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How To Use Oculus Quest 2 Wirelessly With Your PC

Oculus Link lets you tether your headset to your PC, but there's still a way to keep the entire experience wireless.

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If you're looking at getting a VR headset this holidsy there's no question that you should be considering an Oculus Quest 2, one of the best VR headsets of 2021. Facebook's latest iteration on the wireless headset brings with it some big improvements, including a higher refresh rate, high resolution, and, most importantly, a lower starting price. There really aren't any drawbacks to getting this over the original Quest.

That's a big deal when you consider how malleable the Quest 2 really is, especially if you have a powerful PC to supplement its on-the-go library of games with more graphically-demanding ones. Since the first Quest, you've been able to hook up the headset to a PC and play games designed for the (now discontinued) Oculus Rift, as well as any SteamVR titles. Oculus has even made it easier by relaxing the requirements of the cable you use, so that even the charging cable that comes in the box can be used. If your PC is powerful enough, you are ready to dive into the vast library of Oculus Rift games without needing any extra hardware.

But if you've been enjoying the freedom of true wireless VR that the Quest offers, it's difficult to go back to being tethered. With the right setup and a little patience, however, you can replicate this with PC-based titles, too, using Oculus' own solution or the tried-and-tested Virtual Desktop.

Air Link, Oculus's native solution to wireless streaming, launched earlier this year for the Quest 2, offering a seamless way to have your PC connect to your headset and stream games without the fuss of any cables. It is still housed in the headset's experimental features suite, which means you will need to do some fiddling to get it working. Once you have the Oculus PC App downloaded, open the Settings menu and navigate to the Beta tab. You can activate Air Link functionality here, which will then use your PC's connection to beam content over Wi-Fi. On your Quest 2, head over to the Settings menu, select experimental features, and activate Air Link. Find your PC under the list of available PCs and pair the two. After that, you can simply launch Air Link from the quick action menu.

Virtual Desktop is an alternative that also doesn't require an Oculus Quest 2 (it works just as well on the original Quest) and allows you to stream the contents of your desktop to the Oculus Quest using your Wi-Fi network, much like how remote play works on the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. The app is optimized with VR in mind, meaning with the right setup you can achieve the low latency required to not make you immediately motion sick when you start moving around.

The initial setup used to involve sideloading apps onto your Quest, but it's since been streamlined significantly. Now you can just purchase Virtual Desktop on your Oculus Quest, download the associated PC app, and link the two. It still costs $20, but it's a worthwhile investment for the freedom it will give you when playing immersive VR titles.

For both Air Link and Virtual Desktop, your router is an important part of the entire chain, and for the best results it will need to support a 5GHz band to ensure the strongest connection to the headset. If you can keep this frequency exclusively open for the Quest, too, that will help your experience.

I used Virtual Desktop and my original Oculus Quest to play through the entirety of Half-Life: Alyx after spending hours trying to get Oculus Link to reliably work without success. After the initial hurdle of setting up, getting back into games was a breeze, and the overall experience was incredibly strong. Not only were visuals crisp, but the latency was not noticeable, even when I was getting involved in frantic firefights or having to yank a head crab from my face. Best of all: no wires to trip over ever.

It's not a solution that will work for everyone, and Oculus Link certainly offers a great visual experience with its wired connection, but nothing really beats the feeling of not worrying about a cable to trip over. It's worth a shot for a potentially transformative way to play PC VR games.

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