I got into VR about 2 years ago, after the first months of excitement I hardly played in VR once a week… The claustrophobic small FOV of the older generation always bothered me at that point in time. Then the savior named Pimax came along the way and gave me hopes for a new fantastic VR experience.
After endless months of waiting, checking the forums, reddit and the youtube channels of our 3 musketeers the Pimax 5K+ landed on 9. January 2019.
I almost got mad cause I spend hours and hours on side-by-side comparing the through the lens images that @Sweviver made to make my decision if it’s the 5K+ or the 8K…. At the end I was still not 100% sure which headset I should choose…
My former headsets:
Oculus Rift, OG Odyssey, Odyssey+ (all are already sold), still got an Oculus GO also tried the Vive and Vive Pro at friends’ homes.
My Pc config:
Windows 10 – I5 8600K, MSI RTX 2080 Gaming Trio, 16 GB DDR4-3000Mhz
Here are my impressions:
The lid of the package looked a little bit shady as if it was not particularly good threatened.
The headset itself was fitted tight into foam though wish the outer box would protect the inner box with some air cushion foil, but the device arrived without damage.
Just showed up, got the tracking number 2 hours after delivery… Kind of funny
I love the looks; you look a little bit like a hammerhead but with the LED it’s awesome and so futuristic.
The clearance or the gaps between parts looks no good to say the least, from a quality standpoint this is the worst that I have seen on a HMD. Plastic case looks very thin you notice that immediately if you look below the front LED.
For this size, it feels really light weighted, maybe this is also because the plastic is so thin.
Here comes a major pain point, the quality at least on my version is really bad, I already got 2 cracks which developed in the last 3 months. At this point in time I am not sure if an RMA will make it better, because there are still popping up forum threads of people who have the same problem with newer versions. I guess this problem is still not solved.
Even though I do not wear glasses, I noticed a little scratch on the left lens.
Out of the box comfort wise the HMD was really bad for me. The distribution of weight with the head strap, the pressure on the face is ok for short sessions, but not if you want to deep dive into games like Skyrim. What made it really good and comfortable was:
- Apache DAS Strap (37€)
- Deluxe Audio Strap (99 €)
I also bought Printed DAS Adapters (14 €) unfortunately, I did not manage to attach the Printed DAS adapters to the Pimax, you need really some amount of pressure to get them in and I didn’t want to break the mounts. Instead I “frankenpimaxed” with these incredible results
The cost of “comfort improvements”: 150€ (which is about 169$)
The accessories as up to today include almost nothing, besides the 5-meter cable which is really a good length by the way (compared to Rift and Odyssey). If you don’t own a VIVE already and want the full experience you need to invest more money.
Luckily, I found a new VIVE set on sale for 380 € and sold the untouched headset alone on ebay for 200 €.
The cost of “usability improvements: 180€ (which is about 203$)
Total added costs for me: 330 € or 372$ (!)
Though these added costs are not mandatory, they improve your gaming experience significantly.
Guys what should I tell you what you do not already know… the FOV is… sooooo natural… At first try at the Gouda meetup I missed that WOW factor which I was expecting, but then I realized, this is so much closer to human vison than ever. You get used to it really quick and only realize this if you go back to an “old” headset like the Odyssey or the GO.
It is amazing and I am really proud to own the first wide FOV HMD available for consumer!
I made a comparison gif with the help of ROV testing tools and steam mirror(therefore the image is stretched) which show you the difference between older gen headsets and the Pimax normal and large FOV. (I am not using the small FOV since I do not see the need for stepping down with at RTX 2080)
- Oculus Rift / Odyssey is around 96 degrees horizontally
- Normal FOV is around 144 degrees horizontally
- Large FOV is around 158 degrees horizontally
The results differ from person to person based on headshape, eye distance, dialled IPD…
My IPD is 64 I use 64 in the hedset as well with an offset of -1 to get the best results
The clarity, especially for such a big FOV is very good, I expected a little bit more to be honest but it’s still far better than OG Rift or even the Odyssey and Odyssey+. If you have ever tried a Vive Pro or OG Odyssey its almost the same level, maybe I little bit better.
Due to the Pixel pattern its easier to read text than ever in a VR Headset, with that said I would not use this as a desktop replacement we are still not on that kind of clarity.
