CES 2020: Pimax announces two new Valve Index competitors

Pimax 5K
Pimax 5K (Image credit: Pimax)

What you need to know

  • The Pimax 5K SUPER offers the same specs as the 5K Plus but with an enhanced 180Hz refresh rate.
  • The Pimax Artisan brings a lower $449 price point to the lineup, complete with 140-degree FoV and 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Both HMDs are SteamVR compatible and can be used with the Valve Index controllers.

Pimax may not be as well known as Oculus or Valve, but that's not stopping the company from introducing new products at CES 2020 to build up its rapport with enthusiasts. In fact, it's this enthusiast market that has elevated Pimax to its current position of building elite headsets that often push the boundaries of what current PC hardware can do. Both new headsets, the Pimax 5K SUPER and the Pimax Artisan, offer compelling reasons to choose them over other HMDs like the Valve Index or HTC Vive Pro.

First up is the Pimax 5K SUPER, which is the next evolution in Pimax's popular 5K series of headsets. What's new here? An insane 180Hz refresh rate on those beautiful 2560 x 1440 resolution CLPL panels behind the display. They feature the same ultra-wide field of view at 170-degres which, when compared with the Valve Index, gives you a 40-degree wider viewable area in VR. The Pimax 5K SUPER is compatible with the same SteamVR 2.0 base stations and Valve Index controllers that you can use on other SteamVR-compatible HMDs.

The second announcement from Pimax is the Artisan, a more affordable solution that also features full SteamVR compatibility. Sporting dual 1600 x 1400 resolution LCD panels running at a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, the Artisan is a surprisingly affordable headset given its abilities. It's also got a super-wide 140-degree field of view (FoV), which puts it around 10-degrees wider than the Valve Index (and around 30 degrees wider than the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift family). The Pimax Artisan is starting at $449 and is set to include an optional bundle that includes Nolo VR positioning instead of SteamVR, which hasn't been priced out yet but is expected to come in at $649 or less.

Can you use the Valve Index controllers with other VR headsets?

Pimax's offerings have rarely been the cheapest on the market, as they've found a niche with consumers wanting the highest-end experience available. The Pimax Artisan could prove to be a successful alternative to other options though, coming in at a price between Oculus and Valve's offerings. The big disadvantage, at the assumed $649 price, is that Nolo tracking is only 180-degrees, much like PSVR. That means no true roomscale tracking and no real way to turn around without tracking issues.

Since both headsets are fully compatible with SteamVR, though, you can buy either one from Pimax, complete with a $577 base station and controller package from Valve, and get seemingly the best headsets with the absolute best tracking and controllers on the market. That, of course, puts the Pimax Artisan at around $1,026, and the Pimax 5K Super somewhere in the wheelhouse of $1,300 for the full package with SteamVR tracking and Index controllers. Those prices are certainly not designed around everyone, but they offer quite a bit of positive points over the competition and show just how flexible Valve's SteamVR platform truly is.

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Nicholas Sutrich

Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu