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A few months ago, Oculus declared that its Oculus Quest — the standalone VR headset intended for quick gaming sessions based on the Snapdragon 835 — would actually be receiving support for PC VR when hooked to a compliant PC via VR cable. The Oculus Quest can now be connected via USB 3 Type-C cable to a PC, provided that the PC also supports at least USB 3.0. You may need a specific cable for this if you haven’t purchased one already, and I’ve ordered the cable to compare and contrast Quest against the first-generation Oculus Rift I also own.
At Oculus Connect this year, Oculus announced that it would provide wired USB-C cable support for the Quest, which previously relied solely on its Snapdragon 835 to provide the horsepower for running VR games. The Oculus Quest isn’t supposed to be as good of a VR experience as the Rift S that Oculus also sells, so desktop owners supposedly won’t have anything to worry about as far as buyer’s remorse relative to Quest. There are also some limits on Quest support during the beta period for the Oculus Link service.
The following screenshot is from the Oculus Quest site. The company recommends a Core i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, with 8GB of RAM, Windows 10, and at least one USB 3.0 port.
The lack of official support for AMD GPUs means compatibility “isn’t guaranteed,” but it’s not clear if that means support flatly won’t work, or if the experience isn’t optimized. Given that “non-optimized” could be code for “Laggy vomit simulator with uncomfortably realistic performance of core gaming function following unexpected simulation termination,” we recommend being cautious when experimenting with unsupported GPUs. Oculus isn’t launching their formal, official Oculus Link Headset Cable yet — the $80 cable is supposed to provide 5-meter lengths and a right-handed connector to minimize cord dangling. With that said, you’ll want to be careful when using the Quest like this — I’ve tried using my Quest in such fashion, and even with a right-angle cable for power, it’s easy to snag the cable when swinging the handheld controllers.
According to Oculus, Quest software sales have been much stronger than the Rift ecosystem, and providing this kind of value-added capability to Quest could help the peripheral gain more market share. Overall user experience on Rift products has been fairly good and it’s unlikely Oculus would enable this capability at all if it couldn’t deliver a suitable experience, but cable position may mean the Quest is a better fit for sit-down VR when tethered and for movement-based VR when in wireless mode. We’ll see how it compares with the Rift over a tether. Assuming Quest’s higher software sales ($20M in four months, versus $80M earned from Rift in three years) translates to high product shipments, Oculus could grow the footprint of “PC VR” significantly with a move like this.
We’ve talked before about whether PC gamers would invest in VR to drive the platform’s growth. It will be interesting to see if the Quest produces any sign of the reverse. In theory, a good enough experience on the standalone Quest or with another VR product that’s capable of PC tethering or standalone play could convince gamers to upgrade their PCs in order to play the larger and more complex VR titles that require the platform. In theory — given a whole lot of luck and some killer apps — virtual reality could one day serve to onboard people to PC gaming as well as the other way around.
Will it happen? I’m not taking bets. But it’s not the craziest idea. Upload VR has details on getting your Quest and PC software updated to support the experience.