You can now run SteamVR PCVR games and Steam apps directly on Quest 3, Quest 2 or Quest with the new Steam Link app. I’ll show you how to install it and how to use it. But I’ll also discuss why you shouldn’t use it, and what you should use instead.
Steam is the largest software distribution platform for PC, and SteamVR has the largest library of VR games (about 5,844 at the time of this post). Until yesterday, you could play SteamVR games (and Steam games, on a virtual screen) on Quest headsets but it would require you to run both the Oculus desktop app and either SteamVR or Virtual Desktop (with VDXR). Running two apps in addition to a PCVR app imposed a heavier load on PCs compared to the same PCVR app running natively for Oculus desktop.
But the new free Steam Link app for Quest now enables the Quest 3, Quest 2 or Quest to run SteamVR (or non-VR Steam games) without the need to launch the Oculus desktop app. Not only is this more convenient but should result in lower overhead — in theory.
WHAT YOU NEED for Steam Link
You’ll need a 5Ghz wireless router and you’ll need a VR-Ready PC:
- CPU: Intel i5-4590, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X equivalent or better
- RAM: 8GB or more
- Graphics card: GTX 1060 (6GB) equivalent or better
HOW TO INSTALL STEAM LINK
Step 1 (strongly recommended): connect your PC to your 5Ghz wireless router via an ethernet cable.
Step 2: Install Steam.
Step 3: Install SteamVR app (free). On the Steam store, search for the SteamVR app.
Step 4: On the Meta Quest store, download Steam Link app for Quest (also free).
HOW TO USE STEAM LINK
Step 1: Connect your Quest to your 5Ghz Wi-Fi network. Make sure your PC is also connected to your 5Ghz wireless router via ethernet cable (strongly recommended) or is on the same 5Ghz Wi-Fi network as your Quest.
Step 2: On your PC, launch Steam.
Step 3: On your Quest, launch Steam Link. Click on your PC and then the Connect button.
If your PC is not using an ethernet cable, you’ll get an error. You can bypass the error but the performance will suffer.
STEAM LINK vs QUEST LINK vs VIRTUAL DESKTOP
Steam Link is convenient to use — you can use it for both SteamVR and non-VR Steam games. However, on my system, it performed poorly. I’m using a laptop with these specs:
- 32GB RAM
- GTX-1070 SLI (to be fair, only one of the cards is being used by VR)
And instead of an ethernet cable, my laptop is connected to my router wirelessly, which is not officially supported by Steam Link.
On this setup, SteamVR games become a jumbled, pixelated mess with any kind of movement. It was like playing with a mosaic filter and was unplayable. (Note: I’m using SteamVR ver. 2.1.8). For Steam games, the results have varied. Some of them look OK while others are also unplayable (e.g. Vanquish).
As I said, my laptop isn’t connected via ethernet and that’s definitely not helping the compression. But the reason I’m complaining about Steam Link is because this exact same setup performs normally with Quest Air Link and even better with Virtual Desktop. You read that right — with Oculus desktop app and SteamVR running, I get far better performance than with Steam and SteamVR.
Again, I’m glad that there is now a native Steam app for Quest. But if you’ve never tried PCVR before and you try Steam Link, you might get a bad impression of PCVR. But the truth is that PCVR works very well even on an aging setup such as mine. I’m assuming Valve will try to improve Steam Link’s performance. In the meantime, if you want PCVR that works well with Quest, I instead recommend using Quest Air Link or Virtual Desktop. See the tutorial here.