HTC Vive Cosmos and Cosmos Elite review

The Vive Cosmos is HTC’s newest VR headset, presenting a big improvement from the original Vive as well as the pricier Vive Pro.

It totally does away with every need for external sensors, and also its redesigned motion controllers are a major step forward.

However, its $699 price is difficult to stomach when the Oculus Rift S could be had for $399.

And, as a PC-powered, tethered headset, you still need wrestling with a clunky cable while you play around in virtual reality, and after using the completely standalone Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2, it is difficult to comfortably go back, no matter how more effective a tethered model can be.


  • Doesn’t require external sensors.
  • Improved motion controls.
  • Sharp display.
  • Large software library with Viveport and SteamVR.


  • Expensive.
  • Clunky cable.
  • Requires a full-size DisplayPort 1.2 port.

HTC Vive Cosmos Specs

Resolution1,700 by 1,440 (per eye)
Refresh Rate90 Hz
Motion Detection6DOF
ControlsMotion Controllers
Hardware PlatformPC
Software PlatformSteamVR
HTC Vive Cosmos
Credit : Amazon

HTC Vive Cosmos Price and release date

The HTC Vive Cosmos released on October 3, 2019 and is available now to purchase in its base which contains a six-camera tracking faceplate for $699.99.

When you want much better hand tracking, the Vive Cosmos Elite can be bought starting out on March 16 for $899 due to theheadset and faceplate, or even $199 for only the faceplate that HTC says is available later on this year once production gets back up to speed post coronavirus outbreak.

For comparison, the Valve Index is more expensive headsets at $999.99 , placing it hundred dolars above the full HTC Vive Cosmos Elite package, while on the lower end the Oculus Rift S comes in at $, around $300 under the regular issue HTC Vive Cosmos.

In case you are able to wait a little longer, HTC is releasing an even less costly variant of the headset – known as the HTC Vive Cosmos Play – they says it will be similar in price to other headsets like the Oculus Rift S.

Cosmos and a Cosmos Elite design

Whichever model of the Vive Cosmos you purchase – whether that is the Vive Cosmos Play, Cosmos or perhaps Cosmos Elite – the display and also the headband that can hold the display are the same, and so do not feel as you are losing out on additional pixels, higher field-of-view or perhaps a much better refresh rate by purchasing a less expensive version.

htc vive cosmos elite and cosmos elite resolution

Most of the Cosmos family sports a 3.4 inch 2880 x 1700 resolution LCD screen which has a refresh rate of 90Hz, and provides a 1440 x 1700 image per eye.

The resolution is highercompared to Valve Index (2880 x 1600) and higher than the Oculus Rift S (2560 x 1440), and that means you actually do not notice the screen door result at all.

The downside to the design, however, is that the lenses can not be moved back and forward like they’re able to with the Valve Index – which means that the 110 degree field of view does not exactly fill your entire visual area.

In case you shift your eyes left or right, you will see black border in the photo, which is not perfect for immersion.

But, there is very little light leakage around the nose, for this reason it is not all bad.

As for the look of the headband itself, HTC made a decision to use a regular halo appearance with a high velcro strap, in addition to a wheel at the back back that tightens and loosens the headset.

The result is definitely a front heavy headset which leaves the majority of the pressure on your forehead, as well as can feel slightly unwieldy at times, even if continues to be in place.

Most of the HMDs inside the Vive Cosmos family could be lifted up to watch the world around you without needing to take the entire headset off – which can be fantastic in case you are a person who sometimes would like to use the computer in between VR games.

Similarly , the headset’s 2 front facing cameras have a passthrough mode which could be used by pressing the Vive button twice in any app or game, but in case you are feeling ill or perhaps would like to determine what is happening around you in the real life without taking off the headset, it is handy to flip the visor up.

The last element of the design really worth covering will be the set of connectors which run from the included connector box to your PC – though remember that Vive Cosmos needs to be tethered to your PC, unless you purchase a Vive Wireless Adapter (not included).

On your PC you will need an open USB 3.0 port, and a display port for the headset.

The connector box additionally requires its own power supply, so that make sure you’ve additional outlets or a power strip handy.

Htc vive cosmos
Credit : Amazon

New, Better Motion Controllers

HTC is finally catching up to Oculus’ ergonomics for controls, with a totally brand new set of motion controllers.

They’re decidedly Oculus Touch like, with rounded grips, curved triggers that comply with your index and middle fingers, as well as analog sticks rather than touchpads.

They are extremely comfortable in the hands, and much less rigid and straight than the Vive’s controllers.

A heavy plastic ring extends upward around every controller’s buttons and analog stick, also like the Oculus Touch.

The rings have translucent bands around the sides and geometric patterns along the center, that light up once the controllers are turned on.

They look striking and vaguely Mesoamerican, and assist the headset’s cameras track the controllers’ positions.

