Oculus Quest, the company’s newly announced high-end standalone headset, has a USB Type-C connector. VirtualLink, the new VR connector standard created by a consortium of prominent industry players, also uses USB Type-C. So if you happen to own a new flagship GPU with a dedicated VirtualLink port, will you technically be able to take a USB-C cable, plug in the Quest and play your favorite PCVR games? Oculus CTO John Carmack tweeted recently that although “it was debated a lot,” the team ultimately decided against adding in VirtualLink functionality.

Carmack also says the team is currently experimenting with a way to stream over WiFi, although it’s not certain if it will be supported or not.

Despite whatever drawbacks VirtualLink compatibility could have raised in Quest, be it the headset’s overall price or even the technical feasibility of adding support, ultimately it makes a certain amount of sense from a business perspective. Oculus is looking to go after a new market segment with Quest—somewhere in between the casual Oculus Go owner and the enthusiast Rift owner, and someone who is unlikely to own a gaming PC stocked with the latest graphics card anyway.

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Oculus CTO: Quest is 'In the Neighborhood of Xbox 360 / PS3 Processing Power'

It’s also possible that Oculus won’t announce a second generation Rift for some time either, and that the company will be actively engaged next year in growing Quest’s native ecosystem of games and apps; healthy conjecture that the company doesn’t want to enter hybrid PC-standalone territory just yet.

Just because there’s no dedicated hardware on Quest for VirtualLink compatibility though doesn’t mean indie developers won’t try to create ad hoc support, as projects such as VRidge from Rift Cat have tackled the issue of bringing SteamVR functionality to mobile VR devices such as Gear VR and Oculus Go, albeit through a combination of WiFi streaming and USB cable.

However you slice it though, we’ll just have to wait for Spring 2019 to find out.


A special thanks goes out to Antony “Skarred Ghost” Vitillo for pointing us to the news.

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  • JP

    Is VirtualLink a hardware solution, or can it be enabled with a firmware update? Do we as hobbyists have access to raw usb streams? Is Carmack understanding the question as “Did you include 801.11ad?”… There are a lot of unknowns with the statement Carmack gave on Twitter. We cannot assume anything.

    • Lucidfeuer

      But does it even have an 801.11ad chip? The SD835 certainly is capable and compatible with the standard. If not, then there’s probably no plan for adding any wireless beaming capability. If yes, then it’s definitely a possibility.

      • daveinpublic

        Decrease WiFi bandwidth by rendering and exporting at Rift resolution, and use fixed foveation, have lowering resolution and higher compression at the corners.

        • brandon9271

          Can “time warping” be done on the Quest to compensate for latency? Render a slightly larger FOV image with foveation and then shift it around while the new frame is encoded/decoded?

          • Hivemind9000

            Agree. I think they’ll have to get a bit clever to ensure a smooth experience.

    • Simon Wood

      VirtualLink is a hardware solution – it requires additional mux’ing (beyond even that of ‘normal’ alternate modes like display port or HDMI) to switch the USB2.0 signal paths appropriately.

      As others have suggested, added this functionality would not be cheap and the Quest is obviously a cost sensitive device.

      WiFi based streaming seems the way to go, either official app or something like RiftCat.

  • R FC

    No video input from an external port exists on Snapdragon SOC; you’d need a dedicated video chip, in addition to the existing processors on the SOC.

    Increases cost in what is already cost-restricted BOM to hit that sweet $399 retail pricepoint.

    • gnarppy

      What’s the BOM sitting at?

    • Darshan

      USB video input via cable is already supported by rift cat in smart phones while having one of these SoC so .. Why it can’t be done in case of quest ???

      • mirak

        Because you can’t ruin your business image by selling something with big latency that make people vomit.

        • Darshan

          Rift cat not so big latency over USB 3.0 cable… did you really tried it?

    • Sandy Wich

      400 dollars. Don’t assist companies in their own mind games.

