OCULUS RIFT S vs VALVE INDEX : Is it Worth the Upgrade?

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OCULUS RIFT S vs VALVE INDEX : Is it Worth the Upgrade?
Date Jul 27, 2020
Duration 10:29
PHIA model PHIA MeDicAl
Previous episode How to FEEL TOUCH in VR (no haptics)
Next episode Psychedelics & VR: Layers of Reality
Link YouTube

OCULUS RIFT S vs VALVE INDEX : Is it Worth the Upgrade? is the sixteenth episode of The Virtual Reality Show. PHIA compares her experiences with the Oculus Rift S and the Valve Index and evaluates whether it was worth upgrading. After making the upgrade, she signed her Oculus Rift S and sold it on eBay for $679.00.


Video Description

Welcome to Episode 16 where I go over my experience with both the Oculus Rift S and Valve Index headset. Was it worth the upgrade? Should you also leave your Rift S behind? Or for first time buyers, is it worth dropping a grand on your first headset? I answer all those questions in this video.


PHIA: Hey guys, and welcome back to The Virtual Reality Show where we talk about any and all things related to virtual reality, inside...virtual reality! Haha. I’m your host, PHIA. So as most of you know, I recently got my Valve Index. I put my order for it back on April 13th and received it in the mail on June 30th meaning I waited a total of 11 weeks for my headset to make it to me. It was a brutal wait time and a load of money, and now as a former Rift S user, I wanted to make this video. Was it worth the upgrade?

So to start us off I’m going to briefly cover the main differences between the two headsets.

I have my second body here to help us out, so that we can get a demonstration of each point I cover today. So here we have the Oculus Rift headset released in 2019 which retails for $400 USD. The headset uses the Oculus software and features the magical inside out tracking system - meaning the camera in the headset allows for accurate positional tracking of your movements without the need for setting up an external base station sensor. This makes the set up for it quite easy and painless! Here you can see the head strap and the adjustment knob in the back for getting your head size right.

Here is the Index, which off the bat you can tell looks quite deluxe in comparison. It’s less bulky, has these speakers for your ears hanging out, and includes way more head adjustment features. You can control the depth of the screen itself, as well as the eye distance on top of the head strap and back knob, making it feel luxurious to help justify that $1000 price tag. The headset runs straight off of SteamVR and does not have the inside out tracking, meaning you will have to set up base stations on opposite corners of your play space to track your movements.

The controllers are also worth noting, as even though the Rift controllers are very comfortable to play with, the knuckles come with complete finger tracking and remove the need for gripping them. It helps a ton with immersion and allows you to kind of relax and forget you’re in a game when you don’t need to be gripping a controller tightly during your entire play time.

As far as specs go, the Index has a significant improvement as well. You have a wider field of view, especially vertically, so it’s easier to see around without feeling like you’re locked into a little box strapped to the top of your head. The refresh rate jumps from 80hz on the Rift S to 120hz on the Index maxing out at 144. The higher FPS honestly makes such a huge difference in combination with the better resolution and FOV.

So, as much as I loved my Rift S as my first headset, I do have some pretty major complaints about it. I never really minded the specs or the boxy feeling of it, as I usually get so wrapped up in what I’m doing in VR that I hardly even notice those things at all. My first really major complaint is with the Oculus hardware. I was constantly having issues with it. At least 50% of the time I would boot up my headset to use, there were issues. I would get these weird errors saying my USB port wasn’t plugged in, so I’d replug it and it would fix it again, and then it would say my display port wasn’t working and I'd unplug and replug and do all my cables multiple times and it just wouldn't work. I had sessions where it took me about 40 minutes of work to get the dang headset to just work correctly, which is not a problem I should have experienced.

If I wasn’t so dedicated to VR and making content, the inconvenience likely would have impacted how much time I was spending in VR and demotivating me from playing it.

Even on the days where the headset connection worked fine, I would often have problems with SteamVR not being load in or out unless I restarted my computer completely. It’s absolutely ridiculous that with the powerful computer that I have that I would have such a pathetic user experience.

The other major problem I had was with the mic. Frankly, the mic was shit! The audio quality aside, the Rift S has this major bug in the drivers that causes the mic to randomly turn into robot voice. This is annoying as heck to everyone listening to you, but it is also annoying as heck as a content creator because it lowers my content quality. It’s quite embarrassing on Oculus’s behalf that they allow this problem to continue and haven’t made it a top priority to fix their problem that they are selling at such a large price. You know there’s a major problem when you enter a group setting in VR and everyone turns and looks at you randomly and goes “yuuup that’s a Rift S user” because of your deafening robot voice.

