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Written by John Yan on 7/1/2021 for VIVE  
More On: VIVE Pro 2

Having the original HTC VIVE since launch day, I’ve been a staunch supporter of VR for a long time now and have many various headsets on hand. Last year, I took a look at HTC’s VIVE Cosmos Elite, but I’ve been waiting on a successor to the VIVE Pro. The Vive Pro was one headset I skipped out on, but it’s always been one that I enjoyed using at trade shows. Today, we’re going to look at the follow up to the VIVE Pro in the aptly named VIVE Pro 2.

The HTC VIVE Pro 2 is a prosumer headset that ups the internals while keeping the design mostly intact. So let’s just get that out of the way quickly. The head strap, housing, and headphone design are all pretty much the same as the HTC VIVE Pro. If you got a good comfortable fit with the VIVE Pro, you can expect the same with the VIVE Pro 2.

Now I know there’s going to be those who are disappointed that more wasn’t done with the headset design to improve on the previous one and I can see that. I do always want the next version to have both internal and external improvements to justify spending more money to upgrade. But I’m also in the camp of: if it’s really good, you don’t need to adjust it. And HTC thinks the physical design of the VIVE Pro was pretty solid.

The design makes positioning the VIVE Pro 2 super simple. I am able to put the HMD up to my face and then rotate the head strap down and have it be in the sweet spot almost every time. With a slight adjustment and a few turns of the dial, I’m able to be in the right position for the VIVE Pro 2 in very little time. Compared to the VIVE Cosmos, Samsung Odyssey+, or even the Oculus Quest 2, I’m able to get in the VIVE Pro 2 and ready to play the quickest due to the design of the strap.

And having used the VIVE Pro and the VIVE Pro 2, it does fit really well on my head even wearing glasses. Unlike other headsets for me, I’m able to easily wear glasses and put it on without issues. I even have the screens at the closest setting. For my other HMDs, I use prescription lens covers and forgo my glasses because it takes more effort to put them on and off this way, but with the VIVE Pro 2, I’m easily in and out with my glasses on.

I feel like the sweet spot to get a clear image is larger than the VIVE Cosmos and once I was dialed in with the strap, I’m able to easily locate it quickly and tighten the headset to get in there with a lot less trouble than that HMD. I don’t think it’s as big as the Valve Index, but good enough to not be frustrating.

The area around the nose piece was where the light leakage occurred with me being able to clearly see through that area. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t completely close it out, but I am used to that in other headsets and I wasn’t bothered by it that much. Those that want to be completely shut out of the real world will be a little annoyed at the nose flap design.

Like the VIVE Pro, the VIVE Pro 2 has built in headphones that spring in to sit on top of the ear and spring out when not in use. On the left ear cup are two rear buttons to control volume, and on the right is a button to mute the microphone. I found the buttons to be pretty convenient to control the audio. The headphones do an OK job, but I found the audio solutions on the Valve Index to be much better. Now, some people have said they hear a low hum from one of the drivers, but I didn’t have any of that and they were completely silent when not in a game. They are removable so if you don’t like them, you can unscrew them and put in some included caps to close the hole out and use your own cans. But, I think the included headphones do an adequate job.

As with the original VIVE, the microphone is subpar. Yes, it’ll get your voice across, but it’s definitely not something you’d want to use to talk to your audience should you be streaming. There’s no pop filter so saying any word with a P creates that unwelcomed distortion. If you do a lot of voice communication such as in VR Chat or talking with your teammates in games like Population One, I highly suggest attaching a small pop filter to the microphone on the VIVE Pro 2 or use a separate mic attachment.

Now the bread and butter of the VIVE Pro 2 is the internals and the upgrades made to produce one of the highest resolution HMDs out there. Not only higher resolution screens but better field of vision, which is one of the things I really want to see improved on headsets. I don’t want to feel like I’m looking through a set of swimming goggles, and with the improved FOV on the VIVE Pro 2, it’s alleviated that somewhat. Well, horizontally at least.

There is a wider FOV compared to say my Valve Index or the VIVE Cosmos but only horizontally and not that much. With a testing tool, I was able to get 107.1 horizontal and 82.4 vertical FOV. There’s less of a vertical FOV compared to the others and this is with the screens closest to my face. It’s a little jarring at first, but as time went on, I got used to it and most of the time I move my head around to look rather than just my eyes. I do wish there was a more vertical display so I don’t visually see I’m looking through a device like how I felt with the StarVR HMD I tried out at an E3 many moons ago, or even the Pimax ones I used at CES, but the horizontal increase in FOV is a good step towards a more immersive experience. HTC did advertise 120 FOV, but my face shape fell short of the advertised FOV and from reading other people’s experiences, there hasn’t been a person to hit the magical 120 number. That’s a little disappointing as I was hoping for a much wider FOV than the Valve Index. With the Index, my view measured 102.0 horizontal FOV and 91.7 vertical FOV. So as you can see, it’s not that much of an improvement for my face. While five degrees doesn’t seem much, it is noticeable—but I was expecting more.

