At the end of 2019, Oculus surprised gamers by launching Oculus Link ahead of its expected release in early 2020. Under beta, Oculus Link gives Oculus Quest gamers early access to connect to a PCVR machine via a USB 3.0 cable and stream PCVR games to the portable standalone headset. To many, this rules out the need to purchase a separate Rift S headset of PCVR gaming.
The key component of Oculus Link, aside from an obviously capable PCVR machine and an Oculus Quest, is the USB 3.0 cable that connects to the two together. Due to delays in the availability of the official Oculus Link fiberoptic USB cable, many gamers have scoured the internet in search for compatible USB 3.0 cables for use with Oculus Link. At the time of the beta’s release, Oculus also endorsed a compatible cable from Anker, the PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 cable.
Inside the retail packaging, you’ll find the USB-C to USB-A 3.0 cable itself. The cable comes with a velcro strap that’s attached to the cable to help keep it all together. A standard feature that comes with most lengthy Anker cables. This is pretty important when you have to coil up and store the 10ft/3m length of this cable, but it also comes in useful to attach the cable to the headset strap too.
The cable feels thick and solid. My initial impression was that it will certainly take a number of accidental roll-overs by your computer chair wheels. This kind of quality is crucial when you think this cable will be dangling from your Oculus Quest headset, rubbing along the floor and getting caught under your feet, desktop table legs, sofas, cats, dogs, rabbits etc.
Using the PowerLine cable with the Quest is as simple as connecting the USB-C end to your Oculus Quest and plugging in the other USB-A end into a free USB 3.0 port on your PCVR machine. With the correct software installed and set up on your PC, your Quest will spring to life, asking to enable the Oculus Link connection. In seconds you are looking at the Oculus Rift Home environment and away you go.
I didn’t experience any issues using the PowerLine cable with Oculus Link on my custom PCVR built machine and my Oculus Quest headset. There was no lag, no audio issues, no stuttering – it was like I had swapped my Quest with a Rift S, as the higher fidelity of PCVR games shined through my Oculus Quest lenses. Everything has been baby smooth. I played over 6-hours of Lone Echo and clocked similar hours in The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners, and both have been a pleasant experience to behold.
The longest length available of the Anker PowerLine cable is 10 feet or 3 metres. This length is ok for small room-scale limitations of most gaming rooms. Anything smaller in length and you will certainly feel ‘tethered’ to your PCVR machine like a toddler in a harness. 10ft is the minimum length, and for me, this length was perfect for my room’s limited 1.5m x 2m dimensions, however, if you are lucky to have much more space, you might want to look for a 16ft/5m+ cable, use a USB extension cable.
Although Oculus has endorsed this cable for Oculus Link, the PowerLine cable hasn’t been specifically made for it. This is most obvious when you look at the USB-C end of the cable. Without an elbow connection, the USB-C cable sticks right out the side of the Oculus Quest, which wastes the already minimum cable length you have remaining to go into the PCVR machine. And that’s after you have routed the cable through the headset, which you will want to do, as the cable can add a little left-side weight to the headset.
The Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 cable retails at wallet-friendly $17.99, which is considerably cheaper than the now available official Oculus Link cable that retails at an eye-watering $89.99. Currently, the visual difference between them can’t really be seen. However, performance may improve in time with the official Oculus Link cable, but right now, I can’t see any significant advantages for the extra $72. If you are new to Oculus Link, buying the Anker PowerLine cable will certainly serve you well enough, and you can then see if you need the longer and expensive cable down the road.
The official Oculus Link cable does come at the sweet spot of 5m in length. So that is a big advantage, but if your guardian space is already at a premium, then the Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 cable will serve you just as well. You can then spend the $72 you just saved on a couple of big Oculus Rift titles, which you will certainly want to do as soon as you connect the Quest up to your PCVR machine.