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Pimax has unveiled the most advanced VR headset ever – but you shouldn't buy it

The Pimax Reality 12K VR headset shown off as a render in a blank void
(Image credit: Pimax)
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Facebook looks ready to reveal a brand new Oculus Quest device at its Facebook Connect event in just a few days, but now its thunder may have been stolen by rival Pimax. The premium VR headset brand has just announced what looks to be the best VR headset ever made – unfortunately, it also costs an eye-watering $2,399 (around £2,000 / AU$3,700).

At its first-ever Pimax Frontier event (opens in new tab), the company unveiled the Pimax Reality 12K QLED, which can be used standalone or as a PC VR device. While it's plugged in, Pimax promises the Reality 12K can deliver you (unsurprisingly) 12K resolutions at 200Hz thanks to its QLED micro-LED displays

Even if you’re using it as a standalone headset, it'll outpace the competition (even the beloved Oculus Quest 2), offering players resolutions of up to 8K and refresh rates up to 120Hz. To help it achieve these lofty goals, the Reality 12K uses eye-tracking and foveated rendering to reduce the load on the headset’s processors at any one time.

According to its specs, the Reality 12K will be the most impressive standalone headset we’ve seen to date. But, as always, there are some downsides. For one, the Pimax Reality 12K is roughly one year from release with an estimated launch date of Q4 2022 – that’s October through to the end of December. In addition, as we’ve already mentioned it will set you back $2,399 if you decide to purchase it.

Adding insult to injury, the Pimax Reality 12K QLED will require an additional $199 payment for SteamVR support as well as demand you own a pretty beefy PC if you want to take full advantage of its premium features. If you wanted to create an all-new setup incorporating this device, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear you’ve spent the best part of $5,000 all up.

There are some silver linings, though. If you already own a Pimax VR headset or purchase one before the Reality 12K launches, you can deduct its full purchase price from the cost of the Reality 12K. For Pimax Vision 8K X owners, that means you’ll get around half-off the Pimax 12K, with smaller savings awarded by the Pimax Vision 5K Super and other cheaper devices from the brand.

Oculus Quest 2 unboxed

Why get the Pimax Reality 12K when the Oculus Quest 2 is more than fine and costs one tenth of the price? (Image credit: Tada Images / Shutterstock)

Opinion: this is too expensive for VR right now 

VR is incredible, there is honestly no gaming experience like it. Anyone who has strapped on an Oculus Quest 2 or Valve Index knows what the medium can deliver and that it has enormous potential to do so much more. But for that reason, it’s still in its infancy.

Sure, you’ll get the occasional full-AAA game that offers VR support like No Man’s Sky or Star Wars Squadrons that let you explore vast worlds – and these are some of the best VR games around – but they make up a small fraction of the games that launch on the platform. 

Most VR games are much smaller in scope (such as Beat Saber) or are remakes of older games (like Resident Evil 4 VR). These less-intensive experiences are over 90% of what is out there right now, and everything we’ve played works just fine and looks great on the $299 / £299 / AU$479 Oculus Quest 2.

For the Reality 12K to be worth it, we need to see much more of these AAA VR experiences, games that necessitate the highest of high-end hardware. Right now, especially on standalone devices, they just don't exist.

Given how premium the Reality 12K is, we don't expect many developers will risk creating these games either; with such a small pool of potential players likely to adopt the hardware, there's only a slim chance they'd be able to recuperate development costs, let alone turn a profit.

If you have the cash to take advantage of the Pimax Reality 12K VR headset, then from what we’ve seen it will be a great-looking device that is sure to make your virtual reality feel much more immersive. However, you just don’t need it right now. You’d be much better off with the Oculus Quest 2 or the new Oculus Quest device we expect to see later this week (price dependent of course).

One day a $2,399 headset will be worth it, but today is not that day.

Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar (@Hamish_Hector (opens in new tab) on Twitter) and has been writing about tech for almost five years. He now lends his experience to cover news and reviews across everything on TechRadar (from Computing to Audio to Gaming and the rest). In his free time, you’ll likely find Hamish humming show tunes while building Lego or playing D&D with his mates.