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HTC Vive Cosmos Elite review

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite provides comfort and power, if you have the space and can stomach the price.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Comfortable, powerful and light, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is a premium VR headset that provides an incredible platform to play top of the range VR content.

For

  • Powerful
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable

Against

  • Lots of space required
  • Controller tracking isn’t flawless

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite enters a VR landscape with a lot of choice. You can either go high-end with something like Valve’s Index, something portable like the Oculus Quest 2, or something in the middle. This is where the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite finds itself. 

While not as powerful as its bigger brother, the HTC Vive Pro 2, it’s strong enough to be an ideal headset for those who want to experience everything VR has to offer. If you’re unsure which headset is right for you, you can check out our best VR headsets guide here. 

While the Cosmos Elite is a fantastic headset, it doesn’t solve the VR teething issues of the sheer amount of space required to work perfectly, or the many, many cables that will create tripping hazards around your living room. While the controllers are fine and work well for titles like Half-life Alyx, their tracking wasn’t as accurate as you’d like for the total immersion that VR can offer. 

The Cosmos Elite makes up for this by being one of the most comfortable, adjustable headsets we’ve tried, making for a VR experience that won’t feel like your head is slowly being constricted in the vice-like grip of other VR headsets. 

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review: Design

  • Dual high-res display panels
  • Comfortable, adjustable padded strap
  • Built-in headphones

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

(Image credit: Future)
Key specs

Platforms: PC
Price: $899/£899
Resolution: 2880 x 1700
Field of view: 110 degrees 
Refresh rate: 90hz
Controllers: 2x Vive Controllers

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite features two 1440-pixel panels housed in a large, lightweight front section. While not the most sleek looking outer shell, the features that really matter like comfort and quality are where the Cosmos Elite shines. A comfortable soft padding surrounds the outer edge of the headset, negating the uncomfortable pressure that other headsets can suffer from. The strap itself is adjustable, meaning that anyone should be able to find a size that is comfortable for them. The headset is secured by a dial in on the back to adjust the tightness of the fit. 

The front panel of the headset can actually flip up to allow you to look at your surroundings, adjust PC settings, or anything else that might require your full attention. This is by far the best part of the design, as constantly taking the headset on and off can be a pain, not only because it’ll likely need to recalibrate once you’re back in VR, but the glass panels in the headset can be easily smudged, something that’s very noticeable in which close vicinity to your eyes. 

The Vive Cosmos Elite features built in headphones that hang from each side of the headset. These don’t have the best sound quality, but they more than do the job of providing spatial game audio, and any voice chat you may be receiving.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review: Setup and Performance

  • High quality gaming performance
  • Lots of space required
  • Somewhat awkward set up process

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking to get a HTC Vive Cosmos Elite headset, be prepared to push your coffee table out of the way. As is the case with all VR, the Cosmos Elite requires a lot of space to be used effectively, however the Vive Cosmos Elite also requires base stations, two small sensor boxes that must be placed at either side of your room to provide better tracking for the headset. This presents a few problems. 

Firstly, both of these stations need to be plugged in, meaning if you have no power outlets available, you’ll be spooling a mess of power cables throughout your living room, a dangerous addition to the already trip-prone activity of VR. Also, the base stations have to have a good view of the headset, ideally at the same height as the user. We achieved this by mounting them to microphone stands, but if this is something you don’t have, and if you don’t have a conveniently placed bookcase, you might be in trouble. 

Performance wise, the Vive Cosmos Elite passes every test you could put it through. All modern VR titles look fantastic, and marquee games like Half-Life: Alyx feel at home on the system. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on what PC you pair the headset with, but when we tested it using a RTX 2070 graphics card, we struggled to find any title that made the Cosmos Elite break a sweat.

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review: Software and Games

  • Half-Life: Alyx is a must-play
  • Beat Saber brings a new twist to the music game genre.
  • Social titles like Rec Room are essential VR experiences.

