I ordered a VP2 from Amazon using 1 day free delivery. So I spent the past few days getting it setup and did a lot of A + B comparisons against my 8KX. Here are some of the conclusions. For referrence my IPD is 63 as measured by an optician and I also wear prescription glasses for short sightedness. I have no issues wearing my glasses in either the VP2 or the 8KX and the VP2 even has room at the closest eye relief setting.
What were HTC thinking?
Almost every review of the VP2 I have read says the same thing, get a thinner face foam. Why HTC went with this thick layer of foam is beyond comprehension. I bought a set of various face foams in 6mm, 10mm and 12mm. The 10mm aftermarket foam is perfectly comfortable, blocks out more light and gives a significant increase in both vertical and horizontal FOV. So for the rest of this mini review the thinner after market face pad was used.
Stock VP2 foam
VP2 with 10mm Facefoam
140 HFOV (normal setting)
8KX was at 100% SS in Steam VR and 1 on Render Quality within PiTool settings. Normal Fov was used(140 deg Horiz).
VP2 was set 100% SS in Steam VR and to Ultra (4896x2448, 90Hz) in Vive Console display settings.
I did try increasing SS on both HMDs but overall it did not change the perceived clarity beyond these settings.
Comfort vs 8KX
Here the VP2 wins by virtue of it being lighter but really both HMDs are actually very comfortable and the weight distribution is very good. Both feature a very comfortable built in comfort strap that I have had no issues with during proglonged VR gaming. So a minor win for the VP2.
As a test I moved my thin face foam from the 8KX onto the VP2. This foam has a very nice extended cushioned section that is has a fairly rigid base under the cushion. This extended part rests on top of your forehead and helps keep the weight of the HMD more evenly distributed. I found it fits perfectly on the VP2 and has made a big difference in comfort for me. If you can get one I recommend it as the HFOV and VFOV are still identical to the aftermarket thinner facefoam.
You can get one here and if I am selling the 8KX I will be getting a new one for my VP2. Make sure to chose the 11mm standard version.
Both the VP2 and 8KX have mechanical IPD adjustment dials. The VP2 goes from 57mm - 70.5 mm and allows for very fine and precise adjustments using the mechanical dial.
The 8KX has a much inferior IPD adjustment mechanism that is nowhere near as precise and takes a fair bit of messing with to get it right. IPD range is 60mm - 70mm on the 8KX.
This VP2 will do 90Hz or 120Hz in native resolution. Though to be honest even top end GPUs will not be able to drive this amount of pixels in any even reasonably demanding game. The Pimax 8KX can drive 90Hz, 75Hz and 60Hz in native resolution and this is a big area the Pimax has an advantage. Getting 60Hz at native resolution without reprojection makes much less demands on your PC and is good enough FPS for many to feel smooth lag free gameplay.
Not a lot in it here, a marginally slight edge to the VP2 and you really have to look for SDE on both HMDs
The sweetspot on both HMDs are quite similar, it does take a small bit of adjusting when you first put either HMD on but I had no issues finding the sweet spot in either HMD. Please be aware that for sweetspot I am only referring to the point where you can look directly ahead and get the image as sharp as it will get with little or no fuss.
The Pimax 8KX wins here hands down in actual visible area, it is not even close though this exceptional FoV comes with some very big trade-offs.
- Distortions on the 8KX are always there (maybe the last 10 degrees of the edges) but it can depend on the user how much of a distraction this can be. Some people like myself can live with this and in normal Fov these distortions are reduced significantly. But they are always there to a certain degree. *
- The 8KX is very blurry on the periphery of your vision, even when you move your eyes to refocus on the edge of the screens.
*Note: I it is possible to reduce the FOV in Pimax 8KX to 120 degree and this will eliminate the distortions even more.
Having said that the FoV of the VP2 is perfectly adequate and in fact I would give it a win here and will go into the reason for this below.
Clarity vs 8KX (note I will break clarity down into 2 sections)
In terms of clarity there is little to choose between the two, both give a very nice clear image but the VP2 does have a slightly smoother edge to the pixels though not in a bad way. It helps to give a slight level of anti-aliasing which results in marginally less artifacting on sharp edges.
NOTE: VP2 needs an Nvidia RTX or an AMD 6000 series GPU to allow native resolution. Older generation GPUs will be stuck with upscaling from a smaller resolution. Please bear this in mind before you consider purchasing a VP2 as this will significantly impact image clarity.
Edge to Edge Clarity
Before I tried the VP2 I would have said the edge to edge clarity of the 8KX was good, now I would rate it as average at best. To test this I would always look directly at the green monster on the shelf in the Steam VR Home. Then without moving my head I would move my eyes to see where text or objects became obvioulsy blurry.
This is where the VP2 wins hands down, it has a significantly bigger area that remains sharp and readable. Using ROV FOV tool I simply looked at the degree markings on the floor during the HFOV test and measured where the text or lines became blurry and unreadable.
In the VP2 I could clearly read the 90 degree marking lines and even a bit beyond. I would say around 105% FOV or more is still clearly readable in the VP2, though not as clear as the centre of the view but still readable.
The 8KX by comparison was losing sharpness at 60 deg FoV even though the full FoV was 140 degrees. For me it was so much of a difference it rendered (pardon the pun) the higher FoV in the 8KX less important than I thought it would. So the VP2 has a smaller fov but a much larger percentage of it was clear and readable.
Another test I did was load up the Il2 Fw190A3 in VR and check the gauges. Without moving my head I scanned the cockpit with my eye movement only and this doctored screenshot (not through the lense) gives a rough approximation of where the gauges begin to get blurry in the 8KX. The two gauges on the bottom right and bottom left cannot be seen without moving your head in the 8KX. In the VP2 all the gauges are readable without moving your head.
NOT THTOUGH THE LENSE SHOT
This advantage cannot be understated and I cannot understand how some reviewers say the VP2 has a low edge to edge clarity. It really does show you cannot go by what reviewers say, it is a try before you buy thing wth VR and always will be. Oh no, you can stop reading now if you want
This is a hard one to pick an outright winner for but I would give the nod to the Pimax 8KX by a small margin and that margin being the extra FoV at normal or high only. Even if the VP2 has much better edge to edge clarity the Pimax does give a better sense of imerssion due to the wider (even if blurrier) FoV and the canted screens giving a marginally more wrapped around effect. Pimax HMDs use canted displays do help give that wrap around feel but they are ultimately a curse because they are a major cause of distortions. In many cases a game requires Parallel Projections enabled in PiTools settings due to double vision caused by canted (angled) displays. This causes massive FPS loss in some games, for excample Elite Dangerous and Half Life Alyx. Thankfully most games work fine wihtout the need for parallel projections.
Note: If you set your Pimax 8KX to 120 degree FOV in order to reduce distortions or improve performance, then the VP2 wins due to much better edge to edge clarity.
Glare and Godrays
Here the 8KX wins easily , it has almost no Godrays. The VP2 on the otherhand has a lot of them in high contrast areas. In HL2 for example lightbulbs in dark areas will give off noticeable beams that can be distracting. Having said that it is not unbearable and I would not consider it a deal breaker unless all you play are dark games with high contrast scenes. In HL2 it is still more than bearable for example. Though of course others may consider this a deal breaker.
I would have put money on the fact that my 8KX did not suffer from Mura… and I would have lost it. When I did an A B comparison using the outside section of the Steam VR Home I noticed a very slight mura on the 8KX that was obvious when you saw it. The VP2 by comparison was much cleaner and gave no noticeable mura effects. Hoestly it is not a horrible effect in the 8KX but the VP2 only served to demonstrate it existed and when I game it is not a thing that will distract me but the VP2 wins here.
Colours, contrast and black levels
The colours on the VP2 have a bit more saturation but not to an unrealistic level. Overall I would say the VP2 colours are a bit more vivid and the black levels are a bit better on the VP2. Though neither is going to give you the blacks of an OLED, though the VP2 is better overall… marginally I would say.
This is an area where most if not all reviewers say the VP2 is poor. I have decent headphones at home and I was not expecting much from the VP2 based on the reviews I read. So when I tried the VP2 headphones I was pleasantly surprised that the audio was perfectly fine, not great but certainly not bad either. I much prefer the on ear headphones solution than the off ear ones and I have not tried the Index audio extensively but I have no issues with the audio of the VP2. Though I would expect Index owners to be somewhat disappointed. The 8KX standard off ear audio is simply atrocious and always has been. It was nice to play games with some decent audio and the VP2 wins hands down compared to the 8KX.
Both HMDs use the Valve Lighthouse tracking system. I have v 1.0 Lighthouses and Vive Index controllers and this is easily the best tracking system for VR. There are no issues with loss of tracking, or with centering etc.
Software and ease of setup/use
The VP2 software is quite basic and limited if you are used to the PiTools that comes with a Pimax. Though to be honest I believe the Pimax only has such in depth options to compensate for the poor tolerences during fitting of the screens. Having to play around for days to get the Pimax screens adjusted for vertical and horizontal “offset” to reach peak clarity is a pain in the butt. So here is where the Vive software wins, because install and setup was a breeze. Both the Pimax and the VP2 rely on Steam VR, so once you have them setup the functionality is essentially the same. PiTools does allow for some more in depth per game customisations. VP2 wins for play and go, Pimax wins for range of options.
I could go into price of each HMD but let’s be honest neither is exactly the budget choice and if you are looking at these then you obvioulsy have money to burn. Even a full Index with lighthouses and controllers will set you back over £900 UK. If you have Lighthouses and Index controllers then overall by a small margin, I would recommend the VP2 over the 8KX.
There are some win some lose some factors and as usual we VR enthusiasts must pick from a list of compromises. Overall it comes down each individuals personal preferences as to what factors are important but for me the one area the Vp2 simply excels at in comparison to the 8KX is the edge to edge clarity. On paper the Pimax 8KX has a much higher FoV but as I showed above, only 60 - 66 degrees of that FoV is readable compared to around 100 degree of the VP2. For me* this was a moment of clarity (another intended pun) in why I will be using the VP2 as my goto VR Headset.
Ultimately there are some wins and losses for each HMD here but my choice is the VP2 purely on edge to edge clarity. If you hate God rays and like the lower Hz modes on the Pimax then you will be perfectly happy with an 8KX.
*Please understand head/face shape is a major factor in VR and cannot be understated.
I hope this review is useful to some who are considering a VP2 as their next VR purchase. It is expensive but overall my tests and conslusions are that it is a great HMD for both sims and roomscale VR.