The latest Oculus PC software beta update allows Oculus Link to work with many USB 2.0 cables- including the one in the box.
Oculus Quest was released almost one year ago as an Android-based “VR console”. In November the Oculus Link software update was released, allowing Quest to also work as a PC headset via some USB 3.0 cables.
Quest comes with a 3 meter USB cable in the box. But it’s a USB 2.0 cable that couldn’t previously be used for Link. In fact, Facebook’s support team describe it as a “charging cable”- distinct from a “data cable” or “Link Cable”.
Facebook sells an official Oculus Link Cable for $79. This fiber optic USB 3.0 cable is 5 meters long and relatively lightweight.
We tested this latest Rift Public Test Channel software and found the included USB 2.0 cable works without issue. Astonishingly, it seems to look pretty much the same as a USB 3.0 cable does.
Oculus Link’s resolution can be manually increased using the Oculus debug tool. It’s not fully clear yet how USB 2.0 affects the reliability or limits of this- more testing is needed.
The software warns that USB 3 is recommended. Hovering over this recommendation reveals the message ‘Your Performance Can Be Improved By Switching To A USB 3.0 Connection’. No specific reasons are given.
‘Consulting Oculus CTO’ John Carmack Tweeted in late November that he “hoped” to release an update which takes full advantage of USB 3.1 bandwidth, but warned this would be “months out”. If this update does happen, the official Link Cable, criticized at launch for its $80 price point, could become the premium cable, rather than the only official option.
USB 3.0 is a notoriously poorly adhered to standard. Some motherboards use USB 3.0 controllers which simply can’t properly handle sustained high bandwidth devices. Supporting USB 2.0 should make Link a considerably more reliable experience in general.
USB 2.0 working gives further credence to the idea of wireless Link coming in future. While 3rd party apps like Virtual Desktop do this over the local WiFi network, this isn’t practical for most homes. Not only does the headset need to be close to your router, but other network traffic can cause judder and dropouts. At Oculus Connect 6, Carmack floated the idea of a USB WiFi dongle running custom firmware. The Quest would directly connect to it instead of your router, offering a dedicated connection.
How To Unlock USB 2.0 Link
To opt in to the Public Test Channel, software, navigate to the Beta tab of the Oculus PC app’s settings. You’ll see it start to download in the Library tab.
Some on the Oculus forums and reddit report that not all USB-C ports work on all motherboards, but using a USB-C to USB-A adapter seems to solve this.