This review will keep changing based on software/firmware updates.
Got tracking from UPS My Choice Tuesday the 18th that was voided, but then I was notified of a new label and received it Friday Dec, 21st. Never got tracking from Pimax, but thanks for the surprise Xmas gift! I’m in NJ btw.
This is probably going to be a lot to read, but I’ll try to bullet point some things in the first sentence of each paragraph, and then expand upon them. Sorry for my English. It’s my main language and I’m not the best at it, nor do I care to make it perfect for this Also, I did not update my firmware, I just wanted to see how things worked for a while before changing/possibly creating issues. PiTool 188.8.131.52, firmware 184.108.40.206.
i5-4690K OC’d a bit.
GTX 1080Ti FE, custom fan profiles to keep it chugging without thermal throttle
16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2400Mhz
First thing everyone should read before trying their headset:
You may need some extra thin padding on top of the original padding if you wear glasses, and also make sure you keep the headset high up on your cheek bones. It helps by removing a lot of distortion/geometry bending. I figured out this tip by myself the first day I had it, but then I looked on the forum to see that others have posted it very recently. I’m surprised not many people have mentioned this earlier. I use glasses that aren’t big, but they touched the screens. I put my Vive VR Cover 6mm face pad on the existing pad, and it provides a lot of relief. I think some distortions occur a bit more with the facepad, but that could be an IPD thing. I really just need more like a 3mm pad, or a little thicker base pad. Also, plugging anything into the front USB ports of your case may cause the headset to constantly disconnect. If you get HMD disconnects, you probably need a powerd USB hub. I was getting a lot of disconnects while using my simracing equipment, so I decided to try my Vive LinkBox as a possthrough/hub for the Pimax USB connection, and that worked. Also, what may help is go into Device Manger and right-click each Generic USB Hub/USB Root Hub and go to the Power Management tab to uncheck “Allow the computer to disable this device to save power.” Apparently it defaults to “allow.” A side affect of troubleshooting is that it seems like performance is better without the USB power saving feature enabled.
Is this “next-level” presence? No.
Does this improve every game I’ve tried in terms of gameplay awareness, fun, and even improving my skill? YES!
This headset is like buying a luxury car that runs on expensive gas (performance), and you decided to go for manual locks, windows, and a basic stereo system(Brightness/Colors are meh, but they are usable).
It’s still fun to drive though! (better awareness, FOV, actually better at games). We won’t have full immersion/presence for a while, so I’m really happy with the enhancements the 5K+ gives me.
I have a Vive, Odyssey+, and Oculus Go, however, I’ve also played on the Rift, a few Windows MR headsets and the PSVR.
Will I use this over my other headsets? Yup! I think it’s for 3 reasons: Lack of God rays, greater FOV, and excellent clarity. I went back and forth looking at the SteamVR Home environment (Summit Pavilion Remix). When I went from Pimax to Vive and/or Odyssey+, I voiced out an “Oh man…” because the picture was MUCH more vibrant on those two vs the 5K+. HOWEVER, the God rays were so annoying on Vive/Odyssey+. They sucked in general, but going back from a Pimax made it worse. The rays hit you constantly and just ruin the moment, since they shouldn’t be there. I learned to disregard them on Vive/OD+, but the Pimax basically has none, so they stood out more when going back. From a pure picture/optics standpoint, going back to the old FOV didn’t bother me as much as the God rays. I haven’t seen many people mention it, so I had to point that out. I have less uneasiness/sickness with movement. I don’t really get sim-sickness anymore, except Lone echo gave me some, pretty badly too due to performance. A lot of games show reprojection, but I don’t seem to mind it as much as Vive reprojection.
Resolution is nice and crisp. Just what I wanted. I feel no need to go over PiTool 1.0. The resolution bump is most noticeable for me in racing games, but every game looks better. Lowering the SteamVR SS to very low levels does not have as huge of an image degradation as other headsets show… I’m sure it’s due to software rendering, but also since the screens are just higher resolution. Kinda encourages me to think that I’ll be able to lower the 8K-X resolution a lot and still enjoy it. The Odyssey+, due to the blurriness of the anti-SDE, looks more like a “clean” Vive image, rather than improved resolution.
