Update: Oculus have now released their own PC VR wireless feature. Check out how to set up Oculus Air Link on your Quest 2 here
One of the best things about the Oculus Quest 2 is that it is a stand-alone VR headset. With no cable attached to a gaming PC, wire-free VR offers greater freedom of movement for a more immersive and enjoyable experience.
Unfortunately, it also limits the games you can play. What if you own a high spec computer and want to get your teeth into some top PC VR titles like Half-Life: Alyx? The good news is that Oculus have already thought about that – you can connect an Oculus Link cable (or a much cheaper alternative) and enjoy these outstanding PC-only VR games. The trouble is you’ve now lost that wireless freedom the Oculus Quest 2 allows. If only there were a way of playing PC VR games without a cable…
Is it possible?
While Oculus doesn’t officially back it, there is a Quest 2 app available to do just that. The app is Virtual Desktop, and the procedure needed to get things up and running has just got much easier than it used to be. Let’s take a look.
What’s the Virtual Desktop app?
The Virtual Desktop app allows you to view your PC screen in VR. You can use it to do things like watch movies or browse the web. However, its greatest asset on the Oculus Quest 2 is the ability to stream PC VR games over Wi-Fi. Not that long ago, achieving this required downloading and side-loading a patch. The latest version of Virtual Desktop now has all this baked into the app, making the process much simpler.
So what do I need to do?
Before going any further, please be aware of the following:
- You need to be familiar with how to download and install both Quest 2 and PC apps. If not, I would suggest getting comfortable with both before reading further.
- Please do not purchase any apps or games until you have read the rest of the article. This experience doesn’t work well for everyone, and I’ll explain more about that later.
Okay, if you’re happy with the above, then the first step is to buy the Virtual Desktop App. There are two versions: one for the PC and one for the Quest 2. Make sure you purchase and install the version specific for the Quest 2.
Next, download and install a free app called Virtual Desktop Streamer onto your computer.
Once installed, enter your Oculus username in the desktop steamer window and click Save.
If you don’t remember your Oculus name, you can find it by putting on the Quest 2 headset. Select your avatar picture to the left of the main menu, and your Oculus name – with your actual name in brackets – will then appear. Only enter your Oculus name into the Desktop Streamer on your PC.
The Desktop Streamer app has various options. There isn’t any need to change anything, but it may be sensible to leave Start with Windows ticked. The streamer has to be running for everything to work, and it saves time remembering to open it before strapping on the headset.
Desktop Streamer may also mention interfering apps. If it does, take a look; I found Malwarebytes stops my games from streaming, and I have to turn it off before I play.
Ready to play?
It’s now time to strap on your Quest 2 and open Virtual Desktop from your Apps menu.
Your computer should now show as connected in the list of available devices.
If the menu shown above disappears, click the option button on your left Oculus controller.
With the main menu in view, select Games from the left-hand side, and all the VR games on your PC will appear.
Any games bought through Steam – rather than the Oculus store – will appear at the bottom of the list. You can also start SteamVR directly by clicking the button Launch SteamVR on the left-hand menu.
Now simply click on a game and enjoy the freedom of wire-free VR.
But how good is it?
It’s essential to remember Oculus doesn’t officially support this, and there is no guarantee of a good experience. Personally, I find it works better than the cable. There is the odd glitch and slow down, but, on the whole, it amazes me how well it runs.
Here are some tips if you have any issues:
- Make sure the Oculus Quest 2 connects to a 5Ghz wireless network. 5Ghz has a higher capacity to allow smooth streaming. All modern routers should offer it or automatically connect the headset to 5Ghz. If you do experience any problems, however, it may be worth checking.
- The PC, router and Quest 2 should ideally be in the same room. As with wireless in general, the closer everything is to the router, the better the connection and the smoother the streaming will be. It is also strongly recommended that the PC is connected to the router via an ethernet cable rather than wirelessly.
- It would still be sensible to own a link cable as a backup. Some apps or games may not work well over wireless – or at all.
- The Virtual Desktop app has some settings that could help. I would suggest leaving those as a last resort. If you do tinker with them, please be aware of what you changed – it may make it worse.
The ability to play PC VR games wirelessly is amazing. The Quest 2 Virtual Desktop app allows this to happen with a minimum of setup. Just be aware of the potential issues – and enjoy!