The Quest 3 headset can be used with Microsoft Flight Simulator with excellent clarity and smoothness. You just need the right configuration.
- 1 The Best Quest 3 PCVR Connection Available
- 2 The Suggested Quest 3 PCVR Connection
- 3 Quest 3 Video Examples
- 4 What is VirtualDesktop?
- 5 What is VirtualDesktopXR?
- 6 How to Install VirtualDesktopXR
- 7 System Settings
- 8 Notes
- 9 See Also
The Best Quest 3 PCVR Connection Available
I have tried out the Quest 3’s PCVR configurations and for me the Virtual Desktop’s AV1 codec via a local WiFi access point from my PC gives the best image quality. Virtual Desktop also provides options to adjust the image to make good use of the Quest’s LCD panels.
Virtual Desktop (XR) using AV1 compression easily beats:
- Oculus air link
- Oculus wired link
using a 10 Gbps rated USB-C to USB-C cable with the Oculus debug tool set to 940 bps encoding and 1.2 x super sampled image.
- Virtual Desktop with Steam VR
This is a puzzle since the numbers indicate that the transmission link bandwidth is far smaller than the total of the raw data per second.
What I have discovered about the AV1 transmission link so far is:
- The compression algorithm is block based sub-division. Only detailed areas of a frame receive the highest attention using the most sub-divided blocks. Less complex areas are allocated larger blocks.
- The compressed blocks are given motion and scaling information to predict the next frames
- Most likely only the compressed information is transmitted, containing the least amount of pixel information.
- Its likely that only the differences in the frames is transmitted
- The transmission method uses reference frames to refresh the quality of the stream, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a whole frame is needed at once.
The Suggested Quest 3 PCVR Connection
Here is a diagram of the connections that provide the best images in the Meta Quest 3 headset. It can use VirtualDesktop via a standard 5 GHz WIFI link without a hitch, but you can boost the speed of the link if you move to WIFI 6e.
WiFi 6e would provide the following benefits:
- A higher frequency for lower latency
- Faster throughput / faster error correction
- More efficient organisation of data streams within the bandwidth
- All of the above resulting in higher bit rates for PCVR
Quest 3 Video Examples
The following clips have been recorded inside the Quest 3. I am having problems recording sound, but when it is available it introduces a stutter just before the ATC or my co-pilot speaks.
The resolution of the this video is just under half the resolution of its LCD panels at 1000 pixels. Note: YouTube re-encoded the 1000 pixels down to 720 pixels.
I chose a 1920 x 1080 recording for this one although YouTube might have re-encoded the video to its own format at the same resolution.
What is VirtualDesktop?
VirtualDesktop is a paid application that comes in two parts, one for each end of a WIFI connection between your Quest 3 and the PC. It replaces the need to use Oculus Link via WiFi or cable. The PC based component is a free download from the Virtual Desktop web site. I bought the headset version of Virtual Desktop directly from the Oculus Quest 3 Store inside the headset to make sure I had the correct version. Luckily there was a sale on so the cost was around £11.
What is VirtualDesktopXR?
VirtualDesktopXR is an OpenXR enabled version of VirtualDesktop which has until now relied upon SteamVR to provide its VR functionality.
An OpenXR prototype was developed by Matthieu Bucchianeri, a Microsoft engineer who has been working on OpenXR components in his spare time. Matthieu has prototyped and then assisted with the integration of the OpenXR capability into a beta release of the VirtualDesktop (version 1.29.3).
From now on, the updates to either end of VirtualDesktopXR will arrive through the normal updating method.
How to Install VirtualDesktopXR
Step 1 – Preparation
Before you begin upgrading to the beta version of VirtualDesktopXR you must prepare your PC
- If you have the private release of the module developed by Matthieu, use a tool such as Revo Uninstaller to delete it and all of its associated files and settings.
- Ensure that the existing SteamVR configuration has been altered to prevent conflicts.
- Open Steam
- Open SteamVR
- Open SteamVR dialogue menu
- Choose Settings
- Choose the OpenXR option
- Choose Manage OpenXR API layers
- Turn off the compatibility layer for the OpenXR plugin
Step 2 – Upgrade Virtual Desktop for the Quest 3
To upgrade your Quest 3 version of Virtual Desktop you need to open your mobile app and be signed in.
- Find the Virtual Desktop app
- Scroll down until you find the version number.
- Tap on the version number to open a new window
- Tap on the drop-down list at the top-right and select the higher version number marked as BETA.
- When you next turn on your headset it will sync with the store and upgrade your version of Virtual Desktop.
Step 3 – Upgrade Virtual Desktop for Your PC
Download the Version 1.29.3 of the PC end of the VirtualDesktop update from the VirtualDesktop website to obtain the latest version.
From the Options menu
- Change the ‘OpenXR Runtime’ to OpenXR, or Automatic.
- Set the ‘Preferred Codec’ to ‘AV1 10-bit (Quest 3)’ for maximum quality compression. Unfortunately this adds around 20 ms latency for encoding and decompression and is the part that a requires a powerful GPU such as an RTX 4090. AV1 packs 30% more data into the available bandwidth than the nearest best alternative.
Step 4 – Set the Highest Bit Rate
In the headset, set the Virtual Desktop ‘Streaming’ configuration the the maximum available, currently 200 Mbps for WiFi. If the reading is lower, it may correct itself if you quit and restart VirtualDesktop one or more times.
Optimise Your WIFI Network
I now have a PCIE WIFI antennae sat on top of the PC 3 feet from where I sit. It’s WIFI output has the same SID and password as for the rest of the house. The signal capacity is around 866 Mbps and Virtual Desktop currently only needs a bandwidth of 200 Mbps. Its worth considering WiFi standard 6e for lower latency, higher throughput and higher stability.
Try Turbo Mode
I suggest you try the OpenXR Toolkit’s ‘turbo mode’ option which will add significant FPS to your throughput to the capacity of your PC’s ability.
Try Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling
Up until now I would have had this setting switched off, however it makes a noticeable and positive improvement for the Quest 3 / Virtual Desktop combination to have this setting enabled.
Search for Graphics Settings from the task bar
What This Connection Cannot Do
This connection will not fix stutters that have been around since day 1,
for example, stutters due to:
- Fast data exchanges, such as:
- A rotating field of view
- Passing objects at close range
- Loading new scenery
- A saturated CPU or GPU
What This Connection Can Do
I am surprised that this relatively low bandwidth solution easily beats the higher bandwidth ones, and that the sim can be run over a WIFI connection at all. The cable does not appear to be necessary other than to extend the life of the battery during use, or to download recordings from the headset.
The result is a very stable, detailed image at high resolution. It is possible to see the pixels, mura and screen-door effects but its not a major issue. The imperfections in the sim are now equivalent to the imperfections in the display. For this reason, I think the Quest 3 matches MSFS 2020’s level of development nicely.
- The Oculus Link options are separate from the Virtual Desktop options, so don’t mix the two together. Use only one or the other.
- In order to download a video recorded by Virtual Desktop, you will need an cable and an Oculus Link configuration. Clear away the Virtual Desktop configuration first. Plug in the cable to your headset and look for a message that asks for permission to use the cable to transfer data (I don’t recall the wording). When, eventually, you get that part right, an Oculus Quest 3 icon will appear in File Explorer and the video will be stored under the Oculus folder, not the video folder.