Oculus Link addresses one of the most requested features for the Quest standalone VR headset from Facebook.
Facebook announced the upgrade at its Oculus Connect 6 VR developer’s conference in September and, as of today, the Oculus Quest all-in-one wireless VR headset is able to convert into a PC-powered mode over a new wired connection that runs Rift games.
We know a lot of our readers were highly anticipating the release so we’ve broken down everything you need to know, and confirmed a few extra details, to get you ready playing PC VR games on your Oculus Quest. We’ll update this post periodically as more information is confirmed about Oculus Link.
What is Oculus Link?
Oculus Link is a software update for Oculus Quest that will allow Quest owners with a “VR Ready” PC to use their Quest as a Rift — while tethered by a cord to their computer. In the words of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the OC6 keynote, “this means that starting in November when we ship this update, your Quest is basically a Rift now too!”
So you should be able to play graphics and processor-intensive Rift games like Asgard’s Wrath and Stormland on the Quest via Oculus Link, as well as access Rift services such as Oculus Home and Oculus Dash. We went hands-on with an Oculus Link demo at OC6 and you can read our impressions here.
For those unfamiliar with Facebook’s VR efforts, the company essentially operates two VR platforms. One runs on Windows gaming PCs and the other is an Android-based standalone platform. 2016’s Oculus Rift and 2019’s Oculus Rift S run on high-end (and expensive) gaming PCs with powerful desktop-class processors designed by NVIDIA, AMD and Intel. 2018’s Oculus Go and 2019’s Oculus Quest are the standalone systems which pack processors and battery into the headset itself.
Oculus Link, then, essentially aligns these two Oculus VR systems for Facebook around the Oculus Quest hardware. For owners of a compatible PC and a Quest, it is like a new mode for the Oculus Quest that turns it into a kind of Oculus Rift Q. Link allows Quest owners to exchange wireless freedom for higher end graphics and simulation that only a wired PC can provide right now.
When will it launch?
The Oculus Link Beta is available now. However, not all computers will be compatible with Oculus Link and your Quest and Oculus PC App software will both need to be up to date, on versions 11.0 or higher and 1.43 respectively. You can read more details on compatibility below.
In terms of the exact launch time of the beta today, Facebook said “Once the updates are released to all customers, we’ll begin rolling out the remote rendering feature enabled by Oculus Link.”
A full release for Oculus Link will come after the beta, with wider compatibility for different systems and GPUs.
Oculus Link essentially makes the Quest act as if it is an Oculus Rift Q. This means, first and foremost, your computer will need to have specifications that make it ready to run PC VR games. The required specifications can be quite intensive and you can refer to our guide on ensuring your computer is ready for PC VR for more information.
At launch, though, Oculus Quest Beta only supports certain GPUs. The NVIDIA Titan X and all NVIDIA GTX 1070, 1080 and 16-series cards are supported. Likewise, all the new NVIDIA RTX 20-series cards are also supported.
No AMD GPUs are currently supported, but Facebook is “currently working directly with AMD to support as many of their cards as possible by the time we exit beta and expect to add support for some cards during the beta.”
You will also need to be running Windows 10, have at least 8GB of RAM, a spare USB 3.0 port and, in terms of CPU, an Intel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater.
In addition to a computer that can handle PC VR games, for Oculus Link you’ll also need a cord to tether your Quest to your PC. Oculus is planning to release their own official Oculus Link cord, which is a thin, flexible, 5 meter-long fiber optic cable. It is planned to offer consistent performance and, in some cases, charge your Quest while you play Rift games via Link, ensuring the Quest’s battery won’t run out mid-session.
According to Zuckerberg during the OC6 Keynote, the official Oculus Link cable will “maximize the throughput – it’ll charge your Quest if your PC supports that too.” However, the official Oculus Link cord does not have a set release date and is not releasing today alongside the November beta. It will be available to purchase online in limited quantities “later this year”.
This means if you want to use Oculus Link in beta from today, you will need to have your own cord.
For the Oculus Quest Beta, you will need a USB 3.0 (C to C, or A to C) cord to connect your Quest to your PC. Facebook recommends users check that they’re using “a high-quality USB 3.0 cable capable of supporting data and power.”
Facebook specifically suggested this $13 cord as their “recommended option for the beta”, and that it tested the cable “with good results.”
The specifications of the official Oculus Link cord, to be released later this year, are as follows:
Keep an eye out for more info on confirmed cords that work reliably with Oculus Link in the future.
Your Oculus Quest will need to be updated to version 11.0 or above. You can check your firmware version, and try to force an update download, in the settings tab of your Quest.
The Oculus PC app will need to be installed for Oculus Link, and updated to at least version 1.43.
If your Oculus app doesn’t seem to be updating, you can try going to the settings and opting into the PTC (Public Test Channel) releases. If you’ve already opted into the PTC, try turning the PTC switch off and then on again. In our experience, we’ve found that this sometimes forces the Oculus app to update. You can opt out of the PTC releases again after the update has downloaded.
How do I launch Oculus Link on my Quest and PC
Facebook provided us with the following instructions on how to start using Oculus Link on your Quest:
1. Open the Oculus app on your PC.
2. Turn on your Quest.
3. Plug your USB 3 cable into a USB 3.0 port on your PC, then plug the other end into your headset.
4. If you are prompted with ‘Allow access to data’, select Deny.
5. Next, you’ll be prompted to Enable Oculus Link (beta), select Enable to begin remote rendering via Oculus Link.
What games and services will it work with? Will I be able to use SteamVR?
As mentioned above, you will be able to play Rift games and access Rift services such as Oculus Home and Oculus Dash. During an OC6 panel on Oculus Link, a keynote slide indicated Link would allow you play the “majority of the Rift library” on your Quest. Facebook told us that developers will be able to opt out of Oculus Link support if they choose to do so.
We previously reached out to Facebook to confirm whether you would be able to run Rift-compatible Steam content on the Quest via Oculus Link. “Yes. When you tether your Quest to your PC with Oculus Link, you will be able to operate the headset the same way you do Rift,” a Facebook representative wrote in their email response.
We tested this ourselves and can confirm that SteamVR content is accessible with the Oculus Link Beta.
Will the official Oculus Link cord from Facebook include any bundled games?
Facebook has not revealed anything about the possibility of Rift games bundled with the purchase of their own Oculus Link cord.
Editor’s Note: This post originally published on Nov. 1 and was updated significantly upon release of the Oculus Link Beta on Nov. 18.
Correction Nov. 19: The version number of the PC Oculus software needed for the Oculus Link Beta was incorrect in a previous version of this post due to a typo in the Oculus support materials. It is now correct.