Screen Door Effect is there, but pleasant and forgettable. Less of a screen door, more of a thin veil. You can see pixels, but the gaps between them are minimal when you actually look for it. I’d say the gaps are more grayish than black. SDE is almost the same as Oculus Go, but picture is more crisp than the Go. I prefer a crisp picture; it allows me to forget SDE. Odyssey+ is too soft/blurry, for me, and you CAN see SDE pixel gaps along edges of objects. OG Vive obviously has the worst SDE of probably any headset, however, the overall view of the picture is 2nd place next to every other headset I’ve tried, because it’s super vibrant/bright and the image is crisp. Pimax 1st due to the clarity and lack of screen door. Then I’d probably go with Oculus Go/PSVR in the same spot, Odyssey+, then Rift.
Those “black dots” are also there, but only when you focus for them. It’s almost like there are two planes of focus. If you look for SDE, you’ll also see the dots. The dots are pretty noticeable on solid red-ish objects (balloons in The Lab’s Long Bow). Otherwise, you can actively forget them when focusing on the game. They’re easier to see in low-res videos. I see it as a trade off: black dots sometimes vs constant God Rays of other headsets. Also, in general, the black dots are more grayish for me when looking with my own eyes.
EDIT: The black dots exist on the Oculus Go. They’re just not as noticeable, so it’s not just a Pimax thing. They might also be a bit smaller on the Go. I was looking at the SDE and brightness comparison vs the 5K+ for someone on Reddit, and then all of a sudden I saw the dots, very faintly. They’re just hidden well, probably due to the Oculus Go’s lens optics, or maybe a longer/shorter focal length, who knows.
Brightness/color didn’t bother me when I first started using it, but when I looked at my real monitor, or went back to a Vive/Odyssey+, I realized it’s washed out. I always thought the Rift’s brightness was super low and immersion breaking instantly when I put it on. Not so with the 5K+. It could use some more brightness though. I’m going to avoid using the other headsets so I can adjust. Edit: The brightness at the “High” setting now makes me say the brightness level is acceptable. The Oculus Go has better colors, but it’s not as crisp, and obviously only 3Dof. 5K+ is basically Oculus Go at 50% brightness, but the black levels are at Oculus Go 75% brightness. Edit: the 5K+ brightness is now more like 75% Oculus Go after the initial brightness settings update in PiTool 220.127.116.11.
With the 5K+, although everything is a bit dull/washed out, I didn’t feel like I was comparing to other headsets, I was just playing and accepting the picture as it is. So for some reason, I don’t mind the dull look. With the Odyssey+, comparing to a Vive, the brightness was a bit lower(still way brighter than a 5K+ though). Also, some objects were a bit more vibrant, and blacks were darker, but since it was overall not as bright as a Vive I kept thinking about it and comparing to a Vive. I actually went back to using my Vive more before getting the 5K+. I’d rather use a Vive instead of the Odyssey+.
Basically NO GOD RAYS. A game changer for me that I didn’t expect, since I noticed it only when going back and forth between headsets. If you do the Glare Test you’ll see some shininess around the lens circles, but they aren’t actual rays of light. Oculus Go is also good at removing God rays. I don’t even want to use another headset anymore unless God rays are gone or almost gone. I’m wondering if the lower brightness helps the cause. If so, I’m fine with it. I can finally just look at the game world instead of constantly being reminded of the God rays, which I somehow put up with for years.
FOV - Peripheral vision exists! It’s a big help for the brain, especially in driving games. The extra FOV is less about presence, and more about giving your brain more information to make things feel more natural, in addition to “tracking” things out of either corner. I guess it’s more of a subconscious help than being wowed in the moment. It can seem blurry though. You sorta just get used to it. Owning an original headset helps, because you still need to move your head often to look around. If you try to look to the far left/right, you end up seeing the gap between the screens. Compared to older headsets, Instead of being reminded of black bars blocking your vision, you get reminded that the FOV isn’t perfect, but it’s a net-positive since you can actually see objects. Changing the FOV or PiTool settings the correct way will prevent extra blurriness. Like some have said, if you change to Large FOV from normal without restarting, it’ll be blurry, but if you restart PiTool it’ll be better. So there are still some software kinks to work out. Large FOV is nice to try in some instances (Xortex in The Lab), but since the edges are boxy, which I don’t like from using the Rift, I’d rather have rounded edges, like the normal FOV.
Here’s a screenshot comparison I made, since apparently the screenshot function takes it in Vive FOV. Actually, while getting more screenshots, it seems to have taken a different cropping, so it seems inconsistent. I took out two approximate Vive FOVs for the 2nd and 3rd picture because of that. Anyway:
Distortions are there. The edges all around are slightly warpy. It’s not perfect, but every headset has distortions along the edges if you look, except maybe the StarVR/XTAL according to reviews.
