Valve Index Review

Valve Index Review

Published: 20-04-2023
Updated: 04-05-2023

The Valve Index VR headset  is one of the most highly regarded consumer virtual reality headsets available in the market today. In this Valve Index review, we take a deep dive into the various features of the headset, providing you with an in-depth understanding of what you can expect from this VR marvel.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • High-resolution display
  • Excellent tracking and precision
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design
  • Rich and immersive audio
  • Wide field of view
  • Robust game library on SteamVR

Cons:

  • Heavy compared to the Pico 4 and Oculus Quest Pro
  • Expensive
  • Requires a high-end PC for optimal performance
  • Setup can be complex for first-time users

Specifications of the Valve Index VR Headset

The Valve Index has the following specifications:

  • Display: Dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz (with experimental 144Hz mode)
  • Field of View: Up to 130 degrees
  • Tracking: SteamVR 2.0 tracking
  • Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0
  • Audio: Integrated off-ear headphones
  • Controllers: Index Controllers

What’s in the box

  • Valve Index VR headset
  • 2 Base Stations (SteamVR 2.0)
  • 2 Index Controllers
  • Power adapters and cables
  • Mounting hardware
  • Cleaning cloth
  • USB 3.0 cable
  • DisplayPort cable

Design and comfort

The Valve Index VR headset boasts a sleek and modern design even though it does not have modern pancake lenses, that places a strong emphasis on user comfort. The Valve Index still relies on the older Fresnel technology for its lenses. The headset’s adjustable head strap and face gasket ensure a secure and snug fit for various head sizes and shapes, allowing for extended play sessions without causing discomfort.

Weighing in at approximately 808 grams, the Index might be slightly heavier than some other VR headsets on the market, but its smart weight distribution helps minimize pressure on the face and head. The inclusion of a top strap and a back padding further enhances the stability and comfort of the headset.

Designed to accommodate glasses, the LCD panels can be moved physically closer or further away from your face via a dial on the right side of the headset. Overall, the Valve Index’s design focuses on ergonomics and user comfort, ensuring an enjoyable VR experience without compromising on style.

Ease of use

Setting up the Valve Index can be a bit complicated for first-time users, but the process becomes easier with experience. The headset connects via DisplayPort and USB 3.0, while the base stations require separate power adapters. Valve’s SteamVR platform makes it simple to browse and launch games or applications.

Power and performance of the Valve Index

The Valve Index is designed to deliver top-notch performance, catering to the needs of serious VR enthusiasts and gamers. The headset’s power and performance are closely tied to the capabilities of the PC it’s connected to. It requires a high-end gaming PC to make the most of its advanced features.

Minimum System Requirements:

  • Processor: Dual-Core with Hyper-Threading or better
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD RX480 or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: Quad-Core or better
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 or better
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • OS: Windows 10

Display of the Valve Index

The high-resolution dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs provide crisp and detailed visuals, reducing the “screen door” effect commonly associated with VR headsets. The refresh rate of 120Hz (with an experimental 144Hz mode) ensures smooth gameplay, minimizing motion sickness and latency. The high refresh rate also reduces motion blur and judder, allowing for a more comfortable and realistic experience.

The wide field of view (up to 130 degrees) on the Valve Index adds to the immersive nature of the experience, allowing for a more expansive virtual environment. This enhanced field of view enables users to feel more present in their VR games and applications.

Tracking of the Valve Index

The Valve Index boasts cutting-edge tracking capabilities, thanks to its integration with the SteamVR 2.0 tracking system. This system uses two base stations to create sub-millimeter tracking (extremely accurate) and responsive room-scale tracking environment, allowing users to move freely within their virtual surroundings. The base stations emit infrared light that is picked up by the sensors on the headset and controllers, ensuring precise and reliable tracking.

One of the standout features of the SteamVR 2.0 tracking system is its large tracking area, which can cover up to 10×10 meters (32×32 feet) when using four base stations. This expansive tracking space provides users with a heightened sense of immersion, as they can walk, turn, and interact with the virtual environment without feeling constrained by physical boundaries.

Valve Index

The Valve Index’s tracking system is also remarkably low-latency, ensuring that user movements are reflected in the virtual environment with minimal delay. This responsiveness helps to maintain a strong sense of presence within the VR world, while also reducing motion sickness and disorientation.

Another notable aspect of the Index’s tracking capabilities is its ability to track individual finger movements when paired with the Index Controllers. This finger-tracking technology enables users to interact with virtual objects in a more natural and intuitive manner, adding a layer of realism to the overall experience.

App Store

The Index is compatible with SteamVR, which offers a vast library of VR games and applications. Users can access popular titles, as well as exclusive games developed specifically for the Valve Index.

steamvr

Streaming

While the Valve Index doesn’t offer native streaming capabilities, third-party apps like Virtual Desktop allow you to stream PC games and media to the headset wirelessly. However, to do this you will need a 3rd party wireless module for this since the headset originally only works with its own cable

Sound

The Index’s integrated off-ear speakers provide immersive and spatial audio, adding to the overall VR experience. Unlike other VR headsets, which rely on either an aux port for connecting your own headphones or built-in speakers within the head strap that are often small, the Valve Index’s built-in audio solution offers more robust and dynamic sound. This is because the ear speakers on the Valve Index are adjustable and do not put pressure on the ears. As a result, they produce a full sound, with a wide soundstage.

Another significant advantage of the Valve Index is its microphone, which remains unmatched by other headsets on the market. Only the recently announced Bigscreen Beyond VR headset can compete with the Valve Index’s superb microphone quality.

Controllers

The Index Controllers, also known as Knuckles, feature finger-tracking technology that allows for a more natural and intuitive interaction with the virtual environment. On a full charge the battery will last you around 7 hours. The controllers are ergonomic and fit comfortably in the hand.

Price

The Valve Index is priced at a premium compared to other VR headsets in the market. The complete kit, which includes the headset, base stations, and controllers, can be a significant investment.

Conclusion

The Valve Index offers an exceptional VR experience, with its high-resolution displays, precise tracking, and comfort. While the price tag of the Valve Index headset may be steep, it offers excellent value for money. With its exceptional clarity, vibrant colors, and high color contrast, the Valve Index delivers an incredibly immersive VR experience. 

The Valve Index’s off-ear speakers will completely immerse you in your game without creating any uncomfortable pressure points on your head, as some headphones might.  Additionally, comfort is a crucial consideration when selecting a VR headset, and the Valve Index delivers on this front with its extensive adjustability options. You can customize the headset to fit perfectly on your head, ensuring maximum comfort during extended VR sessions.