Ever since Valve announced the launching of their own VR headset, gaming enthusiasts and avid Steam users have been expecting to take advantage of what seemed to be the perfect fit for VR gaming lovers. It’s been a few years since Valve Index has been available on the market, and its consumer reception has proven that although Valve has developed a decent product, which continues to be used by thousands of Steam gamers, there are a few drawbacks that could be improved.
- Valve Index Headset offers a sleek and stylish design with adjustable knobs for a custom fit.
- The headset provides a highly immersive experience with realistic visuals and high-quality audio.
- The controllers have advanced tracking capabilities with 87 sensors, offering natural and direct input.
- However, the Valve Index Headset has a hefty price tag, requires technical knowledge, and is not as user-friendly as its competitors.
Our opinion in short
Although Valve Index’s specs are impressive, especially for being the first Valve developed VR headset, it’s hard to shy away from its pricing. Our experience with other headsets has proven that there are other more accessible alternatives, like the Oculus 2. The off-ear headphones and the 4K graphics pose a great convenience during gameplay or even movie streaming. Despite its unaffordability, his headset allows you to take full advantage of Steam’s entire game library, which makes it easier to experiment with VR games as much as you want.
What I really liked about Valve Index are the controllers, and it is not just the five finger tracking – actually, the straps make the difference, because of the fact you don`t have to hold the controllers constantly as it is with most of the rest of headsets. What I dislike (especially for a $1000 headset in 2023) is the screen door, even though it is really noticeable when the screen is brighter.
|High refresh rate – up to 144 Hz |
Finger tracking controllers
Access to Steam VR’s game library Built-in speakers
130° filed view
|Has to be connected to a PC |
A more advanced PC is required for optimal performance Complicated setup
What’s in your Valve Index headset box?
Inside, you’ll find:
- The headset – Integrated headphones
- Cables to connect the headset
- A power supply
- Regionalized power adapter(s)
- A cradle adapter
- A face gasket
- Two controllers and lanyards
- Two USB controller charging cables
- Two SteamVR 2.0 base stations
- Two power cables for the base stations
- Two stands with mounting hardware
- A cleaning cloth
Valve Index is a tethered VR headset, which means that it works only when connected to a PC. These are the minimum PC spec requirements needed for the performance of the Valve Index :
- Windows 10 operating system
- Dual-core processor with hyper-threading
- 8GB of RAM – Compatible NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD RX480 graphics card.
For the best performance, it’s recommended to have:
- Quad-core processor or better
- Compatible NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 or higher graphics card.
Headset – Display, Audio and Design
These are Valve Index’s most significant hardware details regarding the headset:
The Valve Index Headset has dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs. Its fill factor is three times better than OLED, reducing the screen door effect, and its subpixels are 50% higher for improved comfort in VR.
With a refresh rate of 120Hz and an experimental 144Hz mode, you’ll enjoy smoother visuals and longer play sessions with reduced motion sickness. Its extremely low persistence provides sharp imagery even when in motion, and its dual-element lens maximizes its field of view without sacrificing clarity.
Off-ear Immersion Audio design provides a natural way to experience sound with Index Speakers that don’t touch the ears, allowing sound to flow freely. Virtual sound sources appear to come from the environment around you, with cooler temperatures and improved comfort during long play sessions.
The adjustable speakers make it easy to customize the audio for your own individual needs.
The generous fabric covering makes it comfortable to wear without any sharp edges. You can adjust the headband and a tactile wheel helps the lower part of your head stay in place.
The face gasket is replaceable with a magnetic interface for easy cleaning and swapping. The headset is fairly lightweight at 12.94 pounds and measures 58.5 x 39.5 x 21.6 cm.
You can experience the improved tracking accuracy of Valve Index base stations, which offer a 400% larger play area than the previous generation, with their laser tracking capabilities and expanded coverage.
The two base stations allow for coverage of a 10 x 10-meter area, and the addition of a third or fourth base station can cover difficult areas in the room.
The base stations are compatible with existing HTC Vive power supplies and can be found separately or as part of a complete kit from the Steam store.
Each base station has a range of 7 meters and a field of view of 160º x 115º, and they scan 100 times per second. Additionally, they’re immune to depth cameras and motion capture systems, making them the ideal choice for high-resolution experiences with millimeter accuracy.
You’ll feel the natural, direct input of the Valve Index controllers in your hands as you reach out and grab objects with ease. With 87 sensors tracking position, movement, finger position, and pressure, you can make a wide range of gestures with low-latency finger tracking.
Plus, the adjustable straps provide comfort and freedom during extended gaming sessions. Throwing objects is also accurate and natural, with optical and motion sensors providing speed and trajectory and capacitive and force sensors helping to determine the release point.
On top of that, the controllers have a full set of buttons, triggers, and analog sticks for compatibility with Steam titles, and the force-sensitive sensor allows for analog actions.
What to keep in mind when setting up Valve Index?
When setting up your Valve Index, remember to clear any obstacles from the play area and choose a space with enough room for your outstretched arms.
For room-scale VR, you’ll need at least 1.9m x 1.5m of free space, and for standing or seated setups, less space.
Place the base stations at various heights, pointing towards the center of the play area, and plug each into an outlet.
Connect the headset DisplayPort cord to your graphics card port, the USB cord to a USB 3.0 port, and the power adapter to a power outlet.
Then, launch SteamVR and run room setup to get ready for your VR experience.
Pay close attention to the height, angle, and positioning of the base stations for the best coverage.
Popular Games for Valve Index
The Valve Corporation owns Steam, which is one of the most popular game platforms worldwide. It’s library has a total of around 5500 VR games, which makes it the most convenient place for exploring new games.