Few games are as essential to a platform as Half-Life: Alyx is to VR. It’s an experience that’s really unlike anything before it, full of the kind of attention to detail and innovative VR gameplay that could only come from Valve. The first new entry in the series after over a decade, Alyx managed to instantly become the standard bearer for future big-budget VR experiences. 

Half Life: Alyx

(Image credit: Valve)

Another game that’s exploded in popularity is the wand-waving dance game, Beat Saber. Like many rhythm games in the past, it’s your job to clear oncoming blocks to the sounds of contemporary pop and dance music, however instead of pressing buttons to the beat, you’re slicing the notes in half like a Arianna Grande-loving Jedi. It’s an extremely addictive game and also a surprisingly good workout. You’ll certainly notice your arms feeling sore the morning after a long session hitting the beat. 

Unlike on traditional gaming consoles, social spaces are also a key component of the VR experience. Titles like Rec Room allow you to play minigames, interact and talk to people all in VR, hugely adding to the immersion. You can find yourself getting lost in these titles, despite the fact that what you’re actually doing, isn’t hugely engaging. 

Basic shooting ranges, hide and seek, and other simple games add a whole new dimension when you’re using your whole body, and you feel like you have true control over your virtual self. These social spaces are sure to be a huge part of the future of VR, especially in areas like telecommuting, and socializing, and the Vive Cosmos Elite 2 is a great way to experience them for yourself. 

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review: Price

  • $899/£899
  • Double the price of the Oculus Quest 2

The Vive Cosmos Elite fits an interesting slot in the VR market. It’s not cheap enough to be comparable to the excellent Oculus Quest 2, which trades the power of the Cosmos Elite for the portability of the Quest. It’s almost identical in price to Valve’s Index which arguably has the advantage of being the native platform for the premiere VR title Half-Life Alyx. 

In the HTC family the Cosmos Elite sits around $200 more than the Vive Pro 2 headset, but bear in mind that price is for the headset alone, the base stations and controllers are sold separately. The full kit for the HTC Vive Pro 2 is not available at the time of writing. 

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite VR headset

(Image credit: HTC)

Should you buy the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite?

If you’re coming into VR completely fresh and you want a powerful, PC-based headset that will run any VR game at good settings and you have the space, it’s very easy to recommend the Vive Cosmos Elite. No other headset has its build quality and comfort and if you can get past the space required to use it to its full potential, it’s an excellent headset. The controllers can sometimes be a bit of a pain to sync and we found them losing battery a bit faster than we’d hoped, but they’re ideal for the types of gaming experiences you’ll have in VR. 

However, it’s an expensive piece of tech, and that’s not including the PC you’ll need to accompany it. If you’re interested in the space, it’s hard to recommend anything over the Oculus Quest 2 while you get your VR legs before moving up to the enthusiast equipment like the Cosmos Elite. 

If this product isn’t for you

If the substantial price or space required put you off the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, then thankfully there are a few other options in the VR space that might better suit your needs. The PlayStation VR is probably the most popular mainstream headset on the market, thanks to its large library of games. However, Sony have already announced that they’ve began work on a PSVR 2, compatible with the PlayStation 5, so if you’ve already jumped into the next generation of gaming, the original PSVR may not be for you. 

The Oculus Quest 2 is a fantastic, lightweight and portable VR headset that can run almost all of the biggest VR titles. Starting at only £299, the headset is the perfect model for those interested in trying out VR, but unwilling to commit to the expensive headset, and beefy PC required to run it. The only real downside to the Oculus Quest 2 is its insistence that you have a Facebook profile, and that all your games are tied to that account, meaning that for whatever reason, if your Facebook is banned or hacked, all your games are gone. 

If you’re looking to go all out, look no further than the bigger brother of the Cosmos Elite, the HTC Vive Pro 2. Starting at just over £700 for the headset alone, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better VR experience in 2021. A larger field of view and higher quality panels make the VR experience more realistic than ever, and also eliminate the fuzzy, dark peripheral vision issues that are prevalent in other modern headsets. However, do be aware you’ll need a significant PC to run the headset at its highest settings.

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