    • amanieux

      why do we need dedicated video input as long as we have fast data communication we can stream compressed video in any way we seem fit. 2×1600*1440@72hz require a lower data bandwith than 4k@60hz

  • JesuSaveSouls

    High level overly large,complex and detailed pc games still crash from time to time so I definitely accept that. Its harder than I use to think and many vr enthusiasts think now the technology is ready and available to do it.Thing is as the mobile capacity increases so does the pc hardware.So in this race the pc is always far ahead of the mobile.Like two kids growing one at 10 and the other at 17.The 17 year old will always be older and more mature physically.

    • jj

      hey thanks for keeping your post vr related! And your analogy of age is pretty accurate. One thing to look forward to though is mobile headsets having the ability to tether to a pc and have computing power of the pc. not yet here but on the horizon

      • Blinko23

        Maybe with 5G rolling out next year, the industry might soon offload VR computing to the cloud and stream to wireless headsets. So in the near future, you wouldn’t need a PC – just a headset like Quest to play high-end VR at retinal resolutions. That’s the dream at least. Probably 5 years away at minimum.

        5G + wireless headsets + eye tracking + Varjo style headsets = Ultimate VR

        • Hivemind9000

          It looks doubtful as latency is a key issue with motion sickness in VR (i.e. you move your head and have to wait while your headset notifies a server, then the server does its rendering, then it sends the frame back to you headset to display). There may be ways to compensate for that, but to get it to the magic 90 fps? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe for the lucky few who live just up the road from a datacenter…

    • mirak

      It’s more like a dumb kidd very good in sport versus a super smart kid in a wheelchair.

      • JesuSaveSouls

        Haha, right.

    • nebošlo

      At some point one will be 50 and the other 57, and the difference percentage wise is much smaller :)

      • JesuSaveSouls

        True

  • Ronald Alcazar

    Yup, because what they have in mind is quest pro, a belt powered hmd ala magic leap.

    • brandon9271

      That’s what they SHOULD’VE done. PC and powerful mobile VR all in one device. But hipsters would cry about having a 1m wire. The Quest must have a Apple-like esthetic. Form over function, am i right?

    • Hivemind9000

      Well if they could do that, with say a 150+ horizontal FOV, they could take all my money. :)

      However I think I’d still want the option to stream games from my PC as no matter how much compute power they pack into the headset/hmd it will always lag behind a dedicated PC (and therefore high end games).

    • knurvs

      Take the weight and the heat away from the head and move them down to the waist. I won’t mind lugging around a kilogram of processing and battery power especially if they’re at least double (processing speed and battery life) of what’s on the HMD.

  • I bet they didn’t include virtuallink solely because Oculus 2.0 will

    • brandon9271

      There’s always fighting between engineering and management. Sure the Quest could have lots of cool features but then it would make the Rift redundant. Can’t have that! You wouldn’t want your customers to conveniently have one device for both mobile and PC. Then you couldn’t soak them again when CV2 comes out!

      • Jerald Doerr

        Yup , yup , yup, yup, yup…. Could not have said it better myself… It’s a 100% win for them this way… Very smart move when your old users consider a lower end product and upgrade and still your lower end users still have a older product to perches as an upgrade. Killing it!

        • brandon9271

          If “killing it” means pissing off your customers then they might be “winning” ;) i just wish there was more competition in the VR realm. I’d like something like a Samsung Odyssey but with lighthouse tracking or maybe better inside out tracking for the controllers. In short, we need an alternative to the Vive Pro

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I don’t think so, I think it would have made the headset a lot more expensive and wouldn’t be able to target the $399 pricepoint (without having to sacrifice too much profit, as I think the 399 will already have less than 10% profit when it launches). It’s not something you can just add on a whim, as virtualink itself isn’t really usb-c, yes it is compatible with, but it also has some extra support on top of it. But yeah, it’s a shame they didn’t, if it would have upped the price with $50 it would have been great for PC owners, but the $50 extra would make it less interesting for people who aren’t interested in connecting it to a PC (as they propably just don’t have a PC that can drive the headset).