Keep the headset higher on the cheekbones, it lessens the distortions/bending a lot. As mentioned by many, the IPD matters, but I think HMD placement is just as important.
Pimax Home - that one planet made me go “DAMN” out loud, in a good way. It’s huge, and I was able to see the whole thing thanks to the FOV. It’s a good test to see if you’re wearing the HMD correctly too, since the geometry bending can show up with it.
Looks good enough to me. Some environments look better due to the extra resolution.
There are a lot of issues with this though (objects disappearing/appearing in peripherals, although it’s fixed with parallel projections turned on). Also, sometimes it seems like the wood floor looks rounded instead of flat. Could be an IPD issue, I’m not sure, but sometimes it looked fine to me. The sunlight is not as vibrant as other headsets. This is also an app that shows a blue line at the right edge of the right screen that someone pointed out.
The Lab -
This is where I started appreciating the headset. Playing Long Bow, I was able to see the majority of all the possible entrances of the stick figures. I used to always dart my head around looking for the Helmet + Shield guys since I knew I’d need more time to get rid of them. Now I can see them from the corner of my eye, without moving my head, which makes it easier to go ahead and light up an arrow to get rid of their shield. I can track all the guys without moving my head, making it easier to go from target to target.
In Xortex, I can see pretty much the whole “room,” so it’s really fun being able to “track” every bot without moving my head. The bigger FOV also seemed to encourage me to move around in the room more, since I no longer needed to check where I wanted to walk to, or worry about walking into a bot I couldn’t see. Large FOV works great in Xortex.
I was on Vesper peak, on a lower platform, and seeing the dog up a level above me jump around and do silly stuff just made me laugh out loud, like it felt more real.
I also see objects appear/disappear in the outer edges of the screen in Longbow/Robot Repair, etc. In Long Bow, depending on where my head was facing, he shields on the guys before starting the game would be either shiny, or dull, but this is only in the left screen. It looked fine in the right screen. Seems to be similar to the Beat Saber issue.
Beat Saber -
In general, it just feels like a bigger atmosphere. Being able to see the sabers the majority of the time I’m sure subconsciously helps my accuracy. Not as vibrant as a Vive, but that kinda makes it less distracting.
An issue: my right screen shows some weird color blurring(banding?), while the left screen doesn’t. It’s annoying when playing, but most noticable in the menus when you open/close each eye. I hope I figure out the issue, because I play this a lot. I’ve booted it up a few times and didn’t see the issue, so it’s 50/50.
So much easier to aim in paintball. I did notice the duller colors vs a Vive though. A bit of a bummer, but not game breaking.
Pavlov - Works nicely. I don’t think I was able to see pistol bullet tracers until using the 5K+. The awareness and atmosphere is solid. There’s nothing in your way of aiming now, since SDE is super small and resolution is acceptable. Looking through scopes/sights is easier.
Arizona Sunshine - super crisp picture! I did some horde mode, fun stuff. I still jump and say “oh fuck” when a zombie creeps up on me. Much easier to aim for headshots. I feel like the zombie faces are really staring at me. Creepy. Noticed some reprojection when shooting zombies, but this occurs in every headset. Probably should lower the settings or upgrade my CPU.
Distance - I was more impressed with the Odyssey+ due to colors/brightness being better, but this game used to give me some sim sickness/stomach feels. Not so with the 5K+. I can play it fine. Also performance hungry and laggy, but can be forgettable.
Robo Recall and Lone Echo
These games were laggy and made me a bit sick. Robo Recall worked alright and looked nice. Lone Echo had some weird issues when I would turn my head back and forth, similar to The Lab. I’m wondering if MSI Afterburner is hurting me instead of helping here. I use it for a custom fan profile, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe because I have SteamVR reprojection on it’s hurting me too. I’m not sure.
Most of the racing games need parallel projects on, which is unfortunate, since they’re power hungry in the first place.
