Can you use HTC Vive base stations with Valve Index?

Can you use HTC Vive base stations with Valve Index?

Best answer: Yes, the Valve Index headset and controllers will work with original HTC Vive base stations (lighthouses) that use SteamVR 1.0 tracking. However, if you have a large play space, we recommend considering the newer base stations that use SteamVR 2.0 tracking for the best experience possible.Premium VR setup: Valve Index ($999 at Steam)Proven PCVR: HTC Vive ($499 at Amazon)

The Valve Index works with original HTC Vive base stations

Vive base station (Image credit: Windows Central)

Original HTC Vive base stations with SteamVR 1.0 tracking will work with the Valve Index head-mounted display (HMD) and motion controllers, as well as the HTC Vive Pro and its refreshed motion controllers. However, the original HTC Vive HMD and motion controllers will not work with the updated SteamVR 2.0 base stations designed for the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro.

Although you can use the Index with the older base stations, the Index will be held within the limits of the older hardware. If you're dealing with a small play space for casual VR gaming this is no doubt alright, though if you're interested in an enormous play area and motion capture, SteamVR 2.0 tracking tech no doubt makes more sense.

What's the difference between SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 tracking?

Vive Pro base station (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro are both available with updated base stations that use SteamVR 2.0 tracking. Compared to the SteamVR 1.0 base stations that were included with the original HTC Vive, the idea is essentially the same, though there have been some subtle changes.

Physically, the base stations have a more rounded front that allows for a wider field-of-view. There's also now just a single rotor that spins inside, which actually offers more range (about 22 feet or 7 meters). With two SteamVR 2.0 base stations, you'll be able to effectively cover a play space that's 400% larger than is possible with SteamVR 1.0 base stations. With the older base stations, you could only position them about 16 feet (5 meters) diagonally apart.

Whereas SteamVR 1.0 base stations were capped at two units, you can add third and fourth base stations to your setup if you're using the updated hardware. With four total SteamVR 2.0 base stations, you should be able to effectively cover an area up to about 1,076 square feet (100 square meters). That's an enormous play area, and if you're operating anywhere other than your house or small office, it might be worth investing in the latest base stations to get as much roomscale action as possible.

Those who are working with other IR devices while in VR, like motion capture cameras, should note that the SteamVR 2.0 base stations are less susceptible to IR interference from other hardware.

Can you mix and match base stations?

Original HTC Vive base stations that use SteamVR 1.0 tracking and Valve Index base stations that use SteamVR 2.0 tracking cannot be used together in the same VR setup. If you want to enjoy a setup with more than two base stations for an enormous play area, you will have to opt for the newer SteamVR 2.0 hardware.

Is it worth upgrading to new SteamVR 2.0 base stations?

If you already own an HTC Vive setup complete with SteamVR 1.0 base stations, you can save some money and opt for just the Valve Index HMD. You're still going to get a quality roomscale VR experience, though with not as much room for expansion.

The Index HMD alone costs about $499, and about $749 if you add its "Knuckles" motion controllers.

For a complete package with Index HMD, motion controllers, and latest base stations with SteamVR tracking, you're looking at spending about $999. To buy each SteamVR 2.0 base station separately, expect to pay about $149.

If you're just starting to get into VR, a complete HTC Vive setup with HMD, two SteamVR 1.0 base stations, and motion controllers costs about $499. That's a far cheaper way to get off the ground, and it's still going to offer an excellent VR experience.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.