The Pimax Crystal – is it the perfect VR headset for sim gaming?

The Pimax Crystal headset

Many received’t bear in mind the times earlier than the Meta Quest when the one possibility for VR was to connect a fistful of cables to our PCs straining US ports and hope we didn’t by chance punch by our displays throughout a nerve-racking recreation of Beat Saber.

Again in these days after I was fortunately enjoying on my Oculus Rift DK2 after which later my Oculus Rift, nearly all of my experiences had been seated ones. I didn’t have the room for room-scale. What I did have was a pleasant comfy gaming chair, a stand for my racing wheel and pedals, and DIY’d chair arms that had my HOTAS connected.

It was as shut as I used to be attending to my very own sim pit and it was superb. After a whole bunch of hours in flight sims, area sims comparable to Elite Harmful, and race video games comparable to Assetto Corsa, iRacing, and Undertaking Vehicles I couldn’t see every other method to play video games apart from in VR.

Then we moved home and I by no means received round to setting all of it up once more, I nearly did. I can nonetheless see my Oculus Rift within the nook and I nonetheless have the sensors connected to the roof, however life took over and everyone began shopping for Quests to get away from behind tethered. And whereas the Quest Three is a terrific headset that lastly lets me no less than play some sim experiences through its Air Hyperlink streaming set-up it isn’t an out-and-out PCVR headset, it’s all a little bit of a bodge.

Pimax Crystal – A VR headset for sim lovers

Step ahead the Crystal from Pimax – a headset that might not look misplaced on a Cylon overlord. The Crystal comes with a well-known rats nest of cabling and a protracted DisplayPort cable that I must fiddle across the again of my PC to slot in, eradicating one in all my three displays (Sure, I do want all of them thanks!). Ah, I bear in mind these shenanigans.

The Pimax Crystal is available in a field that’s a lot bigger than Meta’s providing and upon opening it you’ll be able to see why, the headset is big compared, nevertheless it needs to be to carry the enormous digital goodness it comes full of, extra of this later.

Fishing round in the remainder of the field you can find cables, batteries, and a USB hub to allow simple connection. Gone are the times after I had to purchase an additional USB PCi card to plug my Rift in fortunately.

The Pimax Crystal VR Headset
The Pimax Crystal VR Headset

On liberating it from its good packaging, firstly it’s noticeable that the Crystal, whereas most likely the heaviest headset I’ve felt will not be really as heavy as I anticipated, secondly I massively approve of the correct strap the unit comes with. It feels well-built and safe in your face and tightening the dial on the again reveals that all the things is properly balanced. I wouldn’t need to soar round with it on greater than I might with every other plastic field strapped to my face, however as that is going for use for simming, it feels okay.

A fast obtain of Pimax’s beforehand much-maligned (on the web no less than) working software program. It installs shortly sufficient and units about speaking me by the setup, what to plug in the place, what goes within the USB hub, and what wants to enter the again of my rig – a single DP cable and one USB connector. With that achieved I sit again and watch for the connection. Nothing. A fast test revealed some person error and I’ve the flawed facet of the hub from the directions linked to my PC. I chuckle to myself remembering VR of previous. Swap it throughout nonetheless nothing which was more unusual.

I then plugged it right into a port on the again of my machine moderately than the entrance (I used to be beforehand being lazy) and it fires into life. I assume there may be not sufficient energy if it isn’t straight into my motherboard, on my setup no less than.

Pimax Software
The Pimax Retailer within the app

I can now see the Crystal is linked so spending slightly time within the software program I quickly have it displaying my Oculus and Steam VR libraries which is a pleasant contact. Pimax does have its personal restricted app retailer so I downloaded the 2 free issues I discovered on there and received an error saying I didn’t have sufficient disk area – I did so I left it. Once I tried a few days later they downloaded wonderful, so I don’t know what was occurring there – both method, I’ll realistically be utilizing video games I’ve received saved through Steam VR anyway).

The software program has apparently undergone quite a lot of adjustments earlier than I made acquaintance with it. The web is rife with feedback about how unhealthy it’s, however in the principle, these are outdated, and whereas it isn’t as much as Apple’s customary I discovered it fairly usable, I additionally discovered a few options I like that may be turned on. Pimax overtly admit that the software program nonetheless wants extra optimization, however to its credit score, they’re persevering with to launch new and higher variations on a regular basis.

Anyway, I’ll go over that in a second, on with the headset.

Pimax Crystal – the perfect VR headset picture on the market?

And this was the wow second, from the second you dangle the Crystal in entrance of your face you forgive it any little quirks of set up, wires you’ll be able to fall over, and the marginally odd state of affairs the place it’s a must to have one of many two batteries in to make use of it even when linked to energy. Let’s get this out of the best way right here, I’ve by no means seen client VR this clear. Now I perceive why it’s referred to as the Crystal.

The twin 2880×2880 screens with a refresh charge of as much as 120Mhz want a severe PC to drive them to their max, however you probably have something from the previous couple of years, you’ll take pleasure in what you see earlier than your eyes, introduced on the Crystal’s precise glass lenses. There is no such thing as a plastic right here on the optics.

The sphere of view is bigger than most likely something you will have had earlier than and Pimax is about to launch some new lenses that make it even larger. You’ll simply be capable to simply swap them out inside minutes it appears.

