VR resolutions are improving rapidly leaving the narrow FOV (Field of View) the biggest drawback in sim racing. Most mainstream headsets are in the 100 to 120 degree range limiting peripheral vision dramatically. This is fine in a lot of VR games but in sim racing, peripheral vision is a huge component to immersion. Something serious sim racers traditionally remedy with a 3 screen build.
I may be late to the party but I had never heard of PimaxVR until researching wide FOV headsets. They offer several different models all built around a 200 degree FOV. I settled on the 5k plus as it is geared more towards gamers boasting a 144hz refresh rate. Resolution in the 5k plus is 2560 x 1440 per eye where the Vive Pro is 1440 x 1600 per eye. The Vive Pro has a sharper image but the addition of peripheral vision in the Pimax is huge. When I put the headset on I immediately knew I would use this headset moving forward. The extended field of view simulates the driver’s position perfectly as I can now view the side view mirrors while looking straight. The extra information taken from the peripheral also makes brake points and turn in much easier to judge. You can look through a turn while still taking in the action around you as well.
I highly recommend driving an open wheel car in iRacing with the Pimax.
PimaxVR Pro’s and Con’s
The new headset fits a very specific niche for me allowing my semi budget friendly sim racing rig to take another step towards greater immersion. The resolution and refresh rate are as good or better than the big 3 players in the VR market although the image crispness falls short to the Vive Pro. But the wider FOV compared to the competition makes it an easy winner for sim activities. The unit itself does feel of lesser quality than it’s rivals, specifically the plastic housing and head straps although once adjusted I can wear the 5k Plus for hours with no issue. Instead of built in audio like the Vive Pro, the Pimax has a usb-c port on the front of the unit for mic and audio. I thought this was odd placement at first but in practice the audio cables stay out the way and don’t interfere with placing and removing the headset. Something that can be cumbersome with a few other brands that mount in the rear.
Below is a short video demonstration of the Pimax 5k+ in action. Unlike the other VR headsets, the side view mirrors are easily within the field of view when wearing the Pimax. Making the Pimax my go to headset when sim racing.
Check your mirrors on the straights, even in sim racing.
The Bad: Customer Service
I really wish I didn’t have to write this as PimaxVR is making a great piece of gear, but their customer service is BAD! I ordered an ‘in stock’ unit directly from their website and after 7 days heard nothing from Pimax. No word on delays and no tracking number. So I set about trying to contact someone. Emails weren’t replied to, web form submissions were ignored and I found their California ‘office’ phone number always goes to voicemail. And yes, I left several messages. To the point, the only way I could get in touch with anyone was to file a dispute with Paypal. Unsurprisingly, I heard something back that afternoon. (not a good look) This was after 2 weeks of trying their official company channels and frankly, unacceptable in any internet sales model. After some back and forth, I eventually received the headset having waited another 2 weeks. About a 1 month turn around for an ‘in stock’ item.
I was hugely frustrated with the whole experience. In perspective I really, really want to recommend PimaxVR for sim racing but at the same time have to issue a warning: They are based overseas and not in California as they try to portray and become unresponsive once they have your money. However, they are a real company selling a real product but be prepared to exercise some patience.
Pimax, get your shit together so I can properly recommend your awesome headsets.
Note: As of this writing Pimax has released the 8k plus with a 110Hz refresh rate and resolution 3840×2160 per eye. Easily making it the most pixel dense consumer headset on the market.