This week at Oculus Connect 6 (OC6) Facebook announced that later this year the Oculus Quest will receive the ability to connect directly to a PC to run Rift games via a new feature called Oculus Link coming this November.
You read that correctly. With a single USB 3 cable you can turn your Quest into a Rift S, with one less tracking camera, or unplug it to have it function normally like a Quest. It’s the best of both worlds — in theory.
The premium USB 3 cable from Oculus is expected to cost $79, but theoretically others should work if they are of the correct specification. I wasn’t able to speak with anyone about those specs or options.
Earlier today we got the chance to try out the feature for ourselves across a handful of games. Ian and Tatjana both tried Asgard’s Wrath, as did I. In Ian’s demo he noticed a burst of visual artifacts for a fraction of a second just once when glancing backwards quickly, but didn’t spot any latency issues and couldn’t replicate the artifacts. Tatjana noted that if she moved quickly or turned her head quickly there were “definitely noticeable” framerate drops specifically with one of the in-game menus.
For me, I did notice some artifacts but only when shaking my head very quickly and you can spot some very minor compression if you’re used to a standard PC VR headset or are a videophile. Controller tracking worked just as well as I expected, only dropping when my controllers were obstructed behind my back. I could also shake and move my hands very rapidly without issues. I did not notice any fixed foveated rendering like you often see on normal Quest games.
To be perfectly honest though? It felt extremely close to using an actual PC VR headset. Like, I’m being totally honest here. The best compliment I could pay this feature is that it made me feel like I was using a Rift and that’s almost entirely the case.
But let’s not be dishonest: this is not identical to using a Rift or Rift S, but generally it felt basically about the same and I think most people won’t notice much difference.
Specifically, the Rift S does have a different fit. It uses a halo-style headstrap that many people find more comfortable. However, it also doesn’t include mechanical IPD adjustment so there’s still a trade off. But then on the flip-side the refresh rate is 80Hz instead of 72Hz like Quest.
In terms of resolution, the Quest actually has the Rift S beat out of the gate with 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye on its OLED display compared to 1280 x 1440 pixels per eye on fast-switching LCDs for Rift S. Plus, the OLED on Quest offers deeper blacks and more color contrast, so it edges out Rift S a bit overall — especially if it’s got a PC powering the visuals instead of just the Quest itself.
Once Oculus Link launches, personally, I probably won’t be recommending anyone buy a Rift S anymore. For the same price ($400, plus the cable if you don’t have a capable one already) you can get a Quest with the capability to function as a separate standalone device. When you factor in how many games already have cross-buy functionality on Rift Home and Quest Home, it’s a no-brainer.
Plus, Facebook confirmed to us that Oculus Link will let your Quest work directly with SteamVR as well so you’re getting access to the entire PC VR library seamlessly. It looks like even Viveport will work too.
From what we’ve seen a Quest via Link is not going to entirely replace the Rift. If you’re used a PC VR headset much you can absolutely spot the difference. But for most users that just want to play games and don’t need the best tracking and the best performance, it is certainly far above the “good enough” bar in my book. And if we’re being totally honest here anyway: If you want the best performance and tracking you should probably get an externally tracked headset like the Valve Index anyway.
For more on OC6 check out our recap of what’s happened so far so you don’t miss out at all. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!