One of the best features of Oculus Quest 2 is that it can be connected manually via USB to your gaming PC to play more demanding VR games that you would not otherwise be able to run on the headset. It’s great if you want a way to play games like Half-life: Alyx, but the obvious downside is that you are now physically tied to a PC – as much for the wireless freedom that Quest 2 advertises.
Fortunately, developers have already figured out the seemingly impossible: how to run system-demanding titles on your PC and stream the visual stream to your VR device while syncing all your movements via Wi-Fi. It gives you the best of both worlds: lets you play the games you want without being wired to your computer.
Doing this is not as simple as installing an app through the Oculus Store; There are several steps involved. I̵
Get a connection cable
Although this is a guide to experiencing VR without wires, you need a wire to get started. Oculus sells an expensive 16-foot cable for around $ 80, but it’s made for people who really want to use Quest 2 in wired mode. There are other, less expensive alternatives, such as Anker’s 10-foot USB-C to USB Type-A 3.0 cable, which cost around $ 20 and get the job done.
Many USB cables that come with modern Android phones are likely to work as well. And the cable does not have to be long – we only do a little simple data transfer here. Unfortunately, the USB-C cable that Oculus comes with every Quest 2 for this process did not work when I tried it. It’s just for charging the headset.
Enable developer settings
To upload files to Quest 2, you need a developer account. Fortunately, it is easy to do, but it is a strange process that is meant to be used by actual developers.
Go to this page and log in to your Facebook account in your chosen browser. Just make sure you log in to the same Facebook account you logged in to on Quest 2.
- The next part of the process is to name the “organization”. You can give it the name you want. You can find a direct link to this page here in case you get lost.
- With these two steps out of the way, open your Oculus mobile app (iOS or Android) and sign in with the same Facebook account. Then navigate to the “Settings” pane by clicking on it at the bottom right of the app window.
- On the next page, click on “Oculus Quest 2” just below your name, and a few options will be expanded from within. Click on “More settings”
- Once there, tap “Developer Mode” and turn it on
Install the Quest 2 driver for your PC
The next few steps will allow you to reload software on the Quest 2 headset, which is usually reserved for developers. If you are using a Windows PC, you will need to install ADB drivers to allow the PC to write to the headset. according to the Oculus website, macOS and Linux systems do not need a driver.
Download the software connected here, hosted by Oculus. (Just check the box that says you accept the license terms – you can read it if you want – and click “Download.”)
- Once downloaded, extract the contents of the folder. Then right-click on the item named “android_winusb.inf” and select “Install”.
Buy the Virtual Desktop app for Quest
The Virtual Desktop app lets you access your PC via the lens of a VR headset. You can use it for games, as we will, but you can also watch movies you have stored on your PC in a variety of virtual environments. There is a Quest-specific version of the app you can buy here for $ 20. (Make sure it says it’s compatible with Quest under the buy button.)
Once you have purchased it, install it on the headset. We will return to this app in a bit, but for now a few other steps.
Connect Quest 2 to your PC
Connect Quest 2 via the side-mounted USB-C port to the PC’s fastest available USB port. If you have done everything right up to this point, you will see a message appearing on the headset asking if you want to allow USB debugging. Let it continue.
Download and install SideQuest on your PC
SideQuest is a free app and storefront for experiences that can be page loaded on the headset. For the purposes of this guide, you should only use it to apply a necessary update to the Virtual Desktop app that I just suggested you purchase and install on your Quest 2 headset.
Go here to find the correct installer for your operating system (I used the Windows 10 version for this guide) and download it
- When the installation is complete, run SideQuest
- At this point, your headset should appear as connected at the top left of the SideQuest app on your PC with a green bubble. If it does not appear as connected, check the headset screen for a message. It may be waiting for you to allow your PC to access and modify the Quest 2 file system.
Page load the Virtual VR update for Quest 2
Enter “virtual desktop” in the SideQuest search box. The result you are looking for is called “Virtual Desktop VR Patch.” This is the necessary key to trick your computer into thinking that Quest 2 is a wired headset.
- Once Quest 2 is connected to your computer, press the “Install to Headset” button in SideQuest, located just below the search box in the app. The process should be fairly quick, and lasts only a few seconds.
Download Virtual Desktop Streamer
There is another free program to download: Virtual Desktop Streamer. Created by the same people who created the Virtual Desktop app you purchased on Quest 2, this app simply streams PC content to your headset via Wi-Fi.
- Once this app is downloaded and installed, you will need to enter your Oculus username in the Streamer window
- If you do not know it at the top of your head, you can find it by opening the Oculus app on your mobile, navigating to “Settings” and then tapping the area that shows your name and email address. The name that appears next to your avatar is your username.
- After entering, press “Save”
- That’s the last step! But remember that it is important to have the Virtual Desktop Streamer app open for the headset to communicate with the PC.
Open Virtual Desktop on Quest 2
If each step was done correctly, you will see your PC appear in the list of available devices to connect from the Virtual Desktop app on Quest 2.
Once connected, the radio button (the left Oculus Touch controller corresponds to the Oculus button) is mapped to open the Virtual Desktop top menu, as shown in the image below. From there, click “Games” for each game installed on your PC. You can simply start each one from there, and your PC handles all the hard work.
If you are not happy with visual fidelity in every game, you can customize some settings that affect latency, refresh rate, and more. Note that you will probably get a clearer, more fluid image if your PC is powerful and your internet connection is fast. Given the reliance on your Wi-Fi network, your wireless router plays a major role in delivering a smooth experience as well.
Streaming VR via Wi-Fi is certainly not a perfect solution. I have a Wi-Fi 6-ready router and relatively fast internet (235 Mbps down, 19 Mbps up), and I still experience occasional lag and a bit blurry picture. While it’s enough to fine-tune the Virtual Desktop app (turning off Wi-Fi on infrequently used technical stuff never hurts), I think you’ll be fine.