Connections and Requirements

The Vive Cosmos connects to your PC through a link Box the same to the one that comes together with the HTC Vive Pro.

It is a small, gray plastic box about the size of a mobile phone.

The back holds power, USB, and also mini DisplayPort connections, and the front side features a connector for the Vive Cosmos itself, which fits the plug on the end of the headset’s 15 foot cable.

The link Box has to be connected to the pc with a USB 3.0 cable (included) in addition to a mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable (also included; the small DisplayPort end connects into the link Box), and plugged right into a power outlet with the included adapter.

A full size DisplayPort connection seems to be needed, that would mean you will need a desktop PC with a dedicated graphics card; attempting to set up the Vive Cosmos on a gaming notebook that otherwise meets all the needs of the headset, but just has a mini DisplayPort, resulted in errors.

Speaking of requirements, you need a relatively powerful PC to use the HTC Vive Cosmos.

The headset needs a minimum of an Intel Core i5-4590 or maybe AMD FX 8350 CPU, 8MB of RAM, a DisplayPort 1.2 output, a USB 3.0 port, plus an Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480 graphics card (though HTC recommends a minimum of an Nvidia GTX 1070 or Radeon Vega 56).

Htc vive cosmos elite
Credit : Amazon

Head Tracking Without Base Stations

The 6 cameras on the headset mark the biggest change the Vive Cosmos makes over the Vive and also Vive Pro.

These cameras keep track of the headset’s position by monitoring its surroundings , entirely eliminating the need for almost any external base stations or sensors.

This can make setup much easier, cutting out the tedious step of properly placing 2 base stations at prime sides of the home.

It is brand new for Vive, but Oculus beat HTC to the punch by half a year; both Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2 and Oculus Rift S currently use similar outward facing camera systems, and neither need the external cameras the original Rift requires.

This actually leaves the Valve Index and PlayStation VR as the only major VR headsets which still need external sensors to work.

The camera array is certainly functional from a hardware viewpoint, however, it proved extremely finicky in testing.

When setting up a test area, the headset kept getting an error saying the environment very dark to track motion (despite seeming to track movement quite well).

Just after we opened each of the shades and curtains to get light in from the outside did the Vive Cosmos start to do thejob right, and also in that case it gave occasional lighting errors.

Our test studio has good overhead lighting and white walls, and has been sufficient for every other VR headset we have tested, for this reason this issue is new.

Fortunately, HTC recently pushed a software update which allows you to dismiss the lighting error messages and use the headset without the warnings.

HTC Vive Cosmos performance 

When you discuss overall performance with the HTC Vive Cosmos, you then have to specify which faceplate you are using a quirk that no other headset has, for each worse and better.

The great thing about having many faceplates is that you are able to swap them away when a game requires much more precise tracking, or perhaps in case you want to advance your setup to another room without needing to move the base stations with it.

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To begin, why don’t we discuss what the Cosmos experience is like with the six camera inside out tracking faceplate.

This’s the one you get together with the headset in case you order the base package, and the one you will most likely see usually online and stores.

With the six-camera tracking faceplate, the Vive Cosmos is a fine, base-tracking-free experience.

It has one you’re making work in nearly every area which has plenty of light without needing to hang tracking devices on your wall.

If you would expect it being less-than-flawless due to the placing of the cameras, although, you would be right HTC is certainly utilizing predictive algorithms for taking its greatest guess the at wherever your hands are might they go out of the camera’s field of view, but those guesses are not always good.

 It is inaccurate any time your hands go far to your sides or even behind your back, and there is a rubber banding effect that occurs

if your controllers reenter the area of view, making it difficult to have fun with games where continuous tracking is essential.

 When you are playing sports games as VR Baseball, you do not truly want the controller to suddenly disappear after that reappear after the ball has slid past home plate.

Htc vive cosmos elite
Credit : Amazon

Where the much less accurate tracking does work, although, is with games that involve your hands to remain in front of you at nearly all times.

 Space Pirate Trainer, among the initial hits of HTC Vive, plays perfectly alright on the Cosmos with inside out tracking, as does Beat Saber.

 That is because, while your hand may often drift outside of the camera’s field-of-view in these games, they do not demand pixel perfect tracking so that you can achieve success.

So how do the games appear?

 Well, they are really clear on the 3K screen.

 There is minimal screen door effect – though it is there in case you look for it – and also at 90Hz, it is pretty comfortable to play for extended periods at a time.

 Having said that, how the games perform regarding latency, ultimately, will hinge by which graphics card you are using.

In terms of suggested specs, HTC suggests using an Nvidia GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or perhaps better GPU, Intel i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 or maybe higher CPU as well as at a minimum 8GB of memory.

