Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

Oculus Quest owners, your chance to dive into the world of PC VR gaming has begun.

The Oculus Home app on Windows PCs has just been updated to support the standalone Oculus Quest, two months after the “Oculus Link” feature was teased and demonstrated at the most recent Oculus Connect conference.

(If you’re not familiar with the slightly confusing Oculus ecosystem of virtual reality, the sentences above are probably a bit confusing. If so, go here for a refresher on what the Oculus Quest headset is, then here for a explain why this new Oculus Link update is a big deal.)

With Oculus Link enabled, the standalone Quest can now connect to a PC of your choice via a USB Type-C 3 cable and access the more powerful VR library on PC storefronts like Oculus Home. We’ll come back after testing to confirm that SteamVR also works properly via Oculus Link.

AMD is DOA for now

In the meantime, Oculus has confirmed a jump in required PC specs for Oculus Link usage, which we knew could come due to additional requirements for Link’s rendering pipeline. AMD graphics card owners are getting some bad news today: Your systems will not working with Oculus Link at launch. Higher AMD cards will eventually be supported, Oculus reps tell Ars, while weaker Nvidia cards like the GTX 970 and the notebook variant of the GTX 1060 are not currently supported.

That change in the rendering pipeline also means that PC VR games, as rendered by a wired Quest, will look blurrier than on native PC headsets. Our testing at the last Oculus Connect event revealed acceptable VR performance on Quest via Link, but I called the results “a great benefit, not a PC headset replacement”. Link’s apparent downgrades to resolution and frame rate at the time were significant enough to reassure owners of new kits like the Oculus Rift S not to regret their purchases.

We are still waiting for a release date for the official Oculus Link headset cable after “2019”. When it launches, this $79 fiber optic cable will offer a significant length for the sake of real-world movement — five meters, about the same as most wired VR kits — and a crucial right-angle connector to keep the cord from dangling. The Quest’s USB Type-C port is set high on one side, which isn’t ideal for always connecting a protruding cord; therefore I strongly cautioned against plugging Quest hardware into a power outlet during standard play.

But you’ll have to settle for standard cables at this point in Quest Link’s beta, and Oculus recommends a “high-quality” USB 3.0 cable. This presents a huge drawback: the USB Type-C cable that comes with every Oculus Quest system is actually USB 2.0 compliant, so it won’t work. If you’re eager to dive into Oculus Link today, look out for a Type-C cable capable of USB 3.1 or USB 3.2 speeds. (Oculus currently recommends members of the press try this 10-foot cable from Anker.)

Oculus made it clear at its September conference that the few months of the Quest headset’s existence had boosted software sales significantly: $20 million in software in four months, versus $80 million in Oculus Rift software sales in more than three years. So it makes sense that Oculus is optimistic about unlocking further software sales opportunities through today’s new Link feature.

stormland launch trailer, November 2019.

This holiday season includes two massive game launches for the Rift PC platform: stormlandan action adventure with weapons and flights, and The Wrath of Asgarda Skyrim-like fantasy RPG. We’ll have more on both major games by the end of the year, along with advice on whether either fits well with the inherent limits of Oculus Link’s visual downgrades on Quest headsets.

Time for some Link action

Update, November 19: Oculus’s rollout of the feature seems to have come in waves, as I had to wait an extra day after the rollout to access Oculus Link. I’m currently on vacation, so this is a quick update to simply confirm: it works and it fully supports SteamVR.

To access a Steam library on Oculus Quest via Oculus Link, you’ll need to locate your computer’s desktop (which Oculus Home lets you do with an easy-to-find “virtual desktop” button), then click through to your Steam library and load SteamVR from there. But it works, and it treats a connected Oculus Quest as if it were a standard PC headset – neatly translating the Oculus Touch controllers to boot.

My incredibly short tests revolved around booting into SteamVR and then jumping into that store’s installs Beat Saber and pistol whip to test image quality and latency. Frankly, I’m more impressed with this first moment than when I tested Oculus Link at a conference in September. I could definitely notice a hint of extra latency in my Beat Saber sword sweep, and it was arguably better than any such acceptable slowdown I’ve noticed in modern wireless VR setups. And while Quest’s 72Hz refresh is nothing like Valve Index’s 120Hz standard, there’s something to be said for my powerful PC giving a fuller image which is then neatly and cleanly scaled down to the Quest’s crisp, high-resolution OLED .

If you have a Quest, you really should run, not walk, to buy a compatible USB 3 Type-A to Type-C cable to try this out. It’s a heckuva Quest party trick.

List image by Sam Machkovech

By akfire1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.