Hands On: Our Oculus Quest 2 Review

When I bought the Oculus Quest to replace the original consumer model Rift, I had no idea that the Quest 2 was just around the corner. I had hardly received my Quest (at a big markup thanks to shortages) when details about the second model dropped. Rather than wallow in buyer’s remorse, I ordered the 256GB model as soon as I was able, and it’s now been about two months since I started using my shiny new headset, which means I can offer a proper review, devoid of that “new toy” shine. 

With Oculus and Mark Zuckerburg talking about an upcoming Quest Pro, it seems that an even better version of the standalone headset is in the wings. However, for the rest of 2021, at the very least, the Quest 2 is the best that the company has to offer. The question is: is it good enough?

Performance and Specifications

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There are two ways to look at the performance of the Quest 2. One is to compare it to the Quest 1, which it replaces, and the other is to look at it in absolute terms.

Comparatively, the Quest 1 and Quest 2 have a yawning gap between them. The XR2 chipset, which is specialized for VR, offers twice the raw CPU and GPU performance of the Snapdragon 835 in the original product. When it comes to specific functions such as pixel throughput or and native resolution support, we’re talking a 4x and 6x improvement respectively. Machine-learning acceleration is claimed to be 11 times that of the 835, which holds a lot of promise for mixed reality applications and emerging programming techniques in games that make use of this type of processing.

Of course, anyone can slap claimed numbers on a Powerpoint slide. For me personally, the improvement is unmistakable. Games that have been updated to support the Quest 2 show significant improvements in detail and smoothness. How much of an improvement will vary from one title to the next.

Comfort

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This is a mixed bag for me. The first Oculus Quest definitely had comfort issues. It’s far too front-heavy and doesn’t provide adequate support, resulting in sore cheekbones if you play for too long. Because of this, I opted to buy a third-party headband and face cushion replacement system.

Does Quest 2 fix this? Yes and no.

The headset itself feels lighter and better balanced than the Quest 1, but the new default soft strap system feels like it puts even more pressure on my face. Oculus sells an official Elite Strap upgrade, but I don’t yet feel like I need it. So in that sense, the Quest 2 is an improvement in terms of comfort since the original made the upgrade essential, in my opinion.

The Quest 2 Elite Strap

With Quest 2, if I spend time adjusting the straps just right, I can achieve a fit that I can forget about completely. It’s not as good as a halo-strap design, but it’s not bad either.

The PC VR Experience

One of the main reasons the Quest headsets are such good value is that you can use them as tethered VR headsets. I bought a third-party 16-foot USB C cable made specifically for the Quest 2. This passed the self-test in the Oculus app with flying colours, so I feel my experience should be representative of what Quest 2 should deliver.

The verdict is that it’s a clear step up compared to Quest 1. The new screens and optics make for an immediate improvement. Performance in Oculus titles remains flawless. However, there’s still a hit-and-miss situation with SteamVR titles. I still had to jump through the same set of hoops to get Half-Life Alyx running properly on Quest 2. This is clearly a software issue that has to be sorted out between the various companies. Since Quest headsets are now going to be Oculus’ mainstream headset, they need to pay serious attention to how the headset driver performs outside their walled garden. The worst part of this is that Oculus Quest Link performed flawlessly for me during its beta and then gradually became worse and worse from that point onward.

If you’re ONLY going to be playing titles from the Oculus Store, you can buy a Quest 2 with confidence. If you want to play VR titles from Steam or from the Epic Games Store (which is what I tested), then you’ll have to be ready to do a little under the hood tweaking.

The FaceBook Thing

I’ve written about this quite a bit before buying the Quest 2, but yes, you must have a FaceBook account if you want to use the product. If you don’t already have one, then you will have to create one.

This is exactly what I had to do. However, I did the absolute bare minimum. The account is totally private, has no friends and only the minimum of information. So far, this does not seem to be a problem, and I had no issue linking my FaceBook and Oculus accounts together.

Multi-user Sharing

The Quest 2 is the first Quest headset to get the much asked-for multi-user profile feature. In other words, the admin account of the headset can add additional user profiles who can then play games owned by the main account. Each person will have their own progress and information. This was a massive oversight for a supposed family VR device when the first Quest launched, and it’s very welcome indeed here. However, since I want to pass my Quest 1 on to another family member, what we really need is multi-user sharing on the old headset. Oculus does say that it is coming, though, so hopefully, it won’t be long.

Final Verdict: Is the Quest 2 Worth It?

If you don’t own a Quest, then the Quest 2 is without a doubt the one to go for. There are rumours of a Quest Pro, but until we have solid information about what exactly that is, there’s no way anyone can recommend waiting for it.

If you currently own a Quest 1, things are more complicated. There’s no doubt that the Quest 2 is a massive leap in terms of standalone VR graphics, but if you’re happy with how games look on your Quest 1, then there’s not much pressure to upgrade.

I would say it’s worth waiting for Quest 2 exclusives to come out, and the first ones are already on the horizon. Notably, Resident Evil 4 VR, which will only run on Quest 2 and has the potential to be a system-seller for the platform.

If you’re using your Quest 1 primarily as a PC VR headset at this point, you have even less pressure to upgrade. Yes, it’s nice to have more resolution and refresh rate, but since the actual visuals depend on your PC, that’s really the only thing that improves. I might feel a little different once Oculus unlocks the 120Hz mode for the internal screens.

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