Review: HTC Vive

By |2019-07-20T14:37:22+00:00November 5th, 2018|


The HTC Vive was developed by HTC, a leader in mobile phones and technology, along with Valve, owners of the popular Steam gaming platform.  The goal was to create a powerful stand-alone VR headset, along with the pipeline of games and content to make the purchase worthwhile for consumers.  The headset entered pre-production in 2015, and was released in April 2016.  It has remained the key competition to the Oculus Rift since that time, as they share similar specifications, capabilities, and price points (with a few differences).

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the HTC Vive, including its specifications, our detailed review, a list of pros and cons, and more!


DeveloperHTC and Valve
Headset TypeTethered
Original Release Date2016-04-05
PlatformWindows PC, Linux (macOS coming soon)
ContentVivePort, SteamVR
Resolution1080 x 1200 pixels (each eye)
Field of View110°
Refresh Rate90 Hz
Onboard SensorsAccelerometer, gyroscope, camera, IR laser receiver
ControllersVive controllers x 2 (included), any PC-compatible game controller (sold separately)
Room TrackingYes, Lighthouse 2-station pulsed infrared laser tracking system (included), up to 15 x 15 feet
Audio3.5mm headphone jack, deluxe audio strap, and headphones sold separately
MicrophoneIntegrated microphone
Headset ConnectionsHDMI x 1, USB x 1, Power x 1
Additional ConnectionsUSB Aux Device Port x 1
Weight1.22 lbs

Our Detailed HTC Vive Review

The HTC Vive is a leading tethered headset, which works on Windows PCs, Linux PCs, and soon will be fully supported on macOS.  An early selling point that set it apart from the Oculus Rift was that it was designed in partnership with Valve, to work on their SteamVR platform.  This gave the HTC Vive access to considerable amounts of games and content.  However, since that time, SteamVR has gone on to fully support the Oculus Rift as well as other VR devices, negating some of the competitive advantage that the HTC Vive enjoyed.

Device Features

A VR-capable PC, either running Windows or Linux, serves as the processor for the HTC Vive, like other tethered headsets.  It plugs into a wall outlet for power, with a USB and HDMI connection plugged into the computer for signal input/output.  The wireless controllers and room-tracking sensors round out the package, providing high-quality, large-scale room tracking, positional tracking, and head tracking.  The visual display, adjustable optics, and other features are all comparable in quality to the Oculus Rift – that is to say, fairly high-end and high-quality.  Working together, they do an excellent job of providing an immersive VR experience, successfully tricking your senses into putting you inside the game, app, video, or experience you’re enjoying.

Build Quality and Performance

The HTC Vive has exceptional build quality, just like HTC’s line of smartphones.  It’s solid and durable, highly adjustable, and built with a ton of features that contribute to overall quality of use and performance.  Particularly worth of praise is the overall design, which most experts agree is superior to the Oculus Rift when it comes to the comfort and adjustability of the headset for people who wear glasses.  At the same time, the choice to forego integrated headphones is a detractor for some, and a positive for others.  It means that if you already have comfortable, high-quality headphones, you can use those, rather than being stuck with integrated headphones and having no choice.  Likewise, a separate accessory, the deluxe audio strap, is available for purchase, which provides increased comfort and stability, with integrated headphones.  So, you can have it either way you like, which in our book is a plus.  Video performance is solid with minimal latency, again comparable to the Oculus Rift on an identical, apples-to-apples PC.  Room tracking is superior on the HTC Vive to the Oculus Rift, with more precision and a greater tracked area available.

Content Platforms and Compatibility

Like the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive has a robust content offering.  To start, users can access content through HTC’s own VivePort service.  They can also utilize SteamVR, as the headset was co-developed with Valve specifically for that purpose and compatibility.  And like most high-end PC tethered headsets, various programs and apps are available to customize content playback, such as downloaded third-party content, movies, and so forth.  The Vive is one of the pre-eminent headsets on the market, and so almost all content platforms that support VR devices work with the HTC Vive – there really are no compatibility issues, and no lack of content available, either.

