HTC VR Buying Guide: XR Elite vs. Pro 2 vs. Cosmos vs. Cosmos Elite vs. Pro Eye

Jacob King By Jacob King - updated September 11th, 2023
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Many decades ago, virtual reality (VR) was a concept of science-fiction - a sophisticated device that transported the user to another world or reality. Beginning in the 60s, we started seeing incremental advancements in VR but it wasn’t until 2012, that the first modern VR headset was released - that was the Oculus Rift. The consumer version didn’t hit the market until 2016 however, at which point, HTC swooped in shortly after with the release of their first VR headset - the HTC Vive.

Since then, HTC has quickly become a prominent name in the virtual reality space, releasing an ensemble of VR headsets. With impressive advancements in VR technology, we’re seeing better headsets, better games, and better experiences. This has led to rapid traction in the space with more people seeking a VR headset to add to their gaming arsenal. That’s probably why you’re here now! In this guide, we will compare HTC’s range of VR products to help you determine which option is best for you. To experience everything these VR headsets have to offer, you'll need sure ensure your PC meets the minimum requirements so we've made sure to note these here for you too.

HTC XR Elite

This year, HTC released their new all-in-one VR headset - the XR Elite. The headset combines Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities into one compact, lightweight, powerful and highly versatile device – perfect for gaming, fitness, productivity and more. It represents a milestone in the progression towards a fully immersive internet, opening up a new realm of realism in learning and playing. 

"This advanced yet compact device offers the best of all worlds for consumers, providing the ideal physical gateway to the universe of experiences offered by VIVERSE, our version of the metaverse, with the widest variety of content inputs even up to the very latest standards such as WiFi 6E," said Cher Wang, Co-Founder and Chairwoman of HTC Corp.

The XR Elite includes a full colour RGB passthrough camera, and hand-tracking, which enables a whole new dimension of MR scenarios. This can include playing games where the characters are running on your furniture, having real-time overlays on musical instruments like a piano so you can learn, and even having the ultimate workstation with multiple virtual screens while still being able to use your real-world keyboard and mouse. It also has four wide FOV cameras, exceptional 6DoF spatial accuracy, and a depth sensor to deliver accurate movement to enhance your overall experience. These along with hand-tracking and capacitive sensing for your finger movements on the controllers, allow for incredible accuracy and precise-tracking whether you’re gaming, learning or creating.

The visuals are sharp with 1920 x 1920 pixels per eye (3840 x 1920 overall), delivering up to 4K resolution for super crisp images running on a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, and 110-degree field of view. The new XR Elite is a great choice for users looking to dive straight into XR (extended reality) with a VR headset that's powerful and versatile, yet lightweight and compact.

HTC XR Elite Key Specs: 1920x1920 pixels per eye (3840x1920 pixels overall), up to 110-degree field of view, 90 Hz refresh rate
System Requirements: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher GPU, Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 1500 or higher CPU, at least 8GB of RAM, DisplayPort 1.2 or higher output, 1x USB 3.0 or newer, Windows 10 or higher.
Tracked Area Requirements: Up to 10m x 10m play area recommended. Minimum play area is 1.5m x 1.5m (standing).

HTC Vive Pro 2

Following on from the hugely popular Vive Pro, the HTC Vive Pro 2 knocks it out of the park when it comes to display quality and resolution. Unlike the newer XR Elite which is focused on versatility, this premium headset is focused on visual quality, sporting high resolution AMOLED screens with super-rich contrast and colours. It supports an impressive 2448 x 2448 pixels per eye (4896 x 2448 overall), delivering up to 5K resolution for a truly immersive and realistic virtual reality experience. With a wide 120-degree field of view, you’re better equipped to spot enemies with your peripheral vision, and a super-fast 120 Hz refresh rate (for games that support it) also means you’ll enjoy ultra smooth and realistic action. 

