Even though they’re not one of the major VR developers, Pimax has been putting out quality headsets for the past few years.
Recently, the company put out its newest slate of headsets, and have improved in some major areas.
In this Pimax 5K Plus VR headset review, I’m going to let you know what the headset does right, and where I think it sucks. Is it something that stacks up well to the likes of Oculus and HTC?
Things to Consider Before Buying a PC VR Headset
There are a few different types of VR headsets that you can buy these days: mobile, video game console headsets, and PC VR headsets. The Pimax line falls into the latter, and there are some things you should think about before you consider buying a PC headset, as you can quickly find yourself in over your head.
Make Sure Your Rig Can Handle VR Gaming:
Not just any PC that you buy will work with VR. Heck, most of the computers you pick up off the shelves of a retailer like Target or Walmart won’t be able to sniff VR gaming’s jockstrap.
You’re going to need some serious firepower to handle the processing of the visuals of VR, as there’s double the work being done to deliver the experience to your eyes.
Generally speaking, the target specs for a gaming PC to be able to run VR are as follows:
Do You Have Room for Room-Scale Experiences?
There are some wicked VR games that have you sitting in your chair while you experience a new world, but some of the best games have you moving around a room to give you full immersion.
If you want these room-scale experiences, you’re going to need to make sure you have enough room to move around in. For my VR setup, I have a space of about 8.5 feet by 8.5 feet, and that’s adequate.
If you have anything less, you risk crashing into your mom’s china cabinet.
Do You Get Motion Sick?
If you’re the type of person who barfs at the drop of a bucket, then you may need to investigate VR more before you jump in. There are a few causes for VR motion sickness, and there are also a few cures.
If you’re interested, I wrote a whole guide on VR Motion Sickness, which you can find here.
Are You Okay With PC’s Pitfalls?
You can do nearly anything with a PC, but there are some pitfalls present with the tech.
Unlike a console, you have to update drivers with your PC, and there’s a lot of times where updates don’t work smoothly. Are you okay waiting this out and working to solve the issues on your own?
Are you okay with a potential virus popping up and making your life miserable for a bit?
If the answer to these is “no”, you may be better off looking toward console VR or mobile VR.
The good thing is that if you are okay with some small issues that can pop up, then you’re likely an ideal candidate to have a bunch of fun with PC VR.
Presenting the Pimax 5K Plus VR Headset
Pimax’s 5K Plus VR headset is the company’s latest attempt at bringing in high-resolution virtual reality devices to players. The company boasts two 2560 x 1440 panels, which is higher than anything else the competition is bringing these days. This is combined with an ultra-wide 200-degree field of view (FOV), which keeps you from stretching your vision.
The end result is a very immersive experience that stacks up well against the likes of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Features and Benefits of the Pimax 5K Plus VR Headset
The Pimax 5K does bring a lot to the table in terms of being a capable VR headset.
While it may not come with all the bells and whistles of the big boys, it certainly packs in some compelling features, and below I’ll explain just what those are.
The overall goal of being in VR is to be immersed in a new world. If the headset doesn’t do that, it’s not doing its job. Thankfully, the Pimax 5K Plus does a fantastic job of making you feel like “you’re in the game”.
This is largely due to that impressive display and wide FOV. I especially noticed the difference while I was playing seated experiences, as flight simulators and race cars gave me the feeling of being “there” when I was looking at gauges and dials. Room-scale experiences were good too, albeit not quite as good as what you get with the HTC Vive.
The Pimax 5K Plus does have the ability to have your motions tracked, but the technology isn’t quite as accurate as the inside-out tracking on the Rift S. It does use the same Steam VR tracking base stations as the HTC Vive, but for some reason, the accuracy doesn’t seem to be as good.
I’m not saying that the tracking sucks, but it could use some improvement.
Being in a large room does help things, as when I was confined, I noticed things got a bit dicier in terms of messing up tracking.