Look, I’ve had a nice experience with the headset itself, but the software and driver problems with Oculus were substantially annoying. I don’t want it to sound like I’m telling anyone to NOT buy a Rift S because there are soooooo many good reasons you should. However, I do want people to know how big of a quality of life difference the Index makes.

I have had zero issues with the quality of the SteamVR software when booting up my headset, and it works really fast and efficiently every time I turn it on. It makes VR not a hassle, but a pleasure, because it’s quick and easy. The mic is not only acceptable, but it’s actually exceptional. The recording quality is super high, and it gets a lot of praise for it. It's even what I'm using right now. For anyone who wants to record or stream in VR, having a good mic quality is a must and the Index makes that easy.

I wanna take a moment to vouch for the specs of the Index as well. My exact words when I put it on for the first time were “I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore,” because the difference was so large that I felt like I was trying VR for the very first time and seeing in color because of how vivid and clean everything around me looked. Kinda like the difference between watching a BluRay and a DCD. Everything just pops more and makes you more connected to what you’re watching.

I will note that after wearing the Index for longer periods of time, I find it to be less comfortable around my head. I get some tension on my forehead that I never experienced with the Rift S. It’s not anything terrible, but it did take me some adjustment rather than the Rift S which fit around my face comfortably right away.

Another comfort problem I'd like to mention is with the knuckles controllers. These are made for man-hands. I have pretty average sized hands for a woman, and the knuckles really struggled to pick up my pinky and ring fingers. The one-size-fits-all method seems to be really swayed towards larger hands, and it is really frustrating to not be able to enjoy these controllers to the max just because I’m a normal sized female.

The last point I wanted to bring up is about full body tracking. I was using Vive base stations for about a week and half before my index showed up so that I could have full body tracking on my oculus while I waited. Frankly, the set up for that is doable but not fun, and it makes zero sense financially. It’s really not worth buying an Oculus if you think you’ll want full body down the line. If you are currently a Rift S user and you think you might want full body tracking later on, I do think it's way smarter to just go ahead and upgrade to the Index and sell your Oculus Rift while you still can.

So here’s my concluding thoughts to just wrap everything up. If you have the money, I really think the Index is worth the upgrade. The way I think about it is like with cars. You can go buy a used Mazda where sometimes the air conditioning doesn’t work for cheap, and it’s gonna be a good car. It will get you to where you're going and you’ll enjoy it. But you could spend a few hundred more for a car with heated seats or nice speakers to make that transportative experience really comfortable and reliable. You see the difference? Your headset is just your car into the cyberverse. How much you invest into it is how much you’re going to get out of the experience.

Personally, there’s no going back for me. I feel zero guilt about dropping a grand on it, because in my eyes, VR is the most magical experience I could ever get. But look, if you can’t make the Index work right now, the Rift S is going to be your best bud for a while. Hold onto him, and start saving up your money, and then when the next even better Index comes out, you can grab that one with zero remorse.

Anyways, I hope you’ve found this video to be helpful to you on choosing whether or not to upgrade. This was all my personal experience with both headsets, and of course, every person is going to feel differently. Also, make sure to give this video a like and subscribe to The Virtual Reality Show channel! If you have more questions about headsets or VR in general, then make sure to join my Discord, link in the description. I’m actually going to be selling my Oculus Rift S since I no longer need it, and I’ll include a link to the eBay page in the description. I’m signing it too, so if you want to be able to say that you used the original headset that TheVirtualRealityShow was filmed in, then this is your chance to own a little slice of PHIA history.

Also, I made some changes to my Patreon rewards including starting monthly meetups and sending out TVRS thumbnail prints! The next meetup is on July 31st, so make sure you don’t miss out!

Oh, and another special note, a few of my Discord members have been working on a TVRS Wiki. So, if you want to be up to date on all the fun content, memes or even transcripts of all the TVRS episodes, this is the place to check it out.

Anyways, I’ve been your host PHIA, and I’ll see you next week's video! Byee!!!

Special thanks to my Patreon members and virtual VIPs: BaxornVR, Skormalor and TopWaffle.


  • This marks the first appearance of the PHIA MeDicAl outfit first worn in real-life by PHIA during a stream of Tomadachi Life.
  • This is the first mention of TVRS Wiki in the main episodes.
  • This is the first time PHIA swears in a main TVRS episode.