ChillDex aims to finally fill that hole in the front of your Valve Index while also solving a problem.
ChillDex is an accessory for the Valve Index HMD sold by Toronto-based engineer Kyle Fredericks for CA$50. We ordered ours when the Kickstarter launched back in January, and it arrived a few weeks ago. In that time, I’ve been letting the heat from the outside in (and leaving my room’s fan off) when in VR.
All current VR headsets get warm, of course. The heat from the display panels alone is noticeable, and even PC VR headsets like Index have some onboard processing, with various chips to handle tasks like USB, audio, and tracking.
When No Man’s Sky released in summer 2019, I preferred playing on Index due to the wider field of view, precise lens separation adjustment, and punchy audio. However, Index tends to heat up more than other headsets. Combined with the summer heat, I ended up using the Rift S more for long sessions.
ChillDex exists to attempt to solve that, but its form factor is only possible because the Index HMD has an accessory slot in the front with a powered USB-A port.
Setup & Experience
There’s essentially no setup involved here. Just take out out of the box, slot it in, and it’s ready to be used. Fredericks says keeping the Index front cover off will improve cooling, but you can keep it on if you want.
Two white buttons are present on the right side of the device, stacked vertically. By pressing them you can increase or decrease the fan speed across 10 levels, with level 10 being 7000 RPM.
If you press & hold both buttons for a few seconds, Auto mode will be enabled. Auto controls the fan speed based on the temperature. This feature isn’t available on all ChillDex Kickstarter units (it was an option), but is available in the version currently sold online.
ChillDex is advertised as “near silent”, but that’s somewhat of an exaggeration. When the Index speakers fall silent on a hot day, you’ll certainly hear the fans whirring away- but the noise isn’t loud or bothersome, and it doesn’t seem to vibrate.
What About The Weight?
When the Kickstarter launched back in January, Index owners online raised concern about the added weight.
Back in 2014, I (and many other VR enthusiasts at the time) attached the 32 gram Leap Motion sensor to the front of an Oculus development kit, and this really did make it more of a pain on my face.
I weighed ChillDex at 23 grams, but unlike Leap Motion it isn’t on the front, it slots inside. The design of Index also helps here. It’s the heaviest VR headset on the consumer market- Valve’s philosophy accepts the weight, but balances it with a sturdy, well made headstrap cushioned with comfortable, premium-feeling padding.
I didn’t notice any difference in comfort, or even perceived weight, using ChillDex.
ChillDex Review Final Impressions
So, does it work? Simply put, yes. ChillDex makes the Index cooler on a warm day, since it dissipates much of the heat that builds up inside the headset itself.
Don’t expect an accessory like this to be a silver bullet though. You still have a 800 gram VR headset strapped to your face, so heat is still getting trapped, just less of it. Given you can’t feel the weight, there’s an auto mode, and it can be disabled at any time, if you’re using your Index in the heat, ChillDex is recommended.