Pimax Crystal impressed me so much that I don’t want to go back to my Quest 2 anymore | ENBLE

Pimax Crystal impressed me so much that I don't want to go back to my Quest 2 anymore | ENBLE

Pimax Crystal: The Premium VR Headset with Unrivaled Visuals

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Alan Truly wears the Pimax Crystal Photo by Tracey Truly

Meta’s Quest 2 has long been hailed as a stalwart in the world of virtual reality (VR) headsets, but its time in the spotlight may be coming to an end. As we eagerly await the launch of the Quest 3, I had the chance to test out the highly acclaimed Pimax Crystal. This VR headset places resolution and fidelity as its top priorities, offering a throwback to the older era of PC VR headsets that require a powerful gaming PC to unlock their full potential.

While using the Pimax Crystal may seem overwhelming due to the tethered setup, it is a small price to pay for the unparalleled visual experience it provides. As a long-time Quest 2 user, I was initially hesitant to make the switch, but after spending several weeks with the Crystal, I can confidently say that it has exceeded all my expectations.

My Pimax Crystal Experience

SteamVR games are available now with Pimax stand-alone games planned SteamVR games are available now with Pimax stand-alone games planned. Photo by Tracey Truly

Let’s dive into my firsthand experience with the Pimax Crystal. From the moment I put on the headset, I was immediately immersed in the world of PC VR. The image quality and fidelity were simply unmatched, providing a level of realism that no standalone headset could replicate. I’ll spare you the details of the initial hardware and software issues I encountered with the prerelease version, as those are to be expected with early access technology. However, the good news is that Pimax has diligently worked on eliminating bugs, improving performance, and adding new features through regular updates. Now, using the Crystal is a seamless and reliable experience, allowing me to fully immerse myself in any VR game without any hindrances.

When it comes to visuals, the Pimax Crystal truly shines. Boasting a resolution of 2880 x 2880 pixels per eye and mini-LED backlighting, this headset sets a new standard for VR displays. But the display is just one piece of the puzzle.

Pimax Crystal: Stellar PC VR

Pimax Crystal’s inside-out tracking works great Pimax Crystal’s inside-out tracking works great. Photo by Tracey Truly

Apart from the impressive display, the tracking system is another critical aspect of any VR headset. Traditionally, PC VR required the setup of multiple base stations, adding complexity and extra cables. However, Meta tore down these barriers with the original Quest, introducing inside-out tracking built directly into the headset. The Pimax Crystal is the first PC VR headset to adopt this high-quality inside-out tracking technology. Setting up the Crystal is a breeze; simply install the software, connect the headset, and you’re good to go. This eliminates the need for external tracking devices, streamlining the overall user experience. Additionally, despite its larger size, the Crystal feels more comfortable than the Quest 2, providing an added level of enjoyment during extended VR sessions.

It’s important to note that while the Pimax Crystal delivers an exceptional VR experience, it does come with a higher price tag and requires a tethered connection to a capable gaming PC. These factors may be off-putting for some users, but for those seeking the utmost in visual quality and immersion, it’s a worthwhile investment.

PC Performance and Requirements

The Pimax Crystal currently requires a tether cable and a VR-ready PC The Pimax Crystal currently requires a tether cable and a VR-ready PC. Photo by Tracey Truly

When it comes to PC VR, the Pimax Crystal surpasses the Quest 2 in terms of image quality and performance. Standalone headsets generally utilize chips based on smartphone technology, with the exception of Apple’s Vision Pro. Although Meta managed to optimize the Quest 2’s modest specifications exceptionally well, a PC VR headset connected to a computer with a discrete GPU provides a significantly better experience.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Pimax Crystal demands a powerful gaming PC to unlock its full potential. During my testing, I found that my Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti struggled to deliver the optimal performance at the Crystal’s maximum resolution. Lowering the resolution is a valid workaround, but it does hinder the full visual experience that the Crystal offers. Pimax lists the minimum GPU requirement as an Nvidia RTX 2080, but an RTX 3080 or better is recommended for optimal results. So, if you’re considering trying out the Pimax Crystal, ensure that your hardware meets the recommended requirements to fully enjoy its capabilities.

Unlocking More Pimax Crystal Possibilities

In this side view of the Pimax Crystal, you can see the optional headphones In this side view of the Pimax Crystal, you can see the optional headphones. Photo by Tracey Truly

Pimax aims to provide a well-rounded VR headset that excels in all areas, but it doesn’t always succeed in doing so. Although the Crystal boasts impressive features such as inside-out tracking and exceptional image clarity, certain promised features have faced significant delays. The standalone mode, eye-tracking, foveated rendering, and interchangeable lenses that offer an ultra-wide field of view are among the features still in development.

While eye-tracking and foveated rendering have recently been delivered through an over-the-air update, the standalone mode and wide FOV lenses are expected to be released at a later date. Pimax acknowledges the importance of these features and offers ongoing updates on their progress on their website.

The Bottom Line

Alan enjoys the Pimax Crystal’s crisp visuals Alan enjoys the Pimax Crystal’s crisp visuals. Photo by Tracey Truly

Now, let’s address the bottom line. The Pimax Crystal comes with a hefty price tag of $1,599, more than five times the cost of a Quest 2. While the two devices are fundamentally different, with the Quest 2 being a budget-friendly option, the Crystal’s unmatched visual quality justifies its higher price. Comparatively, Meta’s Quest Pro offers a cheaper alternative that can also connect to a PC for improved graphical fidelity. However, the Crystal surpasses the Quest Pro in terms of visual sharpness, making it a clear winner for those seeking the ultimate visual experience, provided they have a PC capable of supporting it.

When looking at other premium VR headsets, the Crystal competes favorably with Varjo’s Aero, which comes at a price of $1,990 without the necessary base stations and controllers. Despite the Aero’s impressive specifications, the Crystal matches its display quality and provides comparable comfort. If you already own a Varjo Aero setup, there may be little reason to switch to the Crystal as the differences in image quality would be minimal, and Pimax has yet to release the Crystal’s standalone mode and other accessories that set it apart.

For Mac Pro users with a Pro Display XDR display, Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro may be worth waiting for. However, given its exorbitant price of $3,500, it remains an option for only a select few. Backed by Apple’s robust ecosystem, the Vision Pro promises unrivaled power in the VR headset landscape.

Lastly, it’s essential to mention that Meta is set to release the Quest 3 in September. If you’re more inclined towards a budget-friendly standalone headset, it may be worth holding off for a few months.

In conclusion, the Pimax Crystal demonstrates that there is still a place for PC VR in the market. Its high-resolution and immersive VR experiences offer visuals that are simply unparalleled by standalone headsets. While it may cater more to VR enthusiasts due to its higher price and requirements, the Pimax Crystal is a testament to the possibility of pushing the boundaries of VR technology.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any company mentioned.