Live Science Verdict
HTC Vive has delivered an incredible headset that lives up to the Elite name, though the high price means it's not for everyone.
Requires a lot of space
Why you can trust Live Science
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is an extremely accomplished headset. Not only does it feature excellent build quality and some of the best screens on the market, but it’s also lightweight and despite its lack of portability, it’s one of our favorite headsets on the market. It’s certainly an expensive headset and will require a decent amount of room in order to use it at its full potential, but for its versatility, screen quality and comfort, there are few better on the market.
While it absolutely excels when used for games such as Superhot or Half-Life: Alyx, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is an extremely well-rounded headset that can be used for production, exercise and virtual cinema experiences. The flip-up headset design makes it ideal for working collaboratively on a project, without the classic VR issue of feeling closed off from your surroundings.
There will be some that prefer the Meta Quest 2 (aka the Oculus Quest 2) with its ultra-lightweight design and wireless freedom, but the power of that headset is certainly lacking when compared to the Cosmos Elite. You’ll need a fairly beefy PC to get the best out of it, but if you’re using it from production or for testing designs in fields like manufacturing, you’re likely to have all the equipment you need.
You can check out our list of the best VR headsets in order to find one that’s right for you, but if you’re keen on the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and are dying to find out if it’s right for you, keep reading our review to find out more.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite: Design
- Dual high res panels
- Flexible strap providing a high degree of headphones
- Adjustable built-in headphones
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is equipped with two 1440p panels that sit in a large, light frame on the front of the device. The Cosmos Elite prioritizes comfort and quality and to this end, it absolutely shines. It’s not the nicest looking headset in the world, but crucially, when you’re wearing it you won’t be able to tell.
The things that really matter in a VR headset, like how it feels to wear after a long session, or how easy it is to remove to talk to someone, especially if you’re using it as part of your workflow, are excellent. The key to this is an adjustable strap, that for our money is one of the very best in the market. There are few headsets that can match it for comfort, which is impressive considering the tech that’s inside. There’s an adjustable dial on the back of the headset which means that everyone should be able to find a setting that is comfortable for them.
The front of the headset actually flips up, which is great for if you’re using it as part of a project that requires being in and out of VR a lot, it’s perfect. It also makes talking to people in your workspace much easier, as simply flipping up the front panel.
The headphones that are attached to the headset are solid, but they aren’t the top of the line. Those who wish to use the VR headset for something that requires extremely high-quality audio may want to use their own headphones, which can be easily integrated into the system.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite: Setup & Performance
- Plenty of space required
- First time set up process can be lengthy
- Excellent performance across all software
One of the main factors in determining if the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is the headset for you is the amount of space that you can afford to give it. If you’re integrating it as part of your workspace, you may have to move a lot of things around. In order to use the head to the best of its ability, you’re ideally going to need a lot of free space.
The Vive Cosmos Elite uses two base stations. These are small sensor boxes that must be placed at either side of whichever room you plan to use the headset in. They’re vital as they provide the headset with better tracking than most other headsets on the market, but their necessity does present a few issues.
Both base stations need to be plugged in, and the cables aren’t incredibly long. If you don’t have any power outlets available, you might have to completely change your set-up. This isn’t a great situation, especially since, if you’re going to be wearing a VR headset, the likely hood of you tripping up over this mess of cables and going crashing through your coffee table is high.
From a performance perspective, the Vive Cosmos Elite is incredible. It’s well known as a gaming powerhouse, but it also handily deals with productivity software, manufacturing and development apps, and graphic design interfaces exceptionally well. There’s practically no piece of consumer-level hardware that matches it for the versatility of performance.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite: Features, games, & apps
- Excellent with productivity software
- Lightweight, so ideal for fitness
- Wide lenses make it perfect for TV and movie viewing
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is pretty much best-in-class when it comes to being able to play high-end VR games for its price, but it’s also an exceptional VR headset when it comes to other applications.
The headset’s light weight makes it great for fitness apps, although you’ll obviously need to find a lot of space. The flip-up front panel is perfectly suited for this, especially if you find yourself getting warm as a result of whichever VR fitness app you choose to use. Wireless headsets like the Meta Quest might be a slightly better fit if fitness is a large factor in which headset you want to pick up.
The high-quality panels make it a brilliant headset for watching TV and films. The virtual cinema space in VR is always expanding, and a high-quality headset like the Vive will actually make a huge difference, whereas headsets with lower quality panels might be fine for games, but 4K content like films and TV won’t look great when scaled for those screens.
Games are obviously a big selling point for VR as a platform and the Cosmos Elite delivers in spades. Games like Half-Life: Alyx look incredible, and fast titles like the incredible Rez Infinite, or the time-bending SUPERHOT are stars of the show. Music fans will want to try out the addictive Beatsaber, a game which sees the player use two lightsabers to chop down music blocks in time to your favorite songs.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite: Price
- Double the price of the Oculus Quest 2
- Not factoring in the strong PC required
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is basically the low end of high-end VR, if you catch our drift. That means that you’re paying a good bit more than something like the Meta Quest 2, but the jump in performance is very significant. The price will also vary depending on whether you happen to have a PC that’s powerful enough to run the software required in VR. If not, this can be a huge added expense, especially with the rise in computer part costs lately.
For those just looking to jump into VR without a huge investment, the Meta Quest is probably better suited, but if you’re already interested in tech and have a solid PC, the Vive Cosmos Elite could be the better choice. It’s worth determining exactly what you’re going to use it for, be that games or other software like fitness and films, and then choose a headset that fits your budget and intended use.
Should you buy the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite?
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is perfect for people that are looking to take the next step in PC-based VR. If you’re interested in something that’s excellent for fitness, relaxing, or even working but also want one of the best gaming headsets on the market then the Vive Cosmos Elite is for you.
The build quality is incredible, and nothing we tested has quite the level of comfort that’s built into the Cosmos Elite. Obviously it’s a headset that demands a lot of space, but if you can make it work, the Elite offers an almost unbeatable experience. It’ll be some time before another headset at this price range does everything so well, we only wish it was very slightly less clunky to engage with.
If this product isn’t for you
If you’re looking for a headset that won’t take up so much space, or won’t require you to move your room around, then the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite might not be for you. For a pure gaming experience, headsets like the Meta Quest 2 might be better suited. Its wireless headset and lightweight controllers are perfect for people that are keen to engage in VR, but don’t have the high-end PC required for the Cosmos Elite, or the space.
If you’re keen on something more high-end the HTC Vive Pro 2 model checks all the boxes that the Cosmos Elite does, but delivers even more power. It’s a headset that’s still pretty much unmatched on the market, with a wider field of view and better panels for incredible clarity when it comes to visuals.
Finally, if you want to take a step up from the Cosmos Elite, and if money is no object, then the Valve Index really is the final word in VR headsets. Just make sure you've got a PC powerful enough to make the most of it.
Jordan Middler is a Scottish journalist with a love for anything he can put on a shelf. For almost a decade he has been creating content about video games, virtual reality, and tech for websites including VGC, Overlode, Live Science & Space.com. He also spent five years as the chief voice of gaming for BBC Scotland. If he’s not reviewing the latest games, or building LEGO kits, you’ll find him dusting his shelves in the eternal war with his greatest enemy, dust.