 It is a possibility to have it working with fewer – we have had it operating with no problem on a GTX 980 – however, you need to attempt to remain within the suggested specs if possible.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite performance

Switching on the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is a major improvement – particularly in regards to accurate tracking.

 Just like the first Vive, the Cosmos Elite utilizes wall mountable base stations called lighthouses which keep track of the headset and the controllers using little tracking divots.

 This permits room scale play the same as the basic HTC Vive Cosmos, but with much more correct tracking.

Making use of the Cosmos we played a selection of’ classic’ VR hits as Beat Saber, Arizona Sunshine and Fallout 4 VR.

 Only some of these games always require the far more precise tracking actually most of them likely could be played on the basic Vive Cosmos – however the additional hand tracking precision for sure did not hurt, too.

The frenetic and fast Beat Saber played quite well on the Vive Cosmos Elite, with pixel perfect motion tracking that we did not find out on the base edition of the Cosmos.

 The space age environment had nice inky black levels on the headset, although we might observe a few light refraction if we were not correct in the headset’s sweet spot, it was not too apparent.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Fallout 4 VR on the Cosmos Elite is as huge and imposing as it has ever been but can feel as immersive as we try to remember.

 The much better resolution of the headset is somewhat reduced by the lower resolution assets in the game, but being capable to try out the world Bethesda integrated first person never actually gets old.

Htc vive cosmos elite
Credit : Amazon

Almost all that said, remember you will need to make use of base stations and also the original Vive controllers to obtain this degree of tracking.

 It is a bit depressing, being truthful, that HTC did not craft a new controller for the Cosmos Elite, and the latest regular Cosmos controller is not compatible with the Cosmos Elite tracking faceplate as well as base stations.

 Which feels a serious misstep for a headset which costs upwards of $1,000.

The best part is that, almost all in all, games worked so much better on the Cosmos Elite than they did on the basic Cosmos, and also look much better here than they do on the Oculus Rift S.

 Going forward we will definitely make use of the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite tracking faceplate for our VR gaming over the original Cosmos headset, but both pale in comparison to the Valve Index.

Viveport subscription

The majority of the tests we did for this assessment was carried out through Steam and Steam VR, one of the greatest platformsfor VR games and games in general that you will utilize with each HTC’s headsets as well as the Valve Index.

Credit : Amazon

 which said, the Vive Cosmos additionally is included with a totally free six month subscription to Viveport Infinity, HTC’s curatedapp store which enables you to obtain a limitless amount of apps plus games per month.

Viveport Infinity is each name of the service as well as store that you will find apps and games to obtain for a monthly charge of $12.99 per month or perhaps just more than hundred dolars in case you spend on the plan that renews annually.

While it’s more than 900 games & apps to select from, together with several huge names, regrettably Viveport does not have every major release on there – there is simply no Beat Saber or perhaps Tetris Effect, for instance.

Instead, games on Viveport Infinity range from several of the first big budget VR games as Creed: Rise to Glory in addition to several more recent hits like Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted and Fruit Ninja VR from halfbrick Studios and Other indie developers.

 The collection is quite wide, and the limitless buffet of games tends to make paying for Infinity as soon as the trial runs out quite tempting.

In case you are not into games as much, Viveport in addition has educational apps, creative productivity and apps, too – so it feels there is something for everybody.

 It is a rich, expanding ecosystem as well as, for devoted VR enthusiasts, it has a great deal of content.

Final verdict

The advantage of the Cosmos is its power get started on as an entry level headset – one you are able to get without destroying your finances – and evolve as time passes to some headset that rivals the best on the market.

 Pair that with HTC’s Viveport subscription service and also you are able to expect an ever changing library of fun new titles to try out on a headset that really looks fantastic despite several field-of-view limitations.

That is pretty much the story of the Cosmos only at that time and only at that price point – it is a good portal into virtual reality, but one which will come with a number of caveats.

 Its hand-tracking ability is not ideal and its setup process could be hit-or-miss.

 Some games work with no a hitch, while others are able to stop working without pixel perfect tracking.

 While other inside out tracking headsets – like the totally untethered Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 – face similar issues and in addition have a worse resolution, they are less expensive, less bulky and could certainly be taken with you anywhere.

 Of the two HTC Vive Cosmos headsets still available, the Cosmos Elite would be the much better of the two.

 Though it uses the original Vive’s controllers plus lighthouse base stations, it can feel much more accurate in its tracking and thus a lot more practical use for many games & apps.

 That said, at $899, it is a lot of cash to pay upfront and also, as it continues to use old hardware, it does not really feel as robust or modern as the industry leading Valve Index.

In case you like the idea of Viveport and do not care about a little tracking problems, the Cosmos is ideal for you.

 If not you can find better headsets for more cash out there, and one or perhaps 2 available for a little bit less.

Want other choices? Here is our list of the best VR headsets.

#vr-headsets review

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