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HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro

Although there are a few intriguing virtual reality headsets on the horizon, if you want the best high-end VR headset system right now, we’d recommend you get the HTC Vive. However, that might change later this year because at CES this year, HTC announced the Vive Pro, a headset that upgrades the original design in a few exciting areas.

To see how much of an upgrade though and whether it’s worth you shelling out for the new Vive — especially if you already own the original one — we’ve pitted the HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, to see how they compare in a head to head.


HTC Vive Pro

HTC Vive

2,880 x 1,600 (615 PPI)
2,160 x 1,200 (448 PPI)
Refresh Rate
SteamVR, Viveport
SteamVR, VivePort
Field of view
110 degrees
110 degrees
Tracking area
100m squared (33 x 33 feet)
15 x 15 feet
PC connection
Wired, wireless (with adaptor)
Wired, wireless (with adaptor)
Built-in audio
Yes, headstrap headphones w/ in-line amplifier
Yes, Deluxe Audio Strap
Built-in mic
Yes, dual
Yes, single
Original Vive controller, support for new Vive controller (w/ new sensor, color), any PC compatible gamepad
Vive controller, any PC compatible gamepad
Accelerometer, gyroscope, Lighthouse laser tracking system, dual front-facing cameras
Accelerometer, gyroscope, Lighthouse laser tracking system, front-facing camera
USB-C 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, Bluetooth
HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Unknown, but likely greater than the Vive
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 /AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or greater

Intel Core i5-4590 equivalent or greater

4GB+ of RAM

Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output

1x USB 2.0 port

Windows 7 SP1 or greater

DT review
4 out of 5 stars


Luke Larsen/Digital Trends

The physical design differences between the original HTC Vive and the new Vive Pro are subtle on the outside but noticeable when you try it on. The blue-tint paint job is the most obvious change on the first impression of the new headset, but that’s far from all that’s changed. The Vive Pro has drawn inspiration from the Deluxe Audio Strap upgrade for the original Vive, and now features a firmer headstrap which can be adjusted by a dial at the rear, rather than the velcro straps of the original headset.

The Vive Pro also comes with built-in headphones which can be tilted away from the user’s ears to make it easier to hear what’s going on in the room around you. Both headsets still field a full suite of obvious external sensors, something that makes the Vive range stand out (at least visually) from its fabric coated counterpart in the Oculus Rift.

From the front, the Vive Pro’s design changeups are also noticeable, for its use of dual cameras, rather than the Vive’s singular central lens. That should enable augmented reality through a stereo video-feed in the future.

With our hands-on we noted that none of the added features of the Vive Pro appeared to have made it heavier. Indeed, HTC claims that the new headset has an improved center of gravity, better weight support throughout the headset, and an increase in the face gasket surface area for reduced stress on the user’s face. The redesigned face cushion utilizes a new cloth-lined foam for added comfort and better light blocking, and the nose rest has been tweaked to support a wider array of nose shapes.

Those more nuanced ergonomics also extend to glasses wearers. Although the Vive Pro isn’t perfect, its controls for adjusting the distance between the lenses and the distance between the user’s eyes and lenses, makes it easier to wear the Vive Pro while wearing glasses than its predecessor. That’s useful for those with long eyelashes too.

Better ergonomics, better built-in headphones, and a slightly more interesting paint job make the Vive Pro the better-designed piece of kit.

Winner: Vive Pro

Display quality, field of view

One of the most noticeable improvements of the HTC Vive Pro over its predecessor is the display. Not only has HTC moved over to utilize AMOLED technology for the dual panels it employs, but it has also increased the resolution by almost 80 percent, from the Vive’s 2,160 x 1,200, to the Pro’s 2,880 x 1,600. That results in an obvious improvement in detail thanks to the added pixel density of 615, versus the Vive’s 448.

As well as improving how crisp and detailed objects look up close in the virtual world, that added resolution means you can view objects in detail at a greater distance, further improving immersion and making it possible to enjoy larger, open areas, even if you are playing in a limited physical space. It also makes it near impossible to see subpixels (the colored dots within pixels) and reduces the so-called “screen-door effect” where you can visibly make out the lines between the pixels.

Field of view has remained the same across both headsets, as have the lenses — RoadToVR confirmed the same fresnel design has been used with the Vive Pro — which means you can expect the same auras around light objects in dark scenes.

Even without lens changes though, there’s no doubt from our hands-on time with the Vive Pro that the increased detail of the new AMOLED displays make a huge difference to the VR viewing experience.

Winner: Vive Pro

Controls and tracking

When the HTC Vive Pro is released it will only be available as a headset, initially. That means that early adopters will need existing HTC Vive Lighthouse trackers and controllers, which will allow for roomscale tracking up to 15 x 15 feet and motion controller input. That setup would provide no additional functionality over the original HTC Vive, but at an unspecified date in 2018, we can expect that to change.

The Vive Pro is fully backwards compatible with HTC Vive trackers and controllers, but it also has full support for second-generation Lighthouse trackers and in larger numbers. Those new trackers can sync up four base stations, providing more accurate tracking with additional redundancy, as well as support for a larger tracking area up to 100 metres squared, or around 33 x 33 feet. There are unlikely to be many end-users who can support such a large area, but for those who can, the option is there. That will also be a major boon for those hoping to offer virtual reality gaming in large public spaces and for multiplayer scenarios.

