Yay, my 8kX came one day earlier than expected, shipping went smoothly, all good! (that customs number seems to have worked for me).
Here some initial impressions after some hours of experimentation. Will update this as new impressions become available.
My VR background: Have an original Vive and a 5k+, have been using the latter for the last year and am quite happy with it.
great (better than 5k+):
- the added details in native mode are very obvious - looking really good!
- almost no visible sde
- better weight distibution
- no “snow effects” experienced yet, even without special cable care (I sometimes see randowm white pixels with my 5k+, have to make sure that the cable isn’t close to any electromagnetic source - think my cable isn’t shielded too well. If this is ensured then the snow goes away on my 5k+ and all is ok. Not needed on the 8kX, works out of the box.)
- ok, also a little room for improvement but definitely better than with the 5k+: still seeing noticable aliasing on straight lines, even in native mode (the resolution isn’t “retina” yet, so this probably has to be expected). But e.g. texts on Virtual Desktop are readable a lot better now. Not yet monitor level but quite usable. Higher supersampling settings can greatly reduce this effect. Don’t get usable framerates with these settings with my 1080 TI, but it’s good to know that the headset has potential upwards with a better GPU!
ok (like 5k+)
- distortion is similar to the 5k+: noticable but imho not too disturbing - normal FoV is still the best setting for me. Perhaps dynamic correction via eye tracking can get rid of that at some point? Don’t know, don’t care too much either.
- colors, contrast and brightness appear similar, neither better nor worse - thus ok. Edit: The 8kX seems to react well (better?) to contrast and brightness changes. Looks better than with default settings that way. Will have to check how the 5k+ would react to similar settings.
- 75 Hz mode doesn’t disturb me e.g. in Alyx in a first test (I notice a difference in Eleven Table Tennis though - see below)
room for improvement:
- noticably heavier than the 5k+ (but fortunately the better weight distribution somewhat helps there)
- sweetspot appears slightly smaller than 5k+. But I can find a spot where the center is sharp for both eyes. Could be related to comfort kit. Or perhaps also to the added sharpness - you see much more of a difference between “almost sharp” and “really sharp” on the 8kX - as the 5k+ doesn’t have that level of sharpness, no matter how you adjust it, this might not be as obvious
- 75 Hz is noticably less smooth for Eleven Table Tennis, prefering the 5k+ in 144 or 120 Hz for that game
- 118 Hz upscaling mode has quite disturbing motionblur effects, would prefer the 75 Hz native mode for sports games when just having the 8kX. (Frametimes are far below critical levels)
- in 118 Hz upscaling mode I see a copy of the screen content from the middle on the very left side. This also happens in Pimax Home (the thing with the Pimax logo) and does thus not appear to be SteamVR related. This happens no matter which FoV is selected. It looks like the left display isn’t happy with the timings.
Does not appear in 75 Hz native mode.
- noticable mura (particularly visible on white surfaces). Are there perhaps correction files similar to StarVR? Would probably have to be calibrated per device…
- using the comfort kit for sports games leads to sweating much faster, lenses also start to steam up. A short break fixes this.
- the on/off switch led doesn’t go blank when switching the headset off, it turns and stays red.
- there seem to be two cases where the led is red: When the HMD is off and oddly sometimes also when it is kind of on. This “odd mode” can be identified with the combination of red led and active front light bar. For me when switching on my PC with the 8kX already being attached it is always in this mode. In that case PiServiceLauncher is driving the GPU to 100% load. Clicking the power button in that state switches it off (led stays red but GPU load goes down and front light bar switches off). Then pressing the button again will switch the HMD on again - this time the led will switch to green/purple and the HMD is fully operational.
Particularly the fact that this “odd mode” is active when I start my PC - and that it leads to 100% GPU load is inconvenient. Thus the HMD has best to be plugged out after usage atm.
- the speakers don’t sound particularly fantastic. I’m a little indifferent whether no speakers would have been better than these. On the one hand they can be better than nothing and are e.g. fully sufficient for the “tick” sound when the ball hits the bat in table tennis. On the other hand they unfortunately block my much better overear-headset that I have used with the 5k+ sometimes, when audio mattered. In ear would of course work. Perhaps they could put some plastic caps into the package that make the 8kX still look “complete” when removing the SMAS. Or make DMAS the default.
- Make sure to adjust the velo that goes over the head so that the counterweight can optimally take away weight from your face. Had this wrong initially.
- Played with the contrast and brightness settings. Tried @SweViver’s proposed settings with brightness -2 and contrast +2. This worked well e.g. in movies (watched “fantastic beasts” with lots of contrasts). But it made texts harder to read. So as a default I settled on brightness -2, contrast 0 for now. But per-application overrides can definitely make sense.
- for reading webpages it turned out more comfortable for me to use dark mode (e.g. via DarkReader). That way mura is also not visible. Found Virtual Desktop to be better at visualizing websites with text than BigScreen. BigScreen was cooler for movies though. That way one could also use different contrast settings for the different applications and scenarios.
- watched a movie with the SMAS speakers now. This clearly isn’t made for music. But on the positive side text understandability is actually quite good.
- Took me some time to get manual supersampling settings working: Manual settings in SteamVR didn’t have any effect on quality (nor performance) above ~110% supersampling, SteamVR applies a hardware dependent cap that ignores higher manual settings. Fortunately there is a good guide available for that now: https://community.openmr.ai/t/how-to-make-your-pimax-image-crisp/29688 . Shouldn’t be a hazzle anymore once Pimax Experience does this for us.
Can set supersampling to 100-120% in SteamVR (for PiTool SS 1.0) with my 1080 TI. This is pretty close to the automatically detected cap used by SteamVR without the explicit maxRecommendedResolution setting. So the automatism actually made sense. But with manual supersampling controls working now, I at least know that aliasing can be reduced a lot with a new GPU (tried 300% SS - completely unplayable but it looks nice for sure!).
Haven’t applied all suggestions from the link above yet (just maxRecommendedResolution), so manual settings might be able to achieve better results than the automatism while keeping frametimes in noncritical areas. Will try this out!
Text on virtual monitors (like in Virtual Desktop or BigScreen) and games like Alyx look noticeably better on the 8kX than on the 5k+. Currently I’m glad that I kept the 5k+ though (mainly for sports games where refresh rate makes a difference for me and it’s less sweaty). But for most things the 8kX is definitely an upgrade. And if the 118 Hz mode works as well as the 120/144 Hz mode of the 5k+ at some point (which should hopefully be fixable via software updates) then there wouldn’t be much reason left to further use the 5k+. All in all, I’m happy with the device and glad that I pledged for the 8kX! Some tuning would still be helpful, but the 5k+ also went a long way when comparing the current experience to the initial one. So I’m optimistic and will keep the 8kX.