HTC Vive Cosmos Elite review

HTC is no stranger to the VR industry, especially with its impressively high-performing Vive Pro virtual reality headset series. However, compared to other brands’ VR headsets, the HTC Vive Pro Eye and the Vive Pro 2 are set at a high price point, making them a much bigger investment than other VR products on the market.

HTC released the updated Vive Cosmos Elite in October 2020 as a follow-up to the original Vive Cosmos. They wanted to offer a new VR headset for under $1,000. This headset claims to offer “crystal-clear graphics” and a seamless virtual reality experience, all for a lower price than the Vive Pro 2. We decided to take a deep dive and see if this popular VR headset is worth the investment in 2022.

What is the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite?

HTC released the original HTC Vive Cosmos in 2019, and it had very little fanfare. While the headset had promising hardware specs, the setup and configuration of the device was tedious, and many felt the headset was uncomfortable. The firmware, software and faceplate have seen significant upgrades over the last few years, and the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite has replaced the original version.

Most of the Cosmos Elite headset is physically identical to the original Cosmos. The differences lie in the programming and updated modular faceplate, allowing for highly precise room-scale tracking. In contrast, the original Vive VR, Cosmos, was held back by subpar tracking. The new model uses a completely overhauled camera and base station system, which is the main reason we were excited to revisit it in hands-on testing.

Testing the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

One thing we noticed during unboxing and setup is that there’s a lot of equipment to deal with. However, even if you’re not tech-savvy, all the cables and components are numbered so you know what goes where. In the end, we didn’t need to use all the cords and plastic pieces simultaneously, but we followed the instructions closely and were good to go in no time.

The Cosmos Elite has a guided setup process, which is the only way to configure it. It has a decent number of steps, but the program leads each user through the process without much difficulty.

The Elite version of the headset stands out from the base model because it uses external sensors to create reliable tracking. We set up the two base stations around the room, which was relatively easy. It’s important to note that the sensors have to remain stable because if they bounce around, it will throw off the tracking. To combat that, you can stabilize the base stations with a tripod, light stands or use the included brackets to mount them to the walls for semi-permanent installation.

HTC recommends having at least 6 feet by 6 feet of space to get the best results when using the Vive Cosmos Elite. Since we used an Oculus Quest 2 for over a year, we already had an area set aside, but the space requirement is something to keep in mind if you’re just getting into PC VR.

Key features of the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

Per the brand’s claims, the Cosmos Elite has a slightly more crisp image than most of the competition thanks to the 4.3-inch displays, each with a 1440 by 1700 resolution. Its 90Hz refresh rate is in line with most of today’s VR headsets. These factors created a smooth experience completely free from dizziness or motion sickness.

One thing we noticed as soon as we put the headset on is that while it’s not incredibly lightweight, the strap has a good deal of padding and is reasonably adjustable. This made it fairly easy to get comfortable using the device.

It comes equipped with a visor that’s easy to flip up so you can see your surroundings, which is helpful if you need to use your PC between gaming sessions. There’s also an option to activate the inside-out cameras and display your surroundings on the lenses. The headphones are slightly adjustable to make sure you can hear in-game audio properly.

The Cosmos Elite is for seasoned gamers, especially since you need a relatively capable gaming PC to use it. Since the Viveport service lets you stream various titles at the cost of just a single subscription, it’s a great choice for serious virtual reality gaming.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite price

The list price of the Cosmos Elite is $900, but you can often find it at online retailers for closer to $800. Remember that you need to purchase the entire package, including the Vive controllers and base stations. You’ll also need to have a gaming computer to connect to the system.

Where is the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite sold?

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is sold by Amazon.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite benefits

  • Great image quality: The high resolution and refresh rate make AAA titles like “Half Life: Alyx” look fantastic. There’s little to no screen door effect, and overall, the display quality is on-par with that of other high-end headsets.
  • Improved tracking: The updated faceplate and base station connectivity address the subpar tracking found on the original HTC Vive Cosmos. Tracking on the new model isn’t 100% perfect, but we didn’t have any game-breaking issues during testing.
  • Comfort: Despite the weighty headset, we didn’t have any comfort issues playing for a couple of hours at a time.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite drawbacks

  • Somewhat dated design: As it’s almost identical to the original Cosmos, the Cosmos Elite doesn’t look or feel quite as high-end or modern as more recent releases from the competition.
  • Below-average controller ergonomics: Unfortunately, the Cosmos Elite is only compatible with the first-generation controllers, which are pretty big. Users with smaller hands might experience comfort issues holding the controllers for long periods.
  • Tracking isn’t quite perfect: Tracking is an issue with other inside-out tracking headsets, such as the Oculus Quest 2. If you mostly enjoy games such as “Beat Saber”, where your hands are naturally placed in front of your body, you might never notice any tracking mistakes. But in more immersive simulators, you’ll probably see a brief dropout now and then when the controllers lose line of sight with the base stations and headset cameras simultaneously.
  • It requires a lot of room to move: You’ll need a large open space with no furniture nearby, like coffee tables or chairs. Leaving these in the play area can easily lead to accidents.

Should you get the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite?

If you want higher resolutions and frame rates than what standalone VR headsets can consistently provide, the Cosmos Elite is a good choice. Its high cost makes it a little daunting for VR beginners, but it’s a powerful piece of equipment that works great once you configure it. A couple of competing headsets (such as the Valve Index) offer slightly better tracking or a bit wider field of view, but those also cost noticeably more. For that reason, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is a great compromise for those who demand a high-fidelity PC VR experience but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg.

 

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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