In addition to extreme visual fidelity, the Vive Pro 2 also offers crisp, powerful audio and precise tracking. The Pro 2 features 3D spatial sound integration, a powerful amplifier, and Hi-Res certified headphones that are made to deliver immersive soundscapes. It also provides precise room-scale tracking thanks to SteamVR™ Tracking that provides 360-degree coverage of your movement to the millimeter. You can use it seated, standing or in a vast multi-user space with accurate tracking of your movements.  

The Vive Pro 2 Kit includes two base stations and two controllers for the full room-scale virtual reality experience. This allows a maximum play area of 16.4 x 16.4”, and if you add two additional base stations, you can expand your play area to 32.8 x 32.8”. Being the most high-performance VR headset of the lot, the Pro 2 is designed for avid gamers and dedicated professionals. It offers the most immersive and richest experience of the lot. 

HTC Vive Pro 2 Key Specs: 2448 x 2448 pixels per eye (4896 x 2448 overall resolution), 120-degree field of view, 120Hz refresh rate (only 90 Hz supported via VIVE Wireless Adapter)
System Requirements: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher GPU, Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 1500 or higher CPU, at least 8GB of RAM, DisplayPort 1.2 or higher output, 1x USB 3.0 or newer, Windows 10 or higher. 

HTC Vive Cosmos

The HTC Vive Cosmos offers a different approach to VR, using inside-out tracking and is ideal for learning, exploration and gaming in virtual reality. Where the Vive Pro relies on external sensors, the Vive Cosmos uses embedded cameras to track your movement making it more suitable to use in smaller spaces. It also has a unique flip-up design that lets you take a break from the metaverse seamlessly, or interact with others in the room as you play. It sports 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye (2880 x 1700 overall) on an LCD panel with full RGB subpixels. A 110-degree field of view and 90 Hz refresh rate ensures an immersive and smooth VR experience, and while it’s not to the same degree as the Pro 2, it’s most certainly enough for the average user. 

While six-camera tracking on the faceplate offers a great base-station-free experience, it’s not quite as accurate as some other options. This is because it uses predictive algorithms to guess where your hands are, but if they leave the 110-degree field of view - either behind you or too far to the sides - the guess won’t be very accurate. For this reason, the Vive Cosmos is best suited for games or uses where your hands are predominantly in front of you, or for games that don’t require pixel-perfect tracking. Otherwise, the Pro 2 or Cosmos Elite might be a better option for you. The benefit of the Vive Cosmos, however, is that it can grow with you over time. As the most affordable option of the three, it’s a great entry-point into VR and you can always swap out the front faceplate, add a couple of base stations, and swap out the controllers to upgrade to a Cosmos Elite (or others in the Cosmos series that may come) in the future.

HTC Vive Cosmos Key Specs: 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye (2880 x 1700 overall resolution), 110-degree field of view, 90Hz refresh rate
System Requirements: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher GPU, Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX8350 or higher CPU, at least 8GB of RAM, HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or higher output, 1x USB 3.0 or newer, Windows 10 or higher. 

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

As you might guess from the name, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is almost identical to the Vive Cosmos but uses both inside-out and outside-in tracking. Both headsets feature the same 2880 x 1700 overall resolution, LCD display, 110-degree field of view, and 90 Hz refresh rate. The main difference is the front faceplate along with the addition of wall-mountable base stations that track the controllers and headset using small tracking divots. Together, these are a significant upgrade, adding external tracking and more precision. This enables you to play in smaller spaces - the primary perk of the Vive Cosmos - but with more precise and accurate tracking. 

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Key Specs: 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye (2880 x 1700 overall resolution), 110-degree field of view, 90Hz refresh rate
System Requirements: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher GPU, Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX8350 or higher CPU, at least 8GB of RAM, DisplayPort 1.2 or higher output, 1x USB 3.0 or newer, Windows 10 or higher. 

HTC Vive Pro Eye

While it can be used for gaming, HTC Vive Pro Eye is aimed more at creators and professionals than gamers. At first glance, it looks similar to the Vive Pro 2 until you notice the two rings around the front-facing cameras. This represents its powerful eye-tracking functionality which offers a next-level immersive VR experience. Along with ultra-precise eye tracking, the Pro Eye includes features such as: expression and non-verbal interaction tracking, reflection of blinking and eye movements in virtual avatars, smart GPU workload allocation, room-scale tracking up to 100 meters squared, and more! These can make interactions feel life-like and allow you to easily design interactive experiences in the virtual environment. It offers a great VR solution for businesses that want to take full advantage of the VR revolution. 