Those Lighthouse 2.0 trackers will ship out with the full Vive set later this year alongside some new controllers too. These won’t be the ‘Knuckle’ controllers that Valve has been working on, but according to HTC’s Daniel ‘O Brien, the controllers are built in the same form-factor, but will have new sensors for compatibility with the new Lighthouse stations and a paint job to match the Vive Pro’s color scheme.

The other big change mentioned in the same breath as the Vive Pro, is HTC’s own wireless module, which untethers its VR headset(s) from your PC entirely. No more cables, just wireless input and output thanks to Intel’s low-latency WiGig technology. Wireless systems like TPCast have existed for a while now, but this is the first time that HTC has thrown its hat in that ring.

We don’t have much in the way of details for now, but in our experience, it adds no latency and was indistinguishable from using the headset while plugged in. The system will be powered by a USB battery pack and will be an optional extra for the HTC Vive Pro. Better yet, it will also be backwards compatible with the HTC Vive.

Despite the open support of the wireless module, the slightly upgraded controllers and the tracking system employed by the Vive Pro drastically improve the original Vive’s already impressive roomscale tracking system.

Winner: Vive Pro


Luke Larsen/Digital Trends

For many people, one of the weaker elements of the HTC Vive, when it was first released, was its audio solution. It came with an easily accessible 3.5mm connector and bundled earbuds. They were practical, if inelegant, but did make it possible to use a third-party headset if required. HTC later rectified this with the release of its Deluxe Audio Strap, which added a firmer headband with built-in headphones. That now ships as standard with the HTC Vive.

For all of the Vive Pro’s improvements to the visual element of virtual reality though, HTC also made a big effort to update its auditory capabilities. Much like the currently available Vive, its headstrap has built-in headphones. However, its solution is Hi-Res certified and is powered by a digital amplifier for more nuanced and powerful sound. We also recently confirmed the headphones are completely detachable if desired.

Alongside the new headphones, the Vive Pro augments the original Vive’s single microphone for in-headset voice chat, with a dual-microphone array. That solution allows for active noise cancelling to help ward off the world outside, as well as the opposite in a new “conversation mode,” which makes it easier to hear the outside world while gaming in VR.

Other neat additions include a physical headset volume control, so you don’t have to open up the SteamVR dashboard to alter noise output and a physical mute button, making it quick and easy to shutdown your microphones for privacy reasons, or to converse with someone in the real world.

Although it’s likely that true audiophiles will want to leverage their own powerful headphones for improved immersion, HTC has made big steps with the Vive Pro’s audio that will make it hard to go back to the original.

Winner: Vive Pro

Performance and requirements

Virtual reality headsets need reasonably hefty hardware to be able to hit the 90 frames per second rate that is required for comfortable VR usage. The Vive’s specifications aren’t quite as strenuous as they were in 2016 and graphics cards and processors have come on a lot since then.

As it stands though, we don’t know what the requirements for the Vive Pro will be. With the increased resolution requirements of the display, it seems likely that they will be noticeably more demanding of your gaming system. With that in mind, we’ll give the nod to the HTC Vive in this category for now, until we learn more.

Winner: HTC Vive


Both the HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro have the full support of both SteamVR games through Steam and HTC’s own platform, Viveport. The Valve-managed platform has the largest library of available digital games anywhere in the world, whether you’re a VR gamer or playing on a more traditional display, which early on in the Vive’s life gave it a significant advantage over headsets like the Oculus Rift. Viveport isn’t quite as expansive, but it has plenty on offer and also has a Netflix-like subscription model, where for $7 a month you can download and play any five titles on the store of your choice, chopping and changing each month.

Although there may be games and experiences that are ultimately released which take advantage of the Vive Pro’s improved resolution, stereo camera system and dual-microphones, for now at least, the libraries of available titles for both headsets are identical.

Winner: Draw

Pricing and availability

The HTC Vive is 25 percent cheaper today than it was when it first released, priced now at $600 with controllers and lighthouse trackers. Considering the HTC Vive Pro will feature improved hardware, built-in-audio and an additional front-facing camera, it is likely to be more expensive — especially when it ships with the Lighthouse 2.0 trackers and new wand controllers later this year.

That may not be the case when HTC begins selling the headset standalone in Q1 this year, but it is still unlikely to be cheap. The original Vive is likely to be the more affordable VR option while it remains on sale. The fact that it’s available now while the Vive Pro is not, too, gives it a significant advantage in that respect.

Winner: HTC Vive

Overall Winner: Vive Pro

Luke Larsen/Digital Trends

The HTC Vive will always hold a special place in our heart as being the first headset to truly introduce us to the immersive world of roomscale virtual reality with proper motion controllers. It’s been able to hold its own over the near two-years since its release as well, despite increased competition. With the Vive Pro though, it may well have met its match. Due to the way HTC talks about it, we wouldn’t be surprised if the original Vive is replaced altogether in 2019.

With improved audio, visuals, tracking solutions, and ergonomics, it’s hard to see the Vive Pro as anything other than a step up to the HTC Vive. Audio straps and wireless module backwards compatibility aside, the Vive Pro will ultimately supplant the Vive as the best consumer VR headset available when it debuts later this year, though pricing details could certainly change the

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HTC Vive Pro hands-on review
  • HTC Vive Tracker Review
  • These are the 20 best HTC Vive games available today
  • HTC’s Vive Pro gets sharp enough to read text, goes wireless
  • HTC’s stand-alone Vive Focus killed off its Daydream headset in the U.S.


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