In general, I never cared for simracing until I had a Vive. It’s super hard for me to race on a monitor with a wheel unless it’s an arcade game like The Crew 2. I’d have to do 3rd person with a controller. Otherwise it just feels stressful, since you have no depth on a monitor, nor do you have good FOV. In VR, the adrenaline kicks in and it’s awesome. Definitely a different feeling vs a monitor, kinda like most VR games vs similar pancake versions.
iRacing - I definitely feel like the extra peripheral vision gives me a better sense of speed, and therefore better control. Before, it was tough to decide if a turn I was going to take would make me slide out at the speed I was going. I thought maybe I needed a better wheel. Now, I think the peripheral vision is helping me sense if I’m going too fast or slow approaching a turn, and it feels a lot more natural. I now see why people like a triple monitor setup, for the peripheral speed along with the resolution. I think the 5K+ could now be better than triple monitors, since it also gives depth, so a good option for simracers, especially since the screen door is minimal now. I did recently mess with the Skip Barber, and there were grey edges rendered in the bottom left and right corners of the screen. Turning off hidden mesh doesn’t help either.
DiRT Rally - WOW. Feels like a whole new game vs Vive. I was throwing the Polo around like a boss, and usually I stay away from the fast cars. I got top 250 in both of the dailies(pretty decent for me), without practicing beforehand, because I had a lot more awareness and prevented myself from crashing. It’s so sharp, and I’m pretty sure the scale is correct now vs Vive. I’m thinking the Vive’s scale with Revive made everything a bit smaller. I remember some cars’ steering wheels would fit with my T150’s wheel, but now those cars all have bigger wheels and it just feels more natural. Just an FYI, the T150 wheel is smaller than a normal car’s wheel. Sim sickness is gone too. Usually, when I boot up DiRT after a month+ of not playing, I feel crappy/get sweats since it’s hard to control some cars after not driving for a while. I had absolutely no problem with sim sickness this time with the 5K+. There seems to be a decent amount of reprojection, but for some reason it’s easy to just power through it, whereas with Vive I would feel a bit off. I should probably buy FPSvr. I’m now depressed that DiRT Rally 2.0 is not launching with VR, and may never have it.
Project Cars 2 - Nice and crisp, jaggies are more acceptable. Turning up the Exposure Compensation a little makes it nice and bright. Peformance is not nice though. I tried turning down a lot of settings. Reprojection with 5K+ is not as jarring as a Vive though, so it’s possible to just accept it.
-Packaging is nice, setup was easier than most people here are saying. Also, I had a nice greasy fingerprint on the power button. I was happy about it to be honest, because it meant someone tested it I see no dead pixels, and I don’t want to look for them. The cord is longer than Odyssey+, thank God.
I just love looking at it in its deep blue eye.
Unboxing and comparison to Vive: https://imgur.com/a/4T8Hk5c
Some Bad Stuff
I’m having USB issues. Plugging in my XBox One (wired) controller into the front of my case USB causes the Pimax to disconnect/reconnect constantly. Works fine through the back. Had the same issue with my Wheel + shifter being plugged in for iRacing. After a few laps, constant HMD disconnects. Never had issues with other HMDs.
I had no issues pairing my controllers, but when I went back to the Vive, I had to re-pair the controllers to it. That’s fine, but going back to Pimax, I had issues pairing again. Pretty annoying. Eventually they just worked, the next day.
There’s sometimes a blue line at the edge of my right screen when I look for it. Not noticeable when playing games.
My screens seem to (sometimes?) be different colors/brightness like others have noted. I didn’t really notice until I looked at the lenses from afar after hours of testing. I don’t think it’s a huge issue in games. Might be related to my Beat Saber and The Lab issues though.
Apparently my microphone sounds muffled to a friend I was just chatting with over Blizzard Chat. Sounds fine to me when I do the “test” though.
What I Want to See for a True Next Gen
(Apart from the usual, better SDE, better resolution, FOV, and wireless)
We’ll need more vibrant screens with at LEAST the screen door of the 5K+. More FOV the better but the 140 Normal FOV is acceptable, but it needs to be distortion free. I think the masses will only be fully satisfied with full human vision FOV.
We need better heapdhones. Over ear, that really help you feel vibrations. It seems like maybe the leaked Valve headsets are attempting that. Sound is a huge part of the immersion, and I believe special headphones for VR that help you “feel” the atmosphere are essential. Ever play a game that has a huge explosion, but you don’t “feel” it? It looks cool but takes you out of the experience a bit. I like using my sub woofer/speakers for now.
Definitely needs to be as easy to put on as a pair of ski goggles.
We need more seamless software. I think the Oculus Quest is a good start to the solution. Put everyone in the same spec headset so there’s no need to change settings at all.