Along with these impressive features, it offers premium visuals and audio too. It delivers amazing visual fidelity on a dual OLED display that supports 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye (2880 x 1700 overall resolution) with 615 PPI. It also has Hi-Red & surround-sound audio that adds an immersive sound experience. With the included two SteamVR Base Station 2.0 Units, the Pro Eye will support up to a 7m x 7m area. When using four SteamVR Base Station 2.0 Units, it is capable of supporting up to a 10m x 10m area using four SteamVR Base Station 2.0 Units.

HTC Vive Pro Eye Key Specs: 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye (2880 x 1700 overall resolution), 110-degree field of view, 90Hz refresh rate
System Requirements: Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or higher GPU, Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 1500 or higher CPU, at least 4GB of RAM, HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or higher output, 1x USB 3.0 or newer, Windows 10 or higher. 

Now that you've got a good idea of what the different headsets offer, we hope you've also got a good idea on which one is the right fit for you. To check out our full range of options, head over to our Virtual Reality department!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of VR?

VR is really transforming a lot of areas in our lives, it's not just for gaming. For instance, in education, VR lets you experience your lessons instead of just reading them from a book or watching them on a screen - imagine walking around in ancient Egypt while studying history! For businesses, VR can be a big help for things like product demos or training new employees. And when it comes to entertainment, VR really kicks it up a notch. Imagine being dropped in the middle of the game or movie action. But it's not stopping there. VR is making waves in healthcare too. It’s doing everything from helping doctors get ready for complex surgeries to helping people deal with things like anxiety or PTSD. There are a lot of awesome benefits that VR can bring to our world so expect a lot of growth in this space.

Are cheap VR headsets worth it?

It really depends on what you're looking for. If you're new to VR or you're on a budget, a cheaper VR headset can totally be worth it to dip your toes in and see what it's all about. They can still provide a decent VR experience, especially for simpler games and applications. But keep in mind, you often get what you pay for. Cheaper headsets might not have the best resolution or tracking capabilities, and they might not be as comfortable or durable as the more expensive ones. If you're really into gaming and looking for top-notch performance or want to use professional applications, investing in a higher-end VR headset could be a good move. It's all about balancing your budget with what you want out of the VR experience.

What's the longest you should play VR per day?

There isn't a hard and fast rule, but most experts agree that you should take a break every 30 minutes to an hour of playing VR. That's because VR can be pretty intense and sometimes disorienting – it’s a lot for your brain and eyes to process so it's good to give them a rest. Over an entire day, sticking to a few hours per day is a good rule of thumb, but listen to your body. If you start feeling queasy, dizzy, or get a headache after using your VR headset, those are signs that you should take a break. Moderation is key with VR, as it should be with all screen time.

How long does it take to get used to VR?

Getting used to VR varies from person to person. For some, it might take a few minutes to adjust, while for others it could take several sessions over a few days or even weeks. Starting with shorter, simpler VR sessions can help you ease into it as your body and brain adjust to experiencing virtual environments. Plus, there's something called "VR legs," kind of like sea legs, where over time you just get more comfortable moving around in a virtual world. So if at first you feel a bit off or dizzy, don't worry, it usually gets better with a bit of practice. Just remember to take breaks and don't push yourself too hard.

Who should not do VR?

While VR is generally safe for most people, there are a few exceptions. Kids under the age of 13 are often advised not to use VR because their developing vision system could be affected. People with certain medical conditions, such as heart issues, high blood pressure, or epilepsy might want to avoid VR since it can be quite intense and possibly trigger symptoms. Also, if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to be cautious with VR as it can affect balance and may lead to an increased risk of falls. Lastly, if you suffer from severe motion sickness, VR might not be ideal, as it can cause feelings of dizziness or nausea. 

Written By

Jacob King

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