  • GunnyNinja

    ALVR. You’re Welcome…

  • Ted Joseph

    Although Quest is going to be a day one purchase for me, I was hoping for a “Quest XL” which would be a premium set, a few hundred dollars more, and with ~200 deg FOV.

    • Rowdy123

      Agreed. The FOV is the one last thing I think would make this perfect. Sure it can have less SDE and I am sure other people have nits – but with FOV at 150+ it would be the best all around device and really set the stage for all companies in the space.

      • Sven Viking

        The main problem currently is just the processing power required to render for a wide FOV at high PPD. Foveated Rendering should solve that (“within four years” according to Abrash).

  • Aeroflux

    Hey check out our mind-blowing arena play! Oh we don’t actually support that, why would you think such a thing?! SILLY! It’s just a public stunt..errrr, experiment. Yeah, we like to be innovative here at Oculus…in our innovation zone. Yeeeeeeaah….

    Oh we could have done wild stuff with VR, but then Facebook gave us a budget. Boy, what a miser.

    Let’s go with an 835 even if it’s a year old, not like there’s gonna be any competition in the future, right? RIGHT? I mean, why would we go with a far more energy efficient device when we can just stick a heavier battery in the headset? So what if the GPU is 20% more powerful and beats the Nintendo Switch.

    Connect to a PC? Nah that’s too difficult to plan for, let’s see if we can get the battery to explode by maxing out the wi-fi bandwidth!

    One day my sentient waifu and I will look back on this hardware and laugh. Sarcasm aside, still getting the Quest. Just had to note a few odd decisions.

    • OkinKun

      Don’t be pessimistic.. They usually deliver on their features after demoing something new like this. Even if it takes a few updates to their software after year one. lol
      It just takes good developers to make games supporting something like local-multiplayer arena-mode. And that might take some time, but I mean, even I could technically start doing the work for that now based on certain assumptions, and eventually get something working once I get a Quest. But I’m sure there are better devs out there that will come up with real interesting ways to reskin reality better than I can. ;P Their new hardware enables these features. That’s why it’s important. Graphics power won’t matter for general people who are gonna get this, this isn’t for the PCmasterrace people..
      As for the PC-linked play, people have already managed to make it work for the Go, someone will make it work better for Quest.

      • silvaring

        You talk like its a headset made for non serious gamers, but if you want to make it more like a ‘wii for the modern generation’ you will need to hand hand tracking, and maybe good camera lass through for social / augmented reality interactions. I don’t see the Quest having these at launch, along with a consumer friendly price point. Most likely it’s just another dev kit targeting VR software and hardware developers.

      • nebošlo

        The Go is only connected to PC as a monitor though, not a proper VR device, right? Not really the same thing.

      • Aeroflux

        “Don’t be pessimistic.. They usually deliver on their features after

        demoing something new like this. Even if it takes a few updates to their
        software after year one. lol”

        I acknowledge your other points, but will be concentrating on a response to the issue of tracking support over time.

        There is a well-anchored array of reasons for my pessimism. Oculus is encouraging a fragmentation of support by leaving it up to the developers–if that is what they are doing and not actively preventing developers from integrating their own solution. Guardian demonstrates a history of inadequate support.

        I would hope developers have more control over Insight than they do Guardian. At present they can’t (or won’t) do very much to address the limitations, and it will be essential that developers have that access with Quest. We can’t change the size or shape of Guardian without a 3rd party application hacking into Oculus setup files, and even then we can’t change colors. For the very simple reason of contrast, color is an important variable.

        This is a stark reminder that Oculus chose to ignore continued development on a base-level function that has been demonstrated to be a necessary component of roomscale tracking. It shows a trend that I hope ends with the Rift.