The software program choices I toggled on earlier are nice. On first placing the headset on it would ensure you have aligned it to your eyes correctly. Maintain nonetheless and it’ll type all that out. Then you’ll hear it whir as the automated IPD sensors alter the area between the lenses to the right amount to your eyes. No fiddling round with a dial right here, though there’s a guide possibility when you suppose you’d moderately use that. It’s a pleasant function and removes the doubt that you will have gotten one thing flawed.

The Pimax Crystal VR Controllers
The Pimax Crystal VR Controllers are harking back to the unique Oculus design

The menu system earlier than it is best to now be displaying your video games and now you can choose one with one of many Pimax controllers – when you ever had a Rift consider the preliminary ones you go together with that with the massive halo defending your knuckles. These are tracked effectively sufficient, I’ve seen quite a lot of complaints about them as effectively however I didn’t actually ever lose monitoring, however I used to be in a well-lit room. Controllers have possibly moved on with what we get with the Quest 3, however once more, I’m utilizing this headset for swimming and I actually received’t be utilizing VR controllers to play.

It’s value declaring right here that the Crystal tracks through cameras on the headset moderately than base stations or Lighthouses, though should purchase (it’s not low cost) a brand new faceplate that might make use of your present Valve Index Lighthouse sensors.

So from there, it’s time to put the Crystal by its tempo in just a few sims.

SIMply the perfect

Apologies for the terrible pun there. I couldn’t resist it. Having already seen how crisp the show was I couldn’t wait in addition up a recreation so I headed to Undertaking Vehicles, a recreation I grew to become very conversant in in my Rift days. As soon as booted into the menu I used to be in a position to make use of the Crystal’s wonderful eye monitoring to maneuver the pointer which adopted my gaze to the choice I needed and I may then simply choose it. Inside lower than a minute I used to be in my automotive, and once more, simply wow. Heading out onto a sunny observe with no seen screendoor impact was nearer than I’ve ever felt to this recreation. Pulling out of the pit lane and placing my foot down was, actually at this stage of the expertise, as shut as I’ll ever be to the primary nook. Getting over-excited I pushed it too far and spun off into the gravel on the second nook. Because the wall approached my out-of-control car quicker than I might have appreciated I caught myself closing my eyes for a second as I braced for the impression. Gravel flew up, the solar glinted off my now stationary mirrors and it form of made up my thoughts that I received’t be enjoying driving video games in something lower than the Pimax Crystal once more.

A cinematic image from Project Cars 3

On-to-flight sims and taking a look at each DCS World and Microsoft Flight Simulator to see if they convey with them related outcomes. From the second you land within the cockpit, there’s something distinctive about simply how clear issues are and the elevated area of view makes an enormous distinction to immersion. I struggled with body charge slightly extra in flight sims than automotive racers and located myself tweaking down among the settings. The default settings for the Crystal’s rendering in Steam VR are fairly scorching and you’ll dial them again with out affecting an excessive amount of, however that further legroom will give your GPU a bit extra room to breathe whereas rendering the world each above and beneath you.


The Pimax Crystal is a severe piece of VR package. It comes with a severe value and, it’s honest to say, a studying curve. A Meta Quest Three it isn’t, however it isn’t making an attempt to be. I’m not certain how a lot enjoyable you’d have when you had been setting this up as your first enterprise into VR however if you wish to take your sim racing or flying to the subsequent stage that could possibly be you. Persevere and you can be rewarded with a VR expertise you most likely can’t get anyplace else at this stage. It’s that good.

The opposite factor that endears me to Pimax is how eager they appear to be to enhance issues. A current software program replace launched passthrough, utilizing the monitoring cameras as passthrough so you’ll be able to see your environment through a Quest-esque double faucet in your temple. These cams are solely pretty much as good because the Quest 2 ones, black and white and grainy, even in good mild, however I’m certain they’ll enhance with later updates. Additionally, as a result of the Crystal isn’t actually designed to thrash round in you’ll usually be seated so a high-fidelity passthrough digital camera turns into a lot much less necessary.

We will likely be wanting on the Crystal and its use instances for different issues within the close to future, the way it stacks up towards the competitors on the market such because the Quest Three and the Apple Imaginative and prescient Professional, however for now we needed to to check it out for what we predict is it’s greatest points. We haven’t even touched right here about how the Crystal can be utilized standalone with out even a PC. We merely shouldn’t have the area to cowl it multi functional article, so we’re stay targeting this specific area of interest.

For all of the hoops you will have to leap by the Pimax Crystal is the perfect VR headset I’ve used for sim racing and flying in. It’s well worth the effort, the occasional frustration, and the uncommon disconnect. I nonetheless don’t actually perceive the battery state of affairs which appears to empty even after I suppose it’s turned off so I at all times maintain the second charged and prepared.

The expertise inside this massive unit is superb and brings immersion nearer than I assumed was potential in the mean time. There is no such thing as a display door impact and whereas the candy spot for readability could possibly be larger when you’re sim racing or flying, you don’t appear to note any slight blur on the periphery since you are concentrating on what’s forward of you more often than not, so all of it simply works.

Is it well worth the $1500 asking value when you possibly can simply get a wonderful ultrawide monitor for that value? I feel to ask that query is to form of miss the purpose, I need to really feel like I’m in an F1 automotive or a Cessna mild plane. I need to have a look at the dials like they’re in entrance of me, and with the Crystal for the primary time in VR I can see them and nearly imagine they’re there. It’s that good.

So if you’re severe about VR or sim video games and have the money, then sure it’s value it. And hopefully, because the months go the software program will proceed to enhance and the person expertise will turn into as polished because the one Meta presents, simply with extra wires to journey over.

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