Skip to main content

Pimax 8K X hands-on review: Long-awaited 8K VR headset is here, and it’s awesome

VR enthusiasts sat up and took notice when Pimax opened a Kickstarter for its 8K headset in October of 2017. The reason is exactly what you’d suspect. With 8K resolution, Pimax’s promised headset offered a new standard for VR clarity. Nearly six thousand backers pledged over 4.2 million dollars and awaited its January 2018 delivery.

And waited. And waited. And waited. The initial goodwill earned by the company’s pie-in-the-sky aspirations faded as backers had to wait longer and longer for headsets to deliver.

Related Videos
The Pimax 8K X was selected by our editors as the best product in the AR/VR category at CES 2020. Check out more of our Top Tech of CES Award winners.
Best of CES 2020 AR/VR
CES 2020

Now, at CES 2020, the long-awaited 8K headset is here, and it has all the specs. The twin 4K displays are backed up by a 200 degree field-of-view that’s far more immersive than competitors. It also has built-in audio jacks to support headsets, compatibility with Steam VR and Oculus game (through Pimax software), and a refresh rate up to 90Hz.

Pimax 8K X VR headset

Is it glorious? Oh, yes, it’s glorious. I’ve grown jaded to VR over the years, but the Pimax 8K X brought on the giddy smile from my first VR experiences. 8K is a drastic bump over competitors like the Valve Index which, for comparison, has two 1,440 x 1,600 screens.

The jump in clarity was obvious from the moment I put on the headset. Fine text is often difficult to read on competing headsets, and details can appear obscured or heavily aliased. Not so on the Pimax 8K X. The demo, a simple flight simulator loop, presented me with many small gauges to read. I had no problem making them out.

The Pimax has something most headsets lack; a real sense of peripheral vision.

It’s a huge leap from playing Elite Dangerous on the Oculus Rift DK1, where interface details were often headache-inducing to read. It’s a smaller leap over the Valve Index, but still noticeable.

The increased field of view is less impressive at first but, as I settled in, the benefit became more obvious. The Oculus Quest has a 90-degree field of view, while the Valve Index has a 130-degree field of view. The Pimax’s 200-degree field of view provides something those headsets lack; a real sense of peripheral vision. To me, it’s not a night-and-day difference, but it does lead to a more natural, less claustrophobic experience.

8K resolution is awesome, but there’s a problem. Performance. You’re going to need an extremely powerful system. The company recommends a Nvidia RTX 2080 for full 8K mode. To take off the edge, the headset offers Dual Engine Mode, which can lower the render resolution to 2,560 x 1,440 per display and then upscale that to 4K. Upscale Mode is the only way to achieve the maximum 90Hz refresh rate (8K runs at 75Hz) and reduces the recommended graphics card to Nvidia’s RTX 2060.

Pimax 8K X VR headset
Pimax 8K X VR headset

No one will call the Pimax 8K X sleek. Its broad, angular design is required to make a 200-degree field of view possible. I worried the bulk would be annoying, but I had no problem once I slipped it on. The well-padded headset stayed in place. I felt its weight, but about equal to a Vive Pro. My hands-on time was limited, however, so I can’t say it’ll remain comfortable over long sessions.

The Pimax 8K X retails for $1,299. There’s also a bundle with Valve Index controllers and base stations for the oddly specific price of $1,828. That’s a lot of money for a VR headset. Yet it’s not as much as I’d expect given the Pimax’s wildly impressive hardware. If you want to be on the cutting edge of home VR, the Pimax 8K X is where it’s at.

Editors' Recommendations

Pimax ‘8K’ headset bests original Oculus in Kickstarter funding
Pimax 8K VR headset surpasses $3 million in crowdfunding with 3 days to go
pimax vr headset kickstarter pimax8k

Although virtual reality did not capture mainstream attention in the way some expected when commercial hardware launched in 2016, it can still build a lot of hype around it. The latest and greatest examples of this are the Pimax "5K" and "8K" VR headsets currently seeking funding through Kickstarter. They have now brought in more pledged dollars than the original Oculus Rift DK1.

The original Oculus Rift campaign for its first developer kit headset hit the internet at the end of summer, 2012. It gave us our first indication that virtual reality was a hype train worth getting aboard, as close to 10,000 people pledged more than $2.4 million to help bring the headsets to life. Since then we've had multiple developer versions and consumer hardware releases from Oculus and other companies.

Read more
Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: 8K VR, smoke-free fires, a drone for your home
awesome tech new crowdfunding projects pimax biolite arduboy firepit home hero v2

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Pimax -- 8K VR headset

VR headsets have come a long way in the past few years. Ever since the Oculus Rift reignited the world's enthusiasm for virtual reality, tech companies have been in an arms race to develop better and better headsets. Today, VR enthusiasts have a smorgasbord of different options to choose from -- everything from the accessible and affordable Samsung Gear VR, all the way up to the industry-leading HTC Vive. But in many ways, the competition is just starting to heat up -- especially now that Pimax's much-hyped 8K headset has landed on Kickstarter.

Read more
Pimax 5K and 8K VR headset designs push consumer VR envelope
pimax vr headset kickstarter pimax8k

Pimax's highly hyped ultra high-resolution virtual reality headsets have now hit Kickstarter. Slated to begin shipping around January 2018, there are options for versions of the high-end headset with claimed 5K and 8K resolutions, as well as a field of view as broad as 200 degrees. With prices starting at $350 and support for existing HTC Vive trackers, interest is already high.

As excellent as the first generation of consumer virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift were, it's easy to see where they could be improved. While new wireless tracking and improved headstraps are great, most people are excited by the potential of higher resolution displays and improved field of view. Those are two key technological improvements that the Pimax headsets make in giant strides.

Read more