This article covers the most important differences between the HTC Vive XR Elite and Vive Focus 3, helping you choose to wait for the Vive XR Elite release or buy the Vive Focus 3 now.
Don’t wait for the HTC Vive XR Elite if your priority is the best processing power, as the Focus 3 and XR Elite feature the same Snapdragon XR2 processor, GPU, and 128GB of storage.
Granted, we will give a slight edge to the Vive XR Elite for its 12GB of RAM compared to Vive Focus 3’s 8GB. But the performance difference is negligible in VR games or heavy VR applications.
Credit: VR Compare
Where the two VR headsets differ is in display performance. The Vive XR Elite delivers a pixel density of 17.45 PPD vs 21.66 PPD on Vive Focus 3. While this seems minuscule, the almost 25% crisper display is noticeable. In other words, for pixel-peepers, the Vive Focus 3 is for you. Yet, denser pixels make little difference if the graphics are similar, so it is only relevant when tethering your VR headset to a gaming PC.
Besides this, the Field-of-View and refresh rate are either the same or incredibly similar.
The one display advantage Vive XR Elite holds over Focus 3 is the newer pancake lens vs the older fresnel optics. In a nutshell, the pancake lens adopts a smoother dome shape. Thus it doesn’t produce visual artifacts like god rays or ghosting, plaguing the fresnel lens due to its concentric ring design. You can read more about the differences between lenses and their importance in virtual reality below.
Another significant advantage the newer pancake lens enables for the Vive XR Elite is a lighter and slimmer form factor. In fact, the design of the XR Elite is more modern, whereas the Vive Focus 3 looks like most other VR headsets. Particularly, the lighter weight of the XR Elite enables another key design feature for the headset.
The HTC Vive XR Elite is the only VR headset that can detach its backside, transforming it into a VR glasses form factor. While the XR Elite needs to be tethered to a PC in this glasses mode, it sheds off many grams and is handy in stationary situations, such as sitting.
Overall, HTC with the Vive XR Elite has focused on user-friendliness and accessibility, as the VR device also features an adjustable diopter, enabling glasses users to not wear their frames beneath the XR Elite.
Finally, as a bonus more headset manufacturers should take note of, an extra 2-hour battery pack comes in the shipping box when you purchase your HTC Vive XR Elite, increasing its run time from two to four hours.
Firstly, the tracking is the same between Vive Focus 3 vs XR Elite. However, as becoming the industry standard, mixed reality is a focal point for the XR Elite. Namely, a depth sensor, usually only seen in AR, provides superior mixed reality on the upcoming Elite headset. Read below the difference between virtual, mixed, and augmented reality.
Regarding usability, mixed reality, for now, is a gimmick for VR games, only really needed in party games like Demeo. Whereas MR is promising for practical uses such as learning to play the piano, seeing adaptive notes, guides, and more hovering over the piano keys. And excellent for productivity supplementing your office setting with multiple virtual screens above and around your laptop.
The HTC Vive Focus 3 is better for VR gaming due to its superior display performance in delivering a sharper image from a higher pixel density than the XR Elite. Yet, for significant differences, you need to tether your Vive Focus 3 to a more powerful PC.
In tethering your VR headset to a gaming PC, the connectivity options are the same between Vive Focus 3 vs Vive XR Elite with two USB-C ports.
Yet, when you play online VR games like Among Us VR standalone, we give a slight edge to Vive XR Elite for its updated WiFi 6E option compared to Vive Focus 3’s WiFi 6. The reason is 6E delivers a more stable connection and faster speeds.
Finally, in a pinch, when you need to show what you are playing on a monitor for friends and family, HTC Vive XR Elite features the improved Bluetooth 5.2 LE (Low-Emissions) to the standard 5.2 on Vive Focus 3. The low emissions type extends the battery time of the VR headset slightly.
While both feature the same processing power, the Vive Focus 3 has superior display performance and is thus better for VR gaming. Oppositely, the XR Elite focused on practicality and productivity in VR, like learning the piano or working. The reason is the XR Elite features a more modern and user-friendly design, mixed reality, and a detachable backside for a tethered glasses form factor.
Thus, if you are looking for a standalone VR headset for gaming, opt for HTC Vive Focus 3. But if you are planning to use VR for practical purposes and through your work, wait for the HTC Vive XR Elite.
If you are looking for a VR headset for gaming. I have attached below other articles you should check out before you decide on which headset to buy.
Jakob Pii is the Head Writer at VR Expert and currently lives in the UK. He started his career in VR gaming in 2015 and has stayed in XR since, from exposure therapy in VR to 360-degree video documentaries. He is fascinated by how emerging technologies change how we live, play and work.