The SDE is very similar to the Oculus GO, I got used to it but not ultimately happy with it.
Geometrical: Yes, they are still there and you notice them (especially in the upper and lower edges) if you have close geometrical objects in front of you like houses, roofs or even at a starry sky and move your head up and down, you notice the warping effect. I tried to play around with the foam thickness but it did not help.
I also felt no difference in distortions along the 3 FOV settings.
Lens distortions: Can be almost eliminated if you find the right distance between your eyes and the lenses.
5K+ specialty – the dots:
My model has also the famous “dots problem” but you only notice them on skin tones if you look closely and now a little bit more if you increase contrast in Pitool.
I was really surprised that the Pimax, not like the lower FOV headsets, does not make me motion sick at all, though it has a bigger FOV.
Another big pain point…Most likely the biggest at the moment. Pitool has improved in the last 3 months, but sometimes it’s still a pain in the a…
There are several bugs, which prevent you from playing, but if you got it finally running, it is somewhat stable…
I like the fact that the Pimax guys are really listening to us and they give us features we want (Let’s be honest which company would do that…)
FFR – Fixed foveated rendering is not so good working at the moment so I mostly switch it off. If it’s working in a game it gives mostly some pixelated /shimmering image on the outer edges which utterly distracts me. Have a look at the gif especially at the trees I made it’s from the left eye
Smart smoothing helps in many games to get the performance you want but brings some compromises like ghosting on fast head movements, blue bars on the left and right edges and some graphical glitches. There is plenty of room for enhancements but Pimax is on a very good way!
Games and the gaming experience
I tried a lot of games experiences and fiddled with vorpx but I want to show what the Pimax experience is like on 3 games I like the most.
Project Cars 2
Oh yeah baby one of my favorites, with the older headsets I only liked racing before the Pimax era, but now I freaking love it. Even on normal FOV it feels like you are just wearing a racing helmet and it gives me really that feeling like I am in that car. The sense of speed is really amazing!
I use Settings high – PP on – smart smoothing on – FFR is not working for PC2.
With the latest version of Pitool there are blue bars on the outer edges and more ghosting than in the previous version. You are better off, if you disable smart smoothing at least in the actual version(121_R211).
With smart smoothing I get solid 72 fps (36) with some flaws in the image
Without smart smoothing I get 50 fps which is totally playable
Skyrim VR is a rough diamond and you need to polish it to really shine. Have spent days understanding what mods are useable and look good in VR and still improve it.
But after all that hard work you stand inside a beautiful world which amazes you over and over again.
My recommended settings: High – TAA on with sharpening via ini file (fTAASharpen=5.0000) – PP on
I have around 40 mods installed most of them are high resolution texture enhancements. Smart smoothing gives me some black bars edges artifacts when i move my head fast, this was also introduced with in the new version.
FFR pixelates the outer edges– not useable for me (see the gif above under FFR).
One of the, if not the best-looking multiplayer shooter out there. In Contractors the Pimax shows its strengths. You are able to spot enemies in a distance easily; the graphics look stunning the big FOV helps you to spot enemies in your peripheral vision and gives you some kind of unfair advantages compared to low FOV players, but hey we call this technical progress
My settings: high – smart smoothing on – FFR off
FFR gives me a shimmering/floating effect on the sides, too distracting for me at least.
To make it clear, I love my Pimax… most of the times, but sometimes I want to kick it to the moon (just like my wife btw… )
I would like to thank Pimax for breaking the boundaries of VR that we used to know and lived with. Everybody told us this is not doable on consumer level yet, but you did it! I am already looking forward what the 8K-X would be like with the increased resolution
But is the Pimax 5K+ a device for everybody?? No, I don’t think so.
- Do you want the best technic available on consumer level?
- You are not on a budget and you can invest a lot of money in a new graphics card (if you don’t own already a 2080 or higher), some tuning accessories (DAS etc…) and Controllers + Basestations
- you are a bit robust with software on beta level and you want it NOW,
Then yes, the Pimax is your device go and buy it!
But if you can wait longer (few months to a year) I would suggest wait, see what the Valve Index will be like, check out what’s happening with the Xtal consumer version and last but not least be hungry for news around the 8K-X, I think (and hope) this can be the best headset you see for years.
Also big thanks to the community without your help I would be lost in the Pimax jungle!