The increase in resolution is just amazing. I was truly impressed by what I could see and not see with the VIVE Pro 2. Gone is the screen door effect, and it’s not a slightly fuzzy image like the Odyssey+ that uses a filter layer to achieve this. No, there’s plenty of pixels in an RGB arrangement that truly makes this a no screen door effect HMD. That’s something I’ve been waiting for a long time. I don’t have the HP Reverb 2 so this is my first experience with such a high resolution LCD.

Along with the increase in resolution, the LCDs can go up to 120Hz for an even smoother experience. With the resolution and refresh rate, you’re going to need a beefy computer to drive it. I tested the VIVE Pro 2 with an AMD 5950X and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, so I made sure I had a very high performing PC to drive the higher resolution LCDs.

The program does offer various resolutions and refresh rates to choose from should you need to dial it down. It seems the program determines the presets you can choose from, which is a little odd for me. I’d rather be giving all the options and then let me choose from them. I read there was a way to edit the settings file to unlock other options, but we shouldn’t have to do that to enable more combinations of resolutions and refresh rates to choose from.

Colorwise, it also truly excels with everything but blacks. And even then, the blacks aren’t too bad for an LCD screen. Half-Life: Alyx never looked so vibrant and clear than in the VIVE Pro 2. You can especially tell near the beginning with the little Snark bug in the jar in the apartment room. The green glow is just incredible to look at, and the texture on the Snark is crystal clear. Looking at my hands when I get the Gravity Gloves, the metallic nature of the various parts truly shine, and I do mean shine, on the VIVE Pro 2. The way the light shimmers and reflects off some of the parts as well as the cleanliness of the texture is really apparent on this HMD, something that I think is an improvement over the Valve Index.

Like the Valve Index, the blacks aren’t truly black and you get a more grayish coloring in dark areas. It’s improved over older LCD HMDs, but it’s not going to match OLED HMDs. I played a lot of Batman Arkham VR to look at the dark scenes in the game as that has plenty of them and found that on my OLED HMDs such as the original Vive or the Samsung Odyssey+, I felt they were more immersive in terms of color. You just can’t beat the dark levels in OLEDs right now, and until we get something like a mini-LED or micro-LED display on our face, LCDs are always going to be at a disadvantage with darker games like Elite Dangerous.

The fresnel lenses are something I wish companies would stop using. The VIVE Pro 2 has a dual-stacked lens design to accommodate the larger FOV, but we get glare that’s noticeable in the area on the outside as well as areas of contrasting brightness like white letters on a black background. God rays are present and do show up in very brightly lit scenes. They are noticeable and could be distracting.

Unlike the Oculus Quest 2, the VIVE Pro 2 features a proper IPD adjustment meaning it can go from 52mm up to 72mm and anything in between. The dial will adjust the placement of the lenses and for me having a 64.1MM IPD, having the tighter refinement on IPD is something I do appreciate.

One thing lacking which I really wanted HTC to incorporate was eye tracking. They had the VIVE Pro Eye, which was a product that had eye tracking built into the VIVE Pro, but the VIVE Pro 2 lacks that integration. Now, there will be a third party add-on to enable eye tracking for thje VIVE PRO 2, which some people wan for things like more immersive chat and foveated rendering in the future. John Carmack has hinted that foveated rendering isn’t as big of an improvement for performance currently so maybe not having eye tracking built in and thus increasing the cost of the HMD is a good decision for now. For those who use eye tracking for things like VR Chat to enhance their presence in the world, the VIVE Pro 2 can be updated with the hardware once that’s released.

In usage, the VIVE Pro 2 seems to get a little warmer than my other HMDs. It’s especially evident in the center of the headset. There’s an active fan cooling the unit, but it does heat up to the point where I did sweat more than the Index or the Oculus Quest 2. Right now since it is warmer where I am living, I tend to put a fan on me when playing. It might be OK during the winter months, but keep in mind that the VIVE Pro 2 does get a little heated when playing.

I should mention that I used the original Lighthouses with the VIVE Pro 2. I was sent the 2.0 base stations, but I wanted to keep the original ones in place as I still have an original VIVE. That said, I didn't experience any anomalies in tracking with the original base stations from my few weeks of usage.

Wireless VR is such a great experience and the VIVE Pro 2 does let you use the current Wireless Adapter from HTC if you already have it. You’ll need an adapter to attach the product, like how the HTC VIVE Cosmos did, but if you are upgrading a VIVE Pro and you had the Wireless Adapter for it, you’ve got all the hardware necessary to do so.

