In this blog post I’m going to be going over my first impressions of the Quest 3 and comparing it to my trusty Valve Index which I’ve used almost every day for SimRacing for the last 4 years now. On the face of it that may not look like a fair comparison after all the Valve Index was 3-4 times more expensive that the Quest 3 but given that the Valve index is over 4 years old I’m expecting some significant improvements in every area of the Quest 3.
Now I’ll be talking you through what’s great about the headset and if it’s any good for SimRacing but as I quickly discovered there are some pretty bad things too and I’ll be explaining what those are a little later on.
Let's start with the good
So the first thing I noticed when I took the Quest 3 out of the box was just how light it is compared to my Quest 1 and my Valve Index. And that should be more comfortable for me whilst I’m driving for long stints and I have to say that the weight was not an issue for me so thumbs up there.
It also generates a lot less heat than my Valve Index and for those who know anything about the Valve Index, it does suffer from this issue quite a bit. And even one of the tips is to remove the front face place to allow air to dissipate away from the face more and that does seem to at least do something.
Now compared to my Quest 1 the image of the Quest 3 is incredible and there’s a noticeable difference to the Valve too. It’s super, super clear and crisp and in fact, this brings me on to the last thing about the Quest 3 and this blew my mind.
And that is that I don’t have to wear my prescription glasses I use for monitor use or buy VR prescription lenses like I have fitted in my Valve Index when I use the Quest 3. The image quality of the Quest 3 is nothing short of incredible. Now my prescription is only a slight one and as I mentioned I only need them for anything up to a metre away but I can only assume this is down to the new pancake lenses. But this is massive for me. And given it’s going to be used by other members of the family it means that they can just use it straight away without having to remove anything.
The first issue I found was that the feeling when putting it on was that the fascial part wasn’t as soft or as comfortable as the Valve. I found it to be actually quite firm. After about 30 minutes of driving, I started noticing it more and more. To fix this, I’d have to then buy the Quest 3 silicone facial interface to just get some basic comfort issues sorted but this is after already paying £619 on the headset. For me, basic comfort doesn’t cost the earth and should be included in the design right from the beginning.
Now the next thing I noticed is that the Quest 3 is set to 72Hz out of the box and you have to change this in the Quest software which isn’t an issue BUT, right now there isn’t a setting to choose 120Hz for the Quest 3 in the Oculus software. There are 72, 80 and 90hz. The only option you have is to tick a box which says use 120Hz if supported by the software. But when I go into SteamVR I can only go up to 90Hz and the same for the Oculus software too. So it seems that Meta hasn’t enabled it yet so you can manually choose it but, if you’re buying this thinking you can run this straight out of the box at 120Hz then you’ll be mistaken. At least for now anyway. I expect a software update will come soon, as it did for the Quest 2, but as of recording this video, it isn’t an option.
Now in the quick testing that I did with the Quest 3, I found the microphone to be terrible. And this is a terrible design fault because the microphone is on the bottom of the headset where the charging pins are located which is also located right next to your nose. So I’m not sure how much Meta can fix this with software but there could be other options such as Meta opening up the use of external microphones through Bluetooth or through the audio jack but again that means buying something else that’s extra to fix a very basic need I feel.
What you want to know is, is it any good for SimRacing? Well for the limited testing I’ve done in AC, ACC and AMS2 it’s VERY good. Now I’ve left the headset at its default setting of 72Hz as I wanted a crispier image but I also wanted to know quickly how good this headset was and if I had to send it back or not. On top of that I’ve also increased the rendering resolution up to 1.3x (5408 x 2896). I’ve also set the Encoding bitrate through the Oculus Debug tool to 500 megabits per second and set the Link Sharpening to Quality.
One thing I did notice is that when I first tried 500mbps I got very bad audio breakup issues and poor performance and after running the USB link test found that the USB-C port I’d connected it to on a PCI card was only getting 1.3Gbps. So after changing that to a USB-C port directly on my motherboard that shot up to 2.6Gbps and the performance issues were gone. So if you do get a Quest 3 and you’re going to be using a link cable, just be sure to run those tests up front to ensure you’re getting good results.
And that’s all I’ve done so far. Now as I mentioned I’m running a 4090 with a 10th gen 10900K CPU so I’m not sure how far this can be pushed but I’ve got to say that as it stands right now I’m so happy with the image quality and the performance of the headset that I don’t feel the need to even tinker anymore. But in the spirit of testing this out more I’ll be doing that in the coming weeks.
So in summary there are a few negative points which do push me to think shall I return this now whilst I can but the image quality and the fact that I don’t need to purchase any prescription VR lens inserts or wear glasses here pull me back to keeping it and spend the time getting it to work as well or even better than my Valve Index for SimRacing.