Valve reveals its 'Index' VR headset, featuring finger-tracking controllers, a 120Hz display,...

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

For a full Index kit, you'll be shelling out a whopping $999, though that price can be lowered to $749 if you already have a set of Vive base stations. The Index is backwards compatible, so you'd only be paying for the controllers and the headset (with a slight discount from Valve).

If you want to go for a full part-by-part approach (perhaps to fit the system into your budget), the Index headset alone is $500, the controllers are $279, and the base stations are $149 each.

With pricing out of the way, let's talk specs. The Index headset itself will ship with dual 1440x1600 LCD displays, which allegedly provide "50% more subpixels" than OLED screens. In theory, this means the Index should grant users a sharper experience, with a "greatly" reduced screen door effect.

By default, the Index runs at 120Hz, but it can be reduced to 90Hz for older titles. If you have particularly top-notch hardware, feel free to test out the Index's "experimental" 144Hz mode for increased smoothness.

So, what sort of hardware will you need to take advantage of these high-fidelity visuals? The minimum requirements are an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 (or AMD equivalent), 8GB of RAM, and any dual-core CPU with hyperthreading. The recommended requirements demand a GTX 1070, 8GB of RAM, and a quad-core CPU.

Visuals aside, Valve is promising a more immersive audio experience as well. The main "innovation" here is the Index's headphones - instead of covering your ears, they're suspended slightly away from your head, allowing for improved comfort and more "natural" audio.

Many aspects of the Index are customizable, which lines up with Valve's emphasis on "immersion and comfort." You can fine-tune the Index's visuals with eye relief and "IPD" (eye distance) adjustments, or fiddle with head size, face angle, and ear position-related dials. While we can't say precisely how these adjustments work without testing out an Index for ourselves, Valve does claim that "95%" of human heads will fit perfectly into the headset with a few tweaks.

Finally, it's worth drawing attention to the Index's unique controllers. As we reported way back in June 2017, Valve has been quietly working on a fairly revolutionary type of VR controller that features five-finger tracking - instead of relying on triggers or buttons to interact with your virtual environment, the Valve Index Controller (once simply called "Knuckles") lets you use your hands and fingers. You can make the peace sign (or other, less-friendly gestures), and drop or pick up objects by simply opening and closing your hand.

If you want to snag an Index for yourself, the full kit will be available for pre-order tomorrow, on May 1.

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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
I'm sure it is great, but $1000 is a bit too much for even most hardcore gamers. Being a Rift owner though I gotta say I'm freaking tired of being tethered. I wan't wireless.... I'm afraid the tech just isn't ready yet. All the wireless solutions end up with reduced FOV, which is not acceptable to me. I honestly don't see myself buying this headset (although a very nice upgrade) unless prices get around $5-600 for the complete package.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I'm sure it is great, but $1000 is a bit too much for even most hardcore gamers. Being a Rift owner though I gotta say I'm freaking tired of being tethered. I wan't wireless.... I'm afraid the tech just isn't ready yet. All the wireless solutions end up with reduced FOV, which is not acceptable to me. I honestly don't see myself buying this headset (although a very nice upgrade) unless prices get around $5-600 for the complete package.
The Vive's wireless adapter does not reduce FOV and is essentially the same as wired. Wireless certainly is the future for VR. If that's your #1 goal right now, you should pick up a Vive + Wireless adapter as it's currently the best solution on the market.

Valve chose LCDs over OLEDs, so I'll be looking especially close at this point in upcoming reviews.
From the impressions I've seen, the darks aren't bad at all on the Index. About on par with the Vive, which had OLED (although the software disabled turning pixels completely off due to persistence issues).
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
The Vive's wireless adapter does not reduce FOV and is essentially the same as wired. Wireless certainly is the future for VR. If that's your #1 goal right now, you should pick up a Vive + Wireless adapter as it's currently the best solution on the market.
Hmmm... For some reason I thought it did. Maybe that is just the TPCast solutions. I'll have to check the Vive Pro with wireless out. Not that I have the money for one in the first place, but being tethered really kills my VR experience in all FPS games. Plus my cord is getting pretty tangled up and warped.
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Hmmm... For some reason I thought it did. Maybe that is just the TPCast solutions. I'll have to check the Vive Pro with wireless out. Not that I have the money for one in the first place, but being tethered really kills my VR experience in all FPS games. Plus my cord is getting pretty tangled up and warped.
You are correct, the TPCast solutions do reduce FOV. The official HTC wireless accessory does not. They have one for both the regular Vive and Vive Pro.
 

Gypsygib

TS Enthusiast
They should make CSGO VR (CSVR?) with the gun tech Stresslevelzero made.

Would love to see an eports ready VR title.
 

DAOWAce

TS Booster
And here I was waiting for VR prices to become more affordable.

Thanks Valve! /s

Well, at least now we know why they want to charge so much commission on products they sell on Steam..

Tech looks nice, but the barrier to entry for VR has always been price, and making a new 'premium' headset does nothing to change adoption rates. I guess it's still competition in the end though, right?
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
And here I was waiting for VR prices to become more affordable.

Thanks Valve! /s

Well, at least now we know why they want to charge so much commission on products they sell on Steam..

Tech looks nice, but the barrier to entry for VR has always been price, and making a new 'premium' headset does nothing to change adoption rates. I guess it's still competition in the end though, right?
Well, they all sold out within a day... care to change your last paragraph?

Looks like price ISN'T quite the barrier you think it is...
 

DAOWAce

TS Booster
Well, they all sold out within a day... care to change your last paragraph?

Looks like price ISN'T quite the barrier you think it is...
NVIDIA's money gouging GPUs sell out every time they're released. (xx80/titan)

What does most of the population have? A midrage x60 or x70 card.

There's enough enthusiasts with money to cause this to happen, but it in no way represents the overall majority of consumers.