What is Oculus Link and how do you use it to play even more VR games?

(Pocket-lint) - If you own an Oculus Quest[1] headset then you may have heard of Quest Link. If you also own a gaming PC[2], then you're in for a real treat, as with a free bit of software and the right USB-C cable you can play PC quality virtual reality games on your affordable VR device.  That's right, Quest Link gives you the ability to play Oculus Rift S games[3] on a headset that doesn't normally need a PC to run.

The main downside is that you'll need to abandon your wireless freedom in order to play, but you will have a lot more games to choose from. That includes solid favourites like Half-Life: Alyx[4], The Invisible Hours[5], Skyrim VR[6] and a whole lot more. 

How to use Oculus Link

The first step to getting started using Oculus Link is to ensure you have the right hardware. Yes, you need the Oculus Quest headset, but you also need a compatible PC or laptop and the right high-quality USB-C cable (either USB-C to USB-C or USB-A to USB-C). 

You can find out if your computer is compatible by checking here[7], but at the time of writing the minimum specs are as follows:

  • Processor - Intel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
  • Graphics Card - Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 and above
  • Memory - 8 GB+ RAM
  • Operating System -Windows 10
  • USB Ports - 1 x USB port

If you tick all those boxes, then you should be able to use Oculus Link with just a few more steps. The first of which is downloading the Oculus App for PC[8]. This is free software that's usually used for Oculus Rift or Rift S, but when you plug your Quest in it'll be recognised by the app as well. 

Download the software and log in to your account in the normal way. Then find an appropriate USB-C cable. The official Oculus Link cable[9] is a logical choice, it's 5m long and fully supports the speeds need to work with the headset. There are other alternatives available though. 

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We find it's best to plug the headset into the GPU on your PC directly. Doing so, with the USB-C cable attached to your headset and your PC at the same time should result in the Oculus software recognising your device. 

Pocket-lint What is Oculus Link and how do you use it to play even more VR games? photo 1

From here you'll see a green circle indicating that the headset has been recognised and is connected. Pop the Quest on and you should also see a pop up asking to enable Oculus Link within the headset. 

If you don't see that request you can find the options in the headset's settings. Navigate to settings, devices and scroll down and you should see an option to enable Oculus Link. 

Troubleshooting Oculus Link not working

If you've done everything right, but your Oculus Link isn't working, there are a few things you can try to fix it. Firstly try the obvious - turn it off and on again - both the PC and the headset. 

Then try these things:

  • Check you have the latest Oculus app > navigate to library and updates
  • Force Oculus to restart - click settings, beta and "restart Oculus" to reboot all the software within Windows
  • Join (or leave) the Public Test Channel - some releases of the beta might not play nice with Oculus Link. Navigate to beta and click to turn the Public Test Channel option on if it's not already ticked or off if it is. Switching between these options might help
  • Check your USB-C cable is plugged in properly, if possible plug it directly into the graphics card on your machine
  • Update your graphics card drivers to ensure you have the latest

Get your game on!

When it's working, Oculus Link is great.

It's a fantastic addition to the Oculus Quest as it gives you the power to play full-blown VR games without the need for external trackers and hassle and without massive extra cost (assuming you already own a PC).  You can buy games from the Oculus Store[10] and launch them from the app. You can also install and launch Steam VR[11] and access games that way as well.

If they work with the Oculus Rift, they should also work with your Oculus Quest seamlessly 

Oculus Link wirelessly

Since the launch of Oculus Link, the company has made moves to improve it. With the release of v28 of the software, Oculus announced[12] that it was making it possible to use Oculus Link wirelessly.  Oculus Air Link, as it's called, allows Oculus Quest 2 owners to play Oculus Rift compatible games wirelessly, without needing to be tethered directly to a gaming PC.

This is done over wireless and obviously might have some downsides as well as some basic requirements in order to run. Oculus says, for example, that you'll need a "strong and secure Wi-Fi network" for the best experience and ideally to be within 20 feet of your router.  In order to access Oculus Air Link,, you'll need to download and install the Oculus app on your PC[13].

Then go to settings in the app, click on Beta settings and click to toggle Air Link. Inside the headset, go to settings, navigate to the experimental settings, then activate Air Link there too.  Writing by Adrian Willings.

Originally published on 10 September 2020.

References

  1. ^ Oculus Quest (www.pocket-lint.com)
  2. ^ gaming PC (www.pocket-lint.com)
  3. ^ play Oculus Rift S games (www.pocket-lint.com)
  4. ^ Half-Life: Alyx (www.pocket-lint.com)
  5. ^ The Invisible Hours (www.pocket-lint.com)
  6. ^ Skyrim VR (www.pocket-lint.com)
  7. ^ compatible by checking here (support.oculus.com)
  8. ^ Oculus App for PC (www.oculus.com)
  9. ^ The official Oculus Link cable (www.oculus.com)
  10. ^ the Oculus Store (www.oculus.com)
  11. ^ launch Steam VR (store.steampowered.com)
  12. ^ Oculus announced (www.oculus.com)
  13. ^ Oculus app on your PC (www.oculus.com)