset can also track hand and finger movements, although this hasn’t made it to consumers yet. The possibilities are endless, and this is where the Vive Pro really excels.
Key Features: 9/10
HTC Vive Pro Design
The original Vive looks more like a prototype than a finished product. It’s one of our main gripes about the headset. With headsets such as the PlayStation VR looking as good as they do, HTC dropped the ball with Vive. The Pro certainly looks more like a finished product, although it’s not the most attractive headset we’ve ever seen. It is incredibly comfortable though. There’s a lot more cushioning around the faceplate, meaning you can wear it for long sessions without it chafing. Similarly, it’s lighter and has better weight distribution than its predecessor.
An improved strap and a pair of on-ear headphones also make the overall experience a more comfortable one, although neither does much for the aesthetic. With the enhanced screen, padding, and strap, we noticed less light entering by the nose, as well as a reduced ‘screen-door’ effect. It may not look amazing, but it’s very well-designed and a big improvement over the first Vive.
HTC Vive Pro Software and Content
This is a strange area for the Vive Pro. From a consumer point of view, there aren’t any games or apps that are exclusive to the headset. Instead, it uses the same SteamVR and Viveport app store that the original Vive uses. Both are a joy to navigate and explore using the headset, thanks in large part to the clearer text on the screen.
The games that are available for the device look great on the whole. The improved resolution brings a greater degree of sharpness. Thanks to the increased graphics card requirements, you’ll notice a bump in the overall quality. Text is easier to read, colours are a bit more defined, and you can see more details in the distance. The resolution makes a significant difference, particularly in reducing the ‘screen-door’ effect that has long plagued VR devices.
Thanks to the increased graphics card requirements, you’ll notice a bump in the overall quality. Text is easier to read, colours are a bit more defined, and you can see more details in the distance.
The Vive Pro’s controllers are up to the task of making the whole experience immersive and intuitive, and the SteamVR 2.0 tracking is precise and accurate. Rarely did we find that it couldn’t locate us while in use.
Our only complaint that there isn’t more content that makes full use of all the added improvements the Vive Pro has. Hopefully, as more people adopt the headset, we’ll see more software and content that pushes it to the limit.
HTC Vive Pro Review: Final Thoughts
The HTC Vive Pro is undoubtedly the best VR headset currently on the market. From the hardware to the content, the design to the features, everything is simply fantastic. But the price is prohibitively expensive for the average user. This isn’t a headset for consumers at this point. Although it brings so much more to the home VR experience, there are few who can truly take advantage of it.
From the hardware to the content, the design to the features, everything is simply fantastic. But the price is prohibitively expensive for the average user.
Both the Vive and the Rift feel like premium products for true enthusiasts. If you have a PC that’s powerful enough to run them, you can probably afford to pick up the headset. But that’s not the case with the Vive Pro. At over £1000/$1000 for the complete set, it’s just not worth it at the moment. We’re excited to see the various commercial uses that companies are dreaming up. And, hopefully, we’ll eventually see the price of the Vive Pro drop and some more consumer content become available.