How one can use your Oculus Quest 2 to play any PC VR sport wirelessly
One of the best features of the Oculus Quest 2 is that it can be manually connected to your gaming PC via USB for playing more sophisticated VR games that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to run natively with the headset. This is great if you want to play games like Half-Life: Alyx, but the obvious downside is you’re now physically tied to a PC – so much for the wireless freedom that Quest 2 touts.
Fortunately, developers have already figured out the seemingly impossible: How to run system-intensive titles on your PC and stream the visual feed to your VR device while syncing all of your movements over WiFi. It gives you the best of both worlds: you can play the games you want without being connected to your computer via a cable.
It’s not as easy as installing an app from the Oculus Store. There are several steps involved. I’m going to walk you through the steps required to achieve this on your Quest 2 virtual reality headset. The same steps will likely work for the first iteration of Quest, but I only have the latest model here to test.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
Get a patch cord
While this is a guide to experiencing VR wirelessly, you’ll need a cable to get started. Oculus sells an expensive 16-foot cable for around $ 80, but that’s for people who really want to use the Quest 2 in wired mode. There are other, cheaper alternatives, like Anker’s 10-foot USB-C to USB Type-A 3.0 cable, which costs about $ 20 that does the job.
Many of the USB cables that come with modern Android phones will likely work too. And the cable doesn’t have to be long – we’re just doing a simple data transfer here. Unfortunately, the USB-C cable that Oculus includes with every Quest 2 didn’t work on this process when I tried it. It is only used to charge the headset.
This is the official Oculus Link cable. It costs $ 80 and is hard to find in stock. You don’t need that particular model to get this guide!
Enable the developer settings
If you want to upload files to your Quest 2, you need a developer account. Fortunately, it’s easy to do, but it’s an odd process to be used by actual developers.
Go to this page and log into your Facebook account in a browser of your choice. Just make sure to sign in to the same Facebook account that you signed in to on Quest 2.
- The next part of the process is naming your “organization”. You can name it whatever you like. Here is a direct link to this page in case you get lost.
- Use these two steps to open your Oculus mobile app (iOS or Android) and log in with the same Facebook account. Then navigate to the Settings section by clicking it in the lower right corner of the app window.
- On the next page, click “Oculus Quest 2” just below your name. Some more options are expanded in it. Click on “More Settings”.
- When you are there, tap on “Developer Mode” and turn it on
Click for more options, including “More Settings” which includes the Developer Mode toggle switch.
Install the Quest 2 driver for your PC
The next few steps allow you to download software from the side onto the Quest 2 headset. This feature is usually reserved for developers. If you are using a Windows PC, you will need to install ADB drivers so that your PC can write to the headset. According to the Oculus site, MacOS and Linux systems don’t need a driver.
Download the software linked here that is hosted by Oculus. (Just check the box that you agree to the terms of the license – you can read them if you want – and hit the “Download” button.)
- After downloading, extract the contents of the folder. Then right-click on the android_winusb.inf item and select Install.
Install this driver to start this process.
Buy the Virtual Desktop App for Quest
With the Virtual Desktop App you can access your PC through the lens of a VR headset. You can use it for gaming, like we’re going to, but you can also watch movies that you have stored on your PC in a variety of different virtual environments. There’s a Quest-specific version of the app that you can get for $ 20 here. (Make sure it says under the buy button that it is compatible with Quest.)
Install it on the headset after purchase. We’ll be getting back to this app shortly, but just a few more steps for now.
Virtual desktop running on Quest 2.
Connect the Quest 2 to your PC
Connect your Quest 2 to the fastest available USB port on your PC using the USB-C port on the side. If you’ve done everything correctly up to this point, you will see a message in the headset asking if you want to allow USB debugging. Let it go.
Download and install SideQuest on your PC
SideQuest is a free experience app and storefront that can be loaded onto your headset. For this guide, you’ll only use it to apply a required patch to the Virtual Desktop app that you just suggested for purchase and installation on your Quest 2 headset.
Here, 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 show up as connected in the upper left corner of the SideQuest app on your PC with a green bubble. If it doesn’t show as connected, check your headset’s display for a prompt. It may be waiting for you to allow your PC to access and change the Quest 2 file system.
The green light indicates that your headset is connected.
Download the Virtual Desktop VR patch for Quest 2 from the site
In SideQuest, enter “virtual desktop” in the search bar. The result we are looking for is called “Virtual Desktop VR Patch”. This is the necessary key to trick your computer into believing your Quest 2 is a wired headset.
- With your Quest 2 plugged into your computer, click the “Install on Headset” button in SideQuest, which is located just below the search bar in the app. The process should be pretty snappy and only take a few seconds.
Install this required Virtual Desktop patch on your Quest 2 headset.
Download the Virtual Desktop Streamer
There is one more free application available for download: Virtual Desktop Streamer. This app was created by the same people who created the Virtual Desktop app that you bought on Quest 2. It simply transfers PC content to your headset via WLAN.
- Once this app is downloaded and installed, you will need to enter your Oculus username in the streamer window
- If you’re not sure, you can find it by opening the Oculus app on your phone, navigating to Settings, then tapping the area that shows your name and email address. The name that appears next to your avatar is your username.
Having trouble finding your Oculus username? In the Settings menu, tap your full name to see this view shown above.
- After this has been entered, click on “Save”.
- This is the last step! Remember, however, that it is essential to have the Virtual Desktop Streamer app open for your headset to communicate with your PC.
This is what the Virtual Desktop Streamer app looks like. It’s very easy.
Open Virtual Desktop on your Quest 2
If all of the steps are followed correctly, your PC will appear in the list of available devices to connect to using the Virtual Desktop app on your Quest 2.
Once connected, the Options button (the equivalent of the left Oculus Touch controller to the Oculus button) is mapped to open the top-level menu for Virtual Desktop, as shown below. From there, clicking “Games” will bring up every game that is installed on your PC. You can just boot anybody from there and your PC will do all the hard work.
All VR-enabled games installed on your PC will be displayed in Virtual Desktop.
If you’re not satisfied with the visual fidelity in every game, there are a few settings you can adjust that affect latency, refresh rate, and more. Note that if your PC is powerful and your internet connection is fast, you will likely get a clearer, smoother picture. Given its reliance on your Wi-Fi network, your WiFi router also plays an important role in a smooth experience.
Streaming VR over WiFi is certainly not a perfect solution. I have a WiFi-6 enabled router and relatively fast internet (235 Mbit / s down, 19 Mbit / s up), and I still have occasional delays and slightly blurry images. Although the virtual desktop app has been optimized enough (turning off Wi-Fi on infrequently used technical elements never hurts), you are likely to have a good time.