Is it worth upgrading to the Vive Pro?
The Vive Pro is undoubtedly a step up, but its price is also a pretty big leap. If you’ve got the Vive, should you upgrade? If you’re looking to buy a new VR system, is it worth spending the extra money on the Pro? Let’s find out.
I’ll compare the two headsets and let you know how much of an improvement there is with the Pro and whether it’s worth the extra expense.
Before We Begin, There Are Some Things to Consider
Both the HTC Vive and Vive Pro are a great way to enter the virtual world if you want to experience truly immersive VR. These headsets are a massive leap above the cardboard or plastic boxes for your smartphone.
As we review these headsets, it would good if you already have started thinking about a few things.
What’s In Your Wallet?
Price is going to play a role in your decision today. So, you’ll need to decide how much you are willing to spend on your virtual reality experience. For many people, we may be talking about an entire week’s pay.
How Committed To The Experience Are You?
In this article, I’m comparing two headsets from the same brand, and one headset is the new, upgraded model of the other. So, you know one is going to be better than the other. The real question in this comparison is how much better is the Pro and how much those improvements matter to you. I’ll let you know how much better the Pro is. You’ll have to decide how important is it.
How Much Do You Plan To Play?
There’s a difference between playing virtual reality for fun from time to time and being a dedicated player who uses their headset for hours at a time. The more you use the headset, the more improvements in comfort and resolution affect you.
Let the Battle Begin!
In this comparison between the Vive and Vive Pro, I’ll be looking at the following attributes of your VR experience.
I’m not including hand-controllers or setup in this list as they are the same for both headsets.
With each aspect I review, I’ve decided to use a different approach than I normally do. I won’t be telling you who the “winner” is. Frankly, it is always the Vive Pro. Instead, I will tell you how big of an improvement it is.
One of the more prominent upgrades for the Pro is its visuals. The field of vision remains 110-degrees, and the refresh rate is still 90Hz like the Vive. However, the Pro has moved from OLED to AMOLED screens and increased the resolution by 78%.
The Vive’s resolution is 1080 x 1200 per eye while the Pro boasts 1400 x 1600 per eye. It’s gone from 441 pixels per inch (PPI) to 615. So, what does this mean for your experience?
Overall, the images in the Pro are brighter and crisper. Colors are more vibrant, and details are more realistic than on the Vive. For example, the reflection of the sky off the hood of your car in Assetto Corsa in the Pro looks more like you are driving a freshly waxed car.
In addition, the high resolution greatly reduces the Screen Door Effect (SDE). Where the Vive has a pretty pronounced SDE, it’s barely noticeable with the Vive Pro. The lenses are the same on both headsets, so the “god rays” are the same for both.
Lastly, text is clearer and easier to read. This is especially helpful in apps where the text is small
Level of Improvement
High – The resolution is nearly doubled, and AMOLED screens give more vibrant colors. The Pro gives a clearer, brighter, and more realistic image with less screen door effect and better readability of text.
Both the Vive and Vive Pro are comfortable. However, improvements to the ergonomics and padding have made the Pro much more comfortable. This is especially true if you use your headset for extended gaming sessions.
The Vive uses a 3-strap velcro harness. It’s reasonably easy to adjust. You just unfasten the strap, adjust, and refasten. The Pro uses a combination of a halo and velcro strap harness. The halo portion is rigid and goes around the side and back of your head. You can easily adjust it with a knob in the back. A third velcro strap goes over the top of your head, giving additional support.
Even though both headsets have similar weight, the Vive Pro does a better job distributing that weight. The Vive places more weight on your forehead. This can become uncomfortable during longer sessions. Additionally, the Pro has more padding in the back, on the forehead, and around your nose. This makes it very comfortable to wear for long periods.
Lastly, both headsets can adjust the lenses for both the distance between your eyes and the lenses and the distance between your pupils. The Pro, however, gives the option for a little more room between your eyes and lenses, which makes it more comfortable for people who wear glasses.
Level of Improvement
Medium – The Pro is a little more comfortable for casual, short use. It’s in the long gameplay sessions that you can feel the difference. Also, people who wear glasses find the Pro easier to put on and use.