HTC recently bumped up the wireless resolution to 1632x1632 from its initial offering, but it is still far from the full resolution of the panels. Also, 60Hz is your limitation, so while you do get the freedom from wires when using it, you’re not going to be able to use the VIVE PRO 2 to its full potential. Hopefully, HTC will be able to release a new wireless adapter to accommodate the increased performance of the HMD.

Some issues I ran into were solvable through some tweaks in my computer and one I wasn’t able to. For some reason, I had a test unit’s display develop these faint horizontal lines in the middle of my view. I was playing one day, put it away, and came back to see the lines. This was just having used the VIVE Pro 2 for a single day. There was no physical damage and I hang my headsets with the lenses down to ensure there’s no light that gets into them when not in use. HTC replaced that testing unit and this second unit hasn’t done that.

I had an issue where my image would go gray after 30 seconds or so and come back. It was really annoying and one I couldn’t figure out for a long time. I tried every USB port and various DisplayPorts on my computer and none of my other headsets exhibited this behavior. It turns out my Logitech G PowerPlay Charging Mat was somehow interfering with the VIVE Pro 2 and once I unplugged it, the issue went away. Again, this didn’t affect any other HMD connected to my system.

Finally, I had a lot of microstutters that I couldn’t figure out. I thought it was my NVIDIA drivers or maybe another USB device attached to my computer. Someone suggested turning off the Windows 10 setting called Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling as I'd had that on for testing some NVIDIA video cards. That did the trick. Again, something that didn’t affect my other HMDs, which suggests the VIVE Pro 2 is a little more finicky on certain settings and hardware than others. But after all those issues were resolved, I had a great time with the VIVE Pro 2 with a buttery smooth experience on the highest setting.

So now it comes down to pricing. The HTC VIVE Pro 2 HMD alone costs $799. Let’s compare it to other HMD offerings. The Valve Index, which is currently sold out for just the HMD alone, is $499. That’s a $300 difference. Does the VIVE Pro 2 have $300 worth of improvements over the Valve Index? Honestly, I don’t think it does. That doesn’t mean the VIVE Pro 2 isn’t great for what it has, but if we’re talking bang for the buck, the Valve Index wins out.

The Quest 2 is $299, but there’s the Facebook tax. If you don’t care about that, then being able to buy two Quest 2s and have wireless VR or tethered VR via a USB-C cable is pretty tempting in terms of cost when compared to the HTC VIVE Pro 2. You don’t get the great tracking that the Lighthouses provide though, but as you can see from my review, it still does a solid job at most games.

The current highest resolution Windows Mixed Reality headset is the HP Reverb G2, which doesn’t match the VIVE Pro 2 coming in at 2160x2160 per eye with a smaller FOV and uses inside out tracking albeit with additional cameras to help with some of the dead zones. It’s currently available for $569. That’s a compelling price for what it offers compared to the VIVE Pro 2. I have the Samsung Odyssey+ as my Windows Mixed Reality headset of choice and I do enjoy using it for certain types of games like simulators.

I don’t have any Pimax headsets but I’ve used them a lot at CES. I can’t honestly compare them to the VIVE Pro 2, but their Vision 5K Super costs $799 matching the VIVE Pro 2.

So of the four I’ve mentioned, one is the same price while the others have significant savings over the VIVE Pro 2, as well as including controllers for the Quest 2 and the Reverb G2. Now you see why there’s always been some complaints over the pricing when it comes to the Pro line.

If you need a complete setup, the price is pretty steep at $1399 and won’t be out until later this year. You’d be better off buying two Lighthouses and two Index controllers right now as the costs would be almost the same. And instead of getting the old VIVE wands, you’d get the superior Index control setup. I wish HTC would come out with a better controller than the wands, but for now, if you want a complete setup, you’ll have to buy them in parts along with the VIVE Pro 2.

The VIVE Pro 2 is an upgrade in almost every aspect to the VIVE Pro, while some will argue they’d rather have the AMOLED panels versus the LCD panels of the VIVE Pro 2. I think we all would have liked the pricing to be maybe $100 lower. There’s a lot to like about the VIVE Pro 2. It does grow on you the more you use it. It’s just hard to recommend it over some of the other headsets that are at a much lower price.

The resolution and color quality is unmatched in the VIVE Pro 2, along with a comfortable fit. It's expensive, though, and the FOV isn't as wide as I thought it would be.

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.


About Author

I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. As one of the original writers, I was tapped to do action games and hardware. Nowadays, I work with a great group of folks on here to bring to you news and reviews on all things PC and consoles.

As for what I enjoy, I love action and survival games. I'm more of a PC gamer now than I used to be, but still enjoy the occasional console fair. Lately, I've been really playing a ton of retro games after building an arcade cabinet for myself and the kids. There's some old games I love to revisit and the cabinet really does a great job at bringing back that nostalgic feeling of going to the arcade.

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