Last week HTC stirred up controversy with the Vive Pro price announcement. The company revealed that the HMD-only upgrade would sell for $800, and Vive fans reacted with outrage. Forums and comment sections all over the internet reverberated with disgruntled would-be buyers who can’t, or won’t, justify spending so much. No one seemed to notice that HTC neglected to discuss the recommended specs, though, including us.
When HTC announced the Vive Pro at CES, we spoke to a Vive representative and asked what kind of GPU would be required to power the new setup, and they told us that the recommended specifications would not be changing. We were skeptical of that reply, but we figured we would put that claim to the test when we received our Vive Pro for review. We’re not ready to release a review yet, but HTC did finally confirm that our skepticism was justified. HTC quietly revised the recommended system requirements for the new HMD.
The original Vive headset requires a host computer with an Intel Core i5-4590 or an AMD FX 8350 or better processor, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/1060 or an AMD Radeon R9 280/R9 390/RX 480 or better GPU. The system also requires a USB 2.0 port and a copy of Windows 7, Windows 8.x, or Windows 10.
The new headset’s requirements are somewhat different. The Vive Pro is doesn’t require a more powerful CPU, but the recommended GPU specifications went up. Technically, the Vive Pro is still compatible with all GPUs that work with the original Vive, but HTC and Nvidia suggest stepping up to a GTX 1070 for the best experience. AMD hasn’t publicly weighed in, but if you’re playing for team red, HTC suggests using a Radeon RX Vega 56 or better to drive the Vive Pro.
The new headset no longer supports USB 2.0--it requires at least a USB 3.0 port to operate. HTC also dropped support for Windows 7, so if you haven’t upgraded your OS and don’t intend to, you should stick with the original Vive headset. And we already knew that HTC dropped the HDMI cable for a DisplayPort cable on the new Link Box.
HTC no doubt knew that $800 for the Vive Pro would ruffle some feathers. The company may have elected to keep the recommended specifications under the radar because of the current state of the GPU market. Revealing the specifications on day one would only fuel the controversy surrounding the Vive Pro’s release. However, we don’t expect many people to drop $800 on a new headset if you don’t yet own a high-end GPU, so maybe the new recommended specs won't deter many prospective Vive Pro owners from picking up the new HMD.
The HTC Vive Pro HMD upgrade is available April 5. The company is accepting pre-orders now.