A noticeable difference between these two headsets is apparent as soon as you pull them out of the box. The Vive Pro has headphones. The Vive does not. So, right off the bat, you know that with the Vive you either need to use third-party headphones or spend a little extra on the HTC Deluxe Audio Strap.
The built-in headphones on the Pro are good, and you can flip them up to hear outside sounds more easily when needed. However, this feature may also be a problem. It’s difficult to get the headphones pressed to your ear, which can lessen the overall sound, especially the bass. You may find that you want to use third-party headphones anyway.
Beyond the headphones, HTC has improved the sound quality on the Pro. It has better spatial audio, which gives a more realistic experience. Noises sound like they are coming from the direction you would expect in real life. You still get a great audio experience with the Vive, but the Pro is a little better.
Level of Improvement
Low – The fact that high-quality third-party headphones usually sound better, diminishes the benefit of the built-in headphones on the Pro. The improvements to the spacial audio are nice, but blow you away.
In the end, this is really what it’s all about, right? The VR experience of the Pro is definitely better than the Vive. The improved graphics and spatial audio help to more fully immerse you in your virtual world. In addition, the increased padding around your face and, particularly, your nose, better block out light from outside the headset.
The ergonomics of the Pro headset also help. With the better distribution of weight, it’s easier to forget you are wearing a headset. Also, HTC put physical volume controls on the Pro headset. So, you don’t have to take yourself out of your game to navigate to the audio controls in the software just to adjust the volume.
Level of Improvement
Medium – The combined effects of the audio and graphics enhancements on the Vive Pro make the VR world more realistic. The improvement in headset design of the Pro further immerses you.
Ease of Use
Both headsets are similar in the way you use them, but the Pro has made a few notable improvements making it easier to use. The rigid halo harness of the Pro with the knob for adjusting your fit is easier to use than the velcro straps of the Vive.
Also, the Vive Pro uses only a single wire to connect to the link box. So, there are fewer wires to get in your way while using your headset. That said, both the Vive and Vive Pro have a wireless adapter you can purchase separately. Finally, the placement of audio controls on the outside of the headset makes adjusting audio quicker and simpler.
Level of Improvement
Low – The improvements are nice, but not game-changers. The biggest game-changer is the wireless adapter, and that works with either headset.
The computer requirements for both HTC VR systems are nearly identical. Both can operate on a computer with the same specs with two exceptions. The Vive uses USB 2.0 or 3.0 and an HDMI cable. The Vive Pro uses only USB 3.0 and a DisplayPort 1.2 connection.
Here are the computer specs which are the same for both headsets:
Level of Improvement
Low/Medium – On the one hand, this difference isn’t very significant if you are purchasing a new computer. On the other hand, if you want to use your current computer and you don’t have a DisplayPort 1.2 connection (which many graphics cards don’t have), this becomes very significant.
I don’t like to reference specific prices in my articles because they change frequently. For example, the cost of the Vive has dropped to almost half what it was less than two years ago. That said, if I don’t talk about price in this comparison, I am missing the most significant difference between these headsets.
Without referencing specific prices, I think it’s safe to say that the Vive Pro is nearly triple the cost of the Vive. For most people, the price difference is more than they make in a week. It’s definitely a better headset, but that’s a lot to ask.
I should note, though, that if you already have a Vive, your lighthouses and hand-controllers work with the Vive Pro. So, you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing the HTC Vive Pro headset by itself.
Level of Difference
High – For most people, you’ll notice the difference in your bank account depending on which headset you purchase.
The HTC Vive Pro is a definite improvement on the Vive. They improved the system in just about every way that matters. However, the question really isn’t whether the Pro is better. The question is whether it has enough of an improvement over the Vive to make it worth spending that much more money.
I recommend the HTC Vive. For the vast majority of people, I don’t think the upgrades in the Pro justify the vast price difference. You can still have an excellent VR experience with the HTC Vive, which will more than satisfy most people.
However, if you are the type who wants the best or if you’ve got money to burn, then the HTC Pro is the way to go.
If you already have a Vive system and want to purchase just the Vive Pro headset, you can do that here.
Lastly, I highly recommend investing in the HTC wireless adapter. Untethering from your computer makes a huge difference in your experience.
Let me know which headset you choose in the comments below and share about your Vive or Vive Pro experience. As always, if this article has been helpful, please share it with your friends.