Consumer Reviews and Ratings

The majority of consumer and professional reviews of the HTC Vive give it high marks across the board.  The original release was a bit heavier and less easy to adjust, a bit less comfortable than the comparable Oculus Rift.  However, HTC has done an excellent job in subsequent production generations to make small tweaks that make it more comfortable.  At present, it’s basically as comfortable and easy to adjust and wear as the Oculus Rift.  In terms of performance reviews, most consumer review sites rate it between the equivalent of 80 to 90%, which is quite positive.

Support, Customer Service, and Warranties

HTC provides a good deal of back-end support for the Vive and their other related devices and accessories through their website.  Users can access an extensive self-help library, and the user guides and information that come with the unit are fairly comprehensive as well.  Support can also be obtained by through an e-mail ticket system, or a live chat that’s available 7 days a week during normal business hours in the US.  The online community for the HTC Vive is a bit less robust than the Oculus Rift, owing to slightly lower numbers of overall units sold (as well as not having the same kind of hype and fanboy following of the Oculus Rift).  Nevertheless, there are still tons of resources online from fans and the user community, including video guides on YouTube, dedicated forums, and so forth.  In terms of warranties, consumers are entitled to 12 months of warranty coverage from the manufacturer, starting on the date of purchase from a retailer.  This is fairly standard and comparable to most other headsets on the market.

Price and Value

The MSRP of the HTC Vive is $499.  It originally was released at $599, and has come down over time, consistent with the overall trends in the industry as the technology becomes more affordable and widespread.  It comes with 2 Vive controllers, 2 Lighthouse tracking stations, as well as the link box, which effectively extends and provides cable management functions for the device.  It also comes with a two-month free trial subscription to the VivePort content service.

HTC Vive System Requirements

Tethered PC VR headsets require powerful computer hardware in order to provide lag-free and convincing VR gaming experiences.  The requirements for video playback and various apps are usually less demanding than top-tier game titles, however.  HTC puts out 2 sets of HTC Vive PC requirements – minimum and recommended.

HTC Vive Minimum Specs

  • Graphics Card
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
    • AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
  • CPU
    • Intel Core i5-4560/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
  • Memory
    • 4 GB+ RAM
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
  • USB Ports
    • 1x USB 2.0 or newer
  • OS
    • Windows 7 SP1, 8.1+, 10

HTC Vive Recommended Specs

  • Graphics Card
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
    • AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or better
  • CPU
    • Intel i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
  • Memory
    • 4 GB+ RAM
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
  • USB Ports
    • 1x USB 2.0 or newer
  • OS
    • Windows 7 SP1, 8.1+, 10

Pros and Cons

The HTC Vive’s key pros and cons are summarized below.


Excellent performance and specifications

Very good build quality and product durability

Offers all the features of top VR headset devices

Over 2,800 VR-compatible game and experience titles on SteamVR

Custom content compatible for movies and experience playback

Later generations weigh nominally the same as the Oculus Rift, with equal comfort and adjustability

Some of the best positional room tracking of any headset available


The initial setup process can be a bit complex, even for those with good tech skills and knowledge, just like with the Oculus Rift

Higher MSRP than the Oculus Rift

No longer comes with integrated headphones, and the sold-separately deluxe audio strap adds further cost to the whole package


Summary and Review Score

The HTC Vive is quite comparable to the Oculus Rift.  Both have excellent overall performance and build quality.  The Vive costs a bit more, but offers better room tracking functions.  It’s also generally more comfortable and easy-to-use for people who wear glasses than the Oculus Rift.  At the same time, it doesn’t have integrated headphones, and the strap that comes with integrated headphones is a separate (and expensive) purchase.  Most of the content available (through SteamVR) is available for either headset.  Still, the HTC Vive is solid, works well, and has been well-received.  For some, the extra cost isn’t a huge factor, and access to the VivePort service (vs. Oculus Home) can provide different, unique, and desirable content that outweighs the added cost.

HTC Vive Review Score

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