The rumours were true. The Oculus Quest now has a sequel in the form of the Oculus Quest, well, 2. It’s not an imaginative name, but it does make it pretty clear to consumers which one is newer and better. If you don’t want to read through this whole article, let me say right now that the Quest 2 is definitely a clear upgrade over the original device. So if you’re not currently a Quest owner, it’s almost certainly the one you should go for. However, current Quest owners and those who don’t already have a FaceBook account may very well want to stick around till the end. Because, while the Quest 2 is most certainly an excellent piece of kit, there are a few aspects of Quest 2 ownership that will be deal breakers for many. For those who already own the first Quest, it’s also not a given that upgrading is worth it.
What’s New Vs The Quest 1?
So what’s new in the Quest 2? Well, the colour and design have changed. The Quest 2 is white, whereas the Quest is black. That makes it easy not to accidentally buy the wrong one, but in my experience, white gadgets have a tendency to look dingy after a little bit of use. It does fit the futuristic aesthetic a little better, however.
One of the biggest complaints about the first Quest is all about comfort, or the lack thereof. My own Quest 1 was massively improved thanks to an aftermarket face and head cushion. The new Quest 2 weighs 68 grams less, which is probably not something you’ll feel. However, the actual headset isn’t as bulky. The Quest 2 still uses the same three-strap design, but reportedly is more comfortable to wear.
On the inside, we find the biggest improvements. The system on a chip here is the Snapdragon XR2, a massive step up over the Snapdragon 835 from the original, which was already a little long in the tooth at launch. RAM has been bumped from 4 GB to 6GB, and the OLED screen is capable of 90Hz. However, the higher refresh rate is not active at launch and will be added with a software update. The resolution of the screens has also been bumped up quite a bit, with 1932×1920 pixels per eye for the Quest 2, versus 1440×1600 on the original.
Both headsets start at 64 GB, but the Quest 2 offers a 256GB option, as opposed to the 128GB option of the original headset.
So in terms of hardware and comfort, the Quest 2 is clearly superior in every way to the Quest 1. As you might imagine, however, there’s more to it than nuts and bolts of the hardware.
The Price Is Right!
The biggest difference might very well be the price. The base model Quest one came in at $399. A price point that targeted base video game consoles, since Oculus was marketing the Quest as a standalone VR gaming console. The new Quest shaved $100 from that, asking a mere $299 for the 64GB base model. That makes the Quest 2 hilariously cheaper than headsets such as the Valve Index ($999), Vive Cosmos ($699) and HP Reverb G2 ($599).
Add to this the fact that both Quest headsets can now do tethered PC VR, and it’s an incredibly enticing proposition. Speaking of which…
Quest 2 Is The Oculus Flagship
There can be only one. Oculus headset, that is. Oculus has not only killed off the 3DoF Oculus Go headset, but it’s also killed off its flagship Rift headset as well. This is mainly thanks to the introduction of Oculus Link. By using a USB C cable connected to your computer, the Quest headsets act as Oculus Rift headsets, giving you full access to everything a Rift or Rift-S has.
Once you could turn your Quest into a Rift-S by simply using a cable (even the one included in the box!), you’d be crazy to buy the Rift-S over a Quest. The specifications of both headsets are so close, that giving up on the standalone headset aspect just makes no sense. It provides an upgrade path for customers as well. You can buy and use the Quest or Quest 2 all by itself and then experience PC VR one day in the future when you get a computer that’s up to it.
Oculus quickly realized this and the future of the company is clearly the one set by the Quest. An all-in-one headset that will benefit from their full, unified development resources.
So make no mistake, the Quest 2 is the best headset that Oculus offers, and everything else in their range is now effectively obsolete.
Not An Essential Upgrade For Quest Link Users
If you own a Quest 1 and mainly use it for PC VR via a link, the Quest 2 is not going to offer much more. The main draws here are the higher resolution, higher refresh rate screens. That by itself is not a big deal, and I’d advise waiting for the Quest 3.
If you really care about the standalone VR aspect, the product becomes more compelling. The bigger pool of horsepower for the Quest 2 promises better visuals in native Quest games. I don’t see there being a hard cut off where certain titles are only for Quest 2, but the Quest 2 is likely to have the better playing and performing version of new and existing games.
We will have to see, however, since things might not be so clear cut. After all, once the 90Hz mode becomes active, the SoC will have to render 18 more frames per second to take advantage of it. They will also have to render at a higher resolution, with an additional 1.2 million pixels per eye. This suggests that games might be visually similar, but somewhat smoother and sharper on Quest 2. Depending on how individual developers choose to make use of the resources.
The Privacy Elephant In The Room
The last thing we need to talk about is the elephant in the room, or perhaps the fly in the ointment. If you buy a Quest 2 today, you absolutely cannot use it without a FaceBook account. If you’re already a happy Facebook user, you probably don’t care all that much. However, many Oculus customers, myself included don’t have a Facebook account. Alternatively, they just don’t care for the idea of merging their VR headset’s activities with FaceBook. Even those of us using the Rift S or the Quest 1 are on a time limit. By 2023 we will be forced to create a Facebook account or merge our Oculus accounts with existing Facebook accounts.
Prospective Quest 2 customers will have to think hard about whether that’s a dealbreaker, but in every other way, the Quest 2 is the VR headset most people looking to get into the hobby should consider.