If you just unboxed a shiny new Oculus Quest 2, you‘re probably eager to dive into virtual reality and start playing some great VR games. And while the Quest 2 offers an amazing standalone wireless VR experience out of the box, you may be wondering if you can play games from your Steam library as well.
The good news is yes – you can access and play your SteamVR games wirelessly on the Quest 2! However, you will need to install some additional software on both your PC and the Quest 2 to get everything connected.
In this guide, I‘ll explain the steps required to get the Oculus Quest 2 working with SteamVR so you can start playing your favorite VR titles untethered.
Oculus Software Options for SteamVR
There are currently three main software options that allow you to play SteamVR games on the Oculus Quest 2 – Oculus Link, Air Link, and Virtual Desktop. Let‘s look at what‘s required for each:
Oculus Link is the official wired connection method from Meta. To use Link, you‘ll need:
- The Oculus desktop software installed on your PC
- An Oculus Link compatible high-quality USB-C cable
- Oculus Quest 2 headset
With Link connected via the cable, your Quest 2 acts just like any PC VR headset. The Oculus software handles communication between your PC and the headset.
- Simple plug-and-play setup
- Lower latency than wireless options
- Tethered to your PC during play
Air Link is Oculus‘ own wireless solution that comes included in the Oculus desktop software. You‘ll need:
- Oculus desktop software on your PC
- Oculus Quest 2 headset
Air Link streams SteamVR wirelessly over your home WiFi network to the Quest 2 utilizing the Oculus software.
- Completely wireless
- Free software from Meta
- Your WiFi router needs to be close to your playspace
- Latency slightly higher than wired Link
Virtual Desktop is a third-party app developed by Guy Godin that wirelessly streams VR content from your PC to the Quest. It requires:
- Oculus Quest 2
- Virtual Desktop app purchased from the Quest store ($20)
- Virtual Desktop Streamer app installed on your PC (free)
- Wireless with great performance
- Highly customizable options
- Direct SteamVR integration
- Paid app ($20 one-time purchase)
- Requires optimal 5GHz router placement
Which Wireless Option is Best for SteamVR Gaming?
Based on extensive community feedback, the consensus seems to be that Virtual Desktop is the best overall wireless solution for SteamVR gaming on the Quest 2.
While Air Link works quite well, Virtual Desktop generally provides lower latency and a smoother experience thanks to its direct integration with SteamVR and advanced streaming options.
For example, with Virtual Desktop you can fine tune streaming settings like VR graphics quality, slice encoding, and more to optimize the experience. It also has broader SteamVR game compatibility according to the community.
One downside is that Virtual Desktop does cost $20, while Air Link is free if you already have the Oculus PC software. However, most users agree the price is worthwhile for the best possible wireless PCVR experience on Quest 2.
Optimal Router Setup for Wireless Streaming
To achieve the best wireless performance with Air Link or Virtual Desktop, you‘ll want to use a dedicated router placed in or near your VR playspace.
Specifically, a WiFi 6 (or WiFi 5) router broadcasting on the 5GHz band will provide the speed and bandwidth needed for smooth untethered gameplay. The router should be connected to your PC via Ethernet, and the Quest 2 should connect directly to the router‘s 5GHz network.
Having the router in the same room as your playspace helps maintain a strong signal. A clear line of sight between the router‘s antennas and the Quest 2 is also ideal to avoid signal interference.
With this optimal setup, you can expect excellent wireless VR performance that comes close to matching a wired connection.
Required PC Specs for Streaming PCVR Games
In addition to WiFi considerations, your PC will need certain minimum specs to deliver a good SteamVR streaming experience:
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
- CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X equivalent or greater
- RAM: 8GB or more
- OS: Windows 10
For the best performance, I‘d recommend at least a Nvidia RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon 5700 XT GPU, an Intel i5 9600K or Ryzen 5 5600X CPU, and 16GB of RAM. This will allow you to crank up graphics settings and enable smooth gameplay. An SSD is also recommended for faster loading.
Step-by-Step Guide to Streaming SteamVR Games on Quest 2
Now that you understand the options, here is a step-by-step walkthrough on setting up wireless SteamVR streaming on the Oculus Quest 2 using Virtual Desktop:
Ensure your PC meets the minimum specifications outlined above.
Set up your dedicated VR router connected to PC via Ethernet in playspace.
On your Oculus Quest 2, download and purchase Virtual Desktop from the Quest store ($20).
On your PC, download and install the Virtual Desktop Streamer app (free).
Make sure both your PC and Quest 2 are connected to the local 5GHz network.
Launch Virtual Desktop on your Quest 2 and sideload the VR streaming patch from Sidequest.
Open the Virtual Desktop Streamer on your PC and enable VR streaming.
Put on your Quest 2 and start SteamVR games from inside Virtual Desktop!
It may take some tweaking to get everything running smoothly, but once optimized this setup provides an incredible untethered PCVR experience on par with expensive dedicated wireless headsets.
The freedom to spin, duck, and move around your entire playspace unrestrained adds so much to immersive VR gameplay. No more worrying about tripping over cables!
Is Virtual Desktop Worth the $20 For You?
At the end of the day, is spending $20 on Virtual Desktop worth it compared to the free Oculus Air Link? Well that depends on your priorities as a VR gamer.
If you want the very best wireless visuals and latency possible for competitive PCVR gaming, then yes Virtual Desktop is likely worth it. The customization options provide that last bit of streaming refinement.
However, if you are more casual about VR or mainly play single player games, Air Link may already provide a satisfactory wireless experience free of charge.
My advice would be to first try out Air Link thoroughly using the steps above. If you run into issues or latency/quality isn‘t ideal for your tastes, then Virtual Desktop is probably the way to go.
The Oculus Quest 2 is an Incredible VR Hybrid
The Oculus Quest 2 really combines the best of both VR worlds. You can enjoy its outstanding standalone mobile library free from any wires. Then flip a switch and stream high-end PCVR titles from Steam flawlessly.
Yes, it does require some additional gear and software tweaking to play SteamVR games wirelessly. But once up and running, the Oculus Quest 2 delivers wireless PC-quality VR that was unthinkable just a few years ago.
I hope this guide helps you get your own Quest 2 streaming SteamVR games smoothly. Let me know if you have any other questions down below!