The following examples of games have been designed to take full advantage of the Index’s capabilities, providing you with intense, immersive gameplay.
This VR game was developed by Valve, which is why it was bundled in with the first sold units of Valve Index. The plot is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and follows the story of Alyx Vance as she fights to save humanity from the Combine – a race of evil aliens.
Jump into the action with ‘Gorilla Tag’ the popular game for Valve Index that lets you run, climb, and jump in VR with just your hands and arms. No buttons or sticks are needed; just use the movement of your hands and arms to push off surfaces to jump and squeeze them to climb.
There are four different game modes to choose from – Tag, Infection, Hunt, and Paintbrawl. Tag is a simple game for up to three players, Infection is for four or more, Hunt gives you a personal target to chase, and Paintbrawl is a team vs. team paintball battle.
The game requires you to use two sabers to slash the beats as they come flying at you – each beat indicates which saber you need to use and the direction you need to match.
With the Valve Index headset, you can become a dancing superhero, as the headset provides an ultra-immersive experience for Beat Saber. You’ll be able to feel every beat and move with perfect precision.
Plus, you’ll have access to tons of handcrafted levels that will keep you entertained for hours.
The Valve Index headset kit costs $999.
With its hefty price tag and complex setup, you may find that the Valve Index headset isn’t worth the investment. The setup process requires a great deal of technical knowledge, and it’s not as user-friendly as some of its competitors.
Additionally, at $999, it’s one of the most expensive headsets on the market, so it may be out of reach for many. Furthermore, the headset isn’t a standalone device and requires a powerful gaming PC to run properly.
What else can you use the Valve Index for?
- Use VRChat – to connect with hundreds of other gameplayers.
- Use Google Earth – thanks to the Steam VR 1.6.1 beta version, you can now stroll through Google Earth seamlessly.
- Stream movies – many users have reported that streaming a movie through this headset resembles an IMAX cinema experience.
- 3D sculpting and animation – apps like Medium and Quill allow to create your own projects in VR.
Where can you buy Valve Index?
- Steam Store – This online marketplace from Valve is the best place to find the Valve Index headset. All complementary accessories like controllers and base stations are always available for purchase.
- Amazon – offers convenient shipping and often has excellent deals on the Valve Index. You can even buy pre-owned versions of the Valve Index on Amazon, which can be great for customers looking to save a bit of money.
Although many users praise its comfort, graphics, and access to Steam’s abundant game library, the Valve Index has been criticized for its high price. However, it remains the second most used headset on the Steam platform at about 18.38 % right after the Meta Quest 2 at 42.5 %.
In 2019, it sold an estimated 149,000 sets, with 103,000 of them sold in the fourth quarter due to the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, which buyers received for free.
According to Amazon’s data, the Valve index has an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars, which is lower compared to Oculus 2’s rating of 4.7. 65 % have reviewed it as a 5-star product, but there are another 15% who have given it a 1-star rating.
Valve Index Alternatives
Here are the three most common Valve Index alternatives on the market:
Meta Quest 2
Meta Quest 2 is an all-in-one headset that packs a punch with its advanced features and modern design. It offers a powerful Snapdragon XR2 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a high-resolution LCD display. Its wireless design slows ease of movement, and the affordable price of just $299 has made it accessible for the mass consumer.
HTC Vive Cosmos
This tethered VR headset costs $699 and is the perfect middle ground between the Oculus 2 and the Oculus Rift S. It features 6 camera sensors with software optimizations for a wide field of view, 6DoF, plug-and-play portability, a 2880 x 1700 combined pixel resolution, LCD panels and integrated form-fitting headphones.
Oculus Rift S
It features a 2560×1440 resolution LCD panel with an 80Hz refresh rate, next-generation lens technology reducing god rays, and a field of view of 115ºRift S supports all existing and future Oculus Rift-compatible software and has cross-buy support between Oculus Quest and PC. Its access to both the Oculus Store and Steam allows you to take advantage of hundreds of games.
How will it compare to Valve Index 2?
No certain details have been confirmed about the Valve Index 2, despite its short upcoming on the market. It is speculated that this improved headset will be a standalone one, and its price will most likely match its predecessor’s – around $1000 and above. Another hypothesis is that this new version won’t require the use of base stations.
Overall, the Valve Index is an impressive VR headset with sharp visuals and clear audio. Its setup is relatively straightforward but could be challenging for first-time users. You should be aware of the system requirements and keep in mind what games will work best with it.
While there are some drawbacks, such as its price tag, the Valve Index is an excellent choice for those who want an immersive virtual reality experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does the Valve Index Cost?
The Valve Index costs $499 for just the headset or $999 for the full kit, which includes two controllers and two base stations. It’s an expensive headset, but it offers high-end features and a premium experience.
How Do I Connect the Valve Index to My Computer?
To connect your Valve Index, you’ll need to plug in the USB 3.0 cable and DisplayPort connector. Then, open your computer’s settings and select the headset from the list of devices. You’re ready to go!
Is the Valve Index Comfortable to Wear?
Yes, the Valve Index is comfortable to wear. Its ergonomic design and adjustable head and face straps make it a pleasure to wear for long gaming sessions. The foam padding is also soft and helps to reduce pressure points, making it comfortable to wear even for extended periods.
Does the Valve Index Have Any Special Features?
Yes, the Valve Index has some unique features. It has a dual-element lens design, a wider field of view, and adjustable interpupillary distance. Plus, it’s got built-in speakers and an off-ear audio design for more immersive sound.
Are There Any Compatible Accessories for the Valve Index?
Yes, there are many compatible accessories available for the Valve Index. These include replacement face gaskets, facial interface kits, ear cushions, and special controllers. All of these items can help enhance your gaming experience.