        For these years, developers had the opportunity to integrate something better into their game. I have seen only one developer make a very limited attempt at doing anything with Guardian.

        Gunfire Games implemented a barbwire momentary toggle of the wall boundaries in Dead and Buried. I haven’t seen anything else since then. I haven’t played all titles for the Rift though. If there are more that tackle this issue, please point them out as I’d like to consider them.

        My current impression of developer support for Guardian is little more than what Oculus has offered–which is decidedly not enough. That is why I am hesitant to put trust into developers for pushing Insight into the arena level of tracking.

        In addition to the single platform of Quest, there will be a lot of multi-platform titles. Developers shoot for the least common denominator most of the time, which is why Touch has terrible support in the majority of Steam games.

        Not even major crossover titles like Rec Room support the full user input range of Touch. Putting official arena-scale tracking support into Quest down the line may lead to the same fragmentation of developer support, and that is the best case scenario I can think of. Oculus won’t even provide a timeline for a feature they chose to make highly visible at OC5.

        I hold the same hope for arena scale tracking as you, but for the reasons stated, have reservations on putting any amount of trust into features that are not officially supported.

    • mirak

      The battery would explode on your face that would definitely kill Oculus and Facebook xD

    • jj

      You sound dumb because you’ve overlooked common points just to make a pessimistic point and complain.
      The arena IS possible they said it just down to the devs to create it again.
      A year old cpu isn’t that old and is used because they have spent time getting every bit of computation out of it.

      • Aeroflux

        I can’t be responsible for how you read it. Have someone with a higher reading comprehension explain satire to you. I’m not here to please everybody.

        • jj

          … you’re an idiot to think that satire on a forumn makes any sense. With no tone, the majority of readers aren’t going to know it’s satire….

          • Aeroflux

            Ah, personal insults, always a sign of intelligence. Go read 16th century satire if you have trouble hunting for a tone. The sarcasm was a dead giveaway.

    • Nonsens, it’s not as easy as just swapping the CPU, this is not trivial, they would have to rewrite most of the low level code.

  • Vic

    Oculus is looking to go after a new market segment with Quest—somewhere
    in between the casual Oculus Go owner and the enthusiast Rift owner,
    and someone who is unlikely to own a gaming PC stocked with the latest
    graphics card anyway???? I dont know anyone in this segment. What a waste of time. Better spend resources on rift2

    • jj

      you couldn’t be more wrong…
      Your saying everyone you know owns a gaming pc with the latest graphics card?
      Thet or they just arent into gaming enough for this? That soo so so so wrong.

  • Jim P

    When they say dedicated hardware. Meaning the 835. It only projects. Now the 845 does input and projects.

  • MW

    ‘Blah blah blah… No’. For that, you have to buy another headset, and spend another hundreds of dollars.

  • Torben Bojer Christensen

    This is ridiculous!

    We now have several stand-alone sets in the market with higher resolution than the Rift and the vanilla Vive with higher panel-resolution than the sets possible to use with high-end PC hardware. And the Vive Pro costs a fortune.

  • nebošlo

    If this actually turns out to have wifi streaming it’s a must buy for me. If not, I’ll have to look at the price available to me and think really hard about it, but will probably pass.

  • What I want to know about is side-loading apps! The Oculus Market is a hard place to get into, and they said the Quest market will be even harder. This means *ALOT* of games won’t see the light of day. If we want the same quantity of VR stuff you find on Steam, or experimental stuff off Itch.io, side-loading is critical!

  • tpbeta

    I have a Vice Focus, also with a USB C connector. But RIftcat won’t connect that way. You have to use wifi. As it’s the same SOC as the Quest, I imagine it’s the same situation.

  • Thanks for the mention, Scott!

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Fuck Oculus Quest and Go, Even Carmack himself said it was shit! lol watch:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW6tgBcN_fA

  • Kenji Fujimori

    $399 suck it down hard