You don’t get motion controllers out of the box with your Pimax 5K Plus, which is a bit of a letdown as other headsets come standard with them. Instead, you need to shell out for the base stations and wireless controllers.
Build quality is nice on these, and they do work well. I will say that they’re not as comfy as the HTC Vive Controller, but I consider those to be the best in the industry.
If you were expecting this headset to be a piece of junk, then I’m sorry to inform you that you’re wrong.
Pimax put a lot of time into designing these headsets, and even though I think they look a bit funky, the design is well done. I feel that the headset is solid without being bulky, and it definitely “feels” like a quality device.
The display in this Pimax 5K Plus is second to perhaps only the Pimax 8K in terms of video quality.
The LCD screens are fantastic, and everything does seem to be a bit sharper than what you’ll find from other headsets that are available. Pimax says that you can “say goodbye to SDE (screen door effect)” with this headset. I think that claim is a bit bold, as I can still notice a bit of SDE with the 5K.
With that said, it’s a lot better than with every other headset on the market today.
Aside from resolution, the colors on the screen are well-done, and the refresh rate is high enough that you don’t see any ghosting effects. This is key for fast-moving games, as anything less than ideal will ruin your experience and possibly see you puking.
Audio isn’t built-in with any external speakers, but there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack that lets you choose the headset that you want to use. You can use Bluetooth headphones, but you want to make sure you’re using something with Bluetooth 5.0, as lower versions can cause some lag between your computer and the headset.
Using a straight-set of headphones is good, and there’s no crackling or any sort of funny business with the jack, which is due to the high build quality.
There is software available to help download games and manage your device.
The software is called PiTool and it looks and feels a lot like HTC’s software.
There’s a good reason for this: it really serves as a vehicle to launch SteamVR on your computer, and it has the base station calibration tool built right in.
The Oculus ecosystem remains the best in the industry and is my preferred way to download games.
If you don’t mind Steam’s platform, it’s more than sufficient for most people out there (I’m just picky).
Ease of Use
Using the Pimax isn’t as easy as plugging in an Oculus headset and launching the app.
There is quite a bit of setup involved, albeit with clear inspections from the company.
The PitTool does help a lot, but I was less than impressed with the setup when compared to the competition.\
This device just isn’t as user-friendly. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it if you’re not too technically savvy, it should give you pause when deciding on the device.
The Pimax 5K Plus does have a nice feel to it, and when you put it on that quality translates to feel.
Weight is well distributed across your head, and you can use the device for extended periods without feeling too much strain on your neck.
If there is a downside here, it’s that Pimax doesn’t do anything to pad your nose, and this has two consequences. The first is comfort, as you can feel some wear on your nose, especially if you move around and the piece gets knocked against your schnoz. The second consequence is a bit of light bleed, as some did seem to creep in under my enormous beak.
Another area where I’m concerned is the stitching on the headband. I’ve seen a bit of wear on mine, despite only logging about 20 hours on the device as of press time. I have also seen that others have seen some fraying on their straps as well.
If any issues do arise on your end, I can vouch for Pimax’s customer support.
The group has a ticketing system for issues, and the team is fast to respond to any problems you have. I got an answer from the team in just a few hours, and there is an extensive forum that’s members are really good at helping out newbs.
I do wish there was an instant messaging input, as I like instant gratification, but overall I am pretty happy with how the team performed as a whole.
What Others Have to Say About the Pimax 5K Plus VR Headset
The Pimax is currently very popular among VR enthusiasts, but I wanted to see what others really think about the headset. I went and searched around the web to find other honest reviewers, and found that most are impressed with the headset. Unsurprisingly, the resolution seems to be a strong selling point for most.
Check out PWNDSHOP below, who shows off the resolution of the Pimax 5K’s screen against other devices.
The Pimax 5K Plus is a stellar device, and it deserves strong consideration as being your next VR headset.
The display is very detailed, the FOV is a gamechanger, and the build quality is nice. I do think that not including controllers and base stations sucks, and wish those could be included.
Still, this is a great little device and is worthy of your money.