Hardware Review Virtual Reality

Valve Index – Mini Review | High-Spec Headset?

The Valve Index is one of the more expensive VR headsets on the market. Boasting some particularly advanced controllers, and a high-resolution display, is it worth it?


Like many others, I bought the headset and controllers but used the base stations from the HTC Vive. Setup from there was quite easy. I merely disconnected the HTC Vive, connected the Valve Index, then opened up SteamVR. It asked me to select a refresh rate; I choose 120Hz, but this can be changed later if needed.

Beyond that, after pairing the controllers, I was in. Anyone new to VR would need to draw their room boundaries at this point, but as an ‘upgrade,’ I had already done it.

It’s worth doing a firmware update too, just in case it’s outdated.


Out of the box, it’s one of the more comfortable headsets I’ve worn. It’s heavy, but despite that, it’s balanced well, and the padding quality is excellent. I’ve been able to wear this for hours straight without any issues.

Valve Index - Headset


There isn’t too much to say about the tracking, other than it’s brilliant. It uses the external lighthouses/base stations and I’ve had absolutely no issues. It tracks the headset and controllers perfectly unless the sensors are occluded.


When putting the Valve Index on, everything looks very sharp and I couldn’t notice any screen door effect unless I was specifically looking for it. I’ve not noticed any distortion either.

The black levels and colors aren’t as good as the Vive or Vive Pro with their OLED screens, but I do think they beat the Pimax 5K with it’s LCD. I’d say the display is good enough in this respect that most people won’t notice unless they’re playing a game with a lot of dark environments like Elite Dangerous.

One area the display does fail on is Godrays. Again I think that most people won’t notice outside of specific games, but it’s one of the worse I’ve experienced for that.

The field of view is particularly impressive too at 130°. That said, how much you benefit from that field of view depends on how close you bring the lens to your eyes. They can be brought incredibly close. I had to move them out a bit because at closest they were touching my eyelashes. A little more horizontal field of view would be nice, but I’m happy with it as is.

As far as the refresh rate, I personally didn’t notice much difference between the settings. I know that some people are more sensitive to this however, so I’ll note that there are settings for 80, 90, 120 and 144 Hz. Having top of the range options is certainly appreciated at this price range.


The audio quality through the off ear headphones is excellent. 

It’s worth noting that anyone around you can hear the noise from the headset too, so you may not want to play certain types of content on this headset with people nearby…

You can remove the headphones for your own headphones if needed. As good as they are, in the end dedicated headphones can be better.

Valve Index - Controllers

Index Controllers

The Valve Index controllers (or ‘Knuckles’ as they are also known) are the main attraction of this VR headset. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as impressed as I had hoped.

The controllers strapped onto my hands without any issues. I tried with a few people of different hand sizes, and they were secure with everyone after some adjustment of straps. They’re generally comfortable, but those with large hands found difficulty pressing the menu button, while those with smaller hands had issues with the A button.

Clicking in the joysticks was found to be an issue for all those I had testing it too. This worked inconsistently or not at all, which caused issues with sprinting in several VR games.

Aside from the different form factor from most other VR controllers, the finger tracking is a notable feature. I didn’t find this worked particularly well though. It often detected multiple fingers when just one was used or the wrong finger. This was the case in all of the VR experiences I tried with support for finger tracking and not just a particular game. It’s a pity as it does have a lot of potential and in theory, could add tons of possible inputs.

Beyond the hardware itself, many games don’t work properly with the Valve Index controllers. User-created custom bindings partially solved this, but even then there were games where I still couldn’t do certain actions like climbing or dropping weapons. Without the custom bindings, I couldn’t even move in one game. In another, the angle of the hands was completely off. I found this quite disappointing as Valve has been sending out dev kits for the controllers to tons of developers, big and small ahead of release, but the support just isn’t there for a lot of games.


As a package, I’d not evaluate the Valve Index too highly. As a headset, upgrade from the HTC Vive while you keep the controllers and base stations and it’s certainly worth it as long as you have the money to splurge. As a controller upgrade, I’d suggest you don’t bother.

As such, the below is an overall score for the full kit.


Purchase Link: Amazon (UK)

Thinking about buying a VR Headset? Why not check out our Virtual Reality reviews?

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