The Quest 3: The Most Compelling Sidegrade
Dodging the Q2 Problems in Virtual Desktop.
I’ve got a problem. I play a lot of VRchat, although my hour count is significantly lower than most of my friends. The Quest 3 functions as an exclusive portal to this game. I bought one without hesitation, specifically because the Quest Pro was insanely expensive at the time and I knew this device was coming well beforehand, thanks to SadlyItsBradley.
This is a definite ad for VRChat. If you don’t play VRChat right now, then fire it up on desktop first and wander through worlds and make friends. See what micro-Unity development does to your brain first. What small, strange conversations with a diverse crowd of tired people can do to your anxiety. In its entirety, VRchat is the mystical Metaverse that so many companies are chasing right now. It’s the worst and best thing VR has to offer. You might meet a friend that will make you want to join them on adventures. At that point, that’s where VRchat really gets its claws into you.
I say this because I think reviewing these devices is an exercise in futility. There is so much unknown about the space. The users, strange. The goals, scattered to the four winds. The only anchor I can reasonably use is asking someone if they’ve played VRChat and are tired of being an armless desktop monstrosity.
This needs to be stated because your experience varies a lot depending on your hardware. I’m kind of at this insane peak that is very disconnected from the average user, but it helps establish that the bottlenecks I experience are, in fact, in headset:
WAX202 Router that’s in my room: For wireless virtual desktop, you need a wifi6 router. This one, I recommend a lot. It’s cheap at $50 and actually works, unlike the AX1200.1
5800X3D - VRchat is a bit of a weird resource hog. It liks Vcache though!
RTX 4090 - Yeah. Yeesh.
64 GB of RAM, also yeesh (I got it on sale for $100 which was truly insane)
Quest 3’s Optics Obliterate the Quest 2
Consistency is the word here. In the Quest 2, you can only get focus in one very particular spot in Fresnel lenses. The comfort of the device orbits around this downside: Extra clamp to ensure that your eyes stare into that sweetspot. With pancake lenses, the sweet spot is much, much wider. So much so that I’m surprised that I even spent over 720 hours inside the prequel. You can just stick it on and call it a day.
Still, the journey isn’t complete yet. The face gasket lets a lot of light bleed in. Once aftermarket facial interfaces fix the problem, I think it will be great, but for now, expect to lose a little immersion.
Comfort: Better but not enough to sell.
I use the Quest at really weird angles. Laying down, in pushup position, sideways, backwards. It’s a testament to my commitment
to pure degeneracy. With confidence, I can proudly proclaim the Quest 3 is now usable with the default strap! The reduced perception of weight due to the smaller profile of the headset allows the default strap, once a face-eating masochism device, to flourish as a competent way to keep it on your head. Heck, it can even be used comfortably with glasses! Huge leaps and bounds ahead of the Quest 2.
However, usable isn’t what people look for in a $500 device! It’s still uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. It eats your head and probably won’t be touched on a hot day or a day with a minor headache. You need a reason to get into the headset. It does not beckon nor invite gently with promises of plush, pillowy delight. Only the insatiable need for headpats could convince a person to don the helm of pain.
Still, this is the first headset I feel comfortable walking on my treadmill with. I don’t have to fix my eyes in a specific spot, the weight doesn’t shift it around too much. All around great device.
Less Forced Escapism
Fumbling around in the dark is a weird thing. You get used to doing that in the Quest 2, especially if your headstrap has no way to lift up the visor. Passthrough is now competent for navigating a messy room. In Virtual Desktop, I use the passthrough background and wander around to get drinks or eat snacks. Before, I really had to take the headset off. Now? Gluttony.
Passthrough is still not great though. When you can properly text without guessing, we’ll be in a good spot. For now, it’s got me to consider cleaning my room so I can comfortably navigate what was once a minefield of dangerous objects.
One Serious Screwup: The Mic is worse
The one thing that is completely unacceptable on the Quest 3 is a worse mic. It’s not something you’re expecting a downgrade on with a price increase. It’s a real big shame because it’s more plosive and grainy. If you need a reason not to upgrade as a VRChat player, this is it. A monolithing mistake in engineering.
Q2 or Q3? Depends on your patience.
So we’re in a weird space right now: Quest 2 is going to be sold next to the Quest 3 as its new entry level.
So presuming you’ve played VRchat and want to make the next step, what would I recommend? Right now, the used market for the Quest 2 is going around $100-200, with a couple anomalies dipping below that mark. At new retail, I can’t say I’d recommend it. You’re going to want a battery pack or strap anyway, so headsets with weaker batteries aren’t really that problematic. At $100 without a genuine VRChat routine, that’s a great price. $200 hurts a little, but it’s reasonable.
The rationalle here is that the experience isn’t changing much. You still have to buy a lot of expensive gear to get to the stable point of fully immersive VRchat wirelessly. The thing the Q3 doesn’t do is make anything cheaper. You still to overshoot a graphics budget and you still need a ton of accessories to get to full body. Overall, it increases the price for a better experience, but we’re still reaching into fanatic terrritory. I like it because I’m far gone, but my point of reference isn’t remotely close to normal.
Still. he feeling of buying inconvenience is very real with the Quest 2. The Quest 3 really gets rid of some of the chunkiest annoyances with wearing a headset. It’s stuff you will spend lots of money on with experiments in headstraps. I bought 3 headstraps and got acceptable clampage after switching to the Kiwi Design Battery Strap.
If you can hold out, the used Quest 2 is the way at its rock bottom price point. The Quest 3’s changes are amazing, but they’re not $400 good on most budgets. You do the same things in the Q3, just with more ease and comfort. The Quest 3 is not a breakthrough headset with the price increase. If it was priced at the Quest 2, sure, no reason to look back, but since it’s in another tier, its weaknesses are profound.
I found myself too weak for the journey though. The Quest 3 fixes so much of what makes the Quest 2 a chore. I already have a lot of friends and set routine, so upgrading allows me to enjoy the headset a lot more. I just wanted something to get me back into VR more often and I think I found it. It functions as a pretty good super huge monitor too. Color passthrough lets me navigate the house without falling over myself.
Another caveat is that if you cannot control your wireless situation, the Quest 3 is currently a no-go due to very weird Wifi 5 support. Make sure you’re on wifi 6 for virtual desktop.