While Google Stadia has been making all of the headlines, for both the right and the wrong reasons, the recent release that we were hotly anticipating was actually the Oculus Link update for the Oculus PC app, which allows Oculus Quest owners to hook their headsets up to a sufficiently powerful PC via USB C to act as an Oculus Rift.
For those not familar with the differences between the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift, the Quest is the Rift’s completely standalone cousin which has games installed and run on the headset itself. That means no wires to trip over and no dander of yanking your fancy gaming laptop of the desk when your enthusiasm gets the better of you. Just complete freedom to move as you want. Well, as much freedom as you can get in a furniture-filled room.
The Rift, on the other hand, requires you to be tethered to a relatively powerful PC (likely with a GTX 1060 or higher inside it) that is powering your VR experience. Not surprisingly, the games that the Rift is capable of running can be significantly more impressive than what you’ll get on Quest because they have so much more oomph available to power them. And there is much more of a selection to choose from courtesy of Steams support via Steam VR.
However, not everyone can afford to have a VR-ready rig at their disposal. Given that the Quest and Rift retail at the same price, this makes the Quest a very attractive proposal for anyone who just wants to dip their toes into VR without having to go overboard on upgrading their PC.
In fact, with the arrival of Oculus link, Quest owners can arguable have the best of both worlds. A completely wireless solution at an affordable price that can also be hooked up to a PC for the benefits that that obviously provides. (As a note, any Quest games that you purchase, will generally also give you access to the Rift version with using Oculus Link)
The Quest that we’ve had here in our office has proven to be tremendously popular. In particular, games like Vader Immortal and Beat Saber have been massive hits amoungst our motley crew of staff. And with no need for high-end hardware to power it, anyone can borrow it to take home to enjoy with family and friends.
With that said, some of us have still found ourselves looking enviously at some of the Steam VR games that we’d love to try out. And that is why we’ve been looking forward to this update so much. Because now we can finally give them a go!
Before you get too excited about this marvelous world of new VR possibilities, it should be mentioned that Oculus Link is strictly-speaking still in Beta and the list of currently supported graphics cards is fairly short. At launch, there was really only support for RTX cards and higher 10th generation GTXs. And no, you did not read that wrong, no support at all for any AMD cards. Of course, that ought to come in the not too distant future.
Next up, you’ll need is a USB C cable long enough to let you flail away to your heart’s content without dragging whatever it is connected to around the room with you. More specifically, Oculus say that it needs to be a good quality cable, which is frustratingly vague.
Armed with a PC powerful enough to support Quest Link and way to connect it to your headset, you’ll need to install the Oculus app which is pretty self-explanatory.
Now, in theory, all you need to do is plug it all together while the Oculus app is running, and away you go. In practice, this may be a little easier said that done as it does seem to be a little temperamental. The Oculus forums and reddit are littered with users who are unable to get it working for one reason or another. The GeForce overlay seems to be the cause of problems for some. The choice of USB drivers the cause for others. But